Ever watch what is going on in the world and wonder if the evil and wicked are winning the day? It is difficult at times not to fret and become angry (even at God) when we watch the evil men and women of this world seemingly prosper and succeed during our lifetime. But the wise man knows the Word of God - and knows that God promises that He is just, and knows that in the end it will not go well for the wicked. His lamp may burn brightly for a season, but in the end his lamp - his influence - his power will be put out.
We are warned against two things in this passage. The first is that we do not fret because of evildoers. The word "fret" here actually does not refer to worry but rather to anger. The word for fret is the Hebrew word, "nahar" which means to burn, to be kindled and glow, or to grow warm. It refers to someone becoming angry. It was the word that was used of Potiphar's anger when he thought that Joseph had raped his wife. It is also used in Joshua 23:16 of God's anger toward those who disobey His Law. Here, we are being warned against becoming angry at God - because we watch evildoers prosper in this life. David struggled with this very thing in Psalm 73. The more he looked at the wicked and the evildoers in this present life - the more his anger was being kindled. He reached the point in that psalm where he said that he almost betrayed his generation until he entered the sanctuary and saw the latter end of this wicked people. His betrayal would have been the things he said about God and His justice. David would have allowed his fretting to be manifested toward God. But he saw that all at once these prospering evil people fell - that they faced God's wrath with no recourse. He saw that they thought all was well until death or calamity crushed their world. Since they were only living for the here and now - that meant that their entire world was destroyed. David's fretting ceased - and instead he felt compassion toward them - and awe and fear toward God in his "ULTIMATE JUSTICE."
We are also warned not to become envious of the wicked. This second warning comes because we will watch the shrewdness of the worldlings as they use graft and corruption to gain wealth in this world. We may watch them seemingly succeed in regard to money, sex, and power. But once again we must see things from God's perspective. As they gather power, sex, and wealth to themselves - they are also storing up wrath for disobeying God's commandments and laws as well. Their supposed prosperity comes at an eternal price tag. In the end their future will be horrific - not blessed.
That is what these two verses in proverbs deals with in the second verse. We are told that there will be no future for the evil man. The word future is our old friend "acharith" which means the end of the matter. Though the wicked does all his evil desires, and seemingly prospers in them - he is not seeing long term. He may enjoy the moment - but the latter end of his life will be devastating. There is NO future - NO latter end - NO prosperity eternally. He will be damned for his rebellion and destroyed utterly for his wickedness.
Only someone who sees with a ridiculous short term vantage point would trade a few years of pleasure for infinite pain and suffering. God's Word refers to this life on earth as a mere breath while there is no end to our state in eternity. The other warning to us here is that the lamp of the wicked will be put out. As I said earlier, he may burn brightly for a little while - for a breath or two - but his light will be extinguished. Consider all the terrifying dictators of the past - Hitler, Ghengas Khan, Sadaam Hussein, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot - and a host of others throughout history. For a brief moment they seemd to have a bright light burning for themselves and their regime. Yet all are viewed as horrible men who committed disgusting crimes against humanity itself. God assured that these men do not live on as famous - but as infamous. So also will be the legacy of all those who oppose God and live out their wickedness. Their lights will go out - snuffed out by God Himself.
The wise man does not become angry with God over such men and women. He certainly does not envy them. What we should do is pity such men. We should pity them and pray that they would repent and turn to God. We should also realize that God is showing them great mercy by not consuming them instantly in His wrath. He is offering them another day of mercy during which time they have opportunity to hear the gospel and repent. But know that beyond any shadow of doubt the day is drawing near for them to be judged according to God's law. Envious? Angry? - no . . . we should pity them - and we should tremble before the awesome, exact justice of our holy God. And as wise men - we should depart from their ways and fully embrace those of our Lord.