16 May 2006

god's cruel messenger

god's cruel messenger

For Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Proverbs 17:11

An evil man seeks only rebellion,
and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

In his comments on this verse, Matthew Henry interprets "seeking rebellion" in the sense of "picks quarrels," noting that "There are some that are actuated by a spirit of opposition, that will contradict for contradiction-sake," who watch for "all opportunities to disturb the public peace."

The second half of the verse, however, serves as both a warning to the disruptive and a comfort to those disrupted.

Those who seek to sow dissension and disorder will find themselves opposed by a "cruel messenger" of God's displeasure. In the Scriptures we find when God's people begin to rebel against him, or when they began to devour one another, Yahweh sent in Gentile nations to oppress them and eventually carry them into exile.

While we may not face geographical exile today, God continues to send us a clear message by other means. Dysfunctional homes, where sin is never faced and disobedience is indulged, eventually fall apart. Workplaces in which grumbling and complaint fill the cubicles, lose efficiency and fail to please their clients. And the church's own mission and our individual witness are rendered ineffective when we reject God's authority by countenancing error or foment quarrels through lack of love.

But God's "cruel messenger" also sounds a note of hope and comfort. Those who seek to obey God, to remain at peace, to cultivate community, to labor fruitfully - their faithfulness will not be thwarted. God will oppose anything that sets itself up against such faithfulness. And thus we remain obedient in hope.