Proverb for the Day 24:11-12 — We’re Not Supposed To Say, “I Just Didn’t Know!”

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

This is another couplet of verses composing a single wise saying. In the ancient world, people tended to live, work and die in the same place where they were born. Life was tenuous and folks tended to look out for each other in their community.

So the first verse is a command that if they would see someone in serious trouble or danger (“being let away to death” or “staggering toward slaughter”), they must do something (“rescue” and “hold back”) to help.

There was supposed to be a general sense of responsibility that I need to step up and try to make a difference (:11). Initiative and bravery to help those in serious trouble and powerless to do anything about it, themselves, was expected and understood as the right thing to do. To do nothing would have been very wrong.

While it would be great if we automatically think this way, the second verse tells us that God (“he who weights the heart” and “he who guards your life”) is paying attention. So, even if it’s not our first response, we need to think and then make some right decisions.

We certainly shouldn’t act as if “we knew nothing about this” (:12), because He knows the truth. The passage ends with a rhetorical question, “Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” The correct answer is – yes, He will!

After all, God cares about those people – and that’s why He put us there to help them out! So, let’s be available and step up to do what we can for someone who needs some help today.