Hope Brings Joy
Bible Reading: Proverbs 10:27-30
Proverbs 10:28, “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectations of the wicked will perish.”
The Hebrew word translated hope is rooted in a word meaning “to wait.” The hope of the righteous is founded on God, and waits patiently, trusting Him to fulfill His promises. The hope of the righteous brings joy because God is always faithful to do what He says.
The Hebrew word translated expectation has to do with “things hoped for,” looking for a particular outcome regarding some desired thing. The expectations of the wicked are self derived and and therefore unsecured, lacking any guarantee regarding their ultimate fulfillment. The expectations of the wicked will perish, along with the wicked themselves.
There’s perhaps no greater illustration of the distinction between these two future perspectives than what we read about in the examples of Mordecai and Haman in the book of Esther.
Haman was a wicked man filled with pride and lofty ambitions, and their associated expectations. Having been promoted above all the King’s officials, he expected to be revered. But Mordecai refused to bow down to him. Haman discovered that Mordecai was a Jew, so Haman convinced the King to sign an edict calling for the annihilation of the Jews. He expected that to happen. Haman had built a high gallows in which he expected to have Mordecai hung. But the King discovered how Mordecai had previously intervened on the King’s behalf, and asked Haman “what should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor” (Esther 6:6)? Haman erroneously assumed the King was referring to him, so he said, “Let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor’” (Esther 6:8-9). Haman had some lofty expectations indeed! But in an ironic twist of providential fate, Mordecai was honored instead. All of Haman’s expectations perished with him when he died on the gallows he had built for Mordecai.
Mordecai was a Jew, a God-fearing man, whose hope was in God and His promises for His people. When Mordecai got word of the King’s edict regarding the annihilation of the Jews, Mordecai pleaded with his adopted daughter, Queen Esther, that she might intercede before the king. He hoped that God would rescue His people, either through her or some other means (Esther 4:14). The king ultimately issued a second edict, allowing the Jews to defend their lives and attack and annihilate any who came to attack them. Mordecai’s hope was fulfilled when “the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them” (Esther 9:1). “The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor” (Esther 8:16). “And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them” (Esther 8:17). The Jews in that day even inaugurated a feast, the Feast of Purim, which is celebrated to this day!
Haman’s expectations perished, along with Haman. Mordecai’s hopes, being well founded on God and His promises, were joyously fulfilled and in a manner which would have far exceeded what Mordecai could have imagined. We all have hopes and dreams, but it is those which are firmly rooted in God and His promises, in which we can hope with a confident expectation of a joyous fulfillment.
The Hope of the Righteous Brings Joy
Heavenly Father. We sometimes forget that it’s in you that we live and move and have our being. You are sovereign over all and over the affairs of our lives. Forgive us for our sinful tendency to self-generate expectations that have no relationship to You or Your purposes. Grant us the grace and wisdom instead to set our hope on You and the firm foundation of Your promises. Praise You for Your ability to work behind the scenes in our lives to accomplish Your plan, even when we don’t realize or understand what You are doing! May we lean hard into the work You are doing in us, finding joy in its fulfillment!