“In the path of righteousness is life, and the way of its trail is no death.”
There are two senses to life. One is quality. The other is quantity.
The Old Testament is mostly concerned with its quality, which may be why some Jewish teachers focus on the present rather than the future. That is how the first line reads.
In general, the Old Testament is quiet about everlasting life. There is a glimpse in Job 19:26: “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (ESV). Another is in Habakkuk: “the just shall live by faith.” Here is another. Maybe it was reserved for the revelation of Christ to reveal the wonders of everlasting life. Christ is the lens through which the Old Testament becomes clear.
Death is a challenge to God’s design of humans, but it death comes to us all. We live under its shadow and that shade hovers over our celebrations and pleasures. We must respect the fact that our lives are limited. That is the sober advice from Ecclesiastes
If we keep to God’s ways, we will live. There is a double meaning: his ways are the standard by which we can model our actions; but it also means we will not die. There is “no death” if we remain in his ways. If a person can do so, he or she will not die…ever. This path never gets cut off. Waltke: “…the righteous retain a relationship with God forever.”
The second line says there is “no death” in the path of righteousness. We know it is a “way of life” both in the sense of a way a person should live and as a way a person can have life; but it is more than a life in this life; it is a life that continues, a life without death.
Certainly, doing the right things can improve your life and help you become a better person. But your life is still not in your power.
If a person can remain in God’s way, he can live. This is God’s promise given many times. For example: Deuteronomy 8:1 – “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live… (ESV)
Everlasting life is prominent in the New Testament. Sadly, however, we can’t live up to it. Paul points this out in Romans 1-2. The Law is a “schoolmaster” who teaches us about our failure to walk in God’s ways and live.
But then he tells us “But now, the righteousness of God has been revealed…” (3:21) for those who have faith in Jesus Christ. This righteousness is not what we can do, but is ours by trusting in Jesus. As we take the good things in life as gifts, so we learn to take the eternal life Jesus offers us as a gift. By faith in Jesus Christ, God’s righteousness becomes ours and this fulfills both lines. There is “no death” in the way of righteousness.