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Do Not Plow Wickedness
or You Will Reap Injustice
Proverbs 3:29-30 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
29 Do not plan harm against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
Do not plan evil against your neighbor: The Hebrew verb (ḥā·rǎš) rendered plan here in this context is one who plots some unprovoked wicked act secretly against an innocent victim. It can also refer to a tool that is made of metal, which is used to plow or cut a furrow into the earth during the planting in farming. Thus, the Hebrew for plan or plot can mean to plow furrows in a field or devise a plan, which is encompassed nicely by Hosea 10:13, which tells us “You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice …” It is evil to plan schemes again your neighbor in order to cause harm or injury, or anyone else, who has placed trust in us. The best Old Testament illustration of this is Jezebel’s scheme against Naboth. – 1 Kings 21:1-27.
Who dwells trustingly beside you: The Hebrew noun (bě·ṭǎḥ) is rendered trustingly and refers to the freedom from anxiety that one possesses, which is dependent on the kindness or friendliness of his neighbor, a measure of peace, security and safety. It is a complete betrayal to plot wicked actions against our neighbor, i.e., a person who has placed their trust in us.
Do not contend with a man for no reason: The Hebrew verb (rîḇ) rendered contend means to have a disagreement, dispute or quarrel, be hostile and opposed to another person or group. Man translates the Hebrew (ʾā·ḏām) and can refer to anyone, male or female. The Hebrew adverb (ḥin·nām) rendered for no reason translates an expression that has the sense of without cause; without a good reason. This is one who argues just to be arguing, which is in vain, for nothing, resulting in nothing that benefits either party.
When he has done you no harm: This clause limits contending with another (arguing) only when we have been harmed in some way. If whatever has happened to us has not harmed us in any way; there is no need to contend or ague with another. In other words, Solomon is saying that we need not argue unnecessarily or pointlessly with someone who has done us no harm.
Verse 30, as to suing another, is not saying that you cannot sue another, but that you do not bring lawsuits lacking substance and not worth serious consideration against others. It is harmful to everyone to bring worthless lawsuits that have no merit against others. You tie up the courts, which makes it even more difficult for those that have legitimate concerns. You also harm the reputation of the person you are frivolously suing.