Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity” (NASB). This is a very comforting verse for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, for even though we fall (into disbelief and failure) at times, the Lord picks us up when we do fall. Not so with the unbeliever, for when they fall into tribulation and distress, they have no Divine Resources to help them and thus they may never recover from it. The fact is, the day is coming when they will “fall into God’s judgment” and they will be doomed to an eternity of misery and suffering.

To illustrate our verse, let’s consider Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. We know that Peter had many falls, but the Lord always “picked him up again.” One well-known example was when Peter’s faith enabled him to “walk on water,” yet In Matthew 14:30 we read “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out ‘Lord, save me’!” Peter took his eye off the Lord and focused them on the raging sea and immediately his faith failed and he began to sink. But being a true believer he cried out to the One Who could deliver him and the next verse tells us, “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him.” Peter fell and the Lord picked him up. Peter’s greatest fall is recorded in Matthew 26:69-74 where he denied the Lord three times. He had boasted that he would never deny Him (see Matthew 26:33), yet his faith failed resulting in a humiliating fall. Verse 75 goes on to say, “And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:60-61 informs us of something else, “While he was speaking, a rooster crowed. THE LORD TURNED AND LOOKED AT PETER. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord.” What kind of look did Peter see? We can’t say with certainty, but perhaps it was a look of “wounded love,” and one that was saying to Peter, “I told you that you would deny Me and it has come to pass.” That LOOK, along with the ROOSTER CROWING, brought Peter to tears of true repentance. Later we read that Jesus met with Peter privately and then in front of all the apostles He restored Peter to service. Again, Peter fell and the Lord picked him up.

Judas Iscariot also had a great fall, but he fell never to rise again. We read of this in Matthew 27:3-5: “Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood…and he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and HE WENT AWAY AND HANGED HIMSELF.” I have heard some say that though Judas’ fall was terrible, he did feel remorse and even confessed “I have sinned.” But instead of going before the Lord in heartfelt repentance, he “went away and hanged himself.” He was NOT a true believer, so though he felt bad about his act of betrayal his sorrow led him to take his own life. If you compare Matthew 26:24, John 17:12 and Acts 1:25, you know that the fall of Judas led not only to “physical death,” but to “eternal death.” So, he fell, but because of his lack of faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord could not pick him up.

I would like to end our meditation by quoting another passage of Scripture that touches on the same subject. Psalm 34:18-19, 21-22 reads, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all…Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” (251.1) (DO)