Verse 20. But the wicked shall perish. Whatever phantom light may mock their present, their future is black with dark, substantial night. Judgment has been given against them, they are but reserved for execution. Let them flaunt their scarlet and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day; the sword of Damocles is above their heads, and if their wits were a little more awake, their mirth would turn to misery. The enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs. As the sacrificial fat was all consumed upon the altar, so shall the ungodly utterly vanish from the place of their honour and pride. How can it be otherwise? If the stubble dares to contend with the flame, to what end can it hope to come? They shall consume. As dry wood, as heaps of leaves, as burning coals, they shall soon be gone, and gone altogether, for into smoke shall they consume away. Sic transit gloria mundi. A puff is the end of all their puffing. Their fuming ends in smoke. They made themselves fat, and perished in their own grease. Consumers of the good they tried to be, and consumed they shall be.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 20. As the fat of lambs. As the glory of fat sheep, which are at length slain. Targum.
Verse 20. Fat of lambs. As the fat of the sacrifices was consumed on the altar by the fire (which was a type of God's righteous vengeance upon sinners), till it vanished into smoke; so the wicked will be the sacrifices to God's justice, and be destroyed by the fire of his indignation. Thomas Scott.
Verse 20. Into smoke shall they consume. "What hath pride profited us? or what hath our boasting of riches given us?" Such are the things, they shall speak who are in hell and who have sinned. For, the hope of the ungodly is like a dry thistle down, by the wind carried away, or the thin foam spread upon the billows, or as a smoke floated hither and thither by the wind, or as the remembrance of a wayfaring man for a day. Wouter of Stoelwyk, 1541.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS