Mark the perfect man - In contrast with what happens to the wicked. The word "perfect" here is used to designate a righteous man, or a man who serves and obeys God. See the notes at Job 1:1. The word "mark" here means "observe, take notice of." The argument is, "Look upon that man in the end, in contrast with the prosperous wicked man. See how the close of life, in his case, differs from that of a wicked man, though the one may have been poor and humble, and the other rich and honored." The point of the psalmist' s remark turns on the end, or the "termination" of their course; and the idea is, that the end of the two is such as to show that there is an advantage in religion, and that God is the friend of the righteous. Of course this is to be understood in accordance with the main thought in the psalm, as affirming what is of general occurrence.
And behold the upright - Another term for a pious man. Religion makes a man upright; and if a man is not upright in his dealings with his fellow-man, or if what he professes does not make him do "right," it is the fullest proof that he has no true piety, I John 3:7-8.
For the end of that man is peace - DeWette renders this, Denn Nachkommen hat der Mann Friedens; "For a future has the man of peace." So it is rendered by the Latin Vulgate: Sunt reliquiae homini pacifico . So the Septuagint. So also Hengstenberg, Rosenmuller, and Prof. Alexander. Tholuck renders it, as in our version, "It shall go well at last to such man." It seems to me that the connection demands this construction, and the authority of Tholuck is sufficient to Proverbs that the Hebrew will admit of it. The word rendered "end" - 'achărı̂yth - means properly the last or extreme part; then, the end or issue of anything - that which comes after it; then, the after time, the future, the hereafter: Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; Genesis 49:1; Daniel 10:14. It may, therefore, refer to anything future; and would be well expressed by the word "hereafter;" the "hereafter" of such a man. So it is rendered "my last end" in Numbers 23:10; "latter end," Numbers 24:20; "their end," in Psalms 73:17. It "might," therefore, refer to all the future. The connection - the contrast with what happens to the wicked, Psalms 37:36, Psalms 37:38 - would seem to imply that it is used here particularly and especially with reference to the close of life. The contrast is between the course of the one and that of the other, and between the "termination" of the one course and of the other. In the one case, it is ultimate disaster and ruin; in the other, it is ultimate peace and prosperity. The one "issues in," or is "followed by" death and ruin; the other is succeeded by peace and salvation. Hence, the word may be extended without impropriety to all the future - the whole hereafter. The word "peace" is often employed in the Scriptures to denote the effect of true religion:
(a) as implying reconciliation with God, and
(b) as denoting the calmness, the tranquility, and the happiness which results from such reconciliation, from his friendship, and from the hope of heaven.
See John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:6; Galatians 5:22; Philippians 4:7. The meaning here, according to the interpretation suggested above, is, that the future of the righteous man - the whole future - would be peace;
(a) as a general rule, peace or calmness in death as the result of religion; and
(b) in the coming world, where there will be perfect and eternal peace.
As a usual fact religious men die calmly and peacefully, sustained by hope and by the presence of God; as a univeral fact, they are made happy forever beyond the grave.
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