He shall not be rich
Though his heart is set upon it, he is determined at any rate to be rich; he labours for it with all his might and main, and yet shall not attain what he is so desirous of; many, who take a great deal of pains to be rich, and even in a lawful way, and are men of understanding in trade and business, and yet riches are not their portion; and some who got a great deal, yet do not grow rich; what they get, they put into a bag of holes, and it drops through as fast as they put in; what they get in one sinful way they consume in another, and so are always poor; and others, though they have amassed together a vast substance, yet still are but poor men, not using what they have either for their own good, or the good of others; and not being content with what they have, but always craving more, and so are even poor in their own account, not having what they would have: however, such a man is not rich towards God; for in godly and spiritual things he is destitute of the true riches of grace, and has no title to the riches of glory; and as for his earthly riches, these shall not endure; though he may be rich for the present, he will not be always so; And this sense the next clause confirms:
neither shall his substance continue;
or "his strength" F2 his power and might, a rich man's wealth being his strong city, in which he places his trust and confidence; riches are called "substance", though their are but a shadow, yea, mere nonentities, things that are not, in comparison of heavenly things; see ( Proverbs 23:5 ) ( 8:22 ) ; at least they are not an enduring substance; they are uncertain things, here today, and gone tomorrow; that make themselves wings, and fly away from the owners of them; or they are taken away front them, and are not like the riches of grace, which are durable riches; or like those of glory; but by one means or another are taken out of the hands of the possessors of them, and they are reduced to poverty: and this "their substance shall not rise"; or rather, "not rise again" F3, as the word may be rendered; notwithstanding all the pains they may take, their substance shall not rise, grow, and increase; or not rise up to the former heights it did, but being fallen into poverty there they lie:
neither shall he prolong the perfection of it upon the earth;
though, indeed, there is no perfection in the creature, nor in creature enjoyments, nor in outward riches and substance; such as have had the largest share of them, as David and Solomon, have declared they have seen an end of all perfection, and that all things, the highest enjoyments, are vanity and vexation of spirit; yet when men are got to the summit, and height, and perfection of outward happiness, as they or others may think, this is not prolonged, or continued long in the earth, or they continued in it; but often are suddenly cast down from the pinnacle of honour, wealth, and riches; hence some render the words, "and their prosperity shall not be fixed into the earth" F4; shall not take root, though it may seem to do, ( Jeremiah 12:2 ) ; and so shall not spread itself as a tree well rooted does; and as does the spiritual prosperity, perfection, and fullness of good men, which they have in and by Christ; being rooted in the love of God, in the grace of Christ, and having the root of the matter in them, they cast forth their roots as Lebanon, and their branches spread, and they are full of the fruits and blessings of grace, ( Hosea 14:5 Hosea 14:6 ) .
F2 (wlyx) "ejus robur", Mercerus; "potentia ejus", Drusius.
F3 (Mwqy al) "neque resurgent opes ejus", Schmidt.
F4 (Mlnm Ural hjy alw) "nec mittet in terra radicem suam", V. L. "et non pangetur in terram prosperitas eorum", Schultens.