The wicked man travails with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.…
It is impossible that wrong-doing should go wholly unpunished, for were there no positive penal inflictions, the mere natural consequences of wrong-doing would bring inevitable penalties. The words in these verses refer to the present natural consequences of wrong-doing, not to the final penal inflictions which must follow. The evils which the practice of wickedness tends to bring upon the head of the evil-doer, though many may escape, are thus stated.
I. HE ENDURES PAIN ALL HIS DAYS. The reference is probably to inward sufferings, and the anxieties which a course of wrong must cause. But the physical pains are also great. Perhaps most physical pain is the consequence of wrong-doing. Keeping the righteous Law of God by man would free the human life from suffering as truly as it frees the life of the beast or the bird. Broken law, known or unknown, must, in the disturbance it brings, cause pain.
II. Another source of punishment to the evil-doer is in THE CONDEMNATIONS OF CONSCIENCE WHICH HE INCURS. The seat of all true judgment is the conscience. It is the sum of all the soul's powers - the great tribunal before which all actions are brought. There the verdict is passed; there the penalty imposed - "a dreadful sound is in his ears." If the conscience be indurated, the life is so much the more degraded and the punishment the greater.
III. The wicked man suffers in THE FEARS WHICH HE EXPERIENCES. "He knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand." A dark day awaits him, and he knows it. He carries his fear with him wherever he goes. Judgment has been passed upon his evil-doing by his own conscience - by himself. The penalty has been awarded, and he goes about expecting its infliction. The fear of punishment hangs over his head.
IV. ALL THIS DEEPENS INTO A DARK DREAD BY WHICH HE IS HAUNTED. His spirit has no rest. "Trouble and anguish make him afraid." They wage war against him and despoil him. They "prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle."
V. Further evils follow in HIS OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. His dwelling shall be desolate (ver. 28).
2. His riches fade away. He holds everything by an uncertain tenure.
3. He shall dwell in gloom. "He shall not depart out of darkness."
4. He finally perishes by the breath of God. "By the breath of his mouth shall he go away." This is the portion of the man who "stretcheth out his hand against God." The assured Christian hope is bright, clear, comforting. It changes "the night into day;" it makes the darkness short, because of light; the "grave" is exchanged for the "house" on high; "corruption" puts on incorruption; "the bars of the pit" are burst; anti the resting "together in the dust" passes into the "rest in him." - R.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the oppressor.