Say you to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.…
"Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." Plainly do we see this exemplified in the history of God's once favoured people, the Jews.
I. THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
1. We must, before we contemplate their reward, inquire who are meant by the righteous. The Bible elsewhere tells us, "There is none righteous, no, not one." All our powers and faculties are represented as disordered and depraved. After the Holy Spirit has convinced anyone of sin, humbled his heart, and won his affections to Christ, that man is "accounted righteous" — "righteousness is imputed unto him also," as it was unto faithful Abraham. And "as a refiner's fire" will the Holy Spirit gradually purify all those powers and faculties of the now justified sinner that were once prostituted to the debasing service of the flesh, the world, and Satan.
2. And now we are prepared to notice his reward. We cannot, indeed, imagine that an infinitely glorious Creator can ever become obligated to reward a creature's faith and service: nevertheless, there is a "reward of grace."(1) It shall be well with him in life. Is he young? He shall, in the Spirit of adoption, and through a Saviour's mediation, cry unto the eternal God, "My Father, Thou art the guide of my youth." Is he engaged in the necessary cares and businesses of the world? He shall be "kept in the hour of temptation." Is he "small and of no reputation"? Angels shall minister unto him. Is he poor? "God hath chosen the poor of this world"; riches of grace below, and riches of glory in reversion, far outweigh in excellence and value every earthly good whatever. Is he "in sorrow, need, pain, sickness, or any other adversity"? "The high and lofty One" will "make for him all his bed in his sickness."(2) It shall be well with him also in death. That which to nature is commonly terrible and affrighting, is to the regenerate man — if not always desirable, at least, often so, and never otherwise than safe and happy.
(3) It shall be well with him in eternity.
II. THE WOE OF THE WICKED.
I. And, as before we inquired, Who were meant by the righteous? so here we must ask, Whom are we to understand by the wicked? Although, in a general way, people allow themselves to be sinners, yet even whilst making this admission, there is evidently no consciousness of sin, no apprehension of its adequate desert, no sorrow for it, no hatred to it.
2. Their woe. Here the woe of the wicked is called their "reward"; and a reward it is: for while "eternal life" is bestowed as a "gift through Jesus Christ," upon the righteous, the "woe" of the wicked is paid to them as "wages" earned.
(1) It shall be ill with the wicked in life. The wicked may, as the Scripture says, "bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst"; but "the anger of the Lord and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this Book shall lie upon him." The life of the wicked is one "woeful day," nor is there a period of it, however marked either by prosperous or adverse circumstances, wherein it is not "ill" with him.
(2) And can it be otherwise in death? "I am not afraid to die," says many a careless man: "I heartily wish you were so," is the mental answer of the pious minister. The stupid insensibility of the unhumbled, unawakened sinner, even death itself can scarcely appall. The same self-delusion prevails in the expiring moments as marked the days of life and vigour.
(3) It shall be ill with the wicked forever.
(W. Mudge, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.