Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 28

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-28


This chapter is still part of the Hezekiah collection, and not a new series by another author. It may be regarded as describing the various destinies of the powerful and the weak, the sinner and the righteous.

Proverbs 28:1

The wicked flee when no man pursueth. The unreasoning terror of the sinner arises partly from his uneasy conscience, which will not permit him to transgress without warning of consequences, and partly from the judgment of God, according to the threats denounced in Leviticus 26:36, Leviticus 26:37. A terrible picture of this instinctive fear is drawn in Job 15:20, etc; and Wis. 17:9, etc. There are numerous proverbs about unreasonable timidity, such as being afraid of one's own shadow (see Erasmus, 'Adag.,' s.v. "Timiditas"). As the Eastern puts it, "The leaf cracked, and your servant fled;" and "Among ten men nine are women" (Lane). On the cowardice of sinners St. Chrysostom says well, "Such is the nature of sin, that it betrays while no one finds fault; it condemns whilst no one accuses; it makes the sinner a timid being, one that trembles at a sound; even as righteousness has the contrary effect How doth the wicked flee when no man pursueth? He hath that within which drives him on, an accuser in his own conscience, and this he carries about everywhere; and just as it would be impossible to flee from himself, so neither can he escape the persecutor within, but wherever he goeth he is scourged, and hath an incurable wound" ('Hom. in Stat.,' 8.3, Oxford transl.). But the righteous are hold as a lion. They are undismayed in the presence of danger, because their conscience is at rest, they know that God is on their side, and, whatever happens, they are safe in the everlasting arms (see Psalms 91:1-16.). Thus David the shepherd boy quailed not before the giant (1 Samuel 17:32, etc.), remembering the promise in Leviticus 26:7, Leviticus 26:8. The heathen poet Horace could say of the upright man ('Carm.,' 3.3, 7)—

"Si fractus illabatur orbis,

Impavidum ferient ruinae."

"Whoso feareth the Lord shall not fear nor be afraid; for he is his Hope" (Ecclesiasticus 31:14 (34), etc.). St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 31.55, "The lion is not afraid in the onset of beasts, because he knows well that he is stronger than them all. Whence the fearlessness of a righteous man is rightly compared to a lion, because, when he beholds any rising against him, he returns to the confidence of his mind, and knows that he overcomes all his adversaries because he loves him alone whom he cannot in any way lose against his will. For whoever seeks after outward things, which are taken from him even against his will, subjects himself of his own accord to outward fear. But unbroken virtue is the contempt of earthly desire, because the mind is both placed on high when it is raised above the meanest objects by the judgment of its hopes, and is the less affected by all adversities, the more safely it is fortified by being placed on things above" (Oxford transl.).

Proverbs 28:2

For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof. This implies that the wickedness of a nation is punished by frequent changes of rulers, who impose new laws, taxes, and other burdens, which greatly oppress the people; but regarding the antithesis in the second hemistich, we take the meaning to be that when iniquity, injustice, apostasy, and other evils abound, a country becomes the prey of pretenders and partisans striving for the supremacy. The history of the northern kingdom of Israel, especially in the disastrous period succeeding the death of Jeroboam II, affords proof of the truth of the statement (comp. Hosea 8:4). Septuagint, "Owing to the sins of ungodly men, quarrels (κρίσεις, lawsuits) arise." But by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. "The state" is the stability, the settled condition of the country. The word is כֵן (ken), here a substantive, equivalent to "station," "base." Umbreit, Nowack, and others translate it, "justice," "authority," "order." When a wise and religious man is at the helm of state, justice continues, lives, and works; such a man introduces an clement of enduring good into a land (comp. Proverbs 21:22; Ecclesiastes 9:15). The good kings Ass, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Hezekiah had long and prosperous reigns. Septuagint, "But a clever man (πανοῦργος) will quench them (quarrels)."

Proverbs 28:3

A poor man that oppresseth the poor. The words rendered "poor" are different. The former is rash, "needy," the latter dal, "feeble" (see on Proverbs 10:15). Delitzsch notes that, in accordance with the accents in the Masoretic text, we should translate, "A poor man and an oppressor of the lowly—a sweeping rain without bringing bread," which would mean that a tyrant who oppresses the lowly bears the same relation to the poor that a devastating rain does to those whom it deprives of their food. But it is pretty certain that "the poor" and "the oppressor" designate the same person (though the vocalization is against it); hence the gnome refers to a usurper who, rising to power from poor estate, makes the very worst and most tyrannical ruler. Such a one has learned nothing from his former condition but callous indifference, and now seeks to exercise on others that power which once galled him. Thus among schoolboys it is found that the greatest bully is one who has himself been bullied; and needy revolutionists make the most rapacious and iniquitous demagogues. Of such tyrants the prophets complain (see Isaiah 5:8, etc.; Micah 2:2). Wordsworth refers, as an illustration, to Catiline and his fellow conspirators, who were moved by selfish interests to overthrow the commonwealth. Many modern commentators (e.g. Hitzig, Delitzsch, Nowack), in view of the present text, regarding the combination נבר רשׁ, and noting that elsewhere the oppressor and the poor are always introduced in opposition (comp. Proverbs 29:13), read ראֹשׁ, or consider רשׁ as equivalent to it—rosh, "the head," in the signification of "master," "ruler." The gnome thus becomes concinnous, the ruler who ought to benefit his dependents, but injures them, corresponding to the rain which, instead of fertilizing, devastates the crops. The LXX. had a different reading, as it readers, "A bold man in his impieties (ἀνδρεῖος ἐν ἀσεβείαις) calumniates the poor." Is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food; literally, and not bread. A violent storm coming at seed time and washing away soil and seed, or happening at harvest time and destroying the ripe corn. Vulgate, Similis est imbri vehementi, in quo paratur fames. Ewald supposes that such proverbs as these and the following belong to the time of Jeroboam II, when the prosperity of the people induced luxury and arrogance, and was accompanied with much moral evil, oppression, and perversion of justice ('Hist. of Israel,' 3.126, Eng. transl.). The Bengalee compares the relation of the rich oppressor to the poor, not with the rainstorm, but with that of the carving knife to the pumpkin.

Proverbs 28:4

They that forsake the Law praise the wicked. This they do because they love iniquity, and like to see it extend its influence, and arm itself against the good, who are a standing reproach to them. St. Paul notes it as a mark of extreme wickedness that gross sinners "not only do the same iniquities, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:32). Such as keep the Law contend with them; are angry with them. They are filled with righteous indignation; they cannot hold their peace when they see God's Law outraged, and must have the offenders punished. The LXX. connects this verse with the latter part of the preceding, thus: "As an impetuous and profitless rain, thus those who forsake the Law praise ungodliness; but they who love the Law raise a wall around themselves."

Proverbs 28:5

Evil men understand not judgment; or, what is right. An evil man's moral conception is perverted, he cannot distinguish between right and wrong; the light that was in him has become darkness (comp. Proverbs 29:7). Many men, by giving themselves over to wickedness, awe judicially blinded, according to Joh 12:1-50 :89, John 12:40. They who seek the Lord understand all things. These who do God's will, seeking him in prayer, know what is morally right is every circumstance, have a right judgment in all things (comp. Ecclesiastes 8:5; 1 Corinthians 2:15). So 1 John 2:20, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things;" and our Lord has (declared, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine" (John 7:17).

Proverbs 28:6

This is almost the same as Proverbs 19:1, but varies a little in the second hemistich: than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. The Hebrew literally is, perverse of two ways; i.e. who, going one way, pretends to go another; the "two ways" being the evil which he really pursues, and the good which he feigns to follow. Delitzsch calls him "a double-going deceiver." So Siracides imprecates, "Woe to the sinner that goeth two ways" (Ecclesiastes 2:12). "A double-minded man," says St James (James 1:8), "is unstable in all his ways." It is not the endeavouring to serve God and mammon at the same time that is meant, but putting on the appearance of religion to mask wicked designs—in the present case in order to gain wealth. Septuagint, "A poor man walking in truth is better than a rich liar."

Proverbs 28:7

Whoso keepeth the Law is a wise son. "Law" is torah, as Proverbs 28:4; but it seems here to include not only the Decalogue, but also the father's instruction and commands. Such an obedient and prudent son brings honour and joy to a parent's heart (see Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 29:3). He that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father; literally, he that feedeth, hath fellowship with, gluttons (Proverbs 23:20). The son who herds with debauchers, and wastes his substance in riotous living, brings shame on, wounds, and insults, all connected with him. Such a one transgresses the Law and his father's commands, and brings them into contempt (comp. Proverbs 27:11). Hence the antithesis of the two clauses. Septuagint, "He that cherishes debauchery (ποιμαίνει ἀσωτίαν) dishonours his father." Ἀσωτία occurs only in 2 Macc. 6:4, but is common in the New Testament; e.g. Ephesians 5:18; Titus 1:6.

Proverbs 28:8

He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance. "Usury" (neshek) is interest on money lent taken in money; "unjust gain" (tarbith) is interest taken in kind, as if a man, having lent a bushel of corn, exacted two bushels in return. All such transactions were forbidden by the Law of Moses, at any rate between Israelites (see Leviticus 25:36, Leviticus 25:37, "Thou shalt not give thy brother thy money upon usury (neshek), nor lend him thy victuals for increase [marbith, equivalent to tarbith, which is used in verse 36] "). Septuagint, Μετὰ τόκων καὶ πλεονασμῶν, "With interest and usury." (For censure of usury, see Psalms 109:11; Ezekiel 18:13; and, contrast Psalms 15:5; Ezekiel 18:8.) He shall gather it for him that will pity the poor. He shall never enjoy it himself, and shall fall into the hands of one who will hake a better use of it (see on Proverbs 22:16; and comp Proverbs 13:22; Job 27:16, etc.). In our Lord's parable the pound is taken from one who made no good use of it and is given to a more profitable servant (Luke 19:24).

