I had a residual thought today as I was driving concerning my sermon yesterday. I mentioned Proverbs 24:16, the first part of which reads, “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again”
The number 7 represents perfection or completion. In the story of Naaman he was commanded to dip in the Jordan 7 times, while this may have several significance's I would like to explore the one that I think most closely correlates to Proverbs.
Yesterday I shared that once we have accepted Christ as our Savior and have surrendered our life to Him that he would then send his messenger, the Holy Spirit, to guide us so that we might become more like Christ in character. And that our response to that leading is to submit and do our best to follow where the Spirit is leading. I also shared that while we try to surrender to Jesus there might be times when we turn aside and go outside of Gods direction, that we may stumble and fall. Which led me to share this verse in Proverbs. When those times come all we can do and all that God expects us to do, is to acknowledge our inability and seek him for the strength and will to change.
I believe that Naaman dipping 7 times in the Jordan river symbolizes his complete inability to cleanse himself and his total dependence on a power outside of himself. If he had only dipped 6 times it would have come short of total dependence on the word of God which he had received. Had he dipped 8 times he would have demonstrated that he still thought that he had something to add to the work of God.
When Proverbs States that a righteous man falls 7 times I believe it is trying to convey the idea that we will have to struggle and fail as many times as it take for us to recognize that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves and that only perfect dependence on Christ will ever make us clean.
Proverbs 26:14 continues on to say that “the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Should we fail to rise again the 7th time, all hope is lost, for Christ has promised to finish the work he has begun in us until the day of the Lord. But his ability to work in our lives to change us is restricted if we refuse to acknowledge our own failure and get back up and follow Him.
The thing that separates the righteous from the wicked is that the righteous man never forgets that if God has called them he will deliver them, while the wicked fall and refuse to believe that God will lift them higher.