Do Not Envy the Wicked

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We humans can be a dichotomous brew. We venerate heroes and glorify outlaws.

We like heroes and heroines from the fields of medicine and the military, and applaud unsung heroes who defy oppressive governments and criminal cartels.

Yet, many popular movies and TV shows present a romanticized view of criminals and monsters. In days gone by, it was Bonnie and Clyde or the Corleone family ("The Godfather"), now it ranges from outlaw biker gangs to vampires.

The revealing dichotomy is how we look for heroic criminals or vampires, as if searching for some redemptive merit in them. It's both strange and absurd.


Don’t envy evil people or try to be friends with them. Their minds are always planning violence, and they always talk about making trouble. [vs 1]

It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong. It takes knowledge to fill a home with rare and beautiful treasures. Wise people have great power, and those with knowledge have great strength. So you need advice when you go to war. If you have lots of good advice, you will win. [vss 2-6]

Foolish people cannot understand wisdom. They have nothing to say in a discussion. Whoever makes evil plans will be known as a troublemaker. Making foolish plans is sinful, and making fun of wisdom is hateful. [vss 7-9]

If you give up when trouble comes, it shows that you are weak. Save those who are being led to their death; rescue those who are about to be killed. If you say, “We don’t know anything about this,” God, who knows what’s in your mind, will notice. He is watching you, and he will know. He will reward each person for what he has done. [vss 10-12]

My child, eat honey because it is good. Honey from the honeycomb tastes sweet. In the same way, wisdom is pleasing to you. If you find it, you have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true. Don’t be wicked and attack a good family’s house; don’t rob the place where they live. Even though good people may be bothered by trouble seven times, they are never defeated, but the wicked are overwhelmed by trouble. [vss 13-16]

Don’t be happy when your enemy is defeated; don’t be glad when he is overwhelmed. The Lord will notice and be displeased. He may not be angry with them anymore. Don’t envy evil people, and don’t be jealous of the wicked. An evil person has nothing to hope for; the wicked will die like a flame that is put out. [vss 17-20]

(Proverbs 24:1-20 NCV) [Context– Proverbs 24]

Key phrase— Save those who are being led to their death; rescue those who are about to be killed.

[bctt tweet="Save those who are being led to their death; rescue those who are about to be killed."]

Digging Deeper...

How are evil and wisdom contrasted in these verses? Why are we to desire one over the other?

What are the benefits of wisdom in contrast to the consequences faced by the foolish and evil?

What is the somewhat heroic exhortation given here? What are the consequences of not rescuing people headed for destruction?

Why are we not to rejoice over a fallen enemy? What should our attitude be towards them?


The problem with romanticized violence or evil is that it's an unrealistic view. Violence begets violence. The nature of violence is that it's harsh and judgmental, with no respect for its victims.

Wisdom and good are contrasted with evil and foolishness because their outcomes are so different. One is short-sighted and self-absorbed, while wisdom and goodness are others-centric with a more positive end-view of life.

It's not just about not doing wrong or evil, but that there's a good to be done. Don't envy the evil, but rescue those who are overpowered by evil. Also, there's a consequence for ignoring those headed for destruction, and a blessing when we step out to rescue and restore others.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Do you secretly admire certain people who have power and influence over others, or who seem to get away with wrong-doing?

Who do you hold as heroes or people you want to emulate? Why? What is it about them that you value?

When you have opportunity to rescue or restore a person, what's your first reaction?

Where do you find wisdom to nourish your soul? Do you make this a priority over other influences in your life?