Proverbs 24:20

For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

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Evil men will be rewarded, one way or the other. But they will not get a good reward – they will not be blessed or favored by heaven. God will reward wicked men with grief, pain, and death. He will cut their lives off and send their souls down to eternal torment.

This verse is the second half of a proverb. Here is the first half: “Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked” (Pr 24:19). You should not worry or be jealous watching evil men prosper; God will not allow them to have a good ending.

When Solomon wrote here that an evil man will have no reward, he meant a good reward; he meant blessing and favor from heaven. God will not reward evil men with such good things – He will reward them with punishment to painfully destroy them, as stated in the last clause. God will put out their candle: He will end their wicked lives.

A great rule of wisdom is to know the certain future of wicked men. The LORD Jehovah made all things for Himself, even wicked men for when He brings evil upon them (Pr 16:4). Israel’s sweet psalmist wrote, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps 9:17). It does not matter if they play in the NBA, win Oscars in Hollywood, bring you the nightly news at NBC, or sit at a desk in an oval office.

There are two kinds of rewards – good things for good behavior, and bad things for bad behavior. Evil men do not get good rewards, but they will be rewarded – they will be rewarded with death and hell. The righteous will be rewarded with God’s blessing and favor both now and after death. What a contrast! How will you choose to live today?

Godly men do not fret about evil men nor envy their temporary successes. They look forward to God’s vengeance: “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Ps 58:10-11).

A man’s candle is his life, as the Holy Spirit shows in other places (Job 18:5-6; 21:17; Pr 13:9; 20:20). The light of life flickers in a living man, but there is not even a spark in a dead man’s body. Think about the wicked and this proverb this way: it is far easier for the God of heaven to snuff out the lives of the wicked than it is for you to put out a candle!

It is a normal temptation to fret or worry about the wicked getting away with evil; it is common to envy their apparent happiness and prosperity. But the instruction of wisdom is to learn that such a shortsighted view of them is brutish. Stop fretting and envying and rejoice about their soon destruction (Ps 37:1-3; 73:1-22; Pr 3:31-35; 23:17-18; 24:1-2).

You choose every day what kind of reward you will get. Moses told Israel before he died, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut 30:19). Your future and that of your family depend on your choice today.