23Too much pride brings disgrace;
humility leads to honor.
24If you take part in a crime
you are your worst enemy,
because even under oath
you can't tell the truth.
25Don't fall into the trap
of being a coward—
trust the Lord,
and you will be safe.
26Many try to make friends
with a ruler,
but justice comes
from the Lord.
27Good people and criminals
can't stand each other.
Holding your hands up and admitting you’ve done wrong when you’re called out is not easy. It puts a dent in your pride and teaches you a lesson about avoiding the misdemeanor in future.
It becomes even harder when you’re not the perpetrator but you keep quiet about someone else’s misdeeds. The sense of our reading is that by being silent you are guilty by association. And worse than that, v 25 labels you a coward. Harsh. Or is it?
There is an internet meme of a quote attributed to the German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” It’s cited all over the internet and often on reputable, academic sites but there is no concrete evidence that Bonhoeffer ever said or wrote it.
Its not uncommon for falsehoods to go viral on the web and the “Bonhoeffer quote” is plausible if you know anything about his life in 20th century Nazi Germany. Perhaps the reason memes go viral is that people react to a powerful sentiment they read, and the meaning it conveys is more important than the precise attribution of the source. The Bonhoeffer “quote” is like a proverb for today just spun the other way round to verse 24 and perhaps more meaningful to a 21st century mind.
However, the writer of Proverbs is concerned about the truth and accuracy of the source. In this case where ultimate justice comes from. It’s not the king or the criminal court. We are reminded that “justice comes from the Lord” and you are on safe ground if you put your trust in him.
Dear Lord, There are times when it’s easier to follow the herd and not make a stand about what I believe. When I’m confronted with one of life’s frequent dilemmas, please prompt me to choose the option that best fits your purposes for me. Thank you. Amen.
Ashley is an independent consultant and part of the Executive Team of Forum of Bible Agencies International. Working with nonprofits, Ashley specializes in enterprise and organizational development, applying 20 years experience in international strategic planning, marketing and fundraising development. Previously, Ashley was an international EVP level leader in Christian ministries, and was a part of the pioneering team in the UK who revolutionized how Bible engagement and public Bible advocacy was understood.