17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.
Birds are not so stupid as be trapped in an obvious net, even they are wiser than these “sinful men” who hope to profit by harming others. Malice is the worst kind of foolishness. The glutton and the sluggard destroy their health, the lustful and deceitful destroy relationships, but the malicious fool destroys lives – including his own.
“These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves!” Malicious plans are prone to backfire, what begins with pride ends with humiliation. The scriptures are filled with such accounts – the stories of Cain, Goliath and Haman are but a few examples. Cain never did escape the consequences of his own wrath, it was with his own sword that Goliath was beheaded, and Haman was impaled on the very pole he had prepared for Mordecai.
“Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it.” Even if he gets what he was after, the malicious fool pays dearly for his exploits. There are things which are worth sacrificing oneself for, but ill-gotten gain is not one of them. Whatever you are tempted to do has been done already by someone else. Consider their paths carefully, all the way through to the end, before you go after them.