What is the hope of the hypocrite - The word חנף chaneph, which we translate, most improperly, hypocrite, means a wicked fellow, a defiled, polluted wretch, a rascal, a knave, a man who sticks at nothing in order to gain his ends. In this verse it means a dishonest man, a rogue, who by overreaching, cheating, etc., has amassed a fortune.
When God taketh away his soul? - Could he have had any well grounded hope of eternal blessedness when he was acquiring earthly property by guilt and deceit? And of what avail will this property be when his soul is summoned before the judgment-seat? A righteous man yields up his soul to God; the wicked does not, because he is afraid of God, of death, and of eternity. God therefore takes the soul away - forces it out of the body. Mr. Blair gives us an affecting picture of the death of a wicked man. Though well known, I shall insert it as a striking comment on this passage: -
"How shocking must thy summons be, O death!
To him that is at ease in his possessions;
Who, counting on long years of pleasures here;
Is quite unfurnished for that world to come!
In that dread moment how the frantic soul
Raves round the walls of her clay tenement;
Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help,
But shrieks in vain! How wishfully she looks
On all she's leaving, now no longer hers!
A little longer, yet a little longer,
O, might she stay, to wash away her stains,
And fit her for her passage! Mournful sight!
Her very eyes weep blood; and every groan
She heaves is big with horror. But the foe,
Like a stanch murderer, steady to his purpose,
Pursues her close, through every lane of life,
Nor misses once the track, but presses on;
Till, forced at last to the tremendous verge,
At once she sinks to everlasting ruin."
The Chaldee has, What can the detractor expect who has gathered together (דשקר ממון mamon dishkar, the mammon of unrighteousness) when God plucks out his soul? The Septuagint: Τις γαρ εστιν ετι ελπις ασεβει, ὁτι επεχει; Μη πεποιθως επι Κυριον ει αρα σωθησεται ; "For what is the hope of the ungodly that he should wait for? shall he, by hoping in the Lord, be therefore saved?" Mr. Good translates differently from all the versions: -
"Yet what is the hope of the wicked that he should prosper,
That God should keep his soul in quiet?"
I believe our version gives as true a sense as any; and the words appear to have been in the eye of our Lord, when he said, "For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matthew 16:26.