For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again ~ Proverbs 24:16
A righteous man falls, not because they are in ‘deep darkness, and knows not what makes them stumble’ (Proverbs 4:19), but because the light ahead is too bright to approach. A righteous man falls, not because ‘they stagger from wine and reel from beer’ (Isaiah 28:7) but God in specific ‘gives us wine that makes us stagger’ (Psalms 60:2). A righteous man does not stumble, but falls because ‘unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed’ (John 12:24). A righteous man falls not because they are not careful in their steps, but because they are pushed to the limit, an edge they did not know existed. And when one is on the edge, there is nothing to do but fall.
‘A righteous man falls’, not might or can but falls. Falling is certain. It is promised even. When a righteous man falls, they are not bruised, they break. They die. Before they can rise again, their face has to be smack on the earth. There on the ground, their heart beats faster, the neurons in the brain criss-cross at lightning speed but the soul . . . the soul becomes hollow. A place where God’s Spirit dwelt/ought to dwell seems vacant. The righteous man has fallen. The righteous man ought to fall, because the righteous man ought to die. To die to self.
Seven is the number of perfection. A righteous man falls until there are no more edges to fall over from, no more limits to push to make them lose it. A righteous man falls not once, not twice or thrice, but seven times to reach the perfection their Maker desires. A righteous man is not righteous by their own merit or making, but because they are ‘the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, when they fall, they cannot pick themselves up neither can anybody else because when they fall, they fall from Christ Jesus. But even in their fall, something deep inside keeps calling to rise, but they can’t; they are feeble. But once they remember that they are righteous in Christ and not in themselves, a force grabs hold of them and rises them back up. As they rise, something is left behind, pieces of their broken selves have remained on the ground. A part of them has died. They have died to self and made alive again in Christ.
I thought I had completely died with Christ and raised up with Him when I gave my life to Him, but ‘how can anyone understand his own way?’ (Proverbs 20:24). I always thought that I have given myself fully to God, but the One who searches all things and reveals a matter showed me otherwise and continues to do so. I valued sleep so much that if I found myself awake in the middle of the night, I would get myself back to sleep at all costs. I would never think of communing with God because I mean they are such ungodly hours and besides I talked to Him during the day and before sleeping. Or better yet, He could speak to me in my dreams if He really wanted to. So when He disrupted my sleep, again and again, I lost it. It became unbearable to live with a self who had no sleep. I gave room for anger which did not go down when the sun went down. I fell. But when I rose up, God could now have my attention, even in the wee hours of the night.
It seemed the verse ‘All day long he (the sluggard) craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing’ (Proverbs 21:26) was written just for me. I craved for sleep and did not give God my time without sparing it. ‘So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’ (I Corinthians 10:12) made perfect sense. But a righteous man has to fall, ‘so that you (God) are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge’ (Psalms 51:4). When we fall, God is proved right that nothing good lives in us and that we need to die to our flesh to be justified in Christ. When we refuse and deny this, we become like the wicked ‘who are brought down by calamity’ (Proverbs 24:16). But when the righteous man rises up, ‘One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God are strong, and that you O Lord, are loving’ (Psalms 62:11).