When I read this proverb I struggle a little. The reason for my struggle is that I know of many of the righteous who have experienced physical harm. But when I began thinking according to the whole counsel of God's Word, I take a much different view of things. Let's take a look at this passage in light of God's eternal perspective.
No "real, lasting" harm befalls the righteous. The example I will give is that of Paul. In light of this I am going to quote a long passage of Scripture from 2 Corinthians 11."Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
Paul, after writing this, could have seriously complained about this passage in Proverbs. He could have said, "No harm?! Are you kidding me? Harm is pretty much my middle name!". But that is not what he wrote. Instead he wrote that he would boast even more about these things because they put him in a place of weakness, which he knew made him strong in the Lord. He wrote to these same Corinthian believers that these were only light and momentary discomforts, that were working for him an eternal weight of glory beyond finding out. This only works for someone who maintains an eternal perspective. Paul said this in light of fixing his mind on the things that are above, not on earthly things. But when we do this even the things that would seem like earthly harm become that which is an eternal blessing to us. We don't live for the physical and this life. We live for eternity. Now let's look at this verse with God's perspective.
No harm befalls the righteous. Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. The list in Romans eight covers it all. Because we are blessed forever due to the righteousness of Christ, we are blessed eternally. One might even say that we have eternal life! Because of this, even the so-called bad things cannot harm us for they are working for our good as we are conformed to the image of Christ. What a glorious truth! What a magnificent promise! Now consider the wicked, who do not know Jesus Christ. Many of them seem to live a charmed life here on earth. Yet our proverb today tells us their lives are filled with trouble. The blessings of the wicked only last in this life. When they stand in the judgment all their life will testify against them. James speaks of how their riches will burn them like fire. The foolish, rich farmer lost everything in a moment. At death all his wealth became evidence against him. There are also judgments that will come in this lifetime upon the acts of the wicked. Truly for them all things will come together for their condemnation.
The key to grasping the wisdom of today's proverb is having eyes that see with an eternal perspective. But then again, that is the key to wisdom at any time. God desires for us to see as He sees. This may not gain us all the world says is valuable sin this world and in this life. But in the end only th perspective of God will be all that matters. May God give us grace to not only see this way, but also to reason and live this way as well.