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Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 28

Wells of Living Water CommentaryWells of Living Water

Verses 1-27

Divine Contrasts

Proverbs 28:1-27


We have another one of Solomon's messages which God gave to him. We will bring out several statements in the beginning of the chapter.

1. A contrast in consciences. Proverbs 28:1 : "The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous are bold as a lion." Our minds immediately go to a self-accusing conscience on the part of the wicked. When a man is sinful he is afraid almost of his own shadow. He is continually imagining that some power of darkness is about to overwhelm him or that some law of the righteous is about to overtake him.

We remember the story of Hood's poem, how the schoolmaster had slain a man for his money. When he went down the next day, he could not resist looking at the place where he had buried the man. It seemed to him that the corpse stared him in the face. Because of his guilty conscience, he took the body of the dead and threw it into a pond. Just as he was drawn to the place where the man was murdered, it now seemed to his vision as though the pond had turned to blood. Thus, he fretted for twenty years being pursued by his crime.

Finally, he could retain himself no longer but returned to the scene of murder. There he sat calling the boys and girls who were en route to school, to his side. As the children gathered around him, he told them tinder the semblance of a dream, everything in detail of his slaughter of the years past.

On the contrary, the righteous are bold as a lion. Their consciences are clean. There is nothing to cause them to tremble. They walk in peace by day, and rest in peace by night.

2. A contrast in the attitude toward the poor. "A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food." Who is there who has not seen the ravage of devastating floods sweeping everything before it? We have seen a cyclone that left the ground barren of crop, of house, and of tree. Such is the state of the one who oppresseth the poor. He sweeps on without pity. The righteous, however, love the poor and seek to preserve them.

3. A contrast between law-breakers and law-keepers. Men who break the law and forsake it, praise the wicked. Their delight is in those who are alike rebellious. They will not seek to overthrow the wicked, but rather to sustain them. On the other hand, one who keeps the Law will contend against those who break it. They will seek to establish, as well as to sustain the laws of the land, as well as the Laws of God.

4. A contrast between the rich and the poor. Better is a poor man that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich." Society may exalt the rich even though they be rich through perverseness, but God only exalts those who are upright. A poor man who is righteous receiveth honor from God, while the rich man who is evil, will be brought low.

5. A contrast in filial, and unfaithful sons. A wise son keepeth the law, and is in obedience to his father as well as to his country. The young man who rejects the law and also rejects his father; who seeks the companionship of the wicked, who follows in the ways of the ungodly, and of the riotous, loses that sense of honor towards his father, and towards his mother, which is the mark of a wise son.

There is something about sin that robs a youth of every filial sense of honor and responsibility. We have seen young men who went the gates with the wicked; these same young men had no sense of shame, and home to them lost all its charms. They would forget their father, and neglect their mother.

Two young men who spent their nights in riotous living returned to the bedside of their mother who was dying. They entered their home with a mien and manner that was altogether contrary to the throbbings of true sons.

One young man, we knew, who, finding his mother dead, stole into the room where the undertaker was embalming the body. As the undertaker turned his face the young man carried to his lips a flask of alcohol, which the undertaker was using to embalm his dead mother, and drank it. When we preached the mother's funeral sermon, the young man was drunk and debauched.

How different is the son who is obedient. He is a wise son, a consolation and a comrade to his parents and the joy of the community in which he lives.

Thus we could go on, the contrast between the true and the false; the wicked and the righteous, the just and the unjust, are mentioned in many places in the Book of Proverbs. God grant that each of us may learn to know the Lord, and to walk in His ways.

A young man or a young woman, ever so delightful in the days of their childhood, and ever so innocent, if they reject the ways of the Lord, and enter into the paths of the wicked, will soon become debased. Every time we see a man wallowing in the mire, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, let us think of him as he once was, the innocent child or babe in his mother's arms. How terrible is the ravage of sin.


Our Scripture says, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be abomination." There are some who imagine that the wicked can pray, and that his prayers will ascend to God. This verse, however, is very plain. It tells us not only that the prayer of a law rejecter is unheard; it says that his prayer is an abomination. How can he, who tramples under feet the Laws of God, seek audience with God?

