Proverbs 13:6, “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.”
King Solomon in the book of Proverbs frequently used the literary technique called, “antithetical parallelism,” which means, “the second line contrasts with the first.” For example, “The sinner goes to hell, but the righteous go to heaven.” In today’s proverb the antithetical parallel is between the “righteousness” of the person with integrity and the “wickedness” of the sinner.
Righteousness “guards” the man of integrity, but wickedness “overthrows” the sinner. You as the reader are left with a simple choice, “Do I want to be ‘guarded’ or ‘overthrown?”’ Based on your desired outcome, you should then choose the kind of person you want to be. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care what anyone else chooses, I am choosing to be guarded by God’s righteousness. Sadly, many people want to be guarded from hell but still act in wickedness- that’s hypocrisy. David Wells said, “Worldliness is what makes sin look normal in any age and righteousness seem odd.”
If living for Jesus makes me look strange to the world, I’ll choose being rejected by them to be accepted by Him. I’d rather be a friend of God and an enemy of the world, than be a friend of the world and an enemy of God.
Another way to look at the proverb is from your personal point of view. Are you a righteous person of integrity or a wicked sinner? If you’re wicked, your sins will throw your life into hell, however, if you’re a person of integrity, righteousness will guard you from being overthrown by the devil’s lies. Therefore, choose today to be a person of integrity!
As we learned from Proverbs 11:3, integrity means, “a firm and faithful dedication to a set of morals or beliefs.” Integrity is important to Solomon because it represents a key attribute of the wise. God is firm and faithful to His character and He desires for Jesus’ disciples to be like Him. We are to be, “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 6:48) and be “holy” because God is “holy,” (1 Peter 1:16). Without God it is impossible for sinners to be wise people of integrity but because of Jesus, His character is now imparted to us. We are a copy of Jesus. John wrote, “In this world we are like Jesus,” (1 John 4:17a).
Here are some ways to live out this proverb; (1) Accept Jesus’ righteousness by having faith in His saving work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21), (2) Repent for the times you were wicked and broke God’s laws (Acts 3:19), (3) Daily hunger and thirst to be filled with God’s righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and (4) Seek first God’s righteousness, according to His Word, in all that you do (Matthew 6:33).
- Seek God’s righteousness (i.e., “His right way of doing things”) in your life.
- Avoid wickedness.
- Ask God to guard your life from sin, temptation and evil.