Proverbs 28:9

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law. He who refuses to hearken to and to practise the dictates of the Divine law (comp Proverbs 1:20. Even his prayer shall be abomination (comp. Proverbs 15:8, and note there). "God heareth not sinners" (John 9:31). Such a man's prayer, if he does pray, is not hearty and sincere, and therefore, lacks the element which alone can make it acceptable. He will not resolve to forsake his favourite sin, even while paying outward worship to the God whoso Law he breaks: what wonder that the prophet so sternly denounces such offenders (Isaiah 1:11. etc.), and the psalmist cries with terrible rigour, "When he shall be judged, let him be condemned; and let his prayer become sin" (Psalms 109:7)? St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 10.27), "Our heart blames us in offering up our prayers, when it calls to mind that it is set in opposition to the precepts of him whom it implores, and the prayer becomes abomination, when there is a 'turning away' from the control of the Law; in that wrily it is meet that a man should be a stranger to the favours of him to whose bidding he will not be subject." And again (ibid; 18.9, 10), "If that which he bids we do, that which we ask we shall obtain. For with God both these two do of necessity match with one another exactly, that practice should be sustained by prayer, and prayer by practice" (Oxford transl.).

Proverbs 28:10

A tristich. Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way. It is doubtful whether physical danger or moral seduction is meant. The gnome is true in either case; he who mishads one who trusted him, and who, being simple and good, ought to have been respected and to have received better treatment, shall fall into the destruction which he prepared for the other (Proverbs 26:27). Taking the proverb in a moral sense, we find this truth: If the good man does ever yield to the temptations of the sinner, the latter does not reap the enjoyment which he expected from the other's lapse, rather he is made twofold more the child of hell, he himself sinks the deeper and more hopelessly for playing the devil's pert, while the just rises from hi. temporary fall morn humble, watchful, and guarded for the future. But the upright shall have good things in possession; or, shall inherit good (Proverbs 3:35). He shall be abundantly rewarded by God's grace and protection, by the comfort of a conscience at rest, and by prosperity in his worldly concerns—an adumbration of the eternal recompense awaiting him in the life to come. St. Jerome has changed the incidence of the gnome by inserting ejus, thus: Et simplices possidebunt bona ejus, which makes the meaning to be that the righteous shall be the instruments of retribution on the deceiver, whose riches shall pass over into their possession. But the Hebrew gives no countenance to this interpretation. Septuagint, "The transgressors shall pass by good things, and shall not enter into them," where the translator has misunderstood the original.

Proverbs 28:11

The rich man is wise in his own conceit (comp. Proverbs 18:11). A rich man thinks so highly of his position, is so flattered by parasites, and deems himself placed so immeasurably above social inferiors, that he learns to consider himself possessed of other qualifications, even mental and intellectual gifts, with which wealth has no concern. This purse-proud arrogance which looks upon financial skill and sharpness in bargaining as true wisdom, is confined to no age or country. But the poor man that hath understanding searcheth him out (Proverbs 18:17). Wisdom is not to be bought with money. A poor man may be wise, his poverty probably making him a keener critic; and if he is brought into communication with this self-deluding plutocrat, he soon sees through him and recognizes his real value. Septuagint, "An intelligent poor man will condemn him."

Proverbs 28:12

When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory (comp. Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 11:10). "Rejoice," rather triumph, as conquerors, right prevailing and wickedness being overcome. Then there is great show of joy, and, as the expression implies, men put on their festal garments to do honorer to the occasion: See the description of Solomon's time (1 Kings 4:20, 1 Kings 4:25). If we take this verse in connection with Proverbs 28:2, we may see in it the triumph of order after a period of confusion and anarchy. Septuagint, "Through the help of righteous men great glory arises." But when the wicked rise, a man is hidden (comp. Proverbs 28:28, where, however, the verb is different). The Authorized Version m, one that when the wicked rise to power, people have to hide themselves in order to escape danger to life and property. The verb is more literally rendered, "are searched for," i.e. they have betaken themselves to hiding places, and have to be looked for; they fear oppression and injury, and venture no longer into the streets and open places. Vulgate,Regnantibus impiis ruinae hominum, "When evil men are m power, there is general ruin;" Septuagint, "In the places of the ungodly men are caught." Other interpretations of the proverb have been suggested, though none is so satisfactory as that given above. Thus some take the searching out to mean testing, in the sense that evil times try men's characters, and bring out their true nature (1 Corinthians 11:19). Others explain that, under the reign of the impious, men do not come forward to take part in public affairs, but retire sullenly into private life.

Proverbs 28:13

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper. To cover one's sins is either absolutely to disown them or to make excuses; a man who does this is never free from a burden of guilt, as the psalmist says, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me" (Psalms 32:3, etc.). Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Confession alone without amendment, or what is called theologically satisfaction, does not win pardon and mercy. It is when the sinner acknowledges his transgression, and turns from it to newness of life, that God heals his backsliding, and turns away his auger and renews the tokens of his love (Hosea 14:4). Confession is made to God, against whom all sin is committed (Joshua 7:19; Job 31:33; 1 John 1:8, etc.): and to man, if one has transgressed against him, or if he be in a position to give spiritual counsel. Thus the people confessed their sins before John the Baptist (Matthew 3:6) and the apostles (Acts 19:18; comp. James 5:16). Among the Jews, the high priest, acting as the mouthpiece of the people on the great Day of Atonement, confessed their iniquities, laying them on the scapegoat; and particular confession was also enjoined, and was part of the ritual accompanying a sacrifice for sin, by which legal purification was obtained (Numbers 5:6, Numbers 5:7, "When a man or woman shall commit any sin … then they shall confess their sin which they have done;" so Le Numbers 5:5). And the very offering of a trespass offering was a public recognition of guilt, which was exhibited by the offerer laying his hand on the head of the victim (Le Proverbs 1:4). Such confession is spoken of strongly by Siracides, "Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, and force not the course of the river" (Ecc 4:1-16 :26); i.e. do not attempt the impossible task of trying to hide them. The LXX. has, "He who sets forth accounts ἐξηγούμενος ἐλέγχους i.e. blames himself) shall be loved." Lesetre quotes Sedulius, 'Carm. Pasch.,' 4.76—

"Magna est medicina fateri

Quod nocet abscondi; quoniam sua vulnera nutrit
Qui tegit, et plagam trepidat nudare medenti

"Mighty relief
T' expose what rankles while 'tis hidden still.
He feeds who hides his wounds and shuns to show
His heart's plague to the good physician."

Proverbs 28:14

Happy is the man that feareth alway. Some have taken the fear mentioned to be the fear with which God is to be regarded. Thus Aben Ezra. But it is rather the fear of sin which is meant—that tender conscience and watchful heart which lead a man robe prepared for temptation and able to resist it when it arises. Such a one distrusts himself, takes heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12), and works out his salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12; comp. Proverbs 14:16). "Grow not thoughtless of retribution" ('Pirke Aboth,' 1.8). A horror of sin cannot be instilled too early into the young. Septuagint, "Happy is the man who piously (δἰ εὐλάβειαν) fears all things." St. Bernard ('In Cant. Serm.,' 54.9)," In veritate didici, nil aeque efficax esse ad gratiam promerendam, retinendam, recuperandam, quam si omni tempore coram Deo inveniaris non altum sapere, sed timere. Time ergo cum arriserit gratia, time cum abierit, time cum denuo revertetur; et hoc est semper pavidum esse." He that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief; or, calamity (Proverbs 17:20). A man hardens his heart who attends not to the voice of conscience, the restraints of religion, the counsel of friends, the warnings of experience (comp. verse 26; Proverbs 29:1; Exodus 8:15; Psalms 95:8). This man scorns the grace of God, loses his protection, and must come to misery.

Proverbs 28:15

A wicked ruler over the poor people; a people weak and resourceless. To such a powerful tyrant is as fatal as a roaring lion or a hungry bear prowling in quest of food. The prophets compare evil rulers to ravenous lions (see Jeremiah 4:7; Ezekiel 19:6). They are like lions in strength and cruelty, like bears in craft and ferocity. Septuagint, "A hungry lion and a thirsty wolf is he, who, being poor, rules over an indigent nation." The poverty of the subjects embitters the conduct of the ruler.

Proverbs 28:16

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor; literally, and rich in oppression. Ewald, Delitzsch, Nowack, and others take the verse, not as a statement, but as a warning addressed to the ruler, as we have so many addressed to a son, and as the author of the Book of Wisdom calls upon the judges of the earth to listen to his admonitions. They therefore render thus: "O prince, void of understanding, but rich in oppression!" The wording and accentuation of the passage confirm this view. Caher renders, "A prince that wants understanding increases his exactions." The want of intelligence makes a prince cruel and tyrannical and callous to suffering: not possessing the wisdom and prudence necessary for right government, he defrauds his subjects, treats them unjustly, and causes great misery. See the prophet's denunciation of Shallum and Jehoiakim for these very crimes (Jeremiah 22:13-19). Septuagint, "A king wanting revenues is a great oppresser (συκοφάντης)." He that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days (Proverbs 15:27). The prince addressed is thus warned that his oppressive acts will be visited upon him judicially; that only a ruler who deals with his subjects liberally and equitably can attain to old age, and that his conduct will shorten his life. An early death is reckoned as a token of God's indignation. The second hemistich Caher translates, "But he who hates lucre shall reign long." Septuagint, "He who hateth iniquity shall live a long time." (For "covetousness" (betsa), see on Proverbs 1:19.)

