A Righteous Man and A Murky Spring
Proverbs 25:26, “A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well” (NKJ). “A good person who gives into a bad person is a muddied spring, a polluted well” (The Message).
Earlier in Proverbs, the mouth of the righteous was described as a “well of life” (Prov. 10:11). The counsel given is like drinking from fresh spring water. There is comfort and wisdom. But if a righteous man gives in to the wicked, either through fear or seeking favor, he can no longer give counsel out of a pure heart. He becomes like a fountain fouled by the feet of cattle drinking at it.
The proverb is a generalization, it doesn’t contemplate one’s return. Generally speaking, when one who is striving to be righteous falls and does not return, he is like a murky spring, polluted. No matter how long one sought to be righteous, when one falls and continues that path, he’s polluted. Now corrupt, unserviceable. Now miserable to oneself and others.
Haven’t we all seen a person like this? For example, Demas who loved the present world, became like a murky spring. All the good he did with Paul was now ruined by his love for the world. Because of his influence, he did great damage to the cause of Jesus Christ.
But can the usefulness of a righteous man be restored so that he is like a fresh spring? Yes, the righteous man can repent and return to God and his influence can be restored. He can overcome his failings. He can be useful and serve others.
So, turn the Proverb around. A righteous man, though he falls, may turn. When he does, he is like a spring — now useful to all.