The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.
All men die. But no one talks about it. Men distract themselves with jobs, politics, sports, music, drugs, etc. They act like death will not find them. But it is the surest thing in life!
All men die. But the wicked die much worse than the righteous. Death rips wicked men away from their toys and security and throws them into eternity without God or comfort. The righteous lie down in peace and choose to depart life for their destination of heaven.
You will die. How will you die? The King of Terrors, death itself, is stalking you now. He will rip you away from every relationship, from every helper, from every asset. You will stand alone, helpless, naked, and guilty before God. This is how the wicked die.
The world exalts the wicked over the righteous. They eulogize and memorialize persons like Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana until the difference of this proverb is not seen. You had better see the difference, lest the world’s lies seduce you to the death of the wicked, for these two examples were driven away by death from all their vain comforts.
Jesus described the death of a rich man, who had so much you would have thought he was living the good life. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). This rich fool was driven out of life by the King of Terrors without a single cent.
The wicked get their heaven now, for their portion is in this life (Ps 17:14). God allows them good things, children, and large estates. But even then they often are depressed, divorced, dysfunctional, and resort to drugs and drunkenness for comfort. But David knew he would be satisfied when he awoke after dying with God’s likeness (Ps 17:15).
Dear reader, you will die soon. What have you done today to prepare for it? Solomon warned about it often (Pr 10:2; 11:4,19; 12:28; 13:14; 14:12; Ec 12:1-7). Jesus and Paul both taught the importance of making preparations (Matt 7:21-27; I Tim 6:17-19). The wicked die very differently than the righteous. Which are you? How will you die?
As in many of Solomon’s proverbs, two parallel clauses are contrasted by the adversative “but.” By comparing the two clauses, “driven away” is understood as death. A wicked man, though confident in his wickedness, will be rooted out of the earth by death. But the righteous dies comfortably and with hope, for death is the door to something far better.
Who are the wicked and the righteous? The wicked are those whose pride keeps them from thinking seriously about God (Ps 10:4; 14:1). They choose the popular way in life rather than God’s way (Matt 7:13-14). They do not care that the Bible condemns most of what they think and do, for they have committed their lives to what the world approves.
The righteous know they have a Creator. They want to please God in life, and they know they will give an account to Him after death (Eccl 12:13-14). They choose to live by the Bible, even though it may not be popular, for they know it leads to eternal life (Matt 7:13-14). They hate the world, for they know it is God’s enemy (I John 2:15-17; Jas 4:4).
The wicked are confident in life. They presume they will live forever (Ps 49:6-13). The worst thought to them is death, and they do all they can to ignore it and defer it. But God said, “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished” (Pr 11:21). There is no discharge in the war with death, and wickedness will not save a man from it (Ec 8:8).
Death drives the wicked away. “His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street. He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world” (Job 18:7-8). It happens fast, “Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath” (Ps 58:9).
“The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not. Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand. Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place” (Job 27:19-23).
But the righteous has hope in dying, for he has evidence of eternal life in his good works (Matt 25:31-40; I Thess 1:2-4; Rev 14:13). They know that death is only the temporary sleep of the body of those who shall live forever (Acts 7:60; 13:36). Their bodies simply wait in the grave for the great change of the resurrection (Job 19:25-27; Ps 49:15; 73:24).
The righteous believe and love Jesus Christ, Who died in their place, so that death has no more power over them (John 5:24; 10:26-29; 11:25-26). They know doing the will of God proves their salvation, not a sinner’s prayer (Matt 7:21-23). They add many good works to their faith to make their election to eternal life sure (II Pet 1:5-11; Jas 2:14-26).
Death is a mercy to the righteous, and they know it (Is 57:1-2). They consider it far better to depart and be with Christ (Phil 1:23). They know death is a blessed event and precious in the sight of God (Ps 116:15; Rev 14:13). They believe the day of their death is better than of their birth (Ec 7:1). This is hope! Glorious hope! And only the righteous have it!