Proverbs 28:17

A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit. This should be, a man oppressed (Isaiah 38:14), burdened, with the blood of anyone. The wilful murderer, with his guilt upon his soul, flies in vain from remorse; his crime pursues him even to the grave. For inadvertent manslaughter the cities of refuge offered an asylum, but for deliberate murder there was no safe refuge, either from the stings of conscience or from the avenger of blood, but death. The homicide, like Cain (Genesis 4:14), must be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth. "Pit" (bor), some take to mean any hiding place, "a cave, or well;" but it is very commonly found in the sense of sepulchre (Psalms 28:1; Isaiah 14:19, etc.), and is so explained here by most commentators. Let no man stay him. We had in Proverbs 24:11, etc; an injunction to save human life; but the case was quite different from this of wilful murder. Here it is directed that no one attempt to save him from the punishment which he has incurred, or to comfort him under the remorse which he suffers. Let him be left alone to meet the fate which he has merited. The LXX. gives a different idea to the gnome, "He who becomes bail for a man charged with murder shall be banished and shall not be in safety." They add a verse which we shall meet again, almost in the same words (Proverbs 29:17,Proverbs 29:18), "Chasten thy son, and he will love thee, and will give honour to thy soul; he shall not obey a sinful nation."

Proverbs 28:18

Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved. "Uprightly" (tamim); innocently, blamelessly (Psalms 15:2). Vulgate, simpliciter; Septuagint, δικαίως; Aquila, Symmachus, τέλειος. "He is helped (βεβοήθηται)," Septuagint. Things shall prosper with him; God will work with him, and save him in dangers temporal and spiritual. But he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once. "He that is perverse of two ways," or "in a double way," as Proverbs 28:6. The man who is not straightforward, but vacillates between right and wrong, or pretends to be pursuing one path while he is really taking another, shall fall suddenly and without warning. בְּאֶחָת means "all at once," or "once for all," and so that nothing else is possible, equivalent to penitus. Schultens quotes Virgil, 'AEneid,' 11.418—

"Procubuit moriens et humum semel ore momordit."

Septuagint, "He that walketh in crooked ways will be entangled."

Proverbs 28:19

A variation of Proverbs 12:11. Shall have poverty enough. The new clause marks the antithesis more clearly than that above.

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man shall abound with blessings. "Faithful," as in Proverbs 20:6, one on whom one can depend, honest and upright. Septuagint, ἀξιόπιστος. The blessings signified are such as come from God and man. Men will utter his name with praise and benediction (comp. Job 29:8, etc.), and God will show his approval by sending material prosperity. He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent (comp. Proverbs 20:22, and note there; Proverbs 13:11; Proverbs 20:21; Proverbs 21:5). One who is only anxious to become quickly rich, and is unscrupulous as to means, cannot be "a faithful man," and therefore cannot be blessed. Instead of "innocent," many expositors render "unpunished" (as Proverbs 17:5), which better contrasts with the blessings mentioned in the first hemistich, though the two ideas are coordinate. On this haste of covetousness, Juvenal writes ('Sat.,' 14.173)—

"Inde fere scelerum causae; nec plura venena

Miscuit aut ferro grassatur saepius ullum
Humanae mentis vitium, quam saeva cupido
Immodici census; nam dives qui fieri vult,
Et cito vult fieri. Sed quae reverentia legum,
Quis metus aut pudor est unquam properantis avari?

The Septuagint waters down the gnome, "But the wicked shall not be unpunished."

Proverbs 28:21

The first hemistich occurs a little fuller in Proverbs 24:23, referring there, as here, to the administration of justice. For for a piece of bread that man will transgress. Thus translated, this clause confirms the former, and says that a judge given to favouritism will swerve from right under the smallest temptation. But to bribe a judge with a morsel of bread seems an unlikely idea; and the gnome is of general application, "And for a morsel of bread a man [not 'that man'] will transgress." As some men in responsible positions are often swayed by low and unworthy considerations, so in social life a very insignificant cause is sufficient to warp the judgment of some persons, or draw them aside from the line of rectitude. (For "a piece of bread," as denoting abject poverty or a thing of no value, see on Proverbs 6:26) The commentators cite Aul. Gell; 'Noct. Att.,' 1.15, "Frusto panis conduci potest vel uti taceat vel uti loquatur." Septuagint, "He that regards not the persons of the just is not good; such a cue will sell a man for a morsel of bread."

Proverbs 28:22

He that hasteth to be rich bath an evil eye (see Proverbs 28:20); better, the man of evil eye hasteth after riches. The man of evil eye (Proverbs 23:6) is the envious and covetous man; such a one tries to improve his position and raise himself speedily to the height of him whom he envies, and is quite unscrupulous as to the means which he uses to effect his purpose, and keeps all that he gains selfishly to himself. And yet he is really blind to his own best interests (comp Proverbs 20:21). And considereth not that poverty shall come upon him (comp. Proverbs 23:4, Proverbs 23:5). His grasping greed brings no blessing with it (Proverbs 11:25), excites others to defraud him, and in the end consigns him to merited poverty. The LXX. here reads somewhat differently, and translates, "An envious man hasteth to be rich, and knows not that the merciful man (chasid instead of cheser) will I,ave the mastery over him," i.e. will take his wealth, as Proverbs 28:8. Proverbs concerning hastily gotten wealth have already been given. Here are a few more: Spanish, "Who would be rich in a year gets hanged in half a year;" Italian, "The river does not become swollen with clear water;" says a Scotch proverb, "Better a wee fire to warm as than a meikle fire to burn us."

Proverbs 28:23

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour. The word rendered "afterwards" (postea, Vulgate), אַחֲרַי (acharai), creates a difficulty. The suffix cannot be that of the first person singular, which would give no sense; hence most interpreters see in it a peculiar adverb attached to the following verb, "shall afterwards find." Delitzsch. Lowenstein, end Nowack take it for a noun with the termination -ai, and translate, "a man that goeth backward," "a backslider" (as Jeremiah 7:24). Hence the translation will run, "He who reproveth a backsliding man," i.e. one whom he sees to be turning away from God and duty. He shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue (comp. Proverbs 27:6; Proverbs 29:5). A faithful counsellor, who tells a man his faults, brings them home to his conscience, and checks him in his downward course, will be seen to be a true friend, and will be loved and respected both by the one whom he has warned and advised and by all who are well disposed. James 5:19, "If any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him. let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and stroll hide a multitude of sins." "Laudat adulator, sed non est verus amator." The flatterer says only what is agreeable to the man whom he flatters, and thus makes him conceited and selfish and unable to see himself as he really is: the true friend says harsh things, but they are wholesome and tend to spiritual profit, and show more real affection than all the soft words of the fawning parasite. Septuagint, "He that reproveth a man's ways shall have more thanks than he who flattereth with the tongue."

Proverbs 28:24

Whoso robbeth his father or his mother (comp. Proverbs 19:26); taking from them what belongs to them. Septuagint, "He who casts off (ἀποβάλλεται) father or mother." And saith, It is no transgression. He salves his conscience by thinking all would be his ere long in the course of nature; or he uses the plea of Corban denounced by our Lord (Mark 7:11, etc.). The same is the companion of a destroyer (Proverbs 18:9); is no better than, stands in the position of, one who practises openly against his neighbour's life and property. He is a thief, and fails in the simplest duty. Vulgate, particeps homicidae est. There may be an allusion to the guilt incurred by a witness in concealing his knowledge of a crime, which is denounced in Le Proverbs 5:1 (comp. Judges 17:2).

Proverbs 28:25

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife (Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 29:22); literally, he that is of a wide soul. This may certainly denote pride (qui se jactat et dilatat, Vulgate), in which case the gnome says that one who thinks much of himself and despises others is the cause of quarrels and dissensions, occasioned by his struggles for pre-eminence and the ill feeling arising from his overbearing and supercilious conduct. Others, and rightly, take the wide soul to denote covetousness (comp. Proverbs 23:2; Isaiah 14:1-32; Habakkuk 2:5). It is the man of insatiable desire, the grasping avaricious man, who excites quarrels and mars all peace, and in the end destroys himself. "Whence come wars," asks St. James (James 4:1), "and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? Ye lust, and have act; ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war." Septuagint, "An unbelieving [ἄπιστος, Alexand. ἄπληστος, insatiate] man judgeth rashly." But he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat (Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 16:20; Proverbs 29:25). The character here opposed to the covetous is that of the patient. God-fearing man, who is contented to do his duty, and leave the result in the Lord's hands. This man shall be made fat, shall be comforted and largely blessed, while he who puts his hope in material things shall fall into calamity. Septuagint, "He who trusts in the Lord will be in his care (ἐν ἐπιμελείᾳ ἔσται)."

Proverbs 28:26

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool (see Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21). What is here censured is that presumptuous confidence in one's own thoughts, plans, and imaginations which leads a man to neglect both God's inspirations and the counsel of others (comp. Proverbs 28:14; Proverbs 14:16). "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fail" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Septuagint, "Whoso trusteth to a bold heart, such a one is a fool." Whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. This man looks outside himself for direction; be trusts in the wisdom which is from above; he walks in the fear of the Lord, and is saved from the dangers to which self-confidence exposes the fool. The best commentary on the gnome is Jeremiah 9:23, Jeremiah 9:24, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,"

Proverbs 28:27

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack (see Proverbs 11:24, etc.; Proverbs 19:17). God in some way compensates what is spent in almsdeeds by shedding his blessing on the benevolent. "Der Geiz," runs the German maxim, "sammlet sich arm, die Milde giebt sich reich," "Charity gives itself rich; covetousness hoards itself poor" (Trench). "Alms," said the rabbis, "are the salt of riches." But he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse (Proverbs 11:26). The uncharitable man either turns away his eyes that he may not see the misery around him, or pretends not to notice it, lest his compassion should be claimed. The expression, "hiding the eyes," occurs in Isaiah 1:15, "When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you." The unmerciful man meets with the curses of those whom he has neglected to relieve when he had the power, and such curses are ratified and fulfilled because they are deserved, and Divine retribution attends them (see the opposite view, Isaiah 1:20). "Turn not away thine eye from the needy," says the Son of Sirach, "and give him none occasion to curse thee; for if be curse thee in the bitterness of his soul, his prayer shall be heard of him that made him" (Ecclesiasticus 4:4, etc.; comp. Tobit 4:7). So in the 'Didache,' ch. 4; we have, Οὐκ ἀποστραφήσῃ τὸν ἐνδεόμενον, "Thou shalt not turn thyself from one in need." Septuagint, "lie that turneth away his eye shall be in great distress;" Vulgate, Qui despicit deprecantem sustinebit penuriam.

