“The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”
When we think of the term “righteous,” think of someone who is fair and just, for that is what the word entails. We’re not necessarily talking about a pious saint, or something, but a decent, God-fearing man or woman.
What are the characteristics of this type of person? The proverb says they “desire…only good.”
Now, some interpret this verse in such a way as to say, “The godly can look forward to a reward,” as in the New Living Translation. The ESV says that the desire of the righteous “ends only in good.” But I think it is better to interpret this verse as saying, “The object of the desire of the righteous is good.”
Righteous people are good people; they want good things to happen. And usually, because of their desires, good is the result.
Wicked people, on the other hand, want no such thing: they want trouble. What is good for the wicked is bad for everyone else. Wrath is what they hope for.
Again, some interpreters want to convey the idea that what the wicked will receive in the end is wrath. In other words, wrath is what they should expect in the end. That may be so, but there is something here in this verse worth noting.
Hope and Desire
The word translated “expectation” is also the Hebrew word for “cord,” as in a “line” of scarlet thread. Yes, it can mean “hope,” but interestingly it was the same word used in Joshua 2:18 that is translated “line,” as in the scarlet thread that Rehab hung from her window.
The word translated “desire” has more to do with a strong passion for something. Literally, it is the good version of lust. Lust is the wanting of something bad. In this case, desire is the longing of one’s heart for good.
It may not be a huge difference, but here are my “thoughts.” The only hope that a wicked, sinful heart has is the hope of selfish gain, even at the expense of every one else.
The desire of the righteous, however, is for good, and that selfless desire is a result of the Hope they have within.
Do you see all those people burning cars and beating people in the name of religion or anti-fascism? Do you see them calling for the destruction of others (including babies) in order to bring about or facilitate their desires? As they rejoice over the destruction of property and the death of innocents, they prove they are wicked.
Do you see those who walk into the fire to rescue the perishing? Do you see those who pray for peace? Do you see those who pray for the souls of wicked who persecute and mock them? They are the righteous.
So the question is: what are your expectations?