Proverbs 21:18 “The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.”
When I think of the meaning of this verse, an historical account comes to mind from 2 Samuel 20:14-22. In this passage Sheba rebelled against the rule of King David. This took place right after Absalom’s rebellion against his father King David which had resulted in his death. Both of these men that rebelled ended up being a ransom for righteous King David, the man after God’s own heart. In the case of Sheba, Sheba was also the ransom for the walled city of Abel into which he had fled from David’s army. A wise woman on the city wall negotiated for the city to be spared with Joab, the captain of King David’s army. Once this wise woman found out that all the attacking army wanted was the life of the rebel they were harboring in their city, she talked with the men of the city. The city executed Sheba and dropped his head over the wall to Joab. The city of Abel was spared. The wicked was a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
This verse also cross references with Proverbs 11:8 which says, “The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.” In Isaiah 43:3-4, the prophet Isaiah reminds God’s people how he had given Egypt for their ransom. God’s people were being oppressed by the Egyptians, and God delivered them out of trouble and Egypt ended up being the nation in big trouble with the ten plagues and the annihilation of their army at the Red Sea (Exodus 7-14).
At the end of the seven years of tribulation, God will again rescue Israel and wipe out the armies of the anti-Christ who seek to destroy Israel and God (Rev. 19). This proverb of the wicked being a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright is a truth woven throughout history.
The most blessed and glorious reversal of this is when Jesus Christ the righteous chose to be the ransom for the unrighteous (1 John 2:1). He willingly was numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12, Mark 15:28). He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, all humanity, when he died for the sins of this wicked world (2 Cor. 5:21, Romans 5:8, 1 John 2:2). Praise God, Jesus did not stay dead but rose bodily from the grave three days later. Jesus was and is victorious over sin and death, and is seated on the right hand of His Father in heaven (1 Cor. 15:3-4, Heb.10:9-11). Christ freely offers the gift of eternal life he purchased with His own blood to whosoever will accept it by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9, Romans 6:23). Christ chose to be the ransom for all. Because He was the ransom, salvation is afforded to all those who believe in Him. Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much. It is as simple as ABC. “A” we must admit that we are a sinner. “B” we must believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead three days later. “C” we must confess Him as our Lord.
Praise God that though He is a God justice, He is also a God of mercy. We all deserve to be in hell. By God’s grace, let’s remember, that anything better than hell is a privilege. Let’s also have a continual attitude of gratefulness as Christians because yes, we, wicked sinners, should have been the ransom, but Christ was our ransom. Are you the ransom or is Christ your ransom?