Proverbs 28:28

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves (see Proverbs 28:12); Septuagint, "In the places of the ungodly the righteous groan." But when they perish, the righteous increase (Proverbs 11:10; Proverbs 29:2, Proverbs 29:16). The overthrow of the ungodly adds to the prosperity of the righteous, removes an opposing element, and promotes their advancement in influence and numbers.


Proverbs 28:1

The cowardice of guilt and the courage of righteousness

I. THE COWARDICE OF GUILT. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth."

1. This cowardice springs from a natural feeling of ill desert. "Conscience doth make cowards of us all." Apart from all authoritative revelation, when no prophet of God is charging a man with his sin, an awful voice within clamours against his guilt and shakes the very foundations of his confidence. Though he has never breathed a word of his misdeed in the ear of a fellow man, though all the world is deceived into believing him to be innocent, he cannot silence that dread inner voice. In many cases it utterly unnerves a man, though outwardly he dwells in perfect security.

2. This cowardice is nourished by a perception of Divine justice. A person who knows the revealed will of God, and his wrath against sin, must be prepared to expect judgments of condemnation on guilt. Though the avenging hand is stayed, it may fall at any moment. The miserable guilty man is like one in the condemned cell under sentence of death, who does not know the day or hour of execution, but who trembles at every footfall lest it should be that of the messenger who summons him to his doom.

3. This cowardice gives rise to needless alarms. The murderer starts at the fall of a leaf—so utterly unstrung is he under the tremendous consciousness of guilt. Can any condition be more dreadful? Rather than endure this agony of apprehension, men, who were in no danger of being arrested, have confessed their crimes and given themselves up to justice. When we consider the relation of sin to God and to his judgments, it is foolish indeed to live in the cowardly shame of guilt. For there are peace and pardon for the penitent.


1. This courage is based on a clean conscience.

(1) The feeling of innocence. Una can brave the lion and subdue its savage nature to her service because the panoply of her innocence is her perfect protection. The martyr can face the fury of the persecutor, strong in the consciousness of right and truth. It is painful to be wrongly accused, but a sensible man should learn to bear calumny when he knows that he is not guilty in the sight of God.

(2) The new experience of regeneration. One who has been redeemed by Christ and renewed by the Holy Spirit need not live in the perpetual fear of guilt and shame. He is forgiven and restored. He is like the prisoner who can walk boldly out of the jail with a royal pardon. Yet his confidence can never be the same as that of original innocence. It must always have a certain humility.

2. This courage is justified by experience. The true man does not find his boldness fail him. He is as safe as he feels himself. The first guarantee of success in any cause is a clear consciousness that we are in the right. In the end, right and truth must triumph. But if they meet with temporary defeat, their champion need fear no real evil. He now gives his life, as he has before given his strength, to the good cause. Whether be serves it by life or by death, he does nobly, and he need not fear that he will be deserted by God.

Proverbs 28:9

The prayer that is an abomination

God does not hear all prayer. There are even prayers that he rejects with wrath. The broken words of the penitent, the simple cry of the little child, and the ungrammatical sentences of the ignorant person may be all acceptable to God, while prayers faultless in form and impressive in utterance are flung back as insults to the Divine majesty. The first consideration is not as to the nature of the prayer, but as to the character of the supposed worshipper. The prayer that is an abomination is one which, however perfect it may appear to be in itself, comes from contaminated lips. We need to examine ourselves rather than to weigh our phrases.

I. THE CONDUCT THAT MAKES THE PRAYER AN ABOMINATION. This is the conduct of one "that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law." Such conduct carries with it two, evil things.

1. Wilful error. The heathen who do not know the Law may well be dealt with leniently when they blunder into superstition, and even confuse their consciences with degraded forms of religion, for their error is involuntary. But when a man has an opportunity of coming to a knowledge of the truth, but rejects it in indolence or aversion, he is to blame for the wrong notions which would have been corrected but for his voluntary acceptance of darkness rather than light Devotion ought to be enlightened by instruction. The Bible should be read in public worship. Scripture truth is needed as a guide to prayer.

2. Deliberate disobedience. The turning aside from hearing the Law is not likely to spring from a mere reluctance to learn its doctrines. Behind this there lies a dislike to obeying its precepts, which reveals a stubborn self-will in opposition to the will of God. Now, such an evil state of the heart precludes all favour from Heaven.

II. THE REASON WHY THE PRAYER IS AN ABOMINATION. This may be looked for in two directions. It may lie in the prayer itself, or it may be found in the man who utters it.

1. A bad prayer is offered. If the worshipper is wilfully ignorant, he is to blame for asking for things which he would refrain from seeking when in a more enlightened condition. If he is self-willed and disobedient, he is guilty of asking amiss for what he may spend on his own lusts (James 4:3), instead of seeking what is in accordance with the will of God.

2. A prayer proceeds from sinful lips. There are moments of distress when the most undevout man would be glad of heavenly aid, if only it would come like the help given by Homer's gods and goddesses to his heroes in their times of danger. There is no spiritual religion in the cry for help under such circumstances. If the soul is alienated from God, and there is no sign of penitence, the prayer for deliverance, though genuine and heartfelt, may well be rejected. But worse than this is the mock worship of one who would have the honour of being religious together with the profit of being sinful. There can be no true religion without right conduct. God looks to the behaviour of the life more than to the language of the prayer. He cares nothing for reverence in the temple if he sees wickedness in the market place.

Proverbs 28:10

The tempter

I. THE GREATEST SIN IS TEMPTING ANOTHER TO SIN. This is Satanic wickedness, following the example of the devil.

1. It is most guilty because it tends to increase wickedness. It is sowing evil seeds. It is bad enough to cultivate the deadly fruit in one's own life, but to propagate it elsewhere is to be a source of trouble and manifold wickedness.

2. It is particularly guilty because it ruins souls. It is an attack upon other men. The tempter is a murderer. At least, he is an enemy who sows tares in his neighbours' fields, and so brings trouble wantonly on others.

II. THIS SIN IS COMMITTED BY MEANS OF EVIL EXAMPLE. The tempter need not whisper enticing words, much less need he approach his victim in the attitude of "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." It is enough that his conduct sets a pattern of wickedness. We are responsible for the examples we exhibit before the world. Most important in the presence of children, who are naturally imitative, and who take their patterns from the manners of the elder people among whom they live, the example of heads of families is peculiarly impressive. Therefore the guilt of such persons is grave indeed when their reckless wickedness drags poor children down to sin.

III. THIS SIN MAY BE SUCCESSFUL. It is possible to cause the righteous to go astray in an evil way.

1. This may happen with innocent children. They are naturally righteous; for "of such is the kingdom of heaven." But they are not unassailable in their simplicity and early purity. The most awful fact in life is the corruption of childhood by the wickedness of older and stronger life.

2. It is possible with good men and women. To be good is not to be above temptation. Even Christ was tempted, though he resisted successfully. Therefore

(1) when a good man is led astray we have no proof that his goodness was a hypocritical pretence; and

(2) no one can be so secure in his consciousness of integrity as to afford to play with temptation and to beast of his own strength. There are joints in the thickest armour, and keen darts that find out the smallest weak places.

IV. THE SIN OF TEMPTING ANOTHER TO SIN WILL BRING RUIN ON THE TEMPTER. Of all sins this one cannot be let go unchecked and unpunished. For the sake of the victims who are threatened by it God will assuredly visit it with wrath. The tempter is a deadly serpent, whose horrible enticements only make its venom the more dangerous; and all the resources of righteousness must be put forth to crush and destroy such a pest. But no miraculous interference is needed to punish the sin of tempting. We have not to summon the Archangel Michael to fight the dangerous reptile. In the end it will turn its sting on itself. The tempter will fall into his own pit. He will alienate his victims, and he will make an enemy of all that is good. Friendless and helpless, he must perish in the hour of his need.

Proverbs 28:13, Proverbs 28:14



1. It is false. If a man pretends to be virtuous when he knows that he is guilty, that man's life is a lie. He lives in a continuous falsehood. Such a condition is rotten, turning his whole course into a delusion, and leading to a confused estimate of right and wrong. The very landmarks of righteousness are lost sight of in a fog of bewildering pretences.

2. It precludes forgiveness. God will only pardon the penitent, and penitence is impossible without an admission of guilt. Therefore the Divine covering of sin which will utterly bury it and allow of no ugly resurrection in a revival of old accusations, is hindered by the sinner's foolish, cowardly attempt to cover it in his own way by a paltry concealment. The wretched rags that he draws over the foul thing will not really hide it, but they will prevent the massive shield of Divine forgiveness from being cast over it.

3. It confirms the sin. Sin is not destroyed by being covered. It is no more killed than the seed of a poison plant is killed when it is sown in the soil, and so temporarily buried out of sight. Driven hack to the secret chambers of the soul, the evil thing grows there and spreads its deadly influence. Confession would clear out the noxious malaria of guilt; concealment only shots it up to breed in the stifling atmosphere of its own corruption. Such a condition hardens the heart in wickedness.


1. This confession must mean an earnest desire to be free from it. The man who conceals his sin keeps it while he covers it, and holds it tight even when he is denying it. But one who confesses his sin aright hates it though he admits it. Three things are here implied.

(1) He owns his guilt. Confession includes an admission both of the fact and of its evil character. He who confesses a sin must own that he did the deed, and that it is bad.

