“The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish” (Prov. 10:28, ESV).
“Hope”—it’s a wonderful word filled with joyful expectation and optimistic anticipation for the future. The man who has hope has cause to live and to rejoice.
In the Scriptures “hope” is inextricably tied to the power and Person of the One True God. There is more to “hope” than is immediately clear to our Western mind. Since it is so tied to the power and Person of the One True God, “hope” is not mere wishful thinking but is rather confident expectation. The expectation is based solely on the sure and solid foundation of a Sovereign God Who cannot lie—the One Who is actively and intimately in control of the world and everything in the world. He is the One Who is obvious to all by observing His creation but He has specially revealed Himself to all mankind in the pages of the Bible. Therefore, “the righteous” or the just (those who live by faith in this One True God) have cause for rejoicing. They consider their God and His power, Person, and promises and they confidently rest in His character while confidently expecting to receive that which He has promised. The end result is “joy”:
- “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9, NKJV)
- “You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24, NKJV).
However wherever men deny the existence of God there is no hope and this is the tragedy that is demonstrated in every city, town, and village on this planet. Those who live in such a way as to deny the existence and attributes of the One True God are called “wicked”—a word referring to one who is the enemy of God (cf. Psalm 17:13), the direct opposite of the righteous or just. In the above Proverb the wicked do not have hope but rather “expectation”. This word is also used in the book of Joshua to speak of the scarlet cord/rope that Rahab used—a fitting picture of the short rope of the expectation of the wicked. The wicked are, in a manner of speaking, hanging by a thread and awaiting the sure destiny of eternal damnation. They may seem secure in this world in terms of their wealth, yet the Scripture declares “When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too” (Prov. 11:7, ESV). The wicked wake in the morning and expect happiness and prosperity in their works (and they may see it for a time) but that cannot and will not last. This hopelessness is the plague that is infecting multiplied millions in every culture of every society on every continent in the world. The symptoms of this plague are many including but not limited to suicide, murder, drug addiction, rape, depression, war, divorce, prostitution, homosexuality, and a thousand other physical and spiritual manifestations.