Proverbs 24:24

ESV Whoever says to the wicked, "You are in the right," will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations,
NIV Whoever says to the guilty, "You are innocent," will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
NASB One who says to the wicked, 'You are righteous,' Peoples will curse him, nations will scold him;
CSB Whoever says to the guilty, "You are innocent" — peoples will curse him, and nations will denounce him;
NLT A judge who says to the wicked, 'You are innocent,' will be cursed by many people and denounced by the nations.
KJV He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
NKJV He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Him the people will curse; Nations will abhor him.

What does Proverbs 24:24 mean?

Each "proverb" is a general-case statement of common sense, rather than an absolute rule or guarantee. Scripture also notes how some things God calls evil are celebrated in the world (Romans 1:32; Proverbs 24:1). For the most part, however, those who excuse or protect evil actions are condemned by their peers. In this context, Solomon is specifically referring to judges and those in authority. God's intent for government is to restrain evil, not promote it (Romans 13:3–5). When leaders are corrupt, both God and people notice and are angered. Nations which make a habit of defending evil are typically despised by other countries.

The literal application of this proverb is a judge who derails prosecution or punishment of a guilty person. Such injustice may happen in response to a bribe, or as a favor for a friend, out of fear of an influential person, or even due to personal preference. Such injustice contradicts what God and the public demand of a judge. They are to be fair, honest, and unintimated. If a person is guilty, the judge must declare him guilty and assign an appropriate punishment to him. God does not acquit the wicked. He abhors evil and punishes the wrongdoer. Psalm 25:8 declares, "Good and upright is the LORD."

While directly referring to official judges, the general concept applies to all people. Our approach to truth should reflect the integrity of God, the righteous Judge. While accepting our limitations (John 7:24; 1 Samuel 16:7), we must also strive to do what is right and good, without inappropriately favoring one person over another (Proverbs 18:5; Romans 2:11; James 2:9).
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