Proverbs 10:28

Proverbs 10:28 "The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish."
Proverbs 10:28 Calvary Heights Baptist Church Elma NY
On the surface, Solomon’s proverbs seem to be comforting promises that ensure a life of happiness for the righteous while guaranteeing a life of misery for the wicked.  A casual glance at the proverbs can easily lead to the belief that righteousness takes away all of life’s problems.  However, a more thorough study of this Divine book will conclude that righteousness does not take away all of life’s problems.  Righteousness does not remove sorrow or sadness from life.  Righteousness does not remove disappointment or discouragement from life.  Tears are painted all over the pages of Scripture and in many cases, they are the tears of the righteous.  The righteous Joseph wept when forced to face his painful past when seeing his brothers after twenty-two years.  Job’s three friends wept with the righteous Job when seeing his unspeakable pain.  The righteous Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet.  Righteous men of God all wept when saying goodbye to Paul in Acts 20.  The spotless Lamb of God wept when seeing the grief of Lazarus’ family.

This proverb doesn’t teach that righteousness promises gladness.  In fact, it actually infers the contrary.  The emphasis of this verse is the HOPE of the righteous.  Hope itself is an indication of the presence of some dark days.  Hope is a virtue designed for the darkness.  Hope is a virtue designed for the difficult days.  Hope is reserved for the hurting.  Hope is reserved for the burdened.  When we are sick, we hope for healing.  When we are sad, we hope for comfort.  When we are poor, we hope for provision.  When we are concerned about a loved one, we hope for God’s intervention.  We hope for Christ’s return because we’re burdened in a sinful body in a cursed world.  When we are healthy, hope is unnecessary.  When we are wealthy, hope is irrelevant.  When we have no care or concern, hope sits idle until there is something to hope for.  Righteousness doesn’t prevent us from disappointment or else there would be no reason to initiate the power of hope.
 
This proverb may not offer a promise of life-long gladness for the righteous but it most definitely offers insight into the nature of virtue.  When the righteous hope, they hope righteously.  When the righteous hope, they hope accordingly to God’s character and ways.  When the righteous hope, they hope in accordance to God’s goodness, mercy and grace.  Their hope is tempered and tweaked by their reverence and understanding of God.  The righteous who are impoverished hope for God to provide for them but not for God to give them the winning lottery number.  The righteous who are sick hope for God to heal them but not to stop them from aging.  Because the hope of the righteous is in accordance with God’s character, it is often aligned with God’s will.  This critical fact is why “the hope of the righteous shall be gladness.”

This proverb doesn’t teach that church-going, law-abiding, Bible-reading, soul-winning and alcohol-abstaining Christians are always going to be glad because all of their hopes will come to pass.  Not all hopes come to pass because not all hopes are righteous.  Not all hopes bring gladness because not all hopes are aligned with God’s will.  Hope brings gladness when and only when it is born out of a desire for God’s glory and is solidified in submission to God’s will.

The emphasis of this proverb is not the hope of the righteous as much as it is the hope being righteous because it is the hope of the righteous.  When we look for God’s glory in our lives, we will be glad.  When we hope for God’s praise in our lives, we will be glad.  When we pray for God’s power knowing it will exalt God, we will be glad.  God responds to such hope.  Selfish hope doesn’t stir the work of God and it doesn’t bring gladness.  Self-centered hope doesn’t move God and as a result, it only brings disappointment.  Hope for healing solely for our comfort doesn’t always bring gladness.  Hope for money, love, attention, a new job or a better marriage when it has little or nothing to do with God’s glory often leads to disappointment.

The hope that brings gladness is righteous hope.  This hope is a submissive hope and one that leans entirely on God’s goodness.  The proverb teaches this submissive nature of righteous hope by contrasting it with “the expectation of the wicked.”  The wicked expect more than they hope.  The wicked are confident to the point of arrogance.  They expect to win a lot of money at the casino because of their ability to play the table. The wicked man expects to get a girl because of his charm and charisma.  The athlete expects to win because of his talent.  Hope hinges on circumstances out of one’s control where expectations are connected to circumstances partly within one’s control.  The righteous hope righteous hope because they humble themselves under the mighty hand of God.  This virtuous act always leads to gladness because as Peter put it, God will “exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

The Book of Esther perfectly illustrates this proverb.  In the Book of Esther, the righteous were severely sorrowful for the wicked Haman crafted a law to murder all of the Jews.  Neither Esther’s righteousness nor Mordecai’s righteousness prevented severe sorrow.  In fact, it was the cruelty of man that gave birth to Esther’s and Mordecai’s hope.  They began to hope that God would save the Jewish people.  Their hope was righteous hope because they hoped God would be glorified for saving His people when the odds were stacked against them.  Meanwhile, the wicked Haman fully expected to have his Jewish enemies slaughtered and removed.  At the end of the story, Haman’s confident and arrogant expectations perished and Esther’s righteous hope brought her and her people great gladness.  God answered Esther’s prayers and fulfilled Mordecai’s hopes.  The Feast of Purim was created and four times in the Book of Esther, the Bible refers to it as a day of GLADNESS.  

This proverb offers insight into virtue.  Because it is righteous, virtue leads to gladness because it aligns hope with God’s ways.  If you’re miserable because your hopes have been dashed, then your hopes probably haven’t been righteous.  For many of us, we’ve put our hope in some man instead of in God.  We hope for our spouse to do something or to be something for us.  We hope for our politicians or our employer or our doctor to do something for us.  If our hope is in man, it’s not righteous hope and it’s not going to bring gladness.  Even when we put our hope in God, we can be guilty of hoping for things that are selfish instead of things that are godly.  We can hope God heals us or brings us romance or brings us wealth but often without any desire for God to be glorified.  In these cases, we will be disappointed because our hope is not righteous hope.  Gladness comes to the righteous when their hope is righteous.    

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