The true test of a man and his choices is how he dies. More accurately it is what happens to him after he dies. That is what this proverb addresses today.
When a wicked man dies - everything dies with him. He has no expectations beyond this world. During his life he lived for the things of this world - and now that he is dead - he has to face the fact that he lost everything at the moment he died. You leave it ALL behind. The wicked man's expectation was centered in this world. He bet his entire life that this was all that there is - that there is no afterlife. He figured that all he did will speak for him on that day.
The fact is that the moment the wicked man dies - things will never get any better than the moment before his death. Any good perishes the moment he perishes. All that he can look forward to from that moment on is the wrath of God. Jesus spoke to the rich man who was in torment in flame after death. He reminded him that he received his good things in this life. He rejected God - rejected serving God - and rejected living for God rather than for his own selfish agenda. He bet that God did not exist - that heaven was just a state of mind - that judgment day was just a device used by Christian preaches to get people to walk down the aisle at church. He was radically wrong! God is real - and He is holy and just. The strong man and the complete weakling are identical before the throne of God. The strong man does not want to humble himself before the Lord. But no matter what he does - his hope and his expectation perish before the Lord.
There are times when we can learn from the wicked. The first two funerals I ever did were for two people who were lost. As I worked through the service - I felt completely helpless and unable to offer a lot of hope for those who had died. This was because the hope and expectation of the wicked perish when they do. When death made its play for them they lost everything. The lesson I learned from them was to be prepared for the ultimate loss of all earthly things. Death will rob a wicked man of everything he owns and everything he has hoped for in life. I learned that I need to live for things that last beyond the grave. I need to live for the spiritual reality that will continue throughout eternity. I need to be prepared to die - and to have an expectation that goes beyond my trip to the funeral hope and graveyard. Jesus promises life eternal - a reward that goes beyond the grave. The wise man . . . places his hope and expectation in Jesus Christ.