The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead.
If you look around the world and see Christians being beheaded and persecuted in various ways, you would wonder how this proverb makes any sense. Aren’t righteous people promised deliverance not only in this proverb but in many other places in the Bible? Psalm 5:12 assures us that the Lord blesses the righteous and his favor is like a shield around him. So how do we explain what we see around us in light of these and many other verses that promise deliverance?
My standard answer is to point to Jesus who said we would be blessed when persecuted (Matt 5:10-12) and to Paul’s warning that if we want to live righteous lives, we will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Then I noticed Peter’s writing where he says, “the righteous is scarcely saved” (1 Peter 4:18). Maybe it isn’t as clear cut as I thought. Deliverance isn’t easy. I also noticed that there are similar passages to Proverbs 11:8 such as Proverbs 12:13. Rather than looking for a physical rescue and deliverance, there is a very clear picture that our deliverance isn’t necessarily physical but spiritual.
What happens to the wicked? They are not spared from their deceitful plans. They go right ahead and do what they want all their lives and where do they end up? You don’t have to guess because it is clear that they will perish in hell if they don’t repent (Luke 13:3).
Jesus talked about the gate that leads to destruction being wide by the way to salvation is narrow (Matt 7:13-14). From this proverb, I can visualize a person walking down the path who. He sees both gates and starts for the wide gate when Jesus appears and guides him to the narrow one. He thanks Jesus and enters into life. Another man also walks toward the wide gate and Jesus stops to point him to the narrow gate. He shoves Jesus aside and confidently strides through the wide gate into his eternal abode in hell.
We can follow Jesus and be delivered from trouble or ignore him and walk into it.