If we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. Unclean hands do not go with prayerful lips. In the Book of Isaiah there is the story of the ungodly spreading forth their hands unto God, but God said, "I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood."

If we want audience with God we must wash, and be clean. We must put away every evil of our doings. We must learn to be obedient; we must seek judgment, and relieve the oppressed. He who prays unto God must not only come with a righteous talk, but with a righteous motive. If we ask, that we may consume it upon our own lusts, further our own ambitions, exalt our own names, God will close His ears to our cry.

We must learn that prayer depends, in its effectiveness, upon the spiritual life of the one who prays. We do not plead our own worth, for we come to God the Father, in the Name and worth of our Lord. However, when we draw nigh unto God, we must cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.


"Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit."

1. "He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword." It is a positive statement of scripture that "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." Somehow or other God brings our own sins back upon our own heads. We seek to harm another, to malign his good name, to drag him down in the mire of the swine herd, and the first thing we know, somebody arises to do the same unto us, If we lead another into sin, we will be led into sin. If we rob another we shall be robbed. This is the Law that clearly sets forth one phase of the retribution of sin. Sin's punishment is not merely that which is sent from God, but that which the sinner brings upon himself. He, as it were, kindles his own fire, gathers his own firewood, and tortures his own soul.

2. "He that doeth good unto others, shall find that good is done unto him." If we love, we shall be loved. If we stretch out our hands to the poor, they in turn will lay themselves out for us. God above takes note of every righteous deed, but so also do men below take notice. God has said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."

Where is he who does not wish to lay up a goodly inheritance against the days which are to come? This may be done by using the unrighteous mammon to make unto ourselves friends, to. welcome us into everlasting habitations. If we sow thorns, we reap thorns. If we sow briers, we reap briers. On the other hand, if we sow good seed, we will reap good fruit. If we sow seeds of kindness, we will reap acts of kindness.

III. A DIVINE ANALOGY (Proverbs 28:13 )

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

1. What man covers, God uncovers. There is an unchangeable law in the Word of God. It is this, "Be sure your sins will find you out." Achan sought to hide his sins. He took some Babylonian garments, some wedges of gold and of silver and hid them in his tent. Israel did not know, but God knew; and God caused Achan to be discovered.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they sought to cover their naked selves with the fig leaves. God cried out to them and said, "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" They sought to cover their sins.

When Cain slew his brother, God said unto Cain, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground."

Think you that he who covers his sin shall prosper? That cannot be. God will not permit it. Sin will out. Though the wicked take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth, even there God will find them and bring their sins to light. Everything we do is naked, open, and uncovered unto Him with whom we have to do.

God has in His Books the record of every sin, and of every crime. Let us therefore no longer seek to hide our unrighteous acts.

2. What man uncovereth, God covers. The second half of our verse says, "but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." Thank God there is a robe, even the robe of the slain Lamb, that God gives to the sinner.

When Adam and Eve sought to hide themselves in the trees of the Garden, and cover their shame with fig leaves, God went out and slew a beast of the field and brought the robe of the slain beast with which to cover the two sinners. Thus will He cover us, with His robe of righteousness.

How wonderful it is that we may stand before Him clothed in white raiment, pure and white. How wonderful that the great multitude which John saw in Heaven, had "washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."

God forbid that any of us should ever try to cover our sins, and then, with the spirit of the hypocrite, seek to approach God. Let us rather confess and forsake our sins and then come before the Father in the righteousness of Christ.

IV. THE HARDENED HEART (Proverbs 28:14 )

Our key verse says: "Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." Here is a most striking contrast. The contrast is between the happy man, and the hardhearted man.

1. There is a sword that cuts two ways. This sword is the Sword of the Spirit. It cuts even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We have always contended that the Word of God received and accepted, is a savor of life, unto life; but that the Word of God refused and rejected, becomes a savor of death, unto death.

When a sinner hears the gospel call and hardens his own heart, God will still further harden it. Four times Pharaoh hardened his own heart. After that, God did harden his heart. It is simply impossible for any man to reject Jesus Christ without suffering dire consequences.

There is a wonderful verse in the Book of Romans which says, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

It is true that the man who despises the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and hardens his impenitent heart will fall into mischief.

