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What does it mean to fall seven times?

Submitted: 2/8/2006
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Question: What is the meaning of the saying, 'The righteous man falls seven times'?

Answer: The verse you are thinking of is Proverbs 24:16, which says, 'For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again....' The point of this proverb is that even a righteous man can fall due to the weakness of the flesh. As Paul said in Romans 7:19, 'For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.' Even the most devout and committed believers can sometimes fall short of the glory of God. But the important point in this verse is the part you left out: 'and rise again.' The unrighteous man falls and does not get back up. He sees his failure only from the human perspective. He is trusting in his own righteousness for his salvation instead of looking to the grace of God found in Jesus. In contrast, the righteous man may fall (even seven times), but because he is depending on God's grace and not his own good conduct, he gets back up and continues to live for God. The real problem for every backslider is that he has given up on the grace of God. How sad!