Proverbs 10:2
Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
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(2) Treasures of wickedness—i.e., gained by wrong-doing.

Righteousness delivereth from death.—The Hebrew word translated “righteousness” has a much wider meaning than its English equivalent, which generally bears the sense only of deciding fairly, being especially applied to judges. But a “righteous” man in Hebrew is one who “renders to all their due,” whether to God, as Noah, who was “just and perfect” before Him (Genesis 6:9; Genesis 7:1; comp. Ecclesiastes 7:20), or to man. To his fellow-men his “justice” will show itself in liberality (Psalm 37:21), mercy (Proverbs 12:10), carefulness of speech (Proverbs 15:28), truthfulness (Proverbs 13:5), and wisdom (Proverbs 9:9). He is considerate to animals also (Proverbs 12:10). So in the sermon on the Mount our Lord (Matthew 6:1) says, “Take heed that ye do not your ‘righteousness’ [so the best MSS. read] before men;” and then specifies it under the heads of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. In this passage it forms a contrast to riches gained by wrong, and therefore would seem particularly to signify “almsgiving,” as its Greek equivalent does in 2Corinthians 9:10. It is often: rendered so by the LXX., and it is the most usual sense of the word in late Hebrew. It is so interpreted also in Tobit 4:10; Tobit 12:9, where this passage is quoted. (Comp. Ecclesiasticus 3:30; Ecclesiasticus 29:12, and our Lord’s advice, Luke 16:9.) It “delivers from death,” as being a sign of the divine life within, which is “hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Proverbs 10:2. Treasures of wickedness — Such as are got by any sort of unjust or wicked practices; or worldly riches in general, termed by our Lord, the mammon of unrighteousness, Luke 16:9, because they are often used in an unrighteous manner, and made instruments of unrighteousness, and for other reasons there explained; profit nothing — Do the possessor no good at the time here intended, but, as is implied in the opposite member of the sentence, much hurt. They not only do not deliver him from death, but often expose him to it, either from men, who would take away his life that they may enjoy his wealth, or from God, who shortens his days, as a punishment of those luxuries and other sins into which his wealth led him: whence death becomes more terrible, as being attended with guilt and a dread of the second death. But righteousness — True holiness of heart and life; or he may mean justice and equity in the getting of riches, and a liberal and charitable use of them, which is often called righteousness in Scripture, and is indeed but an act of justice; (of which see on Proverbs 3:27;) delivereth from death — Frequently from temporal death, because men generally love and honour, and will assist such persons in cases of danger, and God often gives them the blessing of a long life; and always from eternal death, when such justice and charity proceed from true piety and a good conscience.

10:1 The comfort of parents much depends on their children; and this suggests to both, motives to their duties. 2,3. Though the righteous may be poor, the Lord will not suffer him to want what is needful for spiritual life. 4. Those who are fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, are likely to be rich in faith, and rich in good works. 5. Here is just blame of those who trifle away opportunities, both for here and for hereafter. 6. Abundance of blessings shall abide on good men; real blessings.Righteousness - Including, perhaps, the idea of benevolence. Compare the use of δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunē, in Matthew 6:1 (the older reading), and 2 Corinthians 9:9-10. 2. Treasures … nothing—that is, Ill-gotten gains give no true happiness (compare Pr 4:17; Mt 6:19).

righteousness—especially beneficence (Ps 112:9).

death—the greatest of all evils.

Treasures of wickedness: either,

1. All worldly treasures and riches, which are called the mammon of unrighteousness, Luke 16:9, of which see the reasons there; to which righteousness or holiness, which are spiritual and heavenly riches, may be fitly opposed. Or,

2. Such treasures as are got by any sort of unjust or wicked practices.

Profit nothing; they do the possessor no good, but, which is implied from the opposite member, much hurt; they do not only not deliver him from death, but oft expose him to it; either from men, who take away his life that they may enjoy his wealth; or from God, who shortens his days, and makes his death more terrible, as being attended with guilt, and with the second death.

Righteousness: either,

1. True holiness of heart and life. Or,

2. Justice and equity in the getting of riches, or an estate honestly obtained, which may be fitly opposed to treasures of wickedness. Or,

3. A liberal and charitable use of riches, which is oft called righteousness, as Psalm 112:9 Daniel 4:27 2 Corinthians 9:10, &c., and is indeed but an act of justice, of which see on Proverbs 3:27, which also is conveniently opposed to an unjust getting of riches; and so this contains a great paradox, yet a certain truth, that the charitable laying out of money is more profitable to men than an unjust and covetous laying it up.

From death; ofttimes from temporal death, because men generally love, and honour, and will assist such persons in cases of danger, and God gives them the blessing of a long life; and always from eternal death, when such charity proceeds from a sincere and honest mind, and a good conscience.

