Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (WEB)
Deuteronomy 4:6-8 Obeying the commandments of God shows a nation to be wise and understanding. God will answer their prayer and be near to them. Their legal system will be based on the law of God.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 God will exalt the nation that is obedient to him. He will bless that nation: economically; its government; with children; food will be plentiful; enemies scattered; established as a holy people and seen by other nations to be holy unto the Lord; good weather; lending to many nations and not borrowing; the head of the nations.
Deuteronomy 28:15-68 Disobeying the commandments of God will bring increasing judgment. He will curse that nation: economically; its government; children cursed; cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that is done until the nation is destroyed; pestilence will be prevalent; bad weather, drought; scattered before your enemies; madness, blindness, and astonishment of heart; indecision and fear; oppression and robbery; injustice and poverty; adultery, rape, theft, and rampant violence; kidnapping and slavery; servitude to other nations; idolatry; people will become a proverb and a curse; land will be taken over by foreigners; famine, war, and death will be rampant; the nation will cease to exist.
Deuteronomy 29:18-28 Turning away from God will produce a root that contains bitter poison. People will deceive themselves, thinking that peace and prosperity will remain. However the Lord will be very angry, cursing and destroying the nation such that the nation will become a proverb.
Joshua 2:6-14 When fathers do not diligently teach their children about the Lord, then there will rise up a generation that does not know the Lord. They will abandon the Lord and he will turn them over to their enemies.
Jeremiah 2:2-25 The Lord recalls how he blessed the nation and asks what unrighteousness they had found in him that they should turn away from him. He brings a formal indictment. He recounts their heritage which they had forsaken. He exposes their delusion–that they believe themselves to be righteous. Yet they plunge into the depths of sin.
Ezekiel 16:1-63 A very graphic description of a nation prostituting itself in sin and idolatry.
Hosea 13:1 A contrast to Proverbs 14:34–the nation exalts itself, then dies in the throws of idolatry.
Thoughts and Questions
- The cross references show the extreme seriousness of righteousness and sin in a nation: the wonder of blessings and the severity of judgment. The life of the nation and all who inhabit it are at stake.
- Israel, from Jacob to Jesus, showed a continual falling away from God punctuated by brief revivals. Is this pattern determined for the Church or any nation?
- What is the righteousness (the straight path) that is referred to and who is to do it?
- What is the responsibility of the individual?
- What is the responsibility of the family?
- What is the responsibility of civil government?
- What is the responsibility of the church? Especially since the people referred to in the verse seems to be the covenant people.
- What about other organizations?
- What is to be done when the nation has fallen into sin?
- Is there hope? If so, what?
- What about when wickedness abounds and yet the nation in apparently prosperous?
Like most proverbs, this verse briefly makes a statement that must be evaluated in terms of many other passages in the bible. However it is clear that righteousness as a general trait of the culture is meant. This implies that righteousness must be practiced by individuals and the three covenant institutions: family; civil government; and the church.
Unpacking those in future posts…