Be Righteous by Using God’s Standard – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Proverbs 25:26 (printed below) say about a righteous man who yields to the wicked? What do you think this means?

Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, so is a righteous man who yields to the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26)

Especially in an arid land, to come across a muddied spring (one that has been trampled by a herd of cattle) or to discover that a well is polluted, was more than a great disappointment, it could be a tragedy. Such a situation is used to illustrate the affects and consequences of a righteous man yielding his integrity before the wicked. Being either intimidated by their threats or seduced by their winsomeness and their favors, a good man sacrifices his integrity and gives in to the demands of the wicked. The consequence is one of great disappointment and maybe even tragedy: evil is abetted instead of being challenged; a role model is tarnished, maybe even destroyed.

2. According to Proverbs 13:5 (printed below,) how does a righteous man view deceit?

A righteous man hates lying; but a wicked man is loathsome and will be put to shame. (Proverbs 13:5)

Note that the righteous man does not only abstain from the practice of deceit, but he also has a moral revulsion to it: he hates it. He recognizes deceit to be the lifestyle and the practice of the devil (John 8:44b). With regard to lying and resorting to deceit, a righteous man holds the same view as does the Lord God Himself: he hates it, considering it as contemptible and detestable (note Proverbs 12:22a, “Lying lips are detestable to Jehovah.”)

3. What does Proverbs 21:5 (printed below) tell us about the righteous man’s attitude toward justice?

The thoughts of the righteous are just, but the wicked advise deceit. (Proverbs 12:5)

A wicked man will either counsel you to do what is deceitful, or will be deceitful with you when he offers you counsel. Because his heart is not united to the truth of God and his life is not controlled by that divine truth, he operates in the evil shadows of deceit. But such counsel and such conduct are unthinkable to the righteous man: his thoughts are just. That is to say, both the desire of his heart and the direction of his mind, being in communion with God, are for truth and justice (cp. Zechariah 8:16-17).

4. What other godly attribute is coupled together with righteousness in Proverbs 21:21 (printed below?) Note, also, Matthew 23:23 (also printed below)

He who follows after righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and integrity. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)

The righteous man does not find justice and righteousness to be a duty that is contrary to his renewed nature. On the contrary, he finds it to be a delight to his heart and a satisfaction to his soul. As a child of God, the righteous man has an affinity and oneness with the truth and righteousness of God and thus finds it to be a joy to participate in that righteousness and see it prevail and prosper. In His rebuke of the Pharisees, our Lord couples together the attributes of justice (righteousness in public life), integrity (righteousness in personal life), and mercy.

5. What does Proverbs 29:7 (printed below) teach us about the righteous man’s attitude toward the poor in contrast to the wicked man’s attitude?

The righteous takes into account the cause of the poor; the wicked does not have the understanding to know it. (Proverbs 29:7)

“The righteous takes into account the cause of the poor;” or, “A righteous man knows the cause of the poor.” That is to say, a righteous man has compassion and an active concern and involvement in the cause of the poor, he does not stand aloof, he is sympathetic and understanding. But “the wicked does not have the understanding to know it.” A wicked man lacks the moral perception and sensitivity to feel such compassion and exhibit such concern—he “does not have the understanding to know” the cause of the poor. Because of his hard heart, the wicked man cannot sympathize and identify with the plight of the poor.