“An evil man seeks only rebellion, and a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”
An evil person rejects and rebels against God’s standards, and invariably rebels against civic rulers, as well. Evil people hate authority. They resent being told what they can and cannot do, so they disobey and do what they want anyway. At some point, God will send a cruel messenger, and the rebellious will suffer the consequences of their disobedience.
Often the cruel messenger is simply the natural consequences of being arrogant and rebellious. One way or the other, evil people who resent authority will eventually be forced to submit. All rebellious uprisings will eventually be put down.
“Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.”
Fools are dangerous not only to themselves, but also to others. Wise people avoid them. To emphasize the danger of foolish people, Solomon uses the illustration of a mother bear robbed of her cubs. Despite the extreme danger of an angry mother bear, Solomon says “a fool in his folly” is even worse. The wisdom response is to recognize dangerous fools and avoid them.
“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”
Scripture says that it is wrong to repay evil for evil, but it is even worse to repay evil for good. Those who respond to good things with evil things demonstrate a cold, dark heart. The consequence for such hard-hearted behavior is perpetual trouble.
Keep in mind that “house” refers to more than a home and physical domicile. It also refers to a community of people, a church, an organization, a team, and even a society of people. When a culture enables -- or allows -- people to behave badly in response to goodness, then evil will find a home on that culture.
“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”
If an opening is made in an earthen dam or dike, flowing water does not stay a small stream, but quickly eats away at the opening and eventually rushes out in a flood of water. In the same way, a fight will grow quickly, if it is not ended at the very beginning.
Conflict exists, but the extent to which it escalates in dependent on the self-discipline of the people involved … or at least one of the people involved.
Proverbs says it this way: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28). This is restraint of spirit, and whoever lacks control over his spirit is as good as ruined. Or to put it simply: Manage your emotions or your emotions will manage you. Emotion is intended to be your servant, not your master.
A wise person avoids the painful consequences of an escalated conflict by exercising self-control on the front end. If you continue to trade combative facial expressions, words, or blows, a small confrontation can quickly escalate into a major fight. A combative reaction can trigger more conflict, and both parties can foolishly flail at each other.
Trust God, do the work of a peacemaker.