(2) He forsakes the sin. A right confession is accompanied by repentance. It is the very opposite of the brazen-faced guilt that glories in its shame, because it loathes what still it cannot but own.

(3) He first fears to sin again. He has learnt a wholesome lesson. He looks back in owning his guilt, and then forward in lear of repeating it.

2. Such confession will tie followed by God's forgiveness and a new joy to the penitent.

(1) God will forgive the penitent. He "shall have mercy." Pride claims high desserts, but the humility of confession only seeks for mercy. It inspires the publican's prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" Now, as God is waiting to be gracious and loves mercy, as soon as the obstruction of impenitence is removed, his grace is tree to flow in and heal the humbled soul.

(2) The penitent will experience a new joy. He will be happy even in his fear. He will "rejoice with trembling." No longer living in the miserable fear of bring "found out," the new fear that makes him trust his soul to God will be associated with the blessedness of forgiveness and the peace of a Divine protection.

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man.

I. HIS CHARACTER. Nothing can be more grand than fidelity. When found in a man it is an image of the eternal constancy of God; it is like that Divine righteousness which the psalmist compared to the "everlasting hills"—so firm, so enduring, so changeless. It would be well if this grand Old Testament grace were more prized and cultivated in the Christian Church. Let us consider it in some of its manifold aspects. What is the character of the faithful man?

1. He is true to himself. This fidelity must lie at the root of his fidelity to others. The faithful man must act out honestly what he feels to be demanded by his own inkier convictions.

2. He is true to his God. The man of God is faithful as well as trustful. Thus his faith has the two sides of passive submission and active loyalty. The primary duty to God must be observed before the secondary duty to man can be kept.

3. Are is true to his friend. This does not merely mean that he keeps his pledges. It also involves his regarding the welfare of his friend and coming to his aid in the hour of need, danger, and helpful service.

4. He is true to his word—one who "sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not." It is nothing that we keep our promises when they run along the lines of our own inclinations. The test is that they are equally honoured when they involve self-sacrifice.

5. He is true when unobserved. Faithful service is the opposite of eye service. The faithful man will do well, though he never expects to be called to account. Faithful work is that which never meets the eye, and yet is as well wrought as the most conspicuous work.

6. He is true in face of danger. Here is the test of fidelity. The faithful servant of Christ is one who will not forsake his Lord when persecution threatens him. The martyr is "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10).

II. HIS FRUITFULNESS. He "abounds with blessings." He is like Abraham, "the father of the faithful," who was both blessed himself and a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2).

1. He is a recipient of abundant blessings. It is a happy thing to be faithful even though fidelity be met with misunderstanding or persecution.

(1) Fidelity is itself a blessing. This grace is its own reward. To have grace to live a strong, true, noble life is to be one of God's blessed sons, though no further reward be anticipated.

(2) Fidelity brings many earthly blessings. It may not secure worldly wealth, though generally integrity is a safer road to success in life than the crooked paths of dishonour. But it will secure peace, and in the long run it is likely to be recognized and rewarded with well-merited honour. To be accounted a faithful servant is to be crowned with better than Olympian garlands.

(3) Fidelity will be rewarded with heavenly favour. This is just the chief of Divine approvals singled out by Christ for his servants, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).

2. He is a source of abundant blessings. One true, faithful soul—what a tower of strength! what a treasury of help! what a haven of refuge! He is rich indeed who has a faithful friend. The faithful man can be relied on to help in time of need, when the faithless man, who perhaps is much stronger, deserts his trusting friend. Christ is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3), and as such is a source of abundant blessings to his people. His fidelity is the ground of our faith.

Proverbs 28:26

The folly Of trusting one's own heart


1. It is to trust in one's own wisdom. The heart here, as throughout the Bible, stands for the intellectual as well as the emotional nature. Therefore we may be said to trust in it when we lean to our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) rather than seek counsel from God in prayer and the use of the Scriptures.

2. It is to trust in our own character. We may think highly of our own goodness and moral strength, and so venture into temptation needlessly or rush into difficult enterprises without counting the cost.

3. It is to trust in our own affections. Thus we are led to believe, like Peter, that our love to Christ will not fail (Matthew 26:35).

4. It is to trust in our own energy. Thinking we can do more than we are capable of accomplishing, through over-estimating our mental or spiritual powers we unduly rely on our own resources.


1. Pride tempts. It is humiliating to own weakness. A high opinion of one's own merits inevitably leads to a dangerous self-confidence.

2. Unbelief tempts. If men had more faith in God they would not be so content to rely on their own poor resources. It is the worldly spirit that leads to the limitation of view to human powers.

3. Self-will tempts. Men naturally desire to have their own will fulfilled. The less they look away from themselves, the more does it appear that they can do as they like. A selfish life tends to be a self-contained life.


1. The heart is deceitful. "Deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9). We do not know our own hearts. There are hidden weaknesses, unsuspected snares, unlooked for limits. Ignorance of our own inner selves makes the self-trust a confidence without foundation.

2. The heart is sinful. "Desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). Too often he who trusts in his own heart trusts in an evil heart. Therefore he is likely to be led astray by his thoughts and desires. Until the heart is cleansed and renewed, the worst possible course is to trust it. On the contrary, it must be distrusted, resisted, restrained.

3. The heart is frail. Even when it has been freed from the dominion of sin, the heart of man is liable to fall. open to temptation, and in danger of yielding in the moment of trial.

IV. IN WHAT WAY ONE CAN AVOID TRUSTING IN HIS OWN HEART. It is not enough to see the danger and folly of this trust, for a man must have something to rest upon, and if the best foundation is unstable he will still build upon it rather than abandon himself to despair. Now, the cure for the tendency to trust in a wrong security is to be found in the possession of a better faith, a faith that is wise and safe. One great mischief of a man's trusting in his own heart is that he is thus led to forsake God. The remedy is found in returning to the true ground of the soul's confidence in God. He who thus trusts is wise.

1. God is true. Unlike the fickle heart, he is faithful and can always be trusted.

2. God is good. Therefore we should turn from the sinful heart to the holy and gracious God.

3. God is strong. The frail heart fails; the mighty God is a steadfast Rock.


Proverbs 28:1-5

Canons of moral truth

I. WICKEDNESS IS FEARFUL, GOODNESS IS COURAGEOUS. (Proverbs 28:1.) A good conscience is better than a thousand witnesses; an evil conscience unmans (Job 15:21). What passes by the name of courage is often the effect of fear of men; and that which is discountenanced as want of spirit may proceed from the profoundest reverence for God. We shall never find anything in the world more to be feared than the warring presence within our own breast. True courage is the knowledge that we are for the time at one with God. The light of his countenance is life, dispersing the darkest cloud, and calming the most turbulent tempest. An evil conscience is "the worm that dies not."

II. POLITICS AND MORALS. (Proverbs 28:2.) Rebellion arising from the collision of party and personal interests must be very injurious to the well being of a small state. Rebellion can only be justified when there is not only the greatest wrong existing, but also the clearest possible prospect of success. If peoples in time of distress, instead of cursing and rising against their rulers, would patiently search into the causes of their grievances, a shorter way would often be found to redress. A certain unity of feeling is essential to the well being of a state. "When any of the four pillars of government are mainly shaken or weakened (which are religion, justice, counsel, and treasure), men had need to pray for fair weather" (Bacon).

III. THE ODIUM OF PETTY TYRANNY. (Proverbs 28:3.) There is nothing more detestable than the oppressive rule of an upstart. A base mind becomes more corrupt from hasty elevation, a narrow heart more cruel, as in the case of Robespierre and other historical examples. As with learning, so with power; the smatterers are the most ostentatious of their knowledge; those "dressed in a little brief authority" love to

"Play such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep."

The Divine rule is strong in gentleness.

IV. THE SECRET OF MORAL SYMPATHY AND ANTIPATHY. (Proverbs 28:4.) Those that secretly love sin have pleasure in them that do it. "The world loveth its own." It is fearful to sin; more fearful to delight in it; yet more to defend it (Bishop Hall). The pure heart has no "fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." We reveal or betray ourselves by our sympathies. The homely proverb says, "Like lips, like lettuce." And the important lesson arises here—that we should dwell on the best and brightest examples, for the sake of their effect on our character; the eye becomes sunny as it gazes at the sun.

V. THE EFFECT OF VICE ON THE INTELLIGENCE. (Proverbs 28:5.) It is a most important principle that insight into intellectual relations of truth is affected by the mood of the heart. The clearest knowledge of the letter is here of no avail. "If any man shall do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine." The pure conscience conditions the bright intelligence. The understanding is darkened "because of the blindness of men's heart;" and these call darkness light, and light darkness. Many things dark to reason are simplified to knowledge. The Divine mysteries are mysteries of love, and through love only may be known.—J.

Proverbs 28:6-12

The moral quality of life

Nothing we can touch, no relation we can enter into or observe, but has its moral bearing. This, indeed, is the great lesson, in hundredfold iteration, of this book.

I. POVERTY WITH INNOCENCE, WEALTH WITH PERVERSITY. (Proverbs 28:6.) Whatever be the compensations of poverty in a lower point of view, most men would vote for riches if they had the opportunity at the price of all its inconveniences, and we need to be reminded that he who would sell his peace of conscience for wealth does but "gain a loss." Better go to heaven in rags than to hell in embroidery. Better God than gold; better be poor and live, than rich and perish.

II. A MAN IS KNOWN BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS. (Proverbs 28:7.) The first example is that of the man whose delight is in the Law, who is in fellowship with the truth, and who is therefore a companion "of all them that fear God and keep his precepts." The second is that of one who keeps company with the dissipated, stains his name, and brings dishonour on his family. In society lie the greatest perils and the greatest safeguards. The Christian Church is the Divine society which aims at the true and holy ideal of living. As with books, so with men; the rule is—keep company only with the best.

III. ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH DWINDLES. (Proverbs 28:8.) Wealth is not his who gets it, but his who enjoys it. And if gotten by ill means, it cannot be enjoyed; and "Ill got, ill spent," says the proverb. Wealth, diverted by force or fraud from its natural channels flows back by a law of economic gravitation. A man labours for himself with selfishness and wickedness, and the harvest falls into better hands; "not intending it of himself; but it is so done through God's secret providence."

IV. PRAYERS ARE VITIATED BY INJUSTICE. (Proverbs 28:9.) They are tainted by a horrible lie. In prayer the goodness, the moral perfection, of God is assumed; and prayer implies that the holy will ought to be done. Yet how great the contradiction between such prayers on the lips and the heart bent upon defeating that will! "Just reason that God shall refuse to hear him who refuses to hear God." Without the "ceasing to do evil, and the learning to do well," sacrifices are vain oblations, and incense is an abomination to God (Isaiah 1:11-15).

V. THE SEDUCER IS SELF-SEDUCED. (Proverbs 28:10.) So the snare of Balaam, laid for Israel, became the cause of his own ruin. If the retribution is not visible, it is a fact in the soul. Among the ingredients of remorse, none is more bitter than the recollection of having led youth and innocence astray. It is a sin most difficult of self-forgiveness. But the righteous inherit salvation. There is a real sense in which men should seek to realize the character of "just men that need no repentance." There is no salvation in selfishness—none which does not imply a regeneration of the social consciousness.

VI. POVERTY AND RICHES HAVE THEIR COMPENSATION. (Proverbs 28:11.) Confidence in riches begins in illusory self-confidence; and there is much to abet and foster it in the opinion of the multitude; for, as the old saying runs, "Rich men have no faults." But the poor man, endued with sense and with religion, sees through these false estimates; knows that the rich feel misfortunes which pass over his own head; that they pay a tax of constant care and anxiety; and that it is ever better to fare hard with good men than to feast with bad.

VII. "THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE THE VOICE OF GOD." (Proverbs 28:12.) Whatever be the love of greatness and splendour, of rank and position, in the common mind, the people cannot but rejoice in good rulers, and be depressed under evil. A generous acclamation breaks from the popular heart when good men are raised to honour. "When Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in the king's royal apparel, …the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour; in every province … a feast and a good day" (Esther 8:15-17).—J.

Proverbs 28:13, Proverbs 28:14

The inner conditions of peace and of misery

I. THE CONCEALMENT OF SIN. (Proverbs 28:13.) It is like a worm in the bud, preying upon the check and upon the heart. The deepest way of such concealment is when the sinner persuades himself that "he has no sin," apologizing to himself, giving a false colour to his wrong. The sense of a dualism in our being unreconciled will not admit of peace and rest.

II. THE CONFESSION AND RENUNCIATION OF SIN. To admit the truth about ourselves, neither extenuating nor exaggerating our sin and fault; to allow the detecting and discriminating light of God's judgment to fall clear and full on the conscience;—this is what confession requires. But it must be completed by renunciation; otherwise it is mockery. To say—

"We're sorry and repent,
And then go on from day to day,

Just as we always went"

—in the words of the child's hymn—is mere sentimentality and weakness. But never are these conditions fulfilled without a sense of the Divine pity striking into the heart. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins; and the conscience is assured that he is too just to permit the sinner who has become a sufferer from godly sorrow to be tormented by remorse one moment longer than is necessary for his healing.

III. THE TENDER CONSCIENCE. (Proverbs 28:14.) It is well with him whose heart is in the constant habit of reverential dependence upon God. His law for human conduct envelops all life from the greatest to the minutest matters. It is the atmosphere of the soul that we need to keep pure; it is the fellowship with the Spirit who is holiness that we need most jealously to guard.

IV. THE HARDENING OF THE HEART. (Proverbs 28:14.) Making light of sin leads to its repetition; repetition indurates the conscience. Disregard of the delicacies of the soul leads surely to a benumbed, and presently to a lost, sensibility. It is better to feel too keenly than not to feel at all; better the weak conscience than no conscience at all. He who presumes upon the mercy of God will have to reckon with his justice.—J.

Proverbs 28:15, Proverbs 28:16

The wicked ruler

I. THE SIMILE. (Proverbs 28:15.) He is like a fierce and devouring beast. No pity softens his bosom; no justice regulates his conduct. Complaint provokes further exactions; resistance kindles him into fury. He looks upon his people, not as a flock to be tended, but to be preyed upon. He roars around them like the nightly bear about the fold. Such monsters have often appeared in history.

II. THE SOURCE OF OPPRESSION. It lies in the ignorance of the oppressor's heart—ignorance of policy, of humanity, of Divine and eternal right. The great generalization, "They know not what they do," covers, indeed, all kinds of sin, but does not exempt from guilt. Men might know better; but, without the practice of what we know, our light itself becomes darkness.

III. THE GOOD RULER. (Proverbs 28:16.) The trait that "he hates covetousness" may be made general; for false or perverted desire is the real motive of all such wickedness. "Lust and desire to have" gold, territory, power, etc; is selfish and cruel, and turns every man governed by it into a being more or less resembling the non-moral brute. Politics can never be excluded from Christianity; and the immense effect for good or evil of the acts of those in power is a reason why all good Christians should take a close interest in politics, and not permit any rank or station to be exempt from criticism.—J.

Proverbs 28:17-22

Judgments on transgressors

I. THE VIOLENT MAN. (Proverbs 28:17.) His doom, here as elsewhere, is viewed as sudden; he hastes to Hades—lives not out half his days. The truth is general, reflecting the intuition of the moral order. And in accordance with that order it is that pity will be turned away from him that shows no pity. This is no argument for capital punishment, but it is an argument for such a treatment of criminals as will best deter from crime.

II. THE INSECURITY OF EVIL WAYS. (Proverbs 28:18.) Integrity is alone safe; and in one or other of his crooked ways the sinner will ultimately fall. The dangerous feat is tried once too often. Our interest is attracted to "the dangerous edge of things," and we are astonished that men can stand upon it so often without falling. We do not see the result of the last and fatal attempt; or, seeing it, we do not surmise the previous successful attempts to defy the law of things. Scripture is right; but we do not know enough of events absolutely to verify its truths.

III. POVERTY AS A JUDGMENT. (Proverbs 28:19.) Here, again, we have a general truth—an abstract from the great broad field of life's facts. On the whole, there is no secret of abundance but industry; nor of poverty but idleness and indulgence in pleasure and amusement as a pursuit. Repose and pleasure are the illusions from which the stern voice of God, speaking through daily experience, is ever rousing us. Hardly any disease of body or of mind, any social evil, is there which may not be traced to self-indulgence and inertia.

IV. HASTE TO BE RICH. (Proverbs 28:20.) This temper is contrasted with that of the faithful man. There is a different scale of value in the two cases. The good man values things by the moral standard, the covetous man only by the standard of gold. The true way of looking at wealth is as an available means to all ends of health, wisdom, benevolence. These alone are rational ends; but they may be lost sight of in the passionate pursuit of the means. It was a thought deeply impressed on the ancient world that over-eagerness for riches must involve dishonesty. "No one quickly grows rich, being at the same time a just man," says Menander. "For he who desires to become rich desires to become rich quickly. But what reverence for the laws? what fear or shame is there ever in the covetous man who hastes to be rich?" says Juvenal. To lessen our desires rather than to increase our means is the true wisdom of life—to study to give account of our little rather than to make our little more.

V. RESPECT OF PERSONS IN JUDGMENT. (Proverbs 28:21, Proverbs 28:22.) The vice springs from some mean source—from fear, covetousness, or obsequiousness. Cato used to say of Caelius the tribune, that he might be hired for a piece of bread to speak or hold his peace. To prefer interest to the truth, this is the fiery temptation in one form or other of us all. And the keeping back of a part of the truth may be as injurious to others as the utterance of direct falsehood. Any meanness harboured in the soul exposes to constant danger. Timidity may fall into worse sins than those it seeks to avoid. And in other ways extremes meet. While the haster to be rich casts an evil, envious eye on the property of others, he is blind to the menace of poverty from behind. In any case, poverty of soul follows from the constant drain of thought and energy towards things that "perish in the using." How much need have all to beware of those passions which are the "thorns" that spring up and choke the good word of God in the heart!—J.

Proverbs 28:23

Faithful counsel

I. To GIVE IT MAY REQUIRE THE HIGHEST MORAL COURAGE. It may be in the teeth of the interest of the adviser; it may turn a friend into an enemy; it may inflict a keen smart. Nothing but the highest regard to truth on the one hand, to love on the other, may be sufficient to nerve for the task.

II. THE TEMPORARY DISPLEASURE OF A FRIEND IS TO BE FACED RATHER THAN THAT HE SHOULD SUFFER LASTING EVIL. To save a soul from death, this is the great duty imposed by Christian love. And to that principle we must be true, whether we gain or lose a brother to our heart.

III. FLATTERY TURNS OUT TO BE BITTER, NEED COUNSEL HUMBLY RECEIVED EVER SWEET IN THE END. The former swelling our self-conceit, blinds us to both our advantage and our duty; lures us to folly and, perhaps, to ruin. The latter opens our eyes to ourselves and to our circumstances, and turns our foot from the precipice. We have reason to be thankful for the warning word that has saved us, and to bless the faithful heart which dictated it; reason ourselves to pray that we may miss no such opportunity of another's salvation.—J.

Proverbs 28:24, Proverbs 28:25

Sins of greed

I. THEY MAY LEAD TO UNNATURAL VICESEVEN THE ROBBERY OF PARENTS. (Proverbs 28:24.) The heart must be profoundly corrupted that can sacrifice filial affection on the shrine of the base lust for gain. Theft is not less but more a crime it committed against one's own blood.

