How many times have you heard someone say, "Payback time!"?
Sometimes it is with an ironic "see-I-told-you-so" smile, and sometimes in the movies you might see someone say it with a snarl. Solomon is very matter of fact here:
"Evil pursueth sinners, but to the righteous, good shall be repaid."
Ya'll know me by now --- I love to pull apart the verses and see what the words really meant to Solomon (or someone of his time who would read his proverbs) . . .
Evil -- affliction, calamity, destruction
Pursueth -- run after
Sinner -- a more intense root here than usual: a guilty criminal, an offender
Righteous -- just, lawful, righteous
Good -- bountiful, abundant good
Repaid -- give, recompense, prosper
It may not be a picture of God that we are altogether happy with, but I believe this means that yes, calamity and destruction will run after a sinner. God is holy, right? Right. And God never changes, His character is the same, and He is faithful, right? Right. The gift of His Son on the cross does what? It pays the debt for our sins . . . the sinner in this verse is someone who willfully chooses to reject God's gift, and (figuratively speaking) thumb his nose at any consequences that may befall him. Uh-huh.
Like I said, this is not a picture of God that we hear about now-a-days. A wrathful God. A God who is distressed by sin. But wait a minute --- what is on the flip side of that coin? Payback time!
The righteous will receive their payback; maybe not now, maybe not when it makes "sense" to us with our mortal minds, but it will come. Matthew Henry's commentary puts it beautifully: "They shall be abundantly recompensed for all the good they have done, and all the ill they have suffered, in this world; so that, though many have been losers for their righteousness, they shall not be losers by it."
There it is again -- abundant, bountiful payback! Keep me going, Lord!!