When reading the Book of Proverbs, it is good to remember two useful facts. One of those is that some of the proverbs are often about the way things are – not the way that they should be. Another is that some of them should be considered a general truth, and that there can be exceptions from time to time. Could Proverbs 19:19 be an example of the latter?
A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again
Possibly. Anyone can change. And there is no such thing as impossible where the Lord is concerned. If God is at work in the life of any man (or woman), any sort of turnaround is not only believable, but historically proven. But violent crime often results from anger that becomes outright rage; and very often, those who cannot (or will not) control themselves in one such situation are very likely to not be able to control themselves when they find themselves in that state again.
In an article for “The Telegraph” in the UK, it was reported that more than half a million crimes were committed by repeat offenders in the previous year. Separate figures showed 134 dangerous criminals were suspected of carrying out serious further offences such as murder, rape and other violence despite being monitored by the authorities (Tom Whitehead, 27 Oct 2011, Telegraph Media Group Limited). In a story reported by Samantha Donavan and Simon Lauder for ABC News “The World Today,” an expert is quoted as saying that parole is not appropriate for dangerous repeat offenders (http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3784879.htm).
Whether it is considered to be for the protection of innocent people in the future and/or for the good of the offender himself, we would do well to note that the proverb does warn us that saving someone from paying the penalty for
such rage does invite a disregard for future consequences.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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