Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
God’s wrath against sinners may bring an early death in this world, and it will surely bring eternal death in the next world. No amount of money can delay or stop either death. But righteousness pleases God and delivers men from death now and later (Pr 10:2; 12:28). The wisdom is obvious – neglect or reject righteousness to your own peril!
Neither can wealth help against a just and noble civil ruler, for God requires him to make no difference in his judgments on the rich or the poor (Ex 23:6-8; Lev 19:15; Deut 1:17; 16:19). But a good civil ruler will consider the righteousness of a man on trial (Pr 18:5; II Sam 23:3). Again, the wisdom is obvious – righteousness is more important than riches.
Riches and the gifts they can buy will not save you from an angry man, for he will demand vengeance for your faults or wickedness in the heat of his passion (Pr 6:30-35; 19:19; Num 35:12; Deut 19:11-13). Peaceful and pleasant relationships depend on righteousness, not riches (Pr 15:16-17; 16:8; Eccl 4:6; Mal 4:5-6; Luke 1:17).
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, blasphemed Jehovah; his sons killed him while at Mass (II Kgs 19:37). Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, lost his tranquility for neglecting righteousness (Dan 4:27). Belshazzar was killed the same night he celebrated his riches with the lords of Babylon (Dan 5:1-30). A rich man faired sumptuously while Lazarus begged, but he woke up in hell (Luke 16:19-23). Ananias and Sapphira were landowners; they had money; but they fell down dead in the Jerusalem church for lying (Acts 5:1-11).
Solomon’s observations of death led him to write, “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Eccl 7:17.) And he truly ridiculed men who gathered up wealth, died, and then left it all to a foolish heir (Eccl 2:18-21). He knew there was no discharge in the war with death, regardless of your wealth (Eccl 8:8).
David wrote the best condemnation of trusting in riches (Ps 49:1-20). He emphasized that money nor success could deliver from death, and he ridiculed men who pursued wealth after witnessing rich men take nothing with them at death. He summarized by saying, “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Ps 49:20).
But righteousness, doing those things that please God, defers God’s wrath and saves men from death now and later. Ezekiel preached a detailed message of how righteousness could save a man from a threatened death (Ezek 18:1-32). And Amos told Israel plainly how they could turn to the LORD and live, and not die under judgment (Amos 5:4-15).
God put Noah in the ark for his righteousness (Gen 7:1). Abigail knew David was bound up in the bundle of life for righteousness (I Sam 25:29). God preserved Job from Satan for his fear of God and hatred of evil (Job 1:1). Hezekiah had 15 years added to his life for a perfect heart (Is 38:1-8). And Manasseh reigned longer than any king for repenting (II Chr 33:13). Reader, there is a reward for the righteous (Ps 58:1-11). Believe it!
Men invest fortunes in vitamins, doctors, and alternative medicine to defer death; the more money they have, the more exotic their efforts to stay alive. But the cure is righteousness, as Solomon and others wrote clearly (Ex 20:12; Deut 25:13-16; Pr 3:1-2; 4:10; 9:11; Eph 6:2-3). And those days will be better (Ps 34:12-16; I Pet 3:10-12)!
You will most need righteousness in the Day of Judgment, for those without it will be cast down into hell (Matt 22:8-14; Rev 19:8; 20:11-15; 21:8). God will ignore your net worth and income. How can you know God has made you righteous with Jesus Christ’s righteousness? A life of righteousness is the best evidence (Matt 7:21; I Jn 2:29; 3:7,10).