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It Really Is a Matter of Life and Death
Proverbs 11:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will live,
but he who pursues evil will die.
He who is steadfast in righteousness will live: He who is steadfast in righteousness is one who firmly remains continuously doing good, walking with God, living an upright life, and acts justly in all of his dealings regardless of the difficulties in life. Will live (לְחַיִּים lechayyim) has been touched on repeatedly throughout the book of Proverbs. The thought is that one who does good according to God’s standards, walking steadfastly with God, living an upright life, and acting justly toward all in everything he does, generally speaking, will live a very long and happy life. Why do we continually qualify these proverbs? Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and unexpected events happen to them all.” There are no absolutes in Satan’s fallen world. There is no absolute; if you do A you will get B.
but he who pursues evil will die: Generally, pursue (רָדַף radaph) would mean chase after or follow. However, here it means to follow the ways of evil or do what evil people do, to put much effort or intensity in carrying out or participating in evil activities. To die (מָוֶת maveth) here means exactly that, the end of life, the opposite of life, to cease to exist.
Life here in verse 19 does not explicitly mean eternal life. Instead, it is explicitly referring to the experiences within the present life. However, it does imply eternal life, for it infers a long life. Here in verse 19, we have two outcomes and rewards in life. If we live a righteous life, generally speaking, we will enjoy a long, healthy, and prosperous life. Yet, we remain aware, for now, in Satan’s world and our human imperfection, bad things happen to good people.
On the other hand, for those living a life filled with evil, their demise will be death, which infers an early death, and much personal suffering along the way. Here, again, there is no explicit mention of eternal death. However, there are eschatological implications for both life in line one and death in line two, the former being eternal life, the latter being eternal death.