The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.
Little kids can be funny. Sometimes, you meet a child for the first time who will run right up to you and greet you or want to engage in conversation. Those children sense no danger in you and exhibit no shyness or caution. Other times, you might encounter a child who wants nothing to do with you. He or she is difficult to engage because you are a stranger and therefore uncomfortable. This is the child who classically hides behind mom’s or dad’s legs and peers out at you with only one eye and not for very long. That child is unsure and seeks safety in that parent. That is where the child stays until you have been shown not to be a threat.
Two different men are described in these verses. The first runs to God in his time of need. He does not look to himself for protection when danger arises. He knows that the protection he can provide is limited. We can call him wise because he understands where true protection lies. The second man trusts in himself and whatever he can build or create for his shield. By his estimation, he is impervious to the danger coming his way. We can call him foolish because he does not understand exactly how weak his own fortifications are. The wise man is the one exhibiting the traits of righteousness. His strength and ability are not found in himself but in the Lord, and he would be a fool to look anywhere else in his time of need.
These verses tell us that righteousness comes with an understanding of our own inability. That makes sense since the righteousness we carry is not something that we earn in any way. This righteousness is imputed to us through Christ. We still sin, we still fall short, but the Father views us through the lens of his Son’s perfection. Those of us who have been clothed in this way will run to the Lord as our fortification in times of danger. Whether one is righteous will be shown by where one places that trust when danger arrives. Father, forgive and correct us where we have behaved as the unrighteous and relied on ourselves when we should have relied on You.