What does Proverbs 24:24 mean?
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.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 24:23–34 comes after a list of thirty wise teachings; these were recorded by Solomon while not necessarily being his own ideas. The wisdom which concludes this chapter is cited with less clarity, other than being attributed to wise speakers. These address discrimination, rebuke of the wicked, honesty, wise planning, revenge, and the consequences of laziness.
Chapter Summary:
Solomon continues to list wise sayings (Proverbs 22:17–21), rounding out his promised list of thirty teachings. These endorse integrity, accepting good advice, reputation, and ethical actions. The lessons also stress godly attitudes about vengeance, bitterness, and companionship. After verse 23 come additional proverbs. These may or may not have been Solomon's own words, but at least some appear to be his thoughts. Key points in these verses are the need for impartiality in judgment, godly reputation, and work ethic.
Chapter Context:
This chapter continues thirty sayings of wise people (Proverbs 22:17–21), as collected and endorsed by Solomon. The remainder of the passage are additional wise statements, which are not as clearly attributed. Some of the lessons are framed as warnings, followed by reasons. The lessons contained here are more detailed than most of the proverbs in this book.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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