Righteousness Delivers from Death
1. In fact, any kind of earthly treasure profits very little.
a. Prov. 11:4 – Riches profit not in the day of wrath:
b. Ps. 49:6-11 – riches cannot buy redemption, nor do they last forever.
c. Zeph. 1:18 – silver and gold cannot deliver in the day of God’s wrath.
d. Luke 12:15-21 – what does it profit if a man gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Not much. Compared to eternal things, there is little profit in earthly riches.
e. Ecc. 5:10-11 – riches don’t satisfy; and once we heap together material goods, what good are they but to look at?
f. Ecc. 5:13 – rich men obtain great wealth, but often to their own hurt. (loss of family; loss of living a life; loss of enjoyment of life)
2. But riches gained by wickedness have even LESS profit!
a. Jer. 22:13-19 – God rebukes Jehoiakim
• V. 13-14 – He built a palace for himself… but did not pay the workers…
• V. 15a – shalt thou reign just because you have a nice palace? No! Your wealth, obtained through wickedness, will not enable you to reign. (He didn’t act like a king… he won’t have a royal reign!)
• V. 15b-17 – contrast him with his righteous father Josiah! His father did profit… he will not.
• V. 18-19 – he will die in dishonor.
b. I Kings 21:4 – Ahab obtained wealth through wickedness. Through murder and robbery, he stole the vineyard of Naboth.
• His wife Jezebel wrote a letter and sent it to the elders of the city. They were instructed to lie about Naboth, charge him with blasphemy, and stone him… which they did.
• Ahab then obtained the vineyard he desired.
• But along with the vineyard came a message from God: (v. 17-19)
• I Kings 22:28-29 – Ahab did a lot of building of palaces and accumulating of wealth through wickedness… but with no profit.
c. II Kings 5:20 – Gehazi – Elisha’s servant was upset that his master healed Naaman the Syrian and did not take any payment for it.
• Gehazi went back to Naaman and lied, saying that Elisha sent him to receive the gifts.
• The servant DID receive the treasures by wickedness.
• Ultimately, they did not profit him, for he was smitten with leprosy! (v. 27)
d. Matt. 27:5 – Judas gained some earthly treasure through the worst form of wickedness: he betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver.
• This too was to no profit. It brought him nothing but guilt.
• Eventually he threw the money away and hanged himself.
3. The Bible says much about riches obtained through dishonest means.
a. Jer. 17:11 – he shall leave them and not enjoy the benefits of them.
b. Prov. 22:16 – he shall come to want… he will experience unmet needs in his life… of one sort or another.
c. Prov. 21:6-7 – they are playing with fire… flirting with death…
d. This principle is mentioned often, perhaps because it is so common among men.
• Listen to the 6:00 o’clock news. Every night there is a story of someone who on a grand scale, has attempted to obtain treasures by wickedness…
• Bank robbers…museum thefts… white collar crimes… stealing money from the school systems…stock market thieves… e-commerce thieves… price gouging… skimming…
• And perhaps a little closer to home—running our own business in a less than ethical manner… misrepresenting the product or service we are selling…
• There is a lot of money to be made through dishonesty… BUT, ultimately, it “profits nothing.”
4. Even if the wicked SEEM to prosper and profit greatly… their day is coming.
a. Ps. 73:3 – Asaph noticed that wicked men DO seem to prosper.
• v. 5 – they are not in trouble…
• v. 7 – they have more than heart could wish.
• V. 12 – they have great gain in the world. They DO prosper. Their wickedness DOES profit them!
b. Solomon said they profit nothing. Who’s right?
c. They both are.
• The wicked DO prosper in the world, but only for a while.
• V. 17-19 – ultimately Asaph realized that their profit was short lived… their end was bitter… condemnation.
• On the other hand, the godly may work hard, be honest, and NOT profit much in the world.
• BUT—their end is far better! (v. 23-24) Even now, they have God’s presence!
d. The principle in Prov. 10:2 is true ULTIMATELY. When men stand before God, the treasures they obtained through lies, deceit, and unethical behavior will be of no profit.
e. They will discover that instead of heaping up riches, they were heaping up judgment upon their own heads! (Rom. 2:5-6)
2b But — Righteousness delivereth from death…
1. This section of Proverbs contains many antithetical parallelisms… statements that speak of opposites, often connected by a “but.”
2. In contrast to the wickedness which might produce immediate treasures, but in the long term does not profit… we have RIGHTEOUSNESS… Righteousness delivers from death… it does profit… especially in the long term!
3. Eph. 6:14 – part of our Christian armor: the breastplate of righteousness.
a. Like a breastplate which protects our vital organs, righteousness protects us…
4. Prov. 12:28 – in the way of righteousness is life… there is no death in its pathway!
5. Psalm 25:21 – David expected that his righteousness or uprightness of life would preserve him. It will us too!
6. Ps. 41:12 – God upholds us IN our integrity. If we do things right, God is with us to uphold us. If we DON’T do things right, we are on our own!
7. Dan. 6:22 – My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
a. Daniel did that which was right, and God delivered him from the mouth of lions!
8. In the book of Esther, we have two men who illustrate the truth of Prov. 10:2.
a. Haman obtained treasures and riches through wickedness… but in the end it did not profit him. He was hung on the gallows he designed!
b. Mordecai did that which was right—and was delivered from death.
9. Sometimes martyrs do what is right and God allows them to die. Is this a contradiction? No. It is a proverb.
a. Normally—doing what is right keeps us safe…
b. Do what is right in your car and your chances of an accident are greatly reduced. (But if you want to drink beer, read the paper, talk on the phone and eat a cheeseburger—then your chances of an accident greatly increase.
c. Criminals may face the death penalty… but to avoid it—do what is right!
d. Do what is right and you will be spared the awful consequences of sin… including death.
10. A simple principle here: ill gotten goods God will not allow to profit; but the man who operates in righteousness will be blessed… long life… delivered from death…