II. THEY LEAD TO STRIFE. (Proverbs 28:25.) They overcome the instinct for justice and social right, and the man becomes an oppressor and a murderer—if not in act, in spirit and purpose—of his kind. Wars and fightings come of the "lusts in our members." It is confidence in the eternal God—his gracious providence and goodness, which calms excessive desire, and fills the heart with peace and content. And the riches the soul thus gains are surer and more permanent than any treasures laid up on earth.—J.

Proverbs 28:26

Folly and wisdom in the personal relation

I. THE PRINCIPLE OF FOLLY IS LIFE IN AND FOR SELF ALONE. The thought that is superior to counsel and comparison with other minds; the feeling which shuts out consideration and sympathy; the will which would act as if it knew no law but its own;—these are manifestations of that folly which is at once immoral and irreligious.

II. PRACTICAL WISDOM WELL COMPARED TO A WALK. This is the rising in thought towards universal truth. It is governed by the pulse of charity in the soul; it moves towards all worthy Divine and human ends. In folly we advance to perdition, in aiming at our weal, in wisdom, renouncing self, we enter blessedness.—J.

Proverbs 28:27, Proverbs 28:28

The life that breeds perpetual benediction.

I. THE KINDLY AND GENEROUS HEART". (Proverbs 28:27.) This prompts the generous hand; gathers more than it sows; is not suffered to want any good thing. It stands out in bright colours and winning aspect against the dark background of the selfish, self-concentrated, hard hearted life Let us cultivate the open eye which drinks in the knowledge of all that concerns our fellows, and the open hand in harmony with it.

II. ITS WORTH IS HEIGHTENED BY CONTRAST. (Proverbs 28:28.) Men cower, their brows contract, their mien becomes depressed, their soul enslaved, their manhood unmanned, beneath the proud man's oppression and the wicked's scorn. Persecution drives the moral sunshine out of the world, and tends to depopulate its moral life. As the increase of goodness depends largely on sound social and political conditions, it must be an object of prayer and of endeavour with all good men to overthrow tyranny and abolish fraud, that "the fruits of righteousness may abound and increase on every hand."—J.


Proverbs 28:1, Proverbs 28:13, Proverbs 28:25

(latter part)

The source of disturbance and the secret of security

We hardly need the pen of the wise man to assure us that—


1. It is bad enough to be unfortunate; to suffer from privation or loss.

2. It is far worse to be guilty. We soon accommodate ourselves to our misfortunes; we readily adjust ourselves to our circumstances, even though these may be very narrow. But sin strikes deep, and its wound lasts long. Among other painful consequences it fills the soul with a tormenting fear.

(1) It dreads the pursuing penalty of God's ordaining. And it has reason to do so, for "evil pursueth sinners" (see homily on Proverbs 13:21). In accordance with Divine Law, suffering, sorrow, shame, death, are following in the track of iniquity, and, except there be merciful interposition, will lay their hand upon it.

(2) It dreads the pursuing penalty of man. More often than not sin is pursued by man, either by public taw or by private resentment; and he who has wronged his neighbour, either by fraud or force, has reason to expect arrest and punishment. It is well that it should be so. We have come lately to understand that it is our wisdom to abandon the heavy sentence which was seldom inflicted for the lighter one which is far more freely dispensed. The great thing in administering justice is to connect penalty with sin as closely as possible in the mind of those who are tempted to violate the law.

(3) It dreads penalty when there is no punishment at all. "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." The murderer cannot, dare not, stay in the presence of the body he has slain. The thief turns aside from the officer who has no intention of apprehending him. He who has inflicted the greatest wrong that one man can do another shrinks from his neighbour's eye long before his sin has been suspected. Sin fills the soul with a harassing, a tormenting, fear. The guilty heart imagines a hundred dangers before the hand of judgment is outstretched to seize, or even its pursuing feet are on the path of apprehension. We reckon badly indeed if we only count the actual and palpable inflictions of justice which evil pays; in that penalty must be included all the anxieties, the alarms, the quakings and shiverings of the soul, the abject and haunting terrors which agitate the soul before the chains are on the wrist or the prisoner is at the bar.

3. There are two alternatives open to guilt: (Proverbs 28:13.)

(1) It may try concealment; but this is a mistaken as well as a wrong course. It will "not prosper;" the time of concealment will be one of constant disquietude, and it will end in exposure and humiliation, for again and again it is seen that there is "nothing hidden which is not revealed."

(2) It should adopt the course of confession and amendment; whoso does this "shall have mercy" of God, and will very likely indeed have mercy of man also. But even if not, the way of confession and of penalty is less hard and thorny than the path of sin and secrecy, of cowardice and terror. It is often true that while to bear punishment is tolerable, the miserable effort to escape it is absolutely intolerable.

II. RIGHTEOUSNESS MEANS SECURITY AND SERENITY. "The righteous are bold as a lion." To the upright there are two sources of rest and strength.

1. The consciousness of integrity. He that knows and feels his purity, his innocency, has a fearless heart, and shows a brave front to the enemy. He does not fear that the shafts of falsehood will pierce his strong armour of truth and equity.

2. The favour of God. (Proverbs 28:25.) He "puts his trust in the Lord;" he commits his cause to the Righteous One; he is assured that God is on his side, and he "does not fear what man can do unto him." "The Lord is his salvation; whom should he fear?" (see Psalms 27:1-3; Psalms 84:11, Psalms 84:12).—C.

Proverbs 28:4, Proverbs 28:5

The practice and effect of sin and righteousness

We have a double contrast here between the practice of the sinner and of the righteous man, and between the consequence of sin and of goodness upon the mind of the guilty and of the good.

I. THE PRACTICE OF SINFUL MEN. They "praise the wicked;" they "bless the covetous" (Psalms 10:3).

1. It is a fact that they do so. We hear the voice of ungodliness lifted up in favour of what is utterly wrong in the sight of God; it is expressed in the language of the lips and in every form of literature. There is hardly an evil thing perpetrated by men which does not find its advocate in some quarter.

2. It is comprehensible that they would do so. And this for two reasons. The wicked, as such, have an interest in lowering the standard of public morals; the more they can reduce this. the less will be their own condemnation, and the higher they may hope to move in the society they affect. But perhaps the main account of it is found in—

II. THE BLINDING INFLUENCE OF SIN. Those who break God's Law praise those who are wicked and that which is unworthy, because they "understand not judgment" (Proverbs 28:5). It is the fearful and fatal effect of sin upon the soul to pervert the moral judgment, to deprave the conscience, to make men regard with a diminishing disapproval the wrongness of evil deeds, until they become absolutely indifferent to it, until they positively approve the actions which they once hated and denounced. Then the light that is in them is darkness, and how great and how sad that darkness is (see Matthew 5:23)! Everything is seen in a false light; truth appears as falsehood, good as evil, wisdom as folly; and, on the other hand, all those miserable delusions which a sinful heart holds, and which are leading it down to death, appear as truth, and wrong and guilty actions appear as right, and lives which are dismal failures seem to be successes.

III. THE FUNCTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Their duty, or one of their duties, is to "contend with the wicked." This was the office, the service, of righteous Noah, of Lot, of Elijah, of Daniel, of Nehemiah, of John the Baptist, of Paul; it has been the function of every true and loyal-hearted man placed in the midst of those who are opposing the will of God. Contention is not the highest, as it certainly is not the most inviting, duty we have to take in hand. But it is often very necessary, and is sometimes quite noble service.

1. We may have to contend with the flagrantly bad, to denounce violence, oppression, injustice, vice, profanity, etc.; or with the mere hypocrite, who is right in form but wrong in heart; or with those who are halfhearted, and who are practically opposing the truth and the kingdom of God.

2. We should be very sure of our ground before we take up the attitude and use the weapons of hostility.

3. We should oppose ourselves to those who are wrong in no spirit of animosity against men, but of hatred of all evil.

IV. THE EFFECT AND REWARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. "They that seek the Lord understand all things." It is the most blessed effect of obedience that it elevates the doer; it purifies his heart, it clarifies his vision, it unlocks the door within which are rare treasures of immortal truth, it makes the soul to see and to rejoice in that to which it had been wholly blind. It unveils the living truth of God. It enables us:

1. To know ourselves as God knows us.

2. To understand our life as God intended us to regard it.

3. To appreciate the words and to recognize the will of the Divine Teacher.

4. To know him himself, "whom to know is life eternal."—C.

Proverbs 28:8

(See homily on Proverbs 28:20, Proverbs 28:22.)—C.

Proverbs 28:9

(See homily on Proverbs 15:8.)—C.

Proverbs 28:12, Proverbs 28:28

Hidden manhood

The two main truths here taught have been anticipated by a foregoing proverb, viz. the advantage to society of promoting the good; and the injury done by the advancement of the wicked (see Proverbs 11:10). But there is a truth suggested by the wise man's language which does not elsewhere appear; he says that when the wicked rise "a man is hidden," that "men hide themselves." The fact here alluded to is clear enough; we have often read, or have frequently observed, that the best men retire to seclusion and inactivity when iniquity is on the throne, when unprincipled cleverness holds the reins; they will not serve under a sovereign whom they despise, or in circumstances which make office holding a disgrace, if not a danger. But beyond and beneath this fact the language is fitted to suggest to us that there is much of hidden manhood amongst us. We find it in—

I. PREMATURE RETIREMENT. Not only under the conditions stated in the text, when the withdrawal of honorable men is necessary to the upright and the high-minded, but also under very different conditions. When men are allured by a desire for quietude and ease, or when they are disheartened by disappointment, or are disgusted by the slowness of their ascent to place and power, or when they underestimate their capacity and their opportunity, and they therefore lay down the weapon and leave the field. This is a serious loss. Then "a man is hidden;" a man is burying the wisdom of maturity, the large result of manifold experience, the gathered fruit of many years. He is hiding in his own home the cultured capacity he should be expending on the city, on the country of his birth.

