Proverbs 24:16 is an encouraging verse that says, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” At first glance, this passage may not seem reassuring. However, the inspiration comes when one realizes that, for the one who is doing right, failure is not the end of the road. Consider the following five specific thoughts from this proverb.
First, it makes a difference how you are living when you fall. There is a clear comparison in this verse between the just man who falls and the wicked man who falls. The just man rises up to continue moving forward, but the wicked man falls into mischief (described in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary as “ill consequence”). Webster’s 1828 Dictionary describes “just” as “upright, honest, and influenced by a regard to the laws of God.” When someone is seeking to walk in integrity before God, it will have a definite impact on his response to adversity and failures.
Second, a JUST man will fall. The proverb begins by naming the fallen one as a “just man.” Sometimes, when someone has fallen on his face in discouragement and disgrace, it is easy for others to decide that he must have been doing something wrong. Others may conclude that he must have been living in sin. However, God’s Word states that even someone walking in uprightness before God will face failure.
Third, a just man WILL fall. The passage says, “a just man falleth.” This is not a matter of if he falls, but this is a matter of when he falls. When a well-intentioned person determines that if he will only work smarter and harder that he will never fail, he is destined for disappointment.
Fourth, a just man will fall MORE than once. According to this Scripture passage, “a just man falleth seven times.” Many may convey kindness to a friend who has fallen once only to express impatience and judgment when that friend falls a second and third time. Be patient with yourself and merciful toward others. Even with the best of intentions and sturdiest of efforts, everyone is bound for multiple falls. Accepting this fact will take some pressure off of your shoulders and apply salve to the wounds when the disappointments come.
Last, a just man WILL get back up. The encouragement in this verse is found in the phrase, “and riseth up again.” The just man realizes that failure does not have to be final. In the strength of the Lord and for God’s glory, he rises up and presses on! He learns that each failure is only a stepping stone. The fall may teach him or rebuke him, but he rises up a better person.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” If you fall today, get back up and keep going!
By Pastor Timothy Benefield, Golden Valley Baptist Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.