The Prosperity of Fools Shall Destroy Them
Brian D. Dykstra (Teacher at Hope PR Christian School, Walker, MI)
*This article was originally written as a devotional for his fellow teachers at Hope CS. It is posted here because of its broader value for our website readers.
Proverbs 1:32-33: “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”
Wisdom has raised her voice. The Word of God has been made known in many different ways to the simple. At the very least the simple had the testimony of God in their hearts that what they did was against His Law. Yet, they found their pleasure in the ways of evil. The responsibility for their ruin lies at their own door. They cannot blame others for their destruction. The fault certainly cannot be found in God. The fault is only in themselves.
That the turning away of the simple results in their being slain reminds us of the word brought to Judah by Jeremiah, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 6:15).
Was God strong enough to save Judah? Yes, He could have reached out His arm to deliver them. He could have destroyed Nebuchadnezzar and his host with one stroke from His almighty arm. However, His justice and His love for His own holiness could not allow Judah’s deliverance. As they lived in their sin, Judah listened to the message brought by her false prophets. They were certain that no evil would ever come upon them, in spite of all their corruption of God’s justice and shameless idolatry, because, they assured themselves, “We are the people of God!” The message of Judah’s history is simple: Turning away from God will lead only to destruction.
We can see how prosperity leads to destruction very clearly in our own nation. This past summer we heard very often about the adultery and deceitfulness of our scripture-quoting President. Still, President Clinton enjoyed a high approval rating from the American people. The economy is good. The future looks bright. There is money to be made. We are the most powerful nation on earth. There are those who look at this prosperity as being a sign of God’s blessing being upon us. It makes you wonder how ignorant they can be about the history of Judah. Jeremiah warned Judah of this very thing, “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice. The wind shall eat up all thy pastors, and thy lovers shall go into captivity: surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness” (Jeremiah 20:21-22). Judah looked upon her prosperity and took it as a sign of God’s approval. Actually, they were cattle being fattened for the slaughter. Their prosperity, since it did not come from God’s love for them, was really a curse.
These verses in Proverbs 1 end with a promise, “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” Not only is common grace refuted in these verses, the antithesis is shown. Judgment, and only judgment, against those who live in rebellious, unconfessed sin against God, but safety to those who listen to the voice of wisdom.
This is a valuable lesson which our students need to hear. We live in a materialistic age. We can be caught in this trap ourselves. Who are the celebrities in our nation? Consider how many of them have made their vast hoard of money. Do we expect to have to move over in the pew some Sunday morning in order to provide them some room? Yet, these people are given a fair amount of our children’s attention. They need to be taught the nature of God’s blessing. Blessing is not in the things of this world. Blessing is in the restoration of our covenant friendship with God.
No, this does not assure that the Christian life is one free from all adversity. Students need to be mindful of this as well. Each of us could speak of adversity in life. Trials are part of every Christian’s life. For the young students too, if trials have not come, they most certainly will at some time in life. There are times when Father’s loving hand is heavy upon us. We are often in awe of how much some of His saints must bear. God does not promise a primrose path to the pearly gates.
Jeremiah again serves as an example. He had a difficult task. He brought the Truth of God to Judah. It was not appreciated. He suffered mockery, scorn, persecution and shame. Jeremiah was even to the point that he cursed the day when he was born. He thought it would have been better to die in the womb. God comforted Jeremiah and promises to comfort us, “And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the Lord. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible” (Jeremiah 15:20-21).