“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”
The statements in this verse appear to be fairly straightforward. Fear the Lord and you will have a long life: choose to be wicked and you will probably die young. It is easy to challenge both statements. How many God-fearing men and women have died while relatively young, including those engaged in full-time ministry? Jim Elliot is a good example. Jim was martyred in 1956 while serving God on mission in Ecuador. He was twenty-eight years old. While Jim Elliot died young we can all think of wicked people who have lived well beyond the promised three score years and ten. Why?
The Geneva Study Bible suggests that while some wicked people appear to live long lives, the time of their prosperity will be short. In terms of eternity this has to be true. When Jim Elliot died he had no reason to fear eternity. But while Jim Elliot’s time on earth seems to have been cut short, the legacy he left when he lost his earthly life made a difference to many for eternity.
This verse challenges the reader to consider the legacy of his or her days on earth. What Jim Elliot achieved in twenty-eight years is insignificant when we consider the foundations he laid before he died. His death opened a door for many. Does that sound familiar? Jesus lived on Earth for thirty-three years, and only engaged in ministry for three years. But when Jesus died he opened the door to eternity for us all. We just have to choose to step through it. Once we do the challenge of our legacy then confronts us. What legacy will you leave?
Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5 NIV)