Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivers from death.…
I. ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH AND RECTITUDE. (Ver. 2.) The former cannot avert sudden death or shame (vers. 25, 27); the latter is vital, and stands the man in good stead in every hour of human trial, and of Divine judgment.
II. HONEST POVERTY AND PROFLIGATE GREED. (Ver. 3.) The former does not hunger, is contented with little, has true satisfaction. The latter is never satisfied, expands with every indulgence, is like the "dire dropsy." It is an unappeasable thirst. God repudiates it by fixing it in perpetual impotency, while the temperate and chastened doilies are rewarded by fulfilment.
III. THE LAX AND THE INDUSTRIOUS HAND. (Ver. 4; comp. Proverbs 12:24.) The one leading to poverty, the other to fiches. Languor and energy have their physical conditions; but how much lies in the will? We live in a day when it is the fashion to talk of "determinism," and to extend the doctrine of "causes over which we have no control" beyond all reasonable limits. We need to fall back on the healthy common sense of mankind, and on the doctrine of these proverbs. There is a moral question involved. Laziness is immoral, and receives the condemnation of immorality; industry is a virtue, and brings its own reward in every sphere. The opposition is amplified in ver. 5; active forethought being contrasted with supine indifference. The hard field labour referred to belongs particularly to young men; and to young men idleness is peculiarly corrupting.
IV. ASSOCIATIONS OF BLESSING AND THOSE OF VIOLENCE. (Ver. 6.) However the verse may be rendered and interpreted, this is the opposition. Blessing leads the mind through such a series of associated ideas as peace, tranquillity, order, security; violence through a contrasted series - trouble, disquiet, disorder, and all that implies a curse.
V. BRIGHT AND DARK RECOLLECTIONS. (Ver. 7.) The good man lives in thankful memories; the bad man's name is like an ill odour, according to the literal meaning of the Hebrew word. When the saying is quoted, The ill men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones," we should recall by whom this was said, or feigned to be said, and for what purpose. In the memory of Caesar's ambition Antony is afraid the Romans will forget his services. Momentarily good may be forgotten, but ultlmately must come to recognition and honour. The course of time illustrates the worth of the good, and enhances the odium of evil memories. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.