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Righteousness Exalts a Nation
Proverbs 14:34 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
Righteousness exalts a nation. Righteous; upright; just: (צֶדֶק tsedeq) refers to one who is in a righteous standing before God and is characterized by righteous actions and morals in accordance with God’s moral standards. What does this mean? The person adheres to God’s standards, His moral code. He does what is required according to this moral standard. (Ps 7:9) He is honest, fair, and truthful in his actions, which are correct according to God’s standards. He is not deviant in any way (Lev. 19:36). He is able to make a moral judgment when deciding what is right and wrong without prejudice. (Gen. 18:23-24; Deut. 16:20; Prov. 3:33; Zeph. 2:3; James 3:18). Exalts translates a verb (רוּם rum), which has the sense of raising in rank, character, or status. The idea is that of raising the power, wealth and success, or reputation (status) of the people of the Israelite nation.
but sin is a reproach to any people. Here sin (חָטָא chata; ἁμαρτία hamartia) is any spoken word (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), wrong action (Lev. 20:20; 2 Cor. 12:21) or failing to act when one should have (Num. 9:13; Jam. 4:17), in mind and heart (Prov. 21:4; Rom. 3:9-18; 2 Pet 2:12-15) that is contrary to God’s personality, ways, will and purposes, standards, as set out in the Scriptures. It is also a major sin to lack faith in God, doubting in mind and heart, even subtly in our actions, that he has the ability to carry out his will and purposes. (Heb. 3:12-13, 18-19). It is commonly referred to as missing the mark of perfection. In short, a sinner is a person who has a bad moral character and is often contrasted with the righteous person in the Scriptures. Reproach translates the Hebrew (חֶסֶד chesed) and is an act that causes disgrace and shame to come upon someone. People is used in a collective sense, that is, the people who make up the nation of Israel.
Our attention has now shifted from the individual’s fear of God to that of the entire nation. The king of Israel writes, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov. 14:34) Oh, how true these words were for the nation of Israel. When the nation, through a king and priest who had a righteous standing before God, it was exalted above all the neighboring nations. However, repeated acts of disobedience from a bad king and priest moved the people to sin, bringing them disgrace and shame and eventually to God rejecting them, allowing them to be conquered by other nations. This could be applied to Christianity as a whole today. When a segment of Christianity pursued a righteous course, it was exalted and different from the world and false Christianity. When the leaders in that segment of Christianity (denomination) lived a chaste life, the people followed suit, But the moment leadership fell into sinning, it brought reproach, disgrace, and shame to come upon them and the name Christian, and God Himself.