15 ¶ Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: 16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
With Israel under the Law, a kingdom totally set apart for God on the earth, this was a physical warning to those who would think to oppress the home of the righteous by theft and fraud. With the church, under the doctrines of Grace, this would be a warning not to seek to cause the saved to stumble.
John Gill refers to the church as the resting place of the righteous and that this is a warning to those who would watch for the Christians to fall or fail and delight in it. But, as this is the Bible, it is highly unlikely that those people who would take joy in watching the house of God be brought to shame would be reading this so I looked to Matthew Henry for light, who points out that this isn’t so much as counsel for wicked men because they wouldn’t hear it anyway as per verses we’ve already read;
Proverbs 23:9 ¶ Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
But as in defiance of them, to comfort the Christian that those who would seek their destruction will fall into their own sin, as Gill says, in which they will wallow, like a pig in muck and mud. And yet, God will deliver His people.
I’ve prayed for guidance on this and I think that we can get a more clear meaning for a spiritual and practical application for the Christian. You see, in the last times the condition of the church is pretty bad. You have the books relating to the doctrine for the Church Age ending in a slave who has runaway from his master returning in humility in Philemon. You have several churches in the first chapter of Revelation being told that they have not just walked away from their first love but are steeped in wickedness and error and are in danger of losing their place, their candlesticks, as the churches of Christ.
And Paul, with the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit has given him (2 Peter 3:15), tells us of the last times in the church itself as that is the context of this passage;
2 Timothy 3:1 ¶ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.
And again, Paul had previously warned Timothy about the end of the Church Age;
1Timothy 4:1 ¶ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
And finally, note the parable of the mustard seed which Christ relates in Mark, chapter 4, and in a different sermon in Luke, chapter 13, with the birds of the air, or fowls of the air, likened to the Devil in Matthew 13, lodging under the shadow of the of the tree that represents the church and lodging in the branches.
Note, then, that within the church itself, within the millions of professing Christians, there are wicked people who lay in wait enjoying the benefits of fellowship, even the offices of the church, but always seeking out who and how they may corrupt and cause to fall. Did Judas know he was a devil as Jesus said about him in John 6:70? Does the corrupter, placed within the body of Christ by Satan to destroy testimonies and crush faith, have to know that he or she is a phony? I don’t think so. They might but I don’t think they have to know what they are to do great damage.
The wicked man’s mischief will be revealed in time, depending on how closely the congregation walks with Christ and knows His words in this Book in their hearts. And yes, God will deliver the just and the righteous, those who are just and righteous by virtue of Christ being just and righteous, whose Spirit dwells in them. But, they are here, within the body of Christ, and they will bring you down so that God will have to revive you, and the way to know them is to see when that worship of Self is evident within the congregation. Humanistic philosophy, putting man first, always talking about “my” successes for Christ and how “I” did this or that for Christ and how “I” have always raised my children or treated my spouse or the church the way God would have me. They will dismiss your testimony and your experience as being meaningless because it isn’t like theirs. You don’t have their experience. They’ve been there, done that, and got the Tshirt. Maybe one day you’ll grow in grace and be like them. The wicked are so confidant and optimistic that their way is right and God is so fortunate to have them on His team. The next step is off the cliff.
Five is often considered to be the number of death and apostasy in the Bible by many commentators which would require a number of pages to explain so we’ll leave it for some other time. But Lucifer, another title for Satan, says “I” five times in the passage starting in Isaiah 14:12 about his downfall and pride. Goliath says “I” five times in his taunt of God and of His people and David in 1 Samuel 17. The worship of Self is the greatest form of idolatry in the Bible.
The wicked, within the house of God, lay in wait for the righteous, but they shall fall into mischief and when the righteous do fall, God will lift them up. Just be alert for the wicked within the ranks of professing Christians.
Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Watch out for those people in the church who have a big “I” emblazoned on their foreheads and who not only are carnal and worldly, loving sin for a season, but try to encourage you to do the same, even if that sin is establishing their own righteousness rather than completely depending on Christ’s and they want you to do the same.
I pray that the Holy Spirit guided me in writing this, today. I have no idea who but apparently someone needed to hear it.