The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.
The man who obeys God has a bright future. The man who chooses sin will be destroyed. Every man has desires and plans for the future, but only the righteous man will realize blessings and prosperity. The wicked man will not achieve his desire, and then he will go to hell. The lesson is simple. Obeying God works now and later. Sin will never succeed.
Compare length of life that precedes this proverb (Pr 10:27). Righteousness extends life. God guaranteed it (Eph 6:1-3); Solomon confirmed it (Pr 3:2,16; 4:10; 9:11). But the life expectancy of the wicked will be shortened. Solomon declared it (Pr 2:22; 11:19). Experience confirms it. Sinful living and worldly popularity shorten the human lifespan.
Compare marriage (Pr 12:4). Men enter it with great hope and fond expectations. But the wicked man is soon disgusted with his odious tormentor, which is confirmed by the thousands of divorces daily (Pr 11:22; 30:21-23). The righteous man, demanding the fear of the Lord in a spouse, is blissfully glad with his virtuous wife (Pr 19:14; 31:10-31).
Compare children (Pr 10:1; 19:13). The wicked man expects Benjamin Spock’s child care fantasies to yield perfect children. His expectation fails as he sees the arrogant, greedy, lazy, and selfish product of his amoral, effeminate, and permissive approach to parenting. The wise man, trusting God, Solomon, and six thousand years of human history, trains the foolishness out of his son for great parental joy (Pr 22:6,15; 29:15,17).
Examples comparing a righteous man to a wicked man can be multiplied indefinitely, with the wicked man’s expectations always perishing (Ps 34:12-16). Compare Abraham to Lot, Moses to Pharaoh, David to Saul, and Daniel to Belshazzar. But there is another comparison that is much more serious than longevity, marriage, or children. There is the hope and expectation of death. Only the righteous will find anything glad in that event!
Wicked men think they will live forever, or at least leave a perpetual legacy behind them (Ps 49:6-14; 73:1-20). But they are quickly cut off, are forgotten by all, rot in the grave, and drop into the lake of fire (Pr 11:7; Luke 12:16-20; 16:19-26). They expect heaven, or maybe annihilation, but they wake up tormented in hell (Matt 7:21-23; 23:33; 25:31-46).
Righteous men live with the certain promise of eternal life (Job 19:25-27). Their hope is the gladness of heaven, and the reality will far exceed anything they can imagine here (I Cor 2:9). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself saw the joy that was waiting beyond the grave, and the horrible death of crucifixion was little in comparison (Ps 16:8-11; Heb 12:1-3).
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