Wickedness Prevailing, and Why it Prevails
Jeremiah 9:3
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth on the earth…

These wicked people, says the prophet, "prevail, but their prevailing does not come by truth and good faith."

I. WE HAVE HERE AN ADMISSION THAT WICKEDNESS PREVAILS. It is, indeed, one great consideration in the prophet's unutterable grief that wickedness is so strong and successful. Man, weak and puny as he is in some respects, is in others strong to achieve very impressive results. In mere physical strength there are many brutes that far excel him, but he has faculties which so multiply his strength as to put the rest of creation under his feet. That man, with his peculiar nature, should be strong to do good, means that if his choice so falls he may also be strong to do evil. The prophet looks out, then, upon wicked men who prevail in their plots and schemes. He has no wish to minimize their success. He uses a strong word to indicate it. The word used to indicate the prevailing of the waters at the Deluge is the word also used to indicate the prevailing of the wicked here. The wickedness is not only extensively present, but manifestly successful. There must be no shirking of this fact. It is another matter, indeed, what the success may be worth, and how long it may last; but there it is, such as it is. The wicked prevail by putting the good into prison, and even to the taking away of their lives. They prevail by seducing the weak and self-indulgent into temptation. They prevail by deceiving the simple. They go upon the maxim that everything is fair, and has in it the highest necessity if it helps toward the attainment of their ends. And their ends they do attain, making a boast of their success, and sneering at the scrupulosity of those who will not follow in their steps.

II. THE INSTABILITY OF THIS PREVALING IS HINTED AT. Integrity, truth, good faith, are thrown to the winds. The prophet does not need to have extorted from him an admission that the wicked prevail; but along with the admission he makes an assertion which, even in the midst of his melancholy, gives him confidence and a measure of satisfaction. This prevailing, great and proud as it is, cannot last, for it lacks the essential constituents of endurance. The man who gains his ends by deceit and perfidy must of necessity deceive himself as much as he does others. He persuades himself that he will never grow weary of what he so much enjoys. He forgets, too, that every one whom he deceives may be thereby learning a lesson which some day may come back in unexpected and terrible treachery to himself. There is not a single instance of wicked prosperity that need alarm or perplex us. The more wickedness raises its head in boasting, the more sudden may be the final overthrow.

III. THOSE WHO CLEAVE TO TRUTH ALWAYS PREVAIL IN THE END. They do it by the best kind of prevailing - that of vanquishing the evil in their own hearts; and, so far as their overcoming is also an overcoming of others, they do it in such a way as provokes no retaliation. He who has a settled regard for what is real and true and abiding, keeps out of his future those very things which bring confusion to the wicked. The prevailing of the righteous may not, indeed, be exhibited so as to impress the eyes of the world; but that is a small matter. He who overcometh looks forward to God's rewards, which are such that the world cannot appreciate them. The great thing is to be calmly conscious in our own breasts that we are winning the victory God would have us win. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

WEB: They bend their tongue, [as it were] their bow, for falsehood; and they are grown strong in the land, but not for truth: for they proceed from evil to evil, and they don't know me, says Yahweh.

Valour for the Truth
Top of Page
Top of Page