The Protection of the Righteous

HaShem is faithful to repay those who wish to harm us while at the same time delivering us from their hands.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Toby Janicki

Bible

blessings danger protection punishment reward righteous wicked

Sometimes God’s blessings don’t arrive in the way we think they should, but we trust that his wisdom is greater than ours.

HaShem is faithful to take care of and provide for his children. Perhaps one of the greatest blessings we can receive from him is his protection.

Deliverance

Proverbs chapter 11 covers a wide variety of topics including pride, lack of discretion, and generosity. Yet flowing through these varying topics is a continuous theme of protection for the righteous. For example:

The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. (Proverbs 11:3-6)

In these four verses the reoccurring theme is that while the upright will be blessed and saved, those who practice wickedness will fall into destruction.

In a world today where there are so many things to be afraid of, we can find comfort in these words. The Master also urges us not to fear:

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. (John 10:29)

The ultimate deliverance is life in the World to Come.

Turning the Tables

One of the most intriguing ideas about the concept of “protection for the righteous” is found in the Jewish interpretation of verse 8, which reads:

The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place. (Proverbs 11:8)

A famous Biblical commentator nicknamed Metzudot (“Fortresses”), Rabbi Yechiel Hillel ben David Altschuller, who lived in the eighteenth century said the following about this verse:

If a misfortune is decreed upon a righteous man and … he is spared, the decree is visited upon a wicked man instead. [1]

He believes that if a pronouncement of destruction is placed upon a righteous person by an evil human, that the pronouncement must be carried out, but instead of it being upon the righteous person, it is carried out on the evil person, i.e., “takes his place” as in the proverb. Here are three biblical examples of this:

1. But when it came to the king's attention, he commanded by letter that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. (Esther 9:25)

In the book of Esther, Haman desires to hang Mordecai upon a gallows that he had built, but instead Haman was hung on his own gallows.

2. For this reason, because the king's command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flame of the fire slew those men who carried up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. (Daniel 3:22)

The men who carried Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego up to the furnace and put them in to be killed were killed themselves while the three righteous men were saved.

3. The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions' den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. (Daniel 6:24)

Here Daniel is ordered to be thrown into the lion’s den but is saved by the hand of the Father, while those same lions killed the men who were responsible for putting him there.

HaShem is faithful to repay those who wish to harm us while at the same time delivering us from their hands.

Footnotes:

[1] Rabbi Eliezer Ginsburg, Mishlei Proverbs: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah, 1998), 199.

About the Author

Toby Janicki is a teacher and writer for First Fruits of Zion. He is also the Theological Support Coordinator for the Torah Club program and has authored several books including God-Fearers and a comprehensive commentary on the Didache titled: The Way of Life.

Bible

blessings danger protection punishment reward righteous wicked

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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