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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 28

 

 

Verse 1

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

The wicked flee (singular noun with plural verb: they all flee as one man) when no man pursueth - through the stings of conscience, so that "the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them" (Leviticus 26:17; Leviticus 26:36; Deuteronomy 28:7; Psalms 53:5). But the righteous are (plural noun with singular verb, they are each individually) bold as a lion - even when many men assail them, through a good conscience and trust in the Lord (Psalms 125:1-2).


Verse 2

For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.

For the transgression of a land many (are) the princes thereof (there is a constant succession of princes, 1 Kings 16:21-28; 2 Kings 15:8; 2 Kings 15:30): but by a man of understanding (and) knowledge the state (thereof) shall be prolonged. The Hebrew [ keen (Hebrew #3651)] hardly bears the sense "the state;" it usually means 'so:' translate 'so (and in no other way, the prince's reign) shall be prolonged.' Frequent changes of princes are detrimental to the people, and cause disorders, tumults, and oppression. "A man" stands collectively for 'men' - i:e., the people generally, answering to "a land" in the parallel clause. If "a man" were used for one man, whether a subject or the prince, distinguished by "understanding," not the general term 'aadaam (Hebrew #120), but the special term for an excellent man, 'iysh (Hebrew #376), would have been used. As by the "transgression of a land" its princes are continually changed, so by the "understanding and knowledge" - that is, the piety of the same (the people of the "land") - each prince's reign "shall be prolonged." So Gejer, Maurer, etc.


Verse 3

A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.

A poor man ( geber (H1397): a tyrant, a man of might) that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain, which leaveth no food. Needy himself, he sweeps away the little food left to the poor by richer oppressors. There are no such hard tyrants as poor ones when they get an opportunity of enriching themselves at the expense of those poorer than themselves. A sponge that is dry sucks strongly; that which is well soaked ceases to suck. So the rich are more merciful than poor oppressors. Rain ought to fertilize the soil; but a sweeping rain carries away, or else causes the seed to rot. The poor, when elevated, ought to compassionate and relieve those whose misery they know by experience. When they do not so, they are the most merciless of oppressors.


Verse 4

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. They that forsake the law praise the wicked - naturally, as resembling themselves. By praises of the wicked one betrays what kind of man he is himself (Romans 1:32; Psalms 10:3 ).

But such as keep the law contend with them - (Nehemiah 13:17; Ephesians 5:11.) The truly godly not only keep God's law, but "contend with them" who do not, and 'plead for truth' (Isaiah 59:4).


Verse 5

Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

Judgment - justice.

They that seek the Lord understand all (things) - Deuteronomy 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:15; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27.) "All things" appertaining to their duty and to their blessedness in this world and in the world to come.


Verse 6

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness (Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 5:18) than (he that is) perverse (in his) ways (literally, in two ways: dual) though he (be) rich - than one perversely halting between 'two ways,' and acting as if he could walk in the right and the wrong way at once (1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 6:24). 'Woe be to the sinner that goeth two ways' (Sirach 2:12).


Verse 7

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son (and gladdens his father): but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father - being an unwise son. Bad companionship is opposed to keeping the law. The law makes wise by illuminating the understanding (2 Timothy 3:15-16) and guiding the will (Deuteronomy 17:19; Psalms 119:9). Boon companionship is the snare of youth, because of the love of pleasure so common to the young (Luke 15:13; cf. companionship is the snare of youth, because of the love of pleasure so common to the young (Luke 15:13; cf. Proverbs 13:20).


Verse 8

He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.

Proverbs 13:22, end; Ecclesiastes 2:26; Job 27:16-17.

Usury and unjust gain. "Usury," from a root to bite ( neshek (Hebrew #5392), from naashak (Hebrew #5391)): of a severer kind. "Unjust gain" - literally, increase, multiplication of the principal (tharbith): of a milder kind, (Leviticus 25:35, etc.)


Verse 9

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination - (Zechariah 7:11; Acts 7:57, on the first clause; Proverbs 15:8; Psalms 109:7 , on the last). He who will not hear does not deserve to be heard.


Verse 10

Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.

Whoso causeth (or tries to cause) the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit (Proverbs 26:27);

But the upright (who do not let themselves be seduced into "an evil way") shall have good things in possession. Not only shall they not fall into the pit laid for them, but shall have every blessing.


Verse 11

The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.

The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out. Parasites and his own vanity may make the rich man mistake the flattery that he receives as due to his wisdom, and not merely to his riches. But the poor man who hath the spiritual understanding which discriminates between the true and the false riches, 'searcheth out' his pretensions to wisdom, and disproves them (Proverbs 18:17; Job 32:9; Ezekiel 28:2-4). Naaman's servants 'searched him out' (2 Kings 5:13); the blind man, the Pharisees (John 9:30-34).


Verse 12

When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.

When righteous men do rejoice (prosper), there is great glory. All things are in great glory, the worship of God, justice, order, joyful contentment, and peace flourish (Esther 8:15-17).

But when the wicked rise (are exalted), a man is hidden. Men hide themselves (Proverbs 28:28; Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 11:10) - namely, through fear of oppression, instead of the "glory" of a flourishing population. The good especially, who are the true "glory" of a state, are "hidden" "when the wicked rise" (1 Kings 17:2-3; 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 19:1-6).


Verse 13

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

He that covereth his sins (by denying or extenuating them, 1 Samuel 15:20-21) shall not prosper. 'To hide a sin with a lie is like a crust of leprosy drawn over an ulcer' (Jeremy Taylor). Many cover them by laying the blame on others (Genesis 3:12-13; Ezekiel 18:2). Many plead, 'I am not the only one, or the first one who did it, and I shall not be the last.' Contrast Acts 19:18.

