Christian, do not let the suffering of the righteous nor the prosperity of the wicked allow your feet to slip. Do not envy the wealth and ease of the wicked. Death comes for the mighty and rich as steadily as for the weak and impoverished, and then comes judgment. On that great day, prosperity and ease will not deliver the wicked from God’s righteous wrath, but being forgiven in Christ, we will enter into the eternal joy of our Master.
Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 10:2 ESV
All people must wrestle to understand the perennial question of why the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. Thankfully, God does not leave us to grapple with that question alone. The Book of Job is the most obvious example. After the first two chapters set both Job’s godliness and suffering before us, the bulk of the book then becomes an argument between Job and his three friends about the nature of suffering. Job’s friends contend that suffering comes from wickedness; therefore, Job’s suffering reveals sin that needs to be repented of. Job maintains his innocence, and after being humbled by God’s appearing, Job is vindicated by God to his friends.
Psalm 73 is another powerful example. In that psalm, Asaph admits to being envious of the prosperity of the wicked, so envious that his “feet almost stumbled” (v. 2). Yet after entering God’s sanctuary, he “discerned their end” (v. 17). Asaph notes that even in their prosperity the wicked are primed for their coming destruction, whereas the righteous even in their suffering are upheld firmly by God Himself.
That reality is what we also find present within this proverb. Although the wicked may appear to prosper, their treasures do not profit them. They certainly may have treasures, even vast stores of wealth.