Do the Righteous Always Prosper?

How does the promise in Psalm 1:3 point to Christ? It says, “In all that he does, he prospers.” The righteous prosper in everything they do. Is this naïve or profoundly true?

In this life the wicked often prosper.

  • “Fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalms 37:7)
  • “Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” (Malachi 3:15)

And in this life the righteous often suffer and their goodness is rewarded with abuse.

  • “If we had forgotten the name of our God...would not God discover this? ... Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Psalms 44:20-22)

Therefore, when the psalmist says, “He prospers in all that he does,” he is pointing through the ambiguities of this life to life after death where the prosperity of all that we have done will appear.

This is the way Paul thought.

  • First, he celebrates the victory of Christ over death.

    “O death, where is your victory? ... Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 15:55-57).

  • Then, second, he draws out the implication that because of this triumph, every work that believers have ever done will prosper.

    “Therefore, my beloved brothers,... your labor is not in vain” (1Corinthians 15:58).

    When something is not in vain, it prospers.

Because Jesus died in our place, he guaranteed that every good deed prospers in the end. “Blessed are you when others revile you.... Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Reviled here. Rewarded there.

What seems naïve in the Old Testament (“He prospers in all that he does”) points profoundly to the work of Christ and the reality of resurrection.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.