By Irvin Himmel
Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him (Prov. 26:27).
Long ago hunters made pits as traps for animals. This was a common method for capturing wild creatures. After the deep pit had been scooped out, branches and grass would be used to conceal the hole in the ground. But sometimes a careless hunter would forget the exact location of a trap and fall into it. Or, one might accidentally fall into the pit while attempting to approach it.
In preparation for warfare heavy stones were rolled up some height in order to hurl them down on the enemy. Caution had to be exercised in rolling the stone upward lest it roll down on the person trying to move it.
This proverb does more than acknowledge that one who digs a pit might fall into it, and one who rolls a stone might be crushed by the stone’s rolling back on him. It implies a principle that a person who devises an evil plot against another often becomes the victim of his own scheme. Many times someone experiences the harm which he designed for another. Maliciousness works like a boomerang.
“The thought that destruction prepared for others recoils upon its contriver, has found its expression everywhere among men in divers forms of proverbial sayings” (F. Delitzsch).
It is said of the wicked in Psalm 7:14-16, “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.”
Case of Haman
A vivid illustration of the manner in which wicked schemes can backfire is found in the book of Esther. It is the case history of a man called Haman.
Esther was a lovely Jewish girl who was chosen to be the queen when Ahasuerus was king of Persia. The king promoted Haman the Agagite to be his prime minister. All the king’s servants and all in the king’s gate bowed and reverenced Haman. But Mordecai, a relative of Esther who had reared her, refused to bow before the arrogant Agagite.
Haman was full of wrath and resolved to destroy all the Jews throughout the kingdom, having learned that Mordecai was a Jew. It was kept secret that Esther was of the Jewish race. Haman convinced the king that there was a certain race of people dispersed in all the provinces who were rebellious toward the king’s laws, therefore should be destroyed. The king trusted Haman and authorized him to proceed. Official word went out that on a given date the Jews must be killed.
Mordecai sent word to Esther of this plot to exterminate the Jews. The courageous queen made plans to risk her life by approaching the king about this matter. In the meantime, Haman built gallows fifty cubits high, intending to ask the king’s permission to hang Mordecai. That night the king learned that long before a man named Mordecai had reported a plot against the king and had saved his life. When the king realized that Mordecai had never been honored for this noble deed, he spoke to Haman about how to honor a man who deserved high honor.
Haman supposed that he was the man to be honored, so he proposed a ride through the streets on the king’s horse, with the rider wearing the king’s crown and arrayed in royal apparel. How shocked and humiliated Haman was when he was ordered to bring Mordecai and have him honored in this manner.
Esther then disclosed to the king the wicked plot which Haman had devised to destroy her people. The king was full of wrath, and upon learning of the gallows which Haman had built for the hanging of Mordecai, ordered that Haman be hanged thereon. “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (Esth. 7:10).
Avoid Wicked Schemes
Deceit, hate, and evil intent destroy the person possessed of such a wicked spirit. “While judgment for sin is, in the main, reserved for the hereafter, in many ways it begins even now” (W. Ralph Thompson).
The fact that evil plans so often backfire gives added reason for honesty and a spirit of holiness.
“A straightforward course is easy, and men are safe in it; but it requires more skill than most men are endowed with to manage a crooked and crafty policy safely, or so as to be safe themselves in pursuing such a course. A spider will weave a web for flies with no dangers to himself, for he is made for that, and acts as if he understood all the intricacies of his own web, and may move safely over it in every direction; but man was made to accomplish his purposes in an open and upright way, not by fraud and deceit; hence, when he undertakes a tortuous and crooked course – a plan of secret and scheming policy – in order to ruin others, it often becomes unmanageable by his own skill, or is suddenly sprung upon himself. No one can overvalue a straightforward course in its influence on our ultimate happiness; no one can overestimate the guilt and danger of a crooked and secret policy in devising plans of evil” (Albert Barnes).
Beware of wicked plans; they will boomerang sooner or later.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 2, p. 44
January 15, 1987