The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh. The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward. As righteousness leads to life, So he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death. Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the Lord, But the blameless in their ways are His delight. Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.
This section of scripture contrasts the acts of the evil and cruel against those who are righteous. And it does so in a practical way that applies to our day to day lives. Kindness and mercy bring benefits to those who practice them. These include peace, joy, happiness and strength of spirit that others can see. Often invoking harmony among those they interact with. Contrast this to the cruel person who has no peace, no joy and seldom experiences real happiness. Instead, they slowly harden their own hearts as their cruelty continues and in time becomes more severe. Often times, bringing disaster to their own souls, as they struggle with the turmoil and fear which rages in their hearts, a turmoil and fear which they try to hide from the outside world.
Even in their work the cruel person is deceived as they rely on money and wealth to bring what they so desperately seek in their hearts. Only to find that in the end it brings no benefit and no relief when the success they strive for has been achieved. This is contrasted with the righteous man who performs honest work, which brings contentment and peace of mind as well as benefits to their spirit as they seek guidance and joy in the Lord. Finally the heart of the righteous is filled with humility and godly wisdom that understands the need for Jesus as our Savior, and the consequences we bear for our sin without Him and God’s saving work of the Cross. While the cruel strive to feed their pride in order to lift themselves above those they meet. And in the process, thereby accumulate more wrath for the day of wrath. Their sin still remains because they have rejected Christ.