What does Proverbs 10:2 mean?
ESV: Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.
NIV: Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death.
NASB: Ill-gotten gains do not benefit, But righteousness rescues from death.
CSB: Ill-gotten gains do not profit anyone, but righteousness rescues from death.
NLT: Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life.
KJV: Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
Verse Commentary:
A person may acquire a storehouse of treasures by wicked actions and gain fleeting pleasure from them, but in the end, they amount to nothing. They cannot give true joy or peace. Nor can they prolong life. A billionaire who has accumulated enormous wealth, whether honestly or dishonestly, by cleverness or by outright violence, cannot buy even one more day to add to his allotted lifespan. History is full of stories about the unexpected death of wealthy, powerful people. Furthermore, when death separates an unrighteous rich person from his wealth, he has nothing to look forward to beyond the grave except suffering and eternal separation from God (Mark 8:38; Luke 12:20).

On the other hand, as Solomon points out, righteousness delivers from death. The word, "righteousness," in this verse characterizes the person who does what is right and good on behalf of others and honors God. The righteous person has nothing to fear about death, because he has eternal life and an eternal reward (Philippians 3:8–9).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 10:1–5 describes two kinds of sons and how they affect their parents. It also discusses the Lord's blessings on those who are diligent as well as the result of being lazy.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins 375 "proverbs," which are general-case lessons or observations. These wise remarks continue the discussion of wisdom and wickedness begun in chapters 1—9. Most of the verses in chapter 10 contain a sharp contrast, with the conjunction "but" separating the lines. Often, the subject changes from verse to verse. The contrasting subjects include sons, treasure, work ethic, reputation, relationships, success, and speech.
Chapter Context:
In Proverbs 7—9 Solomon contrasts wisdom and wickedness in the symbolic persons of Lady Wisdom and Woman Folly. He calls upon his sons, or students, to choose wisdom, and he points out the benefits of choosing wisdom and the disastrous results of choosing wickedness. Chapter 10 presents vivid contrasts between wisdom and wickedness in many of life's settings. These comparisons continue into chapter 11.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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