He that digs a pit shall fall into it; and whoever breaks an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.
He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul (Proverbs 8:36); he that seeks to do injury to others brings trouble upon himself; with the measure and after the manner with which he deals will he himself be dealt with. Evil intents, as also good ones, recoil upon their author - in the one case in penalty, and in the other in blessing. As we observe, we see that -
I. EVIL BEGETS EVIL AFTER ITS OWN KIND.
1. Violence begets violence. "They that take the sword perish with the sword;" not, of course, with absolute and unfailing regularity, but generally; so commonly that the professional warrior and, still more, the uncontrollably passionate man may expect to come to a violent end. But, apart from fatal consequences, it is a constantly recurring fact that men give back blow for blow, litigation for litigation, hard measure for hard measure.
2. Cunning begets cunning. The crafty man is the likeliest of all to be caught with guile. Men have a peculiar pleasure and take especial pride in outwitting the neighbor who is trying to take advantage of them. So that he who is always laying traps for his fellows is in greatest danger of being himself entrapped.
3. Contempt begets aversion. There are those who from the pedestal of (often imaginary) superiority look down upon their companions with supercilious disregard; their attitude is one of haughtiness, their language and conduct that of condescension. These proud ones suffer as they deserve; they pay an appropriate penalty; their neighbors resent their assumption; they pass them by with aversion; they speak of them with condemnation; they leave them to loneliness and friendlessness.
4. Slander begets reproach. Men that are unscrupulously complaining of others, hastily or ill-naturedly ascribing to them mistakes or misdeeds, are the men whose own shortcoming is quickly detected and unsparingly condemned (see Matthew 7:1, 2). Thus sin (or folly) smites itself; it thinks to injure others, but it finds in the end that the stone which it threw up into the air comes down upon its own head. On the other hand, we see -
II. GOOD BEGETS GOOD AFTER ITS KIND.
1. The man of peace is permitted to dwell in peace.
2. Frankness, sincerity, are met with reciprocated open-mindedness and honesty.
3. Honor rendered to worth and to our common manhood creates respect, and calls forth the best that is in men.
4. Generosity in judgment receives in return a kind and brotherly estimate of its own actions and character. While he that digs a pit for others fails into it himself, he that raises a ladder for others elevation himself rises upon its rungs. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.