When we got to Lloydminster, Saskatchewan last Tuesday, the Yeoman’s put us up in a beautiful hotel. As Judy was taking a shower, I turned on the television and watched an interesting documentary. It was about mud and landslides, beginning with the Oso, Washington slide of 2014. In this landslide, just northeast of Everett, quite a few people lost their lives. And now more money is being funneled toward the study and prediction of landslides. In this case, all the fatalities were in homes and businesses in the valley below the slide. But there were references and videos of homes coming down hillsides in California and other places, as the hills below those houses gave way.
That caused me to reflect on some houses we saw just east of Cochrane where we were staying with the Buenaventuras. These were expensive mansions, built on hills facing west with magnificent views of the mountains and fabulous sunsets. In this case these palaces were not just built on hills, but on man-made reinforced hills, with 20 and 30 foot retaining walls behind which were tons of gravel and dirt. They were literally hanging over the original hills. What is the likelihood that those million dollar mansions will some day come crashing down?
Doesn’t Solomon speak of those kinds of houses?
Well, perhaps he doesn’t, BUT I’d like to use them as illustrations. When Solomon and the Holy Spirit refer to “houses” in this paragraph, it is to people’s families – the house of so-and-so. John Gill suggests that these “houses” include all that the owner holds precious – from children to antiques, to whatever might be in their closets and vaults. And he says, “The curse of the Lord is IN the house of the wicked.”
How was that most prominent massive house in east Cochrane purchased, and with what kind of money was it paid? I know this is a generalization, and there are exceptions….. But many times the wealthy have become wealthy and bought their mansions through sinful practices. “Envy not the oppressor” Solomon says in verse 21. Who is more likely to live in the big house – bankers or the men who must borrow from the bankers? Compare the interest paid on a savings account to the interest charged on a loan, and tell me that the people who plan such things are not oppressors. Who is more likely to live on the hill, the executive in the oil company or the man who has to commute to his low-paying factory job? Now explain why the price of gasoline jumped 9¢ a liter over-night in Canada, just because gas production has been hurt in Houston Texas. The explanation is that the oil company CAN do it and get away with it. It is called “oppression.” Without saying there aren’t exceptions…. Did that man on the hill, become rich by serving God, preaching the true gospel and loving his neighbor? Did he pay for that house while tithing and giving generously to missions? Did he pay his employees more than he gave himself, recognizing that they were doing all the work, and they were the reason his company was prospering? No, nine times out ten he either inherited his wealth from his oppressor fathers, or he stepped on the backs of others to get where he is. “Envy not the oppressor” says the Lord, because his house on the hill will eventually come crashing down.
“Froward” is another word Solomon uses to describe this kind of person. “Froward” speaks of someone who turns aside – turns from the right way to the wrong way. He turns from the Lord’s way to his own selfish way. It is the opposite of humility. It opposes the characteristics of generosity, hospitality, and even simple neighborliness. Biblically speaking a froward person cannot possibly be a spiritual person. And thus “the froward is abomination to the Lord.” The oppressor and the froward person are not children of the Lord.
In fact, in the last verse, Solomon uses a word which he has previously introduced and expounded. “Shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Who is that person in Proverbs who is called a “fool?” As opposed to the “wise man,” he is the one who has said in his heart, “There is no God.” He sees himself as the supreme deity in his life. He makes all his own decisions, based on his own moral standard. If he has to stab the backs of twenty men in order to buy his house on the hill, he will do it. Again, there is no humility, and particularly no humility before God – no repentance.
And what will happen to the house of the wicked? In the midst of a very serious subject, I detect some levity in Solomon’s voice. “Shame shall be the promotion of fools.” Shame and embarrassment are not usually considered as upward steps – promotions. Shame and embarrassment are just the opposite – they bring people down.
During that documentary to which I referred, there were video clips of mud slides in California. There were some very expensive houses with swimming pools, gabbled roofs, and circle driveways. Through the rain, the viewer could see those houses, split apart and begin racing down hills. The wealth of some oppressors, god-less fools and froward men, was “promoted” into shameful piles of rubbish. The houses of the wealthy were cursed by the omnipotent God who creates hurricanes, tornadoes and torrential rains to bring those houses down. The houses of the fools – the hill-top homes became hill-bottom hovels. The families of the oppressor went from the hill-top to hell-bottom.
And what was Solomon’s exhortation to us?
Envy thou not the man with the million dollar view of the mountains. Tonight’s beautiful sunset, may portend his final sunset before being cast into the Lake of Fire. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” Perhaps it was not the intent of Isaiah, but the fools of the earth shall be brought down.
Solomon says, “choose none of his ways” – don’t yearn to live next door to the evil man. An acquaintance sent me a video of a lightning strike. It must have been recorded on some sort of video surveillance camera. The lightning hit a rock across a creek from the house, then it entered the water, turning 20 feet of creek into a boiling caldron. I expected to see dead alligators rising to the surface. What I mean to illustrate is that the lightning of God’s judgment may hit that wicked neighbor, but the saint of God who envies him and chooses to live beside him may be consumed as well.
Solomon adds – “God’s secret is with the righteous.” “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Jehovah “blesseth the habitation of the just” whether or not Zillow considers it valuable. God “scorneth the scorners (the fools), but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (those who are not froward).
And “the wise shall inherit glory.” Who are these wise people? Once again, they are not necessarily the people with the PhD, even of the honorary variety. They are not the geniuses, savants, and high IQs. They are those who love and worship God through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the humble souls upon whom the Lord has bestowed His grace.
Just yesterday, I was talking to Bro. Chris Martenson, and this subject came up. We concluded to trust the Lord to judge the oppressor, the froward man, the wicked who lives on the hill. Don’t bemoan your current low condition, living in the smoke-filled air of the valley. “The wise SHALL inherit glory.”