Proverbs 24:16
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
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(16) For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again.—That is, falls into trouble (not sin, as is often supposed). Therefore thy malice will be of no avail, for God’s protection is about him. (Comp. Job 5:19; Psalm 34:19; Psalm 37:24.)

Seven timesi.e., frequently. (Comp. Matthew 18:21.)

24:1,2 Envy not sinners. And let not a desire ever come into thy mind, Oh that I could shake off restraints! 3-6. Piety and prudence in outward affairs, both go together to complete a wise man. By knowledge the soul is filled with the graces and comforts of the spirit, those precious and pleasant riches. The spirit is strengthened for the spiritual work and the spiritual warfare, by true wisdom. 7-9. A weak man thinks wisdom is too high for him, therefore he will take no pains for it. It is bad to do evil, but worse to devise it. Even the first risings of sin in the heart are sin, and must be repented of. Those that strive to make others hateful, make themselves so. 10. Under troubles we are apt to despair of relief. But be of good courage, and God shall strengthen thy heart. 11,12. If a man know that his neighbour is in danger by any unjust proceeding, he is bound to do all in his power to deliver him. And what is it to suffer immortal souls to perish, when our persuasions and example may be the means of preventing it? 13,14. We are quickened to the study of wisdom by considering both the pleasure and the profit of it. All men relish things that are sweet to the palate; but many have no relish for the things that are sweet to the purified soul, and that make us wise unto salvation. 15,16. The sincere soul falls as a traveller may do, by stumbling at some stone in his path; but gets up, and goes on his way with more care and speed. This is rather to be understood of falls into affliction, than falls into actual sin.The teaching of the proverb warns men not to attack or plot against the righteous. They will lose their labor, "Though the just man fall (not into sin, but into calamities), yet he riseth up." The point of the teaching is not the liability of good men to err, but God's providential care over them (compare the margin reference). "Seven times" is a certain for an uncertain number (compare Job 5:19). In contrast with this is the fate of the evildoers, who fall utterly even in a single distress. 16. seven times—often, or many (Pr 6:16, 31; 9:1). Falleth; either,

1. Into sin. Or, rather,

2. Into calamities, of which he evidently speaks, both in the foregoing verse, and in the opposite and following branch of this verse, and so this word is used in the next verse, and Psalm 37:24 Isaiah 24:20 Jeremiah 25:27 Amos 8:14 Micah 7:8, &c. And so this is fitly alleged as a just reason to dissuade wicked men from their unjust attempts against righteous men, because they should not succeed in them; and although they might by God’s permission bring them into some distress for a thee, yet God would deliver them out of their hands, and they should be disappointed of their hopes.

Seven times, i.e. frequently.

Into mischief; into unavoidable and irrecoverable destruction, ofttimes in this life, and infallibly in the next.

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again,.... This is to be understood of a truly just man; not of one that is only outwardly and seemingly so, or of temporary believers and nominal professors; but of such who are thoroughly convinced of their own unrighteousness, and believe in Christ for righteousness, and have it applied and imputed to them; as well as have principles of grace and righteousness implanted in them, and live righteously in this evil world; these often fall either into troubles or into sins, and indeed into both, and the one is the cause of the other; and both senses may be retained: the former seems more agreeable to the context, and runs thus, lay not wait to a just man's dwelling to do him any hurt; for though he should be ensnared, and stumble, and fall into distress and calamity, yet he will rise again out of it, and so all attempts upon him are vain and fruitless; many are the righteous man's afflictions he falls into, but the Lord delivers out of all; he delivers him in six troubles, and even in seven, Psalm 34:19; or in many, one after another; he rises out of them all; he comes out of great tribulations, and at last safely enters the kingdom of heaven; and therefore it is to no purpose to lie in wait for him: and this sense is strengthened by the words following, "rejoice not when thine enemy falleth", Proverbs 24:17; but the latter sense of falling into sin has been anciently received, and not to be rejected; and which generally precedes and is the cause of falling into trouble. A just man, though he does not fall from his righteousness, which is an everlasting one, nor from the grace of God; yet he may fall into temptation, and by it he may fall into sin, as every just man does; "for there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not", Ecclesiastes 7:20; and that frequently, even every day; and therefore stands every day in need of fresh application of pardoning grace, for which he is directed to pray daily; and he may be left to fall foully into very gross sins, as David, Peter, and others; but not totally and finally, so as to perish; being on the heart of God, in the hands of Christ, on him the foundation, united to him, and kept by the power of God, he shall and does rise again sooner or later; not by his own power and strength, but by the strength of the Lord; he rises by renewed repentance, and under the fresh discoveries of pardoning grace and mercy to heal his backslidings;

but the wicked shall fall into mischief; or "evil" (q); into the evil of sin, and there lie and wallow in it, as the swine in the mire, and never rise out of it; and into the evil of punishment, into hell itself, from whence there will be no deliverance; and oftentimes they fall into mischief in this world, into trouble and distress, into poverty and want, in which they live and die, and never recover out of it; to which agrees what follows.

