There are many benefits to being a child of God. One of them is God’s care from the attacks of the wicked. Let’s dig a little deeper into the promise and the warning of Proverbs 24:16, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”
Proverbs, written by Solomon, one of the wisest kings of Israel, contrasts the advantages of living a righteous life instead of a wicked one. God’s wisdom will empower the righteous to “rise again” despite calamities. To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and enables God’s provision and sustaining power.
Let’s take a closer look at Proverbs 24:16: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”
To understand the meaning of verse 16, notice the conjunction “for” that connects to the previous verse with a warning to the wicked, “Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place.” Unlike the righteous, the wicked who do not heed the warning will “stumble when calamity strikes.”
God’s Word is full of promises to those who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. David left his son, Solomon, the example and training of God’s faithfulness and keeping power.
David understood that the righteous overcome calamities through God’s divine care and provision. He wrote, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me” (Psalm 138:7, ESV).
Though The Righteous Fall, They Will Rise Again
Being righteous is a term in Scripture that shows right standing, having received the forgiveness of sin, and living in obedience to God’s commands.
It doesn’t mean the righteous are perfect but blameless before God. Until Jesus returns, the righteous will face difficulties, especially from the “wicked.” Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The word “fall,” “though the righteous fall,” is not a reference to sin, but rather an indication of a calamity or adversity of the righteous and refers back to the warning to the wicked in verse 15, “Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous, do not plunder their dwelling place.”
Hard times may result in a fall, yet are opportunities to strengthen faith. James wrote to those facing trials of all kinds. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (1:4).
In times of adversity, the character of Jesus is developed in the righteous when they trust in God’s timing and solution.
Whether the “righteous fall seven times” or as a figurative meaning representing many times, the promise is true, “they will rise again.” With God’s care, the upright perseveres through hard times, knowing God’s plan is for good, and if it’s not good yet, it’s in process (Romans 8:28).
Being wise means that we are grounded and growing in God’s Word. That foundation is like a rock in times of trouble, much like the wise builder who built his house on rock instead of sand. When the storms came, the house stood on a firm foundation.
Jesus concluded the story, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
The righteous have God’s watchful eye of favor upon them, “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever” (Proverbs 10:25).
While living in Minnesota, we faced a “fall” brought on by the county government that sought to ruin us and tax our property for thousands of dollars, including putting our retirement funds at risk. Our dirt was the issue, or what was under the dirt, a dump site, and not declared on the property deed.
We began construction even though we were not aware of the dangers. After we laid the foundation, the county stopped the work and told us to get a dump site license. That was the start of an endless four-year battle that drug us through the “dirt” with the county, city, state, and federal governments.
A key Scripture we grabbed onto was from Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” That included our dirt!
And when there wasn’t a solution, God surrounded us with the prayers and encouragement of family, friends, and our two churches’ support. In time, we understood “the righteous rise again.”
We were labeled, “The Revs are liars.” The “thief” was near the house of the righteous, and we were under attack. A member of the city council told us we were on the wrong side of the tracks because of our faith.
There seemed to be no resolution when appearing before the county commissioners’ meetings, city council, various other conferences, and mountains of paperwork.
No one could help until a visitor at the church I pastored heard the prayer time and connected us with a man who worked with contamination resolution.
God sent us an angel (my husband’s description), a contamination specialist. He also sent legislators who turned the tide and released us from the “thief” lurking and trying to plunder “our dwelling place.”
The county sent us the taxation table setting up payments for the rest of our lives and robbing us of our future retirement and income.
At the same time, we received the tax statement, and in God’s perfect timing, the legislature released us from the burden and placed it on the responsible party, the state. Four years had passed since the battle began.
Little things often whisper through the battle, “Trust in Me.” One such instance was a sleepless night in February around 2 a.m. in the cold of winter.
There was a strange sound of birds singing. It wasn’t possible. While I doubted my ears, the beautiful old song warmed my heart: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
Thankfully, there were more instances of God whispering. With much gratitude to the Lord, our two church families, and faithful friends who stood with us, we could say, “Though the righteous fall (into calamity) seven times, they rise again.” God is faithful to His children.
Nothing can come to us except what He allows. And God allows things for our good, our maturity, and our faith strengthened through adversity.
Trusting His timing and justice is challenging but brings an outcome that will help us “rise again” from the rubble. The earth is the Lord’s, and the promise of living for Him helps us persevere in the hardest times.
The righteous will rise again, not only through calamities brought by the wicked but in the last days, we will rise to heaven where no evil can harm.
Our eternal rising again will be safe from wicked thieves. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21, emphasis added).
The Wicked Stumble When Calamity Strikes
Although the world is controlled by the wicked, there will be a day when God sets everything right. The wicked won’t be saved from stumbling and falling.
Unlike the righteous, God will judge them, not to rise again but to bow before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords before departing to their last fall, eternal destruction.
We may fall prey to the wicked when trials come, but God promises to uphold the righteous, “though they fall seven times, they will rise again!”
God’s blessings and divine care for the righteous who keep his commands and love him are the rewards of the wise.
For further reading:
What Does it Mean ‘Many Are the Afflictions of the Righteous’?
What Does it Mean ‘There Is No Rest for the Wicked’?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Oscar Martin
Judy McEachran loves to worship the Author of life and love. She is an ordained pastor and gifted musician who writes and speaks to encourage believers. She pastored churches in the Midwest and after retirement moved to Arizona. She is humbled not only by the gracious love of God but by her devoted husband, two sons, and ten grandchildren. You can visit her website at God Secrets that Impart Life. Find her music on YouTube. Judy’s natural musical giftings invite worshippers into the presence of the Lord.