Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless,
and seek the life of the upright.
Anyone who has ever been to summer camp knows that there is one camper in every cabin who is the goody-two-shoes. They, usually unintentionally, spoil every prank or unsafe (but thrilling) activity by telling the counselor everything and, thus, become the object of loathing by the more mischievous campers. While this can be harmless at the summer camp level, it illustrates the very serious truth of this proverb: wicked people hate righteous people.
Not only are the blameless hated because they spoil the wicked plans of bloodthirsty men, they are also hated because their uprightness and faithfulness to God is a challenge to the sinful lifestyle of the wicked. The English Standard Version helpfully points readers of this proverb to Cain and Abel, the first Old Testament examples of this proverb in action (see Genesis 4). Abel did what God required, and Cain hated him for it—even to the point of murder. Likewise, Saul was a wicked king who sought the life of righteous David (1 Samuel 19). Maybe, if we fast forward to today, this proverb plays out in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and even families.
The chief example of this proverb, however, is found in the New Testament gospels. Jesus is the only truly blameless and upright man who ever walked the earth. And, just as this proverb promises, bloodthirsty men hated him and sought his life. The very bad news is that you and I were in the bloodthirsty camp. We weren’t physically there during the trial or crucifixion of Jesus but, as sinful sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, our wickedness and rebellion seals our guilt.
The very good news is that Jesus is much more than an example of blamelessness. As the incarnate Son of God, Jesus died the death that you and I deserve. As the hymn puts it, “in my place condemned he stood.” Not only that! Jesus lived a truly blameless life—what theologians call his active obedience. Through faith in him, we are counted righteous in God’s sight. We don’t just receive a blank slate when we become Christians, we receive the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ—just as if we’d kept God’s law perfectly.
So, while this proverb portrays the sad state of affairs in our fallen world, when read in light of the whole story of redemption, it also points to Jesus, the only source of hope in a brutal world.