(q) "in malum", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Mercerus, Gejerus, Michaelis, Schultens.

For a just man {e} falleth seven times, and riseth again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

(e) He is subject to many perils, but God delivers him.

16. falleth] not into sin, for the Heb. word is never used of moral lapse, but into trouble or calamity. You will “lay wait against” him and “spoil” him (Proverbs 24:15) to no purpose. You may cause him many “falls” by your machinations, but he will rise superior to them all. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:24. Comp. Psalm 34:19). Whereas “the wicked,” among whom thou art thus numbering thyself (Proverbs 24:15), shall fall into mischief; or rather, shall not merely fall to rise again, but are overthrown by calamity (R.V.). By a single calamity, it may be (in contrast to the sevenfold recovery of the righteous) they are utterly crushed.

Verse 16. - A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again. The fall may be taken of sin or of calamity. Preachers, ancient and modern, have made much use of this text in the first sense, expatiating how a good man may fall into venial or more serious sins, but he never loses his love of God, and rises from his fall by repentance on every occasion. We also often find the words in die, "a day," added, which indeed occur in some manuscripts, but are not in the original. But the verb naphal seems not to be used in the sense of "falling" morally; and the meaning here is that the just man frequently falls into trouble, - he is not secure against worldly cares and losses, or the insidious attacks of the man mentioned in Ver. 15; but he never loses his trust in God or offends by fretfulness and impatience, and always God's providence watches over him and delivers him out of all his afflictions. "Seven times" means merely often, that number being used to express plurality or completeness (see on Proverbs 6:31; 26:16; and comp. Genesis 4:24; Job 5:19 (which is like our passage); and Matthew 18:22). The expectation which the sinner conceived when he saw the good man distressed, that he might seize the opportunity and use it to his own benefit, is woefully disappointed. In contrast with the recovery and reestablishment of the righteous, when the wicked suffer calamity there is no recuperation for them. The wicked shall fall into mischief; Revised Version better, are overthrown by calamity (comp. Proverbs 14:32, and note there). Septuagint," But the ungodly shall be weak in evils." Proverbs 24:1615 Lie not in wait, oh wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous;

     Assault not his resting-place.

16 For seven times doth the righteous fall and rise again,

     But the wicked are overthrown when calamity falls on them.

The ארב [lying in wait] and שׁדּד [practising violence], against which the warning is here given, are not directed, as at Proverbs 1:11; Proverbs 19:26, immediately against the person, but against the dwelling-place and resting-place (רבץ, e.g., Jeremiah 50:6, as also נוה, 3:33) of the righteous, who, on his part, does injustice and wrong to no one; the warning is against coveting his house, Exodus 20:17, and driving him by cunning and violence out of it. Instead of רשׁע, Symmachus and Jerome have incorrectly read רשׁע daer, and from this misunderstanding have here introduced a sense without sense into Proverbs 24:15; many interpreters (Lwenstein, Ewald, Elster, and Zckler) translate with Luther appositionally: as a wicked man, i.e., "with mischievous intent," like one stealthily lurking for the opportunity of taking possession of the dwelling of another, as if this could be done with a good intent: רשׁע is the vocative (Syr., Targ., Venet.: ἀσεβές), and this address (cf. Psalm 75:5.) sharpens the warning, for it names him who acts in this manner by the right name. The reason, 16a, sounds like an echo of Job 5:19. שׁבע signifies, as at Psalm 119:164, seven times; cf. מאה, Proverbs 17:10. וקם (not וקם) is perf. consec., as וחי, e.g., Genesis 3:22 : and he rises afterwards (notwithstanding), but the transgressors come to ruin; בּרעה, if a misfortune befall them (cf. Proverbs 14:32), they stumble and fall, and rise no more.

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