He who refuses to hear the voice of his conscience, will soon discover that that voice has fallen asleep. The man who kept the toll bridge at the first during the night watch awoke quickly from his sleep whenever some one rang the bell. However, as from month to month, he did not immediately arise, the ringing of the bell soon ceased to awaken him.

On the other hand, the man who fears, is always called happy. That man will have an ear open to the voice of God. He will have a life obedient to every call. As he hears and observes God, he will draw nearer and nearer unto Him. It is written that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. Obedience always brings a blessing. The hardening of the hearts always brings a curse.

Let us number ourselves among those who fear God always. That does not mean that we will be afraid of God, but rather afraid to disobey Him. It does mean that we will hold God in honor. It does mean that, as we enter into His presence, we say, "Hallowed be Thy Name." Such a one will find himself numbered among God's holiest and His best. He will be happy, singing and making melody in his heart unto the Lord..


Here is a wonderful contrast between the man who tills his land, and the man who follows after vain persons. "He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough."

1. The tiller of the soil. Think you that there can be a harvest, merely by the sowing of seed? The land must be plowed. It must be cultivated, tilled. The man who expects the harvest, must be diligent in his toil. If we would rejoice in the gathering of our grain, we must be faithful in the sowing of our seed, and in the caring for the ground.

There is a Scripture which describes the sluggard. His land was soon overgrown with briers. His fences fell down. This is what we have in mind. In one of the parables, spoken by our Lord, there was one who took his pound and wrapped it in a napkin. When his lord came, his servant had no increase. Then Christ said, Take away his pound and give it to him, that hath ten pounds. The same lessons were presented with the man with one talent.

It is not enough for us to be called unto service, we must serve. The soldier must endure hardness, and be ready for the fray, if he expects to win in the honors of the conquest. One of the greatest sins on the part of the young people, is that of "do nothing." If we want to eat bread we must till the land. If on the other hand, we give ourselves to pleasure, following after vain persons, and walking in the ways of the world, we will soon discover that every spiritual development is dwindling, and we are poor indeed.

2. The faithful man. Proverbs 28:20 says, "A faithful man shall abound with blessings." We read, "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." God does not demand that we be smart, and brilliant, and gifted. He does command that we be faithful. If we stand always true to what we have, God will increase our gifts. Therefore, if we expect God to give us greater gifts, we must use the ones we have. This is true in every phase of life.

We remember reading of a young man who entered public life as a carpenter. A judge hired him to build a fence. He builded it with such care and carefulness, with such exactness and integrity, that the judge asked him to build a house, and so it went. The young man soon became a master builder. He was faithful in all that he undertook. Let anyone who hastens to be rich, and in his haste does unfaithful service, running over his work to the loss of his employer, let him know that he shall not be innocent. He will soon lose out.

We have heard that two men worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. Both of them were employed as section hands The one truly worked for the Union Pacific Railroad; the other worked for the few dollars he was to receive. The one was faithful to the railroad, and the other was faithful to his pocketbook. The one sought from every viewpoint the welfare of the Railroad, the other would quit when the whistle blew, unmindful of the needs of his company. Forty years passed by. The first man was president of the Union Pacific, and the other was still a section hand.

VI. THEY THAT WILL BE RICH (Proverbs 28:21-22 )

Our twenty-second verse says, "He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." There are some people who live wholly for this world. They are seeking to be rich, to be popular, to obtain honor and the applause of man. They do not carefully consider how they may do any of these things, in honor. They are ready to get rich in any way, just so they succeed. If they use an evil eye in order to accomplish their task, evil will overtake them. Let us bring before the young people three New Testament commands.

1. Love not the world. In the first place, no one should haste to be rich. If he does, he is a lover of money, and the love of money is the root of all evil. The child of God is told to avoid these things. Why should we haste to be rich? Why should we seek the things which are temporal? God tells us to love not the world.

2. Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth. The emphasis in this verse may be placed on the word "yourselves." Of course we should lay up treasures in Heaven.

At any rate, it is all right to make money, provided we follow God's rule which reads, "Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." The sin of seeking to be rich is found in the hoarding of riches, in the laying them up for ourselves. In other words, what Christ said, being rich toward yourselves.

