Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous,
do not plunder their dwelling place;
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.
This proverb takes a twist. Instead of counseling against committing violence against the righteous as a moral issue, he addresses it from a standpoint of practicality. Conventional thought is that preying upon the righteous is easy work. The righteous are naive; they do not strike back; they tend to believe the best in people. Who better to take advantage of?
The righteous might seem easy prey, but they also prove themselves to be resilient. They may fall down, but they rise again. Why do they? The proverbs equate righteousness with wisdom. Thus they have the wisdom necessary to carry on. And they are not as naive as they may seem. A common mistake of the wicked is to believe that courtesy and generosity are symptomatic of naiveté, when instead they actually signify confidence. The righteous have not put their hope in possessions. Thus to lose such things does not undo them. The wicked, on the other hand, do put their faith in material possession and earthly power; thus to lose such things completely undermines their confidence. They miscalculate what is of real value; they underestimate the strength of others who are unlike them.
But the underlying cause of the righteous’ resilience, and the wicked’s lack thereof, is God. The Lord protects and delivers the righteous. He attacks the wicked. Never take God out of the equation. With such a perspective, David won victory over Goliath: “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God… The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:36-37).
As with David, there is more than meets the eye with the righteous. Even more so, the Lord is their deliverer.
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,[a]
as you did that day at Massah[b] in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”