The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
What is your future? How will things end for you and your family? Do you want a glimpse into the days ahead? The proverb is true. Count on it. Expect it. A righteous man will realize only good as the end result of all his desires, for both God and men will favor and reward him. But the wicked man, no matter what he wishes for, will receive wrath.
The desire of the righteous should be compared to the expectation of the wicked. As with many of Solomon’s proverbs, the parallelism between the two clauses sheds light on both of them. The wicked do not actively and consciously expect wrath; they rather expect to realize their dreams and live the good life. Therefore, the desire of the righteous and the expectation of the wicked is the effect, the end result, or the conclusion to their lives.
This use of words is called metonymy, a common figure of speech where a related word is substituted to add beauty and force, and in the case of proverbs to create intrigue. Desire here is a metonym for the effect, future, or results of a righteous man’s life. Expectation here is a metonym for the effect, future, or results of a wicked man’s life.
A righteous man desires good things for others and himself that the wicked cannot even know. But the lesson is not how men desire different things – the lesson is what righteous men receive contrasted to what wicked men receive. A righteous man desires a blessed life, and he gets it. The wicked man desires a blessed life, but he gets judgment instead.
Solomon described the expectation of the wicked elsewhere. “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth” (Pr 11:7). “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish” (Pr 10:28). The future of the righteous is blessed; the future of the wicked is cursed.
A righteous man delights himself in the LORD, and God gives him the desires of his heart (Ps 37:4). He walks uprightly by zealously doing the will of God at all times, and God does not withhold any good thing from him (Ps 84:11). He lives a godly life, desiring and trusting God to have mercy on Him and bless his efforts. God and men favor the cause of such men, and they reap results that are only good in this life and the next.
A wicked man thinks he will live indefinitely, and he pursues his goals without regard for God, confident in himself and the world’s vain promises. He is shocked with the trouble he endures in life, and then he dies to find his expectations turned upside down. He cannot take anything with him, and he finds God angry with him for eternity (Rev 20:11-15). This is a terrible outcome, but it is what he chose by living a selfish, sinful lifestyle.
What is your future? How will things end for you and your family? Do you want a glimpse into the days ahead? The proverb is true. Count on it. Expect it. A righteous man will realize only good as the end result of all his desires, for both God and men will favor and reward him. But the wicked man, no matter what he desires, will be judged in wrath.