Treasures of wickedness profit nothing,.... By which are meant either a large abundance of riches in general, which for the most part are enjoyed by wicked men, and abused to wicked purposes, Proverbs 11:4; or an affluence of them, obtained in a wicked way, by fraud, oppression, and the like; see Micah 6:10; Or are either not used at all, or put to wicked uses: what are not used profit not the possessors of them, for they are "kept to the hurt of the owners" of them; and those which are got by ill means, or put to an ill use, "perish by evil travel", Ecclesiastes 5:13. Nor can anyone by his riches either redeem himself or his brother from destruction, or give to God a ransom for him; nor can he by them save himself from a corporeal death one year, one month, one day, one hour, one moment; nor will they be of any service to him in the day of judgment, when wrath comes forth against him;

but righteousness delivereth from death; either that which is righteously got, though it be ever so little, is a means of preserving life, and keeps their souls from famishing, Proverbs 10:3; or else what is liberally dispensed, for alms are called "righteousness", Psalm 112:9, Daniel 4:27. These are oftentimes the means of saving the lives of persons ready to perish, on whom they are bestowed, and who will venture their lives to save their benefactors; and such liberal persons are oftentimes blessed with long life, and are kept alive when threatened with death, Psalm 41:1; and though their good deeds are not meritorious of eternal life, yet they are rewarded with it in a way of grace, Matthew 25:34. Moreover, righteousness may be considered as legal and evangelical; a legal righteousness, or the righteousness of men in obedience to the law, cannot deliver from the sentence of death the law has passed; it is not properly a righteousness; it is imperfect, cannot justify, save, or bring to heaven, or entitle to life; notwithstanding this a man must die: but there is an evangelical righteousness; and this is either imparted and implanted in men, is the new man, which is created in righteousness and holiness; and this delivers from a moral or spiritual death, a death in trespasses and sins men are in; for by it they are quickened, live a life of faith on Christ, and have communion with God; have his image stamped on them, and live to him, and to Christ, and to righteousness, being freed from the servitude and dominion of sin; living in which is no other than death: or this righteousness is imputed, which is the righteousness of Christ; wrought out for them, reckoned to them, received by them, and by which they are justified; this delivers them, though not from a corporeal death, yet from the sting and curse of it, and from it as a penal evil, or as a punishment for sin: and it delivers from a legal death, or from the sentence and condemnation of the law, and from the second and eternal death, and entities them to life everlasting.

Treasures of {a} wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.

(a) That is, wickedly gotten.

2. Treasures of wickedness … righteousness] The contrast would seem to be between “wickedness” in its highest prosperity and success, when it has amassed “treasures,” when it has “found all precious substance and filled the house with spoil” (Proverbs 1:13), and “righteousness,” in itself considered, independently of the consequences which may attach to it. Comp. Proverbs 11:4.

Verse 2. - Treasures of wickedness; treasures acquired by wrong doing (Micah 6:10). Profit nothing "in the day of calamity" (Ecclus. 5:8; comp. Proverbs 11:4). The LXX. renders, "Treasures will not profit the wicked;" so Aquila. "For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Righteousness (Proverbs 14:34); not simply justice and moral goodness, but more especially liberality, benevolence. So in Matthew 6:1 the Revised Version (in accordance with the best manuscripts) reads, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them," Christ proceeding to specify three outward acts as coming under this term, viz. almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. In some analogous passages the LXX. renders the word by ἐλεημοσύντ, e.g. Psalm 111:9; Daniel 4:27; Tobit 12:9 (comp. 2 Corinthians 9:10). Delivereth from death, shows that a man's heart is right towards God. and calls down special grace. Such a man lays up in store for himself a good foundation, that he may attain eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19; see on Proverbs 16:6). Proverbs 10:2There follows now a series of proverbs which place possessions and goods under a moral-religious point of view:

Treasures of wickedness bring no profit;

But righteousness delivers from death.

The lxx and Aquila translate ἀνόμους (ἀσεβεῖς). הועיל (to profit) with the accus. is possible, Isaiah 57:12, but אוצרות one does not use by itself; it requires a genitive designating it more closely. But also דּרשּׂיעא of the Targ., παρανόμων of Symmachus, fails; for the question still remains, to whom? Rightly Syr., Jerome, Theodotion, and the Quinta: ἀσεβείας, cf. Proverbs 4:17; Micah 4:10; Luke 16:9, μαμωνᾶς τῆς ἀδικίας. Treasures to which wickedness cleaves profit not, viz., him who has collected them through wickedness. On the contrary, righteousness saves from death (2b equals Proverbs 11:4, where the parallelism makes it clear that death as a judgment is meant). In Deuteronomy 24:13 it had been already said that compassionate love is "righteousness before the Lord," the cardinal virtue of the righteousness of life. Faith (Habakkuk 2:4) is its soul, and love its life. Therefore δικαιοσύνη and ἐεημοσύνη are interchangeable ideas; and it ought not to be an objection against the Apocrypha that it repeats the above proverb, ἐλεημοσύνη ἐκ θανάτου ῥύεται, Tob. 4:10; 12:9, Sir. 3:30; 29:12, for Daniel 4:24 also says the very same thing, and the thought is biblical, in so far as the giving of alms is understood to be not a dead work, but (Psalm 112:9) the life-activity of one who fears God, and of a mind believing in Him and resting in His word.

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