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Proverb for would be Wicked or the would be Righteous

Proverbs 10:24 (ESV) … “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

This proverb reminds me of Fagin’s last night in prison. He was to be executed the next morning for his many crimes. The judge’s sentence, “to be hanged by the neck, till he was dead,” burned into the wicked old man’s soul. Dickens wrote:

As it came on very dark, he began to think of all the men he had known who had died upon the scaffold; some of them through his means. They rose up, in such quick succession, that he could hardly count them. He had seen some of them die, - and had joked too, because they died with prayers upon their lips. With what a rattling noise the drop went down; and how suddenly they changed, from strong and vigorous men to dangling heaps of clothes! …

It was not until the night of this last awful day, that a withering sense of his helpless, desperate state came in its full intensity upon his blighted soul; not that he had ever held any defined or positive hope of mercy, but that he had never been able to consider more than the dim probability of dying so soon.… Now, he started up, every minute, and with gasping mouth and burning skin, hurried to and fro, in such a paroxysm of fear and wrath that even they [the guards]—used to such sights—recoiled from him with horror. He grew so terrible, at last, in all the tortures of his evil conscience, that one man could not bear to sit there, eyeing him alone; and so the two kept watch together.

Oliver Twist and his benefactor Mr. Brownlow came to see Fagin in the hope of getting him to right at least one wrong. A terrible scene followed. Thinking he could escape the condemned cell if he had a hostage, the old Jew seized Oliver. The jailers however disengaged Oliver from Fagin’s grasp. “He struggled with the power of desperation, for an instant,” Dickens said, “and, then sent up cry upon cry that penetrated even those massive walls, and rang in their ears until they reached the open yard.” Thus Dickens left the evil old man. Truly, “the fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him.”

Throughout the novel there is a contrast between Fagin, who is wicked, and poor little Oliver Twist, who is righteous. Oliver desired to be free from the thieves among whom he had unwittingly been cast and free from the evil clutches of Fagin, who was determined to make a thief out of him. Oliver’s desire was granted. His longing for love, peace, quietness, and goodness was granted too. “The desire of the righteous shall be granted.” Throughout the story Dickens—a keen student of human nature—remained true, consciously or unconsciously, to the Biblical script. [1]

The lesson is this. The wicked person lives in fear that he will come to a bad end. While the righteous lives in peace knowing that in the end they shall be rewarded for their character.

[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring Proverbs 1–19: An Expository Commentary (Vol. 1, Pr 10:24). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

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