A Hardened Countenance vs. Carefully Considered Ways

A wicked man hard­eneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. Proverbs 21:29

Look­ing at the some ref­er­ences, this is one of those vers­es that could be tak­en to mean a num­ber of things. For exam­ple, the Good News Bible ren­ders it as, “Right­eous peo­ple are sure of them­selves; the wicked have to pre­tend as best they can.”

Con­trari­wise, the Douay-Rheims Bible has the right­eous man being will­ing to cor­rect his ways, rather than being sure with­in them: “The wicked man impu­dent­ly hard­eneth his face: but he that is right­eous, cor­recteth his way.”

I like how the Eng­lish Stan­dard Ver­sion has this verse: “A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways.”

We are told first of the nat­ur­al, unre­gen­er­ate, wicked man. He has a bold, hard­ened face, and one only needs to exam­ine the crowds when the gospel is preached pub­licly to see what this verse means. In the face of reproof — whether from par­ents, the gov­ern­ment, min­is­ters, preach­ers, and so on — the wicked man will impu­dent­ly remain, well, wicked. Whether he is lying or lust­ing, steal­ing or bow­ing to idols of his own imag­in­ing, the wicked man does so with pride. Noth­ing and no one will con­vince him to do otherwise.

But what about a right­eous man? What about those who have tast­ed and seen that the Lord is good, who have par­tak­en of the Spir­it, wel­comed into God’s holy family?

The right­eous are sep­a­rate in that their coun­te­nances are not hard­ened to reproof and cor­rec­tion. Their hearts of stone have been exchanged for ten­der hearts of flesh which are sen­si­tive not only to the guid­ance of God’s Holy Spir­it, but also of the var­i­ous author­i­ties and influ­ences God has arranged to be around them. Whether it is the preach­ing of the Word, the pri­vate read­ing of the Word, the influ­ence of con­science, the guid­ance of par­ents, or the laws of mas­ters and mag­is­trates, the right­eous man will con­sid­er his ways, being mind­ful that he does not go astray. If the right­eous man does step out of the way which is straight and nar­row, his face will not be hard­ened when rebuke comes, for he will be sor­row­ful over the trans­gres­sion and will desire the restora­tion of fel­low­ship with God and any he may have done wrong.

This world could cer­tain­ly use a few more right­eous men. May the Lord raise some up, and may we be desirous of their discipleship.

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Rick Beckman