The Bible tells us that the wise man Solomon, “…spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five” (I Kings 4:32). Each of the proverbs found in the book “The Proverbs” contains great truths and great lessons for man in general. They are not doctrine for any specific law, such as for the Law of Moses or for the gospel of Christ, but are instead truths that will apply for all ages and peoples. We wish to consider a few things from one of those many proverbs. Solomon wrote, “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth” (Proverbs 11:7). Proverbs use a comparison as a way of teaching. Following this verse is the other part of the comparison, the result of being righteous. We wish to examine the end result of the wicked man in this proverb.
It may do us well to first consider just who it is that will see their expectation and hope perish when they die. The text says that it is the “wicked man”. We have a tendency to see in our mind the mass murderer, the rapist, the child molester or other such heinous and reprehensible acts of cruelty against innocent people. However, though God views these crimes as wicked, His view of wickedness goes much further, to things we might shrug off as being not worthy of mention. In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the Lord spoke of a man who was given only one talent. Each was given based upon their abilities (verse 15). When the Lord returned, he found that the others had each doubled that which was placed in their care. However, because of fear that he would fail, the one talent man did nothing with that which was placed in his care. He didn’t squander it away, he still had it to give to his Lord, but he had simply done nothing. “His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant…” (Matt. 25:26). All sin is wickedness in the sight of God. Therefore, when Solomon spoke of a wicked man dying, he was speaking of the death of one who was not in a righteous state.
Two things are said to perish when the wicked man dies. The expectation and the hope that the man has perishes upon death. Both words refer to that which is still future. We have often defined hope as desire plus expectation. What one expects but does not desire, he does not hope for. What one desires but does not expect to get, he has no hope of. It is a simple fact that many have hope and expectation based upon false premises. They may base their hope upon error that they have been taught and have believed, maybe even for many years. Just because one thinks they are doing the will of God does not mean they are actually doing the will of God. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23). The truth of the matter is that when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we will be judged by what we have done as it is compared to what God’s word has instructed. Paul said, “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16). Jesus Himself said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
The person that is in a lost state at the time of his or her death, will remain in a lost state. Any hopes of eternal life, any expectations of a home in heaven fell by the wayside when they passed from this physical life. Some teach a doctrine making allowance for one to be moved in one way or another from the lost state to the saved state after they have died. However, the word of God teaches otherwise. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, recorded in Luke chapter sixteen, the rich man sought Abraham to send Lazarus to him with a drop of water for his tongue, for he was in torment. Abraham told him, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:25-26). The writer of the book of Hebrews stated, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27)
Now is the time to prepare for that judgment. Once death has arrived, preparation time will all be gone. The Hebrew writer said, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26-27). Indeed, all hope and expectation for a home in heaven will be lost to the wicked man if he remains in that state until death parts him from this world. “…Now is the day of salvation…” (II Cor. 6:2).