Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 28

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 2

Transgression - Better, rebellion. A revolt against a ruler leads to rapid changes of dynasty (the whole history of the kingdom of Israel was a proof of this), but “with men of understanding and knowledge thus shall he (the prince) continue.” True wisdom will lead people to maintain an existing order. The King James Version implies that political disorders may come as the punishment of any national sin.

The state - Better, it (the land) shall surely prolong its days in stability.

Verse 3

People raise a man of the people, poor like themselves, to power. They find him the worst oppressor of all, plundering them to their last morsels, like the storm-rain which sweeps off the seed-corn instead of bringing fertility.

Verse 5

The deep interdependence of morality and intellect. We have a right judgment in all things in proportion as our hearts seek to know God. Compare James 1:23-24.

Verse 6

Perverse in his ways - literally, “Perverse in his double ways.” Compare Ecclesiasticus 2:12 and James 1:8.

Verse 8

Unjust gain - Omit “unjust:” “usury and gain” make up the notion of “gain derived from usury.” Ill-gotten gains do not prosper, after a time they pass into hands that know how to use them better.

Verse 10

When the wicked succeed in tempting the righteous, Vice seems to win a triumph. But the triumph is suicidal. The tempter will suffer the punishment he deserves, and the blameless, if true to themselves, will be strengthened and ennobled by the temptation.

Verse 11

Wealth blunts, poverty sharpens, the critical power of intellect.

Verse 12

There is great glory - Men array themselves in festive apparel, and show their joy conspicuously.

A man is hidden - Better, men hide themselves, they shrink and cower for fear, and yet are hunted out.

Verse 13

The conditions of freedom are confession and amendment, confession to God of sins against Him, to men of sins against them. The teaching of ethical wisdom on this point is identical with that of psalmist, prophet, apostles, and our Lord Himself.

Verse 14

The “fear” here is not so much reverential awe, as anxious, or “nervous” sensitiveness of conscience. To most men this temperament seems that of the self-tormentor. To him who looks deeper it is a condition of blessedness, and the callousness which is opposed to it ends in misery.

Verse 15

The form of political wretchedness, when the poverty of the oppressed subjects not only embitters their sufferings, but exasperates the brutal ferocity of the ruler.

Verse 17

The case of willful murder, not the lesser crime of manslaughter for which the cities of refuge were appointed. One, with that guilt on his soul, is simply hasting on to his own destruction. Those who see him must simply stand aloof, and let God’s judgments fulfill themselves.

Verse 18

In his ways - Rather “in his double ways” (as in Proverbs 28:6). The evil of vacillation rather than that of craft, the want of the one guiding principle of right, is contrasted with the straightforwardness of the man that “walketh uprightly.”

Shall fall at once - Better, shall fall in one of them (his ways). The attempt to combine incompatibilities is sure to fail. Men cannot serve God and Mammon.

Verse 20

Not the possession of wealth, nor even the acquisition of it, is evil, but the eager haste of covetousness.

Shall not be innocent - Better, as in the margin, in contrast with the many “blessings” of the “faithful.”

Verse 21

Dishonest partiality leads men who have enslaved themselves to it to transgress, even when the inducement is altogether disproportionate. A “piece of bread” was proverbial at all times as the most extreme point of poverty (compare the marginal reference).

Verse 22

The covetous temper leads not only to dishonesty, but to the “evil eye” of envy; and the temper of grudging, carking care, leads him to poverty.

Verse 24

Is the companion of a destroyer - i. e., he stands on the same footing as the open, lawless robber. Compare this with our Lord’s teaching as to Corban Mark 7:10-13.

Verse 25

Shall be made fat - He shall enjoy the two-fold blessing of abundance and tranquility (compare Proverbs 11:25).

Verse 26

The contrast between the wisdom of him who trusts in the Lord, and the folly of self-trust.

Verse 27

Hideth his eyes - i. e., Turns away from, disregards, the poor. Compare Isaiah 1:15.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 28". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.