But whoso confesseth and forsaketh (them) (not returning like a dog to his vomit, 2 Peter 2:22) shall have mercy. The sincerity of the confession is proved by a man's forsaking his sins (Job 34:31-32). Then mercy is sure (Psalms 32:5 ; 1 John 1:8-10).


Verse 14

Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Happy is the man that feareth alway - in prosperity as well as adversity (Proverbs 14:16). "Feareth" to offend God; not slavish, but filial fear; not linked with anxiety, doubt, or distrust as to the reality of grace received (1 John 4:18). Reverential caution as to sin, joined with love to God, opposed to the rashness and hardening of the heart whereby sinners make light of sin, and trust in their own righteousness (Ezekiel 33:13).

But he that hardeneth his heart (against the Lord's precepts, threats, and promises, and the inward motions of the Spirit, under a false notion as to the patience and mercy of God) "shall fall into mischief." So Pharaoh, Exodus 14:5-8; Exodus 14:23-31.


Verse 15

As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

A ranging bear - "ranging" to and fro with hunger.

So is a wicked ruler over the poor people - whom he knows he can oppress with impunity, as they cannot resist.


Verse 16

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.

The prince that wanteth understanding (is) also a great oppressor (and therefore shall not prolong his days): (but) he that hateth covetousness (and therefore does not oppress his people with exactions) shall prolong his days. So the Keri; but the Ketib, 'they that hate,' etc.


Verse 17

A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.

A man that doeth violence to (or else, that is oppressed-burdened with) the blood of (any) person (Hebrew, a soul; Jeremiah 2:34) shall flee to the pit - lashed by the scourges of conscience (Genesis 9:4-5). He shall, like Cain, wander to and fro, until, wearied of life, he casts himself into dangers.

Let no man stay him. This is an exception to Proverbs 24:11, on the ground stated in Numbers 35:33-34; Psalms 109:7. Maurer translates, 'fearing lest men apprehend him.' But the Hebrew negative, al, expresses best a prohibition.


Verse 18

Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.

He that is perverse in his ways (cf. note, Proverbs 28:6, 'in two ways') shall fall at once - so as not to rise again. There shall be no need of a second fall (1 Samuel 26:8). Gejer translates, 'shall fall in one of them'-in one of the two ways.


Verse 19

He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

Proverbs 12:11, note. The follower of "vain persons," instead of "plenty of bread," shall have "poverty enough."


Verse 20

A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

A faithful (sincere and honest) man shall abound with blessings - prayed in his behalf by numbers; or, 'with the blessings of prosperity' conferred by God.

But he that maketh haste to be rich (and that is therefore unfaithful and dishonest), Shall not be innocent - and shall not be treated as such; he shall not be unpunished with curses from God.


Verse 21

To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.

To have respect of persons is not good - (note, Proverbs 24:23; Proverbs 18:5.)

For, for a piece of bread that man will transgress. The judge who at first was induced only by a great price to transgress by favouring one side, through the habit of sinning comes at last to do so for a mere trifle.


Verse 22

He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

He that hasteth to be rich () (hath)an evil eye - a grudging illiberal eye (23:6).

And considereth not (that instead of becoming really rich, the result of his haste to be rich by all means, fair or foul, will be).

That poverty shall come upon him - (Proverbs 28:8; Job 27:16-17.) Sometimes in this life "poverty" comes by a sudden reverse on him who unduly "hasteth to be rich;" at all events at death he is stripped of all his riches, and everlasting "poverty" of all that is good becomes his doom.


Verse 23

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.

He that rebuketh a man, afterwards , [when the rebuked man shall find that the rebuke was for his good. But the Hebrew, '


Verse 24

Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.

Whoso robbeth his father ... and saith, (It is) no transgression (because I should succeed to the property at his death, and my parents do not give me enough), "the same is the companion of a destroyer."

The same is the companion of a destroyer. Having cast off all reverence for parents, and stealing from those to whom he ought to give, he is on a level with the most abandoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).


Verse 25

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

He that is of a proud heart (Hebrew, soul; Proverbs 21:4; and therefore trusteth in himself) "stirreth up strife" (Proverbs 13:10; and shall be made lean spiritually, and often even in temporal goods):

But he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat - (Proverbs 16:20.) The fountain of pride is trust in self and unbelief toward the Lord (Proverbs 28:26); the fountain of humility is "trust in the Lord."


Verse 26

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

He that trusteth in his own heart (yielding to his own will and impulses, Proverbs 3:5; Proverbs 3:7; Proverbs 23:4; Hosea 10:13; and so walketh unwisely) "is a fool" (and shall be destroyed):

But whoso walketh wisely (by trusting not in his own heart, but in the Lord, Proverbs 28:25), "he shall be delivered" - from all dangers.


Verse 27

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack (Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:9; but shall have many a blessing);

But he that hideth his eyes (from the poor in their distress; cf. Isaiah 58:7) "shall have many a curse" - not only from men, but also from God (Proverbs 21:13). The natural man fears that he will be in want by giving. The reverse is the truth. Alfonso, King of Sicily, when asked what he kept for himself, since he gave away so much-`I keep,' said he, 'what I give; the rest I do not count mine.'


Verse 28

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves - (note, Proverbs 28:12; Proverbs 11:10; Proverbs 29:2 .)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 28:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-28.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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