Righteousness exalts a nation

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.
Proverbs 14:12, 34 (NIV)

Read: Proverbs 14:1-35

Consider: It is always important when reading the book of Proverbs to remember that it contains words of wisdom, some of which direct us towards a closer relationship with God, while others are observations of things that are seen in the world.  An example of something Solomon observed is: The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends (Proverbs 14:20).  Is Solomon telling us that we should strive for riches?  No, he is saying that he has observed that rich people attract a following of those who wish to enjoy their company and wealth.  The Hebrew word translated as friends, does not infer that these friendships are superficial.  This discounts us thinking that Solomon is speaking of the many ‘hangers on’ that successful people attract.  

As you read through Proverbs 14, it is worthwhile noting any verses that stand out to you; something that God gives you insight into.  This may be a verse that speaks into your own personal situation, or something of general application.  This will help to focus your thoughts and meditations on the issues God wishes to bring to your attention, either to encourage, challenge or warn you.

As I read through Proverbs 14 a number of verses spoke to me, but two verses in particular stood out.  Firstly:  There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).  There are many people who think that by being a ‘good’ person or doing good deeds, this will enable them to find favour with God.  There are yet others who think that as ‘God is Love’ he could not possibly condemn them.  These people all have an incorrect and unbalanced view of God, ignoring his abhorrence of sin and his judgement.  Then there are those who have come to understand their sinfulness and need for forgiveness.  They have sought God’s forgiveness and committed themselves to God through accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  

Secondly:  Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people (Proverbs 14:34).  We don’t often use the word ‘exalt’ in conversation today, but the word means ‘to think or speak very highly of someone or something’.  We tend to think of exalting an individual, someone we have come to respect and wish to honour.  Applying it to a nation is somewhat different, primarily as a nation is made up of many individuals.  Do we mean that the laws of the country are fair and just and never applied inappropriately?  Do we mean that the political leaders and politicians live exemplary lives and avoid corruption?  Do we mean that the police service and military do not abuse their powers?  Perhaps it is really a combination of all these things that sets one nation apart from another.  Righteousness of a nation (as well as individuals) refers to displaying behaviours that please God.  This does not refer to ‘good works’ that a person does in the belief that this puts them right with God.  It does mean doing good as a consequence of having faith in God.  James puts it this way: But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds (James 2:18).

Pray:  Father, we thank you for the wisdom contained in the Bible.  May it guide us in the right way, enabling us to please you.  Amen

Every blessing

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