3. Look not at the things which are seen. This is the third admonition. The believer is to have his eyes fixed on the things above, on the unseen things. He is to run the race looking unto Jesus. If we set our hearts on the things which are seen, we are setting them upon the things which perish. Everything of this earth is but for a day. The things down here are the temporal. The things of God are Eternal.

God grant that we may live, looking for that Blessed Hope, and not looking toward Sodom. Lot saw that the plains toward Sodom were well watered and he pitched in that direction. He looked for the things that were seen, and had poverty enough; for everything which he laid up in Sodom, went up in smoke. On the other hand, Abraham looked for a city whose Builder and Maker is God, and the heirs of Abraham are still enjoying the promises of God, and will one of these days enter in unto the possessions which God gave to their forefathers.

VII. THE SELF TRUSTFUL (Proverbs 28:25-27 )

We have the story of a proud heart, in Proverbs 28:25 . This heart is contrasted with the trusting heart, in the same verse. In Proverbs 28:26 we have the life of one who puts his trust in himself. He is called a fool. In the same verse, there is another who walketh wisely and is delivered. In Proverbs 28:27 we have the life that giveth unto the poor, contrasted with the life that hideth his eyes away from the poor. In each of these verses the underlying thought is the sin of self-trust, and self-enlargement, as set over against Divine trust, and Divine enlargement.

1. It is not in man to order his own steps. We are babes, we know not what shall be. We may with proud heart trust in ourselves, but if we do we are trusting in the arm of flesh. We are weak. We are incapable of reading what shall be. We do not know the obstacles which lie ahead, neither the power of Satan who combateth our every step. For this cause we need to lift the hand of our weakness up, that it may be clasped with the hand of His power. In our impotence, we must lean upon His potency. In our nothingness, we must cling to His mightiness. If we try to order our own steps, we will be sure to fall. The fact is that God tells every man that if he trusteth in his own heart he is a fool.

2. It is necessary to trust in the Lord, and lean not to our own understanding. This is the message of Proverbs 3:5 , Proverbs 3:6 . We may have gone to school, or to college, and we may think we know a great deal, but we know nothing yet, as we should know it. If, in our ways we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. If on the other hand, we are wise in our own eyes, we will fall by the way.

3. Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help. The whole conception of the life, that is lived apart from God, is, first, self-trust, and secondly, a trust in the powers of men. What we cannot do we vainly imagine that others can do for us; thus we make unholy alliances. We go down into the world for help. We place our stay in horses, and our trust in chariots. We think because they are many and because the horsemen are very strong that they will give us victory.

For this cause we look not to the Holy One, neither seek we the Lord. This is often nationally true as well as in- dividually true. Our own country is in danger of placing her trust in her own wisdom and strength. She is in danger of looking to her army, and men of war, and airships, and to alliances with other nations.

When will we come to the place where we discover that our only hope is in God? Jesus Christ said, "Oh, that Israel had harkened unto Me I would have fed her with the finest of the wheat."

The child often thinks he knows more than the parent. The parent often thinks he knows more than God. Let us rather fall upon our faces and confess our ignorance and helplessness and inability. God, with one word, can do more in a moment, than we can through much speaking, do in a year. If we think that we of our own selves can do anything, we will soon wake up to the fact that we are a fool.


"Pride is a virtue. Pride is also a vice. Without pride as a principle a man cannot be virtuous. The pride that is a vice is the overvaluing of oneself for some real or imagined superiority, producing haughty bearing and arrogance of mariner. It is related of the French family of the Duke de Levis that they have a picture of their pedigree, in which Noah is represented going into the ark and carrying a. small trunk, on which is written, 'Papers belonging to the Levis family.' There are many men whose reputation hangs upon their having had a grandfather, and the only thing they do is talk about their noble ancestry.

'What is pride? A whizzing rocket

That would emulate a star.'

Solomon says, 'Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.' When once a philosopher was asked what the great God was doing, he replied, 'His whole employment is to lift up the humble and to cast down the proud.'

Pride is the offspring of want of merit, Humility is the child of wisdom. Solomon says, 'Before honor is humility', and Christ says, 'He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.'

The stalks of wheat that hold up their heads so high are empty-headed, and those which hang down their heads modestly are full of precious grain. The people who hold their heads so high do so because they have not sense enough to weigh them down."

Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Proverbs 28". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lwc/proverbs-28.html.
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