Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

4 By justice a king gives a country stability,

   but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

5 Those who flatter their neighbors

   are spreading nets for their feet.

6 Evildoers are snared by their own sin,

   but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.


 Lady justice ought to be blindfolded. When the same standard of justice applies to rich and poor, powerful and defenseless, young and old; stability is maintained. Two things hang in the balance of justice; that good is rewarded and evil is discouraged. If good is not rewarded, what hope is there for the future? If evil is not discouraged, what will stop it from spreading? The greatest threat to justice is from within. When those charged to maintain justice betray it for personal gain, when the courts are manipulated by favoritism, society unravels.

 “Those who flatter their neighbors are spreading nets for their feet.” Injustice is harmful for society; it is also dangerous for the individual. Flattery tells you that you can spend more than you can afford, that you don’t need to be responsible, that you can get away with what others can’t. Let justice guide you, and you will avoid the snares of flattery. Be truthful in your speech.  don’t tempt your neighbors with flattery, encourage them instead to be conscientious and responsible.

 “Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.”  The risk of punishment is only one consequence of sin. There are also inherent consequences, which cannot so easily be avoided. Evildoers may get the things they were after through sin, but joy and gladness elude them. They see their snares only when it is too late; their deception has bound them to suspicion, their envy has bound them to discontentment, their pride has bound them to self-pity. The righteous are free of these things, they are joyful in their innocence and glad in their achievements. Knowing that sin is bondage, what can be gained by sin that is worth having? Look beyond the lies of temptation, avoid its snares, and you will be free to find joy.

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