"The Righteous Perisheth"
By David Pyles
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. - Is 57:1
In this sin-cursed world, it is frequently the case that the best of people die at early stages of life. Sometimes this happens to natural causes, and at other times it happens tragically at the hands of wicked or careless men. It would be wrong to say that God causes the sin that oftentimes results in such deaths. On the other hand, it is very much in error to consider God as being an indifferent spectator to such, or to interpret such events as being accidents to, and therefore unaccounted in, God's plan for our lives and the world. Not only would this be an erroneous view, but one in which there would be little comfort. There is little comfort in the thought that notwithstanding our many prayers unto Him, and notwithstanding the many scriptural assurances of His pervasive providence over us, our lives have been left as a ship aimlessly adrift on the sea to be cast about wherever the winds of chance may take it.
Whatever comes to pass in this world is either caused by God or permitted by God. This is a fact that no reasonable mind can deny. And it is surely the case that an Almighty God neither causes nor permits anything without a reason. Where He has a reason, He must also have a purpose, and where He has a purpose, He must also have a plan.
The above scripture reveals what may be the Divine reason when these tragedies occur. The scripture first asserts that, The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart... That is, the finest of saints may depart from this life with little notice by the world and with little appreciation for the precious salt which has been taken from it - salt to which even the wicked may owe their preservation. On the other hand, the deaths of wicked and useless people are oftentimes lamented by many, and they are buried with much recognition and fanfare. Then the text goes on to say, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. Thus, their deaths, whether permitted or caused, came to pass with a Divine reason in view. They were taken away in an act of Divine mercy. They were delivered from evil that was to come.
Instances of this are recorded in the Bible. One of the most notable being that of King Josiah, of whom it was said: And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him (2Ki 23:25). This is a remarkable and unexpected statement given the great kings who ruled over Israel whose names are far more familiar to us. Josiah was also a king who had been prophesied long before his birth (1Ki 13:2). His death was the occasion of some the greatest mourning in the history of Israel (Zech 12:11). Yet he does not have a prominent place in history because the Lord took him in his youth, and this was done as an act of favor and mercy in which Josiah was delivered from evil to come (2Ki 22:19,20; 2Chr 34:27,28).
Another instance occurs in 1Ki 14:12,13 where the child of wicked King Jeroboam died because the child was the only person in Jeroboam's house to find favor in the eyes of God.
Such tragedies will surely be difficult to understand in the hearts of those possessing love for the victims, but they are not indicative of an indifferent God nor are they the result of meaningless fate. There is a Divine reason even for such as this, and this reason is part of a Divine plan which shall serve to the ultimate good of God's people and to the destruction of all that serves to their detriment. As David said, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Ps 23:4).
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