“The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing, but the righteous finds refuge in his death.” (Proverbs 14:32)
Sometimes when I am watching a TV show or movie, or reading a book, I switch into what I call “evaluation mode.” Rather than become absorbed in the director’s or author’s storyline or character development, I pull back mentally to decide what I think about it. This time of considered discernment usually happens when I realize that I disagree with something in the script, have become offended, or am simply disinterested. I am grateful that Scripture never brings me to the point of disinterest, but most often either highlights my confusion or reveals my lack of spiritual maturity. The Bible never prompts me to put it down out of disagreement or offense. If anything, the more I disagree, am confused, or offended by the Bible, the more I want to investigate these gray areas. Today I am a confounded Bible student over the phrase “finds refuge in his death.” I hope my exploration of Proverbs 14:32 will yield some wisdom.
I begin with the commentary shared by the Reformation Bible Study (and others) that state that the Old Testament does not speak explicitly of resurrection, but it does speak of God’s vindication of the righteous. (1) I have heard many sermons on Genesis 22:5, when “Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you,’” postulating that Abraham believed God would raise his son after his willing sacrifice. However, I am convinced even more now, because of the commentary on Proverbs 14 that Abraham’s God-given faith, worked with his reasonable mind to know that Isaac was to be the son of God’s family on earth and therefore must survive to fulfill his calling. I find great comfort in the sensibility and logic of Scripture as God’s revelation since he is perfect and cannot contradict himself.
So then, how is death a refuge for the righteous, according to the Old Testament? It is the place where the world ends, and God continues. In the words of Job, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19:25-28) The words of this wise man completely agree with Paul’s declaration in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” A believer (a righteous person of the Old Testament) is not like an unbeliever who, when he dies, “is driven away in his wickedness…of the world, his heart is so much set on; from all the good things of it, which are his all, his portion; from the place of his abode, which will know him no more; and from all his friends and acquaintance, with whom he has lived a merry and jovial life…” (2)
One way or the others, those who believe in God will be vindicated for our faith, and enjoy God’s presence more after death than before. Death is a refuge; but thanks to Christ’s resurrection and ascension, our story doesn’t end there, just as the Bible doesn’t end with Malachi and the promise of a coming Messiah, but only after Christ’s first incarnation, the resulting victories, and the promise of his return. Lord, help us to be wise as we explore your Word and conform our minds to yours!
(1) The Reformation Study Bible, Proverbs 14:32, Reformation Trust Publishing (LigonierMinistries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 14:32, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-14.html