For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
Why do people buy lottery tickets? They see the hyped publicity of a winner, and it deceives their foolish hearts. Lottery tickets are a certain loss and a trap to tax the poor, who have no taxable income. Yet the poor buy them, because “winners” trick their minds. Show one “winner” (ignoring millions of losers), and the poor will get yet poorer.
When men reject God’s offered wisdom (Pr 1:20-29), He deceives them with the false success of sinners (Pr 1:31-32). They see other men reject God’s wisdom and seemingly get away with it, so they boldly follow their example. They see fools enjoying apparent prosperity, so they confidently copy them. In both cases, they do it to their own death.
God judges and blinds men for death and destruction. He lets sinners get away with wickedness for a while to deceive others to think they can do the same. The world is full of “success stories” of men rejecting God’s wisdom. But they are deceived themselves, and they are God’s means of deceiving others who have also rejected His wisdom.
This is hard doctrine for those that have not learned the Bible. If you reject God’s offered truth, He will blind and harden you for destruction (Rom 1:18-32; II Thes 2:9-12; Ezek 14:1-11; I Kgs 22:19-22). The cure, protection, and remedy are easy – love and obey every bit of truth that God sends your way. He has revealed truth and wisdom to you by creation, providence, conscience, and scripture, including this Proverb and commentary.
Christians often fret at the apparent prosperity and success of sinners. Asaph saw the wicked prospering and almost gave up his faith in God and righteous living (Ps 73:2-14), but the Lord reminded him of the severe future retribution for all men (Ps 73:15-28). So you may read, “Fret not thyself because of evil men” (Pr 24:19-20; Ps 37:1-20).
God may choose to be silent for a while, and sinners foolishly think He approves of their wicked lifestyle because they are not immediately judged (Ps 50:16-21). But He warns that without repentance He will judge terribly (Ps 50:21-22), and only those who live righteously and praise Him shall receive His favor (Ps 50:23). Consider this passage well.
Dear reader, results prove nothing. Moses got water from the rock (Num 20:7-12); false prophets do miracles (Deut 13:1-5); Israel got quail (Ps 106:15). If a neighbor never disciplined his “fine children,” do not regard it. If a fornicator is living a life of luxury and pleasure, do not regard it. He is racing to death and hell without recourse (Pr 9:18).
Wise Agur feared riches and their effect (Pr 30:7-9). Prosperity did not help Israel, for they rebelled in their fatness (Deut 31:20; 32:15-18). Beauty can be a curse (Ezek 16:6-15). And success caused two rich men to forget their souls (Luke 12:15-21; 16:19-31). The goodness of God should lead men to repent (Rom 2:4). But they take confidence in their prosperity and do not see the coming judgment (Ps 37:35-36; 92:6-7; Jer 48:11-13).
The Lord Jesus Christ saw much success in healing and teaching, but He kept His eyes on His great work in Jerusalem. And though offered great position and power by the devil and the Jews, He rejected both to do the will of God (John 6:15; Luke 4:5-8).