The End of the Wicked
“When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too. The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead.”- Proverbs 11:7–8
Given the terse, practical nature of its aphorisms, Proverbs is a book whose overarching theology can be misunderstood. For instance, there is a tendency to view individual proverbs in isolation as if they are promises or present everything that there is to say about a subject. as an example, consider Proverbs 10:27: “The fear of the lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” If we do not take this proverb as a general principle, we might believe that it assures all who fear God that they will live long and prosper greatly.
The book of Proverbs has many similar sayings that promise great success for those who seek to follow the lord and live righteously in a manner that pleases Him. In fact, there are so many of these that it can be easy to think that Proverbs’ theology does not deal with the reality of suffering in the lives of godly people. Today’s passage, however, demonstrates that such is not the case. True, it does state that “the righteous is delivered from trouble” (11:8a), but the idea is that this deliverance often comes at the “last minute,” as it were. Those who seek to serve God often encounter much difficulty. Proverbs understands that righteous people do suffer, and in light of the full witness of Scripture, we understand that the lord’s people can even expect persecution for the sake of the kingdom (Matt. 5:10). This reality should temper any expectation we might have that following Jesus will bring us our best life now. Nevertheless, righteous people are delivered. Sometimes this deliverance is prolonged (from a human perspective) for so long that it does not come until after death. Our Savior Himself passed through death before He was delivered back to life in His resurrection. but deliverance is sure to come, which we understand from the rest of Scripture’s teaching on topics such as heaven and the final judgment. Proverbs points to the suffering of the righteous but also to the ultimate deliverance that is to come.
Proverbs 11:7 strengthens this point with its assertion that the hope of the wicked dies with them. Often, on this side of glory, the wicked do prosper. Though they engage in the most dastardly schemes or employ the most worldly means, they often seem to thrive from an earthly perspective. However, today’s passage reminds us that no matter how much the wicked seem to be blessed, their blessing is only temporary. There comes a point at which it will end, namely, their deaths. God’s people will be delivered in the life to come, but those who hate Him will receive their just recompense.
Some people have found Proverbs unrealistic, believing that it has no place for the suffering of the righteous. as noted, however, Proverbs has a well-orbed theology that recognizes the pain of God’s people and the trouble even the most faithful individuals must endure. It also encourages us in the hope of deliverance. We may suffer for the Lord now, but we will one day be rewarded, and the wicked who oppose God and His people will receive their due.
Passages for Further Study
Micah 6:9–16 2
2 Peter 2:4–10a