We’ve all seen it, if we haven’t experienced it – the tree with a shallow root system blown over in the storm. I confess to a little worry about the larch which Jackie and I transplanted into our back yard. It is growing like a weed, sometimes as much as 3 or 4 feet a year. But it has the advantage of a sprinkler system, feeding it water every other day. Because it doesn’t have to struggle for water, it has no reason to sink its roots deep into the soil. As a result it might not have the stability many of its cousins have out there in the forest.
The Bible speaks much about good foundations, because the problems of shallow roots affects human beings as much if not more than trees. Jeremiah 17 – ” Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.’ Colossians 2 – “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. Root and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as yet have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Jesus’ parable of the seeds and the soils makes reference to a lack of root in one instance. And Matthew 7 – “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” There may be a dozen other scriptures with either direct or indirect reference to roots and foundations. And there are hints of these found here in Proverbs 12.
“The root of righteousness shall not be moved” – verse 3.
We all know Psalm 1 which begins – “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
I am no expert in the subject, so I’ll ask you – What makes the root of the tree successful in its God-appointed responsibilities of feeding and stability? My guess is that there is a blend of rootly ability and the substance in which it is rooted? If one is poor, it won’t matter how good the other might be. Clearly, “the root of righteousness shall not be moved,” but if it is planted in loose sand, when the rains descend, the floods come and the winds blow, not even that righteous root shall hold. The ability of the Christian to withstand the assaults of Satan, depend not only on his regenerated nature but also in his continued abiding in the vine. I apologize for the mixed metaphors, but I hope you understand my point. Just to be saved – a saint – doesn’t mean that we’ll always be victorious in our saintly responsibilities. We must also be firmly planted in the soil upon the rock. And in contrast to that, Solomon says, no man shall be established by wickedness. The “foolish man which built his house upon the sand” shall not stand for long .
Doesn’t verse 7 even more closely relate to Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount?
“The wicked are overthrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.” By what are the wicked overthrown? It could be by other wicked people, or it might be by the established laws of nature – wind and rain. Perhaps even the fickle laws of man might bring that man down. “But the house of the righteous shall stand,” because it has a good foundation built upon THE rock – not “a” rock, but “the” rock. Remember that Moses said of Jehovah/Elohim – “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Even if a child is not born again and therefore has no righteous root in himself, if at least parts of his life have been built on the rock – the precepts of Christian morality, there is hope.
Verse 12 tells us “the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.” This takes us back to Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17 once again. I assume that the larch/tamarack tree in my back yard has at least some good root. My assumption is based upon its beautiful fronds and the cones at the top – its fruit. Its branches and needles are as soft as feathers. Judy may have her favorite plants and trees in our backyard, but my favorite is that larch. When the root of the righteous is firmly planted in the proper soil, beside the still waters, it produces the fruit which God has ordained for it.
Verse 13 – “the wicked is snared by the transgressions of his lips; but the just shall come out of trouble.” Once again this reminds me of Jeremiah 17 – “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.’ Verse 14 – That righteous “man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.”
Verse 21 – “There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.”
Of course we have to be careful not to make foolish applications of the statements of God. “There shall NO evil happen to the just” – None whatsoever? Here is a person who without doubt is a Christian; he shows a number of the characteristics of the child of God. But one day he is in a car wreck and his back is broken, or he trips and breaks his arm, or a storm blows the roof off his house. Do such disasters negate, remove or bring his eternal salvation into doubt? These are all temporary and have nothing to do with his soul.
“There shall no evil happen to the just.” Yesterday I was watching news about the rising flood waters on a one of the rivers northwest of here. One man who was interviewed said that perhaps today, the water was going to flow over the sand bags he had surrounding his property. The reporter asked the man why he didn’t seem to be as upset as some of his neighbors. I was surprised that they included his reply, which to paraphrase went something like this: “God is in control and I am not going to be upset with the problems He permits into my life.” “There shall no evil happen to the just.”
Perhaps the explanation of Proverbs 12:21 is hidden in the word “evil.” Perhaps we should not look at broken bones, financial disasters and floods as “evils.” Nothing from the hand of God can properly be called “evil.” They may be “testings;” they may be “trials” – they may even be “lessons.” They are there to strengthen and test the root system.
Verse 28 – “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” Once again I go back to Psalm 1 – “Blessed is the man … whose delight is in (Jehovah and )the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Because this person is a child of God the fear of death is gone. Oh, this heart may stop beating some day, but if that heart belongs to Christ who is life itself, then “there is no death.” If that person has been rooted into Christ, eternal prosperity is guaranteed.
And verse 2 explains why all this is true.
It is because there is a God who rules over all the affairs of men. There is a covenant-making God – “Jehovah” who loves His chosen people. Jehovah is also known by the title “Elohim” – God almighty, who governs all things according to His sovereign will.
“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.” It is the Lord who has ordained that the root of righteousness when planted in the soil laid upon the rock will not be moved. “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”