The wicked is thrust down by his wrong doing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies. (Proverbs 14:32—NASV)

The King James Version uses the words “driven away” in place of “thrust down.” Coupling both ideas together affords a full understanding of the original Hebrew wording, and gives a strong grasp of the violence and the irresistibility of personal and eternal defeat suffered at the hand of sin. Sin is an autocratic, subjugating, driving force that does nothing but leave utter and irretrievable vanquishment, destruction, and ruin in its wake.

Our lives are full of anecdotal evidence of powerful overthrows. From sports contests to warfare, we can recount histories of those who have bravely stood their ground in the face of superior numbers and materiel, only to find the opposing force overwhelming, crushingly brutal, and sneeringly arrogant. Just as in a ferocious flood once released, or a noxious volcano once erupted, the outcome was never in doubt. The loser never had a chance.

The loser in our text is the “wicked.” This is a term which is descriptive of the impious, the guilty, and the wrong-doer. It is a general Old Testament word for a pagan in heart, an unbeliever. Though he may be outwardly religious, the fruit of his life is “wrong doing.” His behavior in heart, word, and deed is spiritually worthless. He is totally depraved. This does not mean he is as bad as he possibly can be, but that all he is and does, is tinged by evil. The wicked one breaks God’s law.

The first phrase of the verse simply states that despite a sinner’s best effort at containing his own sinful nature and deeds he will be overwhelmed, thrust down and driven away from the presence of God by his sin. Consider the following verses. Psalm 1:4–5 states, “The ungodly…are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” Isaiah 64:6 reads, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Jesus states in Matthew 7:21–23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name, and done many wonders in Your Name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

There have always been many sad “professors” of faith in their own goodness, drowning in the horror of judgment on their death bed, because the flood of the just wrath of God was not drained away from them by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. They lived their lives outside the refuge found only in the blood of the sinless Lamb of God.

How different is the case of the one declared to be righteous! He has a refuge, a towering hope of protection, when he dies. As evil vanquishes unmercifully, even more surely does perfect righteousness (not our own) afford gracious protection, comfort, hope and prevailing victory, even over death. Solomon’s general principle of the superiority of righteous living over wicked living is fully unfolded in the New Testament in light of the work of Jesus Christ. He was the One who came among men, lived a sinlessly righteous life and then bore our sin to the cross of Calvary. He died for us and paid the penalty for our sin so that, through faith, we may be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Without that grace we are driven down to the grave and to hell. With that grace we have a refuge in the declaration of Justification by God through the effective work of our Savior.

Are you sensing the overpowering nature of sin and running for refuge to Christ? Are you certain you are born again and from above? Are you living in obedience under the shield of the righteousness of your Savior? Trust and obey.