II. UNDEVELOPED FACULTY. We do not know how often it happens that men are born with great capacities in their nature, and who live and die without manifesting them to the world. They fail to receive the education which would bring them forth, or they are confined within a range so narrow that they have no chance of showing what they could be and do. They "die with all their music in them;" they pass away, unknown, unproved, unfelt. That is expended upon unimportant trifles which might have directed the affairs of some great company, or guided the activities of some influential Church, or decided the course of some powerful nation. A "man is hidden," and a community is left unenriched.

III. UNDISCIPLINED FORCE. When God gives to a human spirit a strong power of will, there is an imperative necessity that it should be wisely and rightly guided and controlled in youth. Faithfully disciplined, such a one becomes a most useful man, who will contribute largely to the advancement and happiness of the world. But if that discipline be withheld, and the clever, wilful boy be allowed to grow up into untrained and uncultured manhood, there will be a sad waste of power. He will be more likely than not to do harm rather than good to his generation; he may be a blight instead of a blessing. There is "a man hidden;" one who has it in him to be one of the highest and worthiest, but who, as it is, is lost or even worse than lost, to his contemporaries and his country.

IV. UNRESCUED WRONG. Even when we see humanity at its very worst, in its very foulness and baseness, we do well to feel that beneath the humiliating and pitiful exterior is a hidden manhood. It is the noble work of Christian beneficence to get down to this, to lay its kind and holy hand upon it, to raise and to restore it, to bring it into the sunshine of truth and love, to make it visible and even beautiful in the sight of God and in the estimate of man.—C.

Proverbs 28:18

(See homily on Proverbs 11:30—C.

Proverbs 28:19

(See homily on Proverbs 27:23.)—C.

Proverbs 28:20, Proverbs 28:22

(and Proverbs 28:8)

Wealth or faithfulness? a sermon to young men

What shall the young man set before him as his goal when he stands face to face with active life? Shall he make up his mind to be rich, or shall he resolve that, whatever his circumstances may be, he will be counted among those who are faithful to their trust? Shall he fix his mind upon and find his heritage in a large estate or in an honourable and a useful life? Let such an inquirer consider—

I. THE GRAVE DOUBT ABOUT WEALTH. To have sufficiency of money for a comfortable home, for education, for the furtherance of the cause of God, and for the relief of human want,—this is certainly a very desirable thing. He who is facing the future may honestly desire to attain it, and he who has won it may well give God hearty thanks for the goodness which has placed this blessing in his power. But the mere acquisition of wealth, on which so many set their hearts, to which they devote their lives, and for which they sacrifice the best and highest things of all, ensures nothing at all of that which is valuable to a man who uses his reason and cares for his character. For who can be sure:

1. How it will be gained. There are temptations on every hand to gain money dishonestly or, if not fraudulently, by questionable means; by taking advantage of the weak and struggling in a way which, if it be not positively unjust, is inconsiderate and unkind. Of those who "make haste to be rich," how very large a proportion fail to "be innocent" (Proverbs 28:20)! They either deviate from the straight line of perfect equity, or they wander into ways of rank injustice and shameful wrong. Who shall say whether the next aspirant will not be counted in their number? And what does it profit a man to gain a fortune and to lose his integrity?

2. How long it will stay. He "considereth not that poverty shall come upon him." Few things are less certain than the duration of wealth. Who that has reached middle life has not frequently known of those that were supposed to be beyond the reach of misfortune being suddenly reduced or positively beggared (see Proverbs 23:5)?

3. How much it will do for its possessor. "He that hasteth … hath an evil eye;" so far is he from being satisfied with his fortune, and from looking graciously and generously upon all his neighbours, rich and poor, that he looks enviously upon those that are wealthier than himself, proudly upon those that are less successful, and grudgingly upon those that are poor, lest they should want his aid and diminish his store.

4. Whither it will go. If dishonestly obtained, it is likely enough that wealth will soon meet with the penalty it deserves, and pass to another holder. It may go to him that will "pity the poor," or it may get into the hands of "the fool," who will squander it in some kind of folly (Ecclesiastes 2:18, Ecclesiastes 2:19, Ecclesiastes 2:21). There is, then, an utter uncertainty about riches. It may be that God has not intended a man to be rich, but to be happy in a very humble station (Proverbs 30:9); and a pertinacious endeavour to secure what God has not placed within reach must end in a wretched failure and a badly bruised spirit. To such as these the strong words of Paul are applicable (1 Timothy 6:9, 1 Timothy 6:10).

II. THE CERTAINTY ABOUT FAITHFULNESS. "A faithful man shall abound with blessings." And there is no room for questioning it. Let a man be faithful to his convictions; let him be to God, his Father and his Saviour, what he knows in his heart he should be; let him be true and upright in all his relations with his fellow men, and he will be regulating his life by a sovereign principle which will "abound with blessings." It will:

1. Build up a strong and noble character.

2. Establish an honourable reputation and win the confidence of men.

3. Secure as large a measure of peace and of happiness as is the lot of disciplined humanity.

4. Dispense much good of many kinds to those around, both in public and in domestic life.

5. Lead down to a peaceful end, and on to a glorious future. What wise man would endanger the loss of these priceless blessings for the uncertain and transient good of worldly wealth?—C.

Proverbs 28:23

(See homily on Proverbs 27:5, Proverbs 27:6.)—C.

Proverbs 28:24

Filial duty

These words may be taken not only as condemnatory of filial wrong, but as suggestive of filial obligation. We look first at—


1. Culpable carelessness. Doing things or leaving them undone, so that the money of parents (which, perhaps, can ill be spared) is wasted.

2. Unconscientious appropriation. Which may ascend from picking out of the pet or taking from the cupboard up to a serious appropriation of property.

3. Unprincipled involvement. Either in the form of

(1) contracting debts which will have to be paid out of the father's purse; or, what is still worse

(2) following an evil course of conduct which will discredit the family name and rob it of its honoured and prized reputation.

II. ITS GUILTINESS BEFORE GOD. They who do such things may justify them to their own minds; they may say to themselves, "It is no transgression; what is our parents' is our own;" but this is not the light in which it shows to Heaven. It is not only the wise man. but the Son of God, who has affixed his solemn condemnation to filial shortcoming (Matthew 15:5). Undutiful conduct toward parents is a very heinous sin.

1. It is in most distinct violation of the Divine command (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 27:16; Matthew 19:19; Ephesians 6:1, Ephesians 6:2; Colossians 3:20).

2. It is a wrong done to those who, in virtue of their relationship, have the strongest claim upon us.

3. It is a sin against those who have spent on us the most patient, sacrificial love. To rob them to whom we owe more than we can owe any other human being is an aggravated offence indeed. It is well to consider—

III. THE TRUE FILIAL FEELING. A true son, who realizes what is due to his parents, will not only shrink from taking the advantage which his father's trustfulness places in his power, but he will consider how he may make some return for all that he has received at his parents' hands. And he will understand that this is to be rendered by:

1. Responsive affection.

2. Prompt and cheerful obedience.

3. Ready acquiescence in those things which are beyond his reach; docility and submissiveness of spirit.

4. Practical willingness to share the burdens of the home. Thus he will lighten the labour and brighten the lives of those who were the first, and will perhaps be the longest, if not the last, W love him.—C.

Proverbs 28:25

(latter part) and 26 (former part)

In whom to trust

They who look forward to human life from the sanguine standpoint of youth may see in it little to be afraid about; but they who have reached the latter end of it, and look back upon it, know how much there is in it to give ground for serious apprehension. It is they who are concerned for the young, and who are so devoutly solicitous that these should put their trust in that which will sustain them. There are three principles which are applicable.

I. SELF-RELIANCE IS BETTER THAN LEANING UPON OTHERS. To be kept from "the evil which is in the world" by the authority, or the counsel, or the entreaty of others is quite unsatisfactory in any but the very young. These human props will be taken away, and where, then, is our virtue?

II. MORAL PRINCIPLE IS BETTER THAN RIGHT DISPOSITION. It is well enough to inherit or to imbibe right inclinations, pure impulses, honourable feeling. But these may go down before the force of some one very strong temptation, or be (as indeed they often are) worn down and worn out by the droppings of hostile influences. Moral principle, well rooted in the soul, will stand the rough wind and still lift up its head to heaven.


1. To "trust in our own heart" is great folly. For, on the one hand, we do not know what we may have to encounter. Possibly our life may be comparatively free from evil, material and moral; but perhaps it may not be so. There may be before us trials of the utmost severity, for which the very greatest endurance will be required; or there may be temptations of the severest kind, which will assail us with tremendous and overwhelming force; or there may be demanded of us high duties, large services of even heroic order, only to be rendered by a noble self-abnegation; or there may await us splendid opportunities, to be unequal to which would be a lifelong regret, to avail ourselves of which would crown us with joy and honour. And, on the other hand, we do know that, associated even with moral principle, there is some measure of human weakness. Every man has his vulnerable point; and to every man's strength of mind and character there is a limit which is only too easily reached. Who of us would dare to say that he, of himself, however fortified he may be even by sound convictions as well as excellent inclinations, is strong enough to withstand any storm that may beat against him, to swim any current into which he may be cast, to rise to any height that he may be called upon to climb?

2. To trust in God is the true wisdom. For

(1) God is able to make us stand (Romans 14:4). He can make us to know "the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe." We can "do all things in Christ who strengtheneth us."

(2) He has promised to sustain and to enable us, if we do put our trust in him (Psalms 32:10; Psa 125:1-5 :11; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 40:30, Isaiah 40:31; 2 Timothy 1:12). God has given us abundant reason to believe that, if we practically and devoutly trust in him, he will see us safely through every evil we may have to meet and master, and will guide us to his own home and glory.—C.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Proverbs 28". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/proverbs-28.html. 1897.
Ads FreeProfile