Proverbs 11:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 11:23, NIV: "The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath."

Proverbs 11:23, ESV: "The desire of the righteous ends only in good, the expectation of the wicked in wrath."

Proverbs 11:23, KJV: "The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath."

Proverbs 11:23, NASB: "The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath."

Proverbs 11:23, NLT: "The godly can look forward to a reward, while the wicked can expect only judgment."

Proverbs 11:23, CSB: "The desire of the righteous turns out well, but the hope of the wicked leads to wrath."

What does Proverbs 11:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Proverbs are concise, common sense remarks that teach a general truth. They can also be poetic or have layered depth. In this case, there seems to be a double meaning: regarding both the intentions and the consequences of man's morality. Those who are "righteous" pursue God's truth (Proverbs 1:7), and those who are wicked seek their own preferences (Proverbs 5:22). This leads to both earthly and eternal consequences. Worldly results are not guaranteed (Psalm 73:1–3), though it's more common for immoral people to suffer due to their choices. Eternal ends, however, are absolute: those who reject God have no hope after death (Proverbs 11:7).

The first implication of this verse is earthly. A righteous person's efforts create goodness in the world. This corresponds to the typical reputation of good people: they are celebrated and appreciated for improving the lives of others (Proverbs 11:10). The opposite is true of evil people, whose greed and malice generate misery. As a result, their death is often celebrated by the world. Seeking God produces good results, for oneself and for others (Proverbs 1:7), and rejecting God leads to ruin (Proverbs 11:6).

The second implication is eternal. Those who sincerely seek after God will find Him (Matthew 7:7–8), which means finding eternal life (John 3:16–18). Those who reject God, embracing their own sin, will find themselves subject to the wrath of God (John 3:36).

In Psalm 23 David describes his personal relationship with the Lord as that of a sheep with its shepherd. Like a sheep that follows its shepherd's leading, David followed the Lord and enjoyed green pastures and quiet waters (Psalm 23:2). He anticipated the Lord's blessing throughout life: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6). Believers in Christ have a firm hope of future blessing. Paul refers to it in Colossians 1:27 as "Christ in you, the hope of glory." In Colossians 3:4 he writes, "When Christ who is your life appears, then you will also appear with him in glory." The wicked can only anticipate God's judgment and destruction.