PROVERBS CHAPTER 28.
Warning against Unscrupulous Dealing.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF IMPIETY. — V. 1. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, their bad conscience making them timid; but the righteous, filled with the consciousness of their uprightness and therefore possessing a good conscience, are bold as a lion, their courage being upheld by their trust in God. V. 2. For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof, that is, when the spirit of rebellion once takes hold of a country, there will be many men aspiring to be rulers, and many changes of policy in government are harmful; but by a man of understanding and knowledge, a ruler who makes use of the proper circumspection, foresight, and wisdom, the state thereof shall be prolonged, the rule of the one good prince will continue long. V. 3. A poor man that oppresseth the poor, an upstart who has enriched himself at the expense of his subjects, is like a sweeping rain, a heavy, driving shower, which leaveth no food, the flood either drowning out or carrying away the growing crops. V. 4. They that forsake the Law praise the wicked, who makes it a practice to ignore the Law in his own interest, his selfishness being supreme; but such as keep the Law contend with them, those who are on the side of law and order naturally are opposed to all lawbreaking. V. 5. Evil men understand not judgment, for their wickedness confuses their ideas of morality; but they that seek the Lord, and thereby make His Word the standard of their life, understand all things, according to the rule of the Word they have no trouble in determining what is right. V. 6. Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, in integrity of life, in agreement with God’s holy will, than he that is perverse in his ways, walking in crooked ways, in conduct either hypocritical or downright wicked, though he be rich, for the possession of riches will not condone wickedness. Cp. chap. 19, 1. V. 7. Whoso keepeth the Law, observing carefully all instruction which he receives, is a wise son, chap. 10, 1; 29, 3; but he that is a companion of riotous men, loving the company of profligates and wasters, shameth his father. V. 8. He that by usury and unjust gain, by interest exacted from an impoverished neighbor and by exactions in natural products, by exercising a cold and grasping avarice, increaseth his substance, growing rich at the expense of the poor, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor, for by God’s government some other person, probably an heir, will get hold of it who will show greater compassion toward the poor. V. 9. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, deliberately ignoring the way prescribed by the Word of God and disobedient to His will, even his prayer shall be abomination, because his prayer cannot possibly be made in spirit and in truth. V. 10. Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, seducing him to ungodly and sinful conduct, he shall fall himself Into his own pit, be ruined in the manner intended for others; but the upright shall have good things in possession, the Lord’s blessing resting upon their efforts. V. 11. The rich man, who is also wicked and therefore foolish, is wise in his own conceit, in his own blind estimation of himself, chap. 26, 16; but the poor that hath understanding, who makes use of wise discrimination, searcheth him out, he knows and sees through the weaknesses of the foolish rich and despises his way of doing things. V. 12. When righteous men do rejoice, exulting over the victory of the righteous cause, there is great glory, for they show their triumph openly; but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden; for when they are in power, they push all others aside and trample them under foot. V. 13. He that covereth his sin shall not prosper, for to harden one’s heart and conceal one’s wickedness is of no avail before the omniscient and righteous God; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, in open and true repentance, shall have mercy, for God is glad to accept in love him who is humbly penitent. V. 14. Happy is the man that feareth alway, conducting himself with holy dread and awe, lest he in some manner transgress the will of the Lord; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief, for a deliberate serving of sin leads to destruction. V. 15. As a roaring lion and a ranging bear, wild beasts full of ravenous cruelty, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people; for so a cruel and bloodthirsty tyrant is fitly described. V. 16. The prince that wanteth understanding, lacking proper discernment, is also a great oppressor, he abounds in oppression, not realizing that his attitude hurts his position; but he that hateth covetousness, the influential man avoiding all unjust gain, shall prolong his days; for so does the kindness of the Lord reward him. V. 17. A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person, literally, “burdened with the blood of a soul,” weighted down by the load of his guilt, shall flee to the pit, in an attempt to escape the terrors which possess him; let no man stay him, trying to recover him who is lost beyond all hope. Such a person has deliberately chosen his lot and has no one but himself to blame if destruction descends upon him.
THE ADVANTAGES OF INTEGRITY. — V. 18. Whoso walketh uprightly, in the integrity of pious conduct, shall be saved, delivered or helped by the Lord; but he that is perverse in his ways, trying to hide his wickedness under the mantle of hypocrisy, shall fall at once, be brought to sudden ruin. V. 19. He that tilleth his land, working in the sweat of his face, shall have plenty of bread, as the reward of his labor; but he that followeth after vain persons, being engaged in all kinds of vain and foolish pursuits, leading the life of an idle drone, shall have poverty enough, be surfeited with it. Cp. chap. 12, 11. V. 20. A faithful man, one using the strictest fidelity and uprightness in all his dealings, shall abound with blessings, given to him by the Lord in recognition of his faithful conduct; but he that maketh haste to be rich, thereby becoming guilty of dishonorable dealings, shall not be innocent, his guilt, rather, being charged to his account with a full reckoning. V. 21. To have respect of persons is not good, that is, to let one’s judgment be guided by personal considerations; for a piece of bread, for a very small bribe, that man, one readily hired by a bribe, will transgress, a trifle will sway his judgment. V. 22. He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, one showing the covetous nature of his heart, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him; for riches are perishable, and God will bring him to want before he realizes his plight. V. 23. He that rebuketh a man, earnestly bringing his backsliding tendency to his attention, afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue, for a person saved from a foolish step by a word of warning will esteem the fearless reprover and despise the fawning flatterer. V. 24. Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, simply appropriating goods belonging to them, and saith, It is no transgression, trying to make light of sin, the same is the companion of a destroyer, to be ranked with, and treated like, highwaymen. V. 25. He that is of a proud heart, rather, the covetous man, with his grasping ways, stirreth up strife, excites quarrels; but he that putteth his trust In the Lord, trusting in His goodness and bounty for all good gifts, shall be made fat, with a rich reward of God’s kindness. V. 26. He that trusteth in his own heart, guided solely by first impressions and impulses, without careful reasoning and weighing of all facts, is a fool, for the feelings are an uncertain foundation of actions; but whoso walketh wisely, taking into account the course suggested by wisdom, he shall be delivered, from foolish moves and resulting harm. V. 27. He that giveth unto the poor, practicing charity in the right manner, shall not lack, the Lord Himself preserving him from want; but he that hideth his eyes, deliberately closing them against evidence of need, in an utter lack of sympathy, shall have many a curse, namely, the curses of the poor whom he neglects. V. 28. When the wicked rise, attaining to positions of power and influence, men hide themselves, fearing oppression; but when they perish, the righteous increase, since they no longer are oppressed by tyrants, they can once more form a numerous and strong party. It is for this reason that we pray for a good government, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.