7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
all the promise of their power comes to nothing.
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
All the flaws in the world can be traced back to sin and death; the human condition to which we are bound. Each generation has its share of idealists, who hope that human brilliance will redeem the world. But sin corrupts their progress, and death cannot be escaped. Yet the Lord has no such limitations, and has promised to “swallow up death forever… [and] wipe away the tears from all faces.” Only he is worthy of our hope.
“The righteous person is rescued from trouble, and it falls on the wicked instead.” No one is free from trouble in this life, but the righteous have the hope of rescue. This allows them to be brave in the face of danger. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were threatened with Nebuchadnezzar’s blazing furnace, they stood firm and said “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it… But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” When trouble comes, what options do the wicked – who trust no one – have?
“With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” The godless love to have companions, and are quick to invite others into their schemes. They scoff at responsibility and boast about their exploits, tempting those around them to do the same. The righteous see such foolishness for what it is; an invitation to destruction. They know there is more at stake than meets the eye, and stay on the right path undeterred by ridicule.