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Go to Bible: Proverbs 28
“righteous are confident like a lion.” This seems to be the basic meaning of the text, but reading the Hebrew that way is difficult because the word “righteous” is plural, while the word “lion” and the verb “confident” are singular, and thus it seems like the words should go together thusly: “the righteous are like a confident lion.”
In any case, the text shows us that wicked people are often so afraid of the consequences of their action, or so guilty about what they have done, that rather than living a peaceful life like the righteous can do, they flee even when no one is pursuing them.(top)
|Pro 28:2||- (top)|
“A poor man who oppresses the weak.” Ordinarily in Proverbs the poor person is oppressed, but here the poor man is the oppressor. Thus, although this proverb seems to go against the flow of the other verses in Proverbs about the poor, what is portrayed in this proverb is something we often see in real life. For example, among the poor and homeless, it is quite common for a stronger homeless person to beat up and take the food, money, jacket, shoes, etc., of a weaker homeless person. The stronger person then becomes like a pounding rain: cold, heartless, and destructive, leaving only misery and hopelessness behind. The poor no doubt cry out about such oppression, but are ignored; but not by God who hears them. The oppressors are too selfish and ignorant to know that on the Day of Judgment and afterward, they too will cry out and be ignored (Prov. 21:13).(top)
“Law.” See commentary on Proverbs 1:8.(top)
|Pro 28:5||- (top)|
|Pro 28:6||- (top)|
“the Law.” See commentary on Proverbs 1:8.(top)
|Pro 28:8||- (top)|
“the Law.” See commentary on Proverbs 1:8.
“even his prayer is an abomination.” There are many verses that say that if a person is evil, unrepentant, or ungodly, God will not hear his prayers (cp. Job 35:12-13; Prov. 15:29; Isa. 1:15; 59:1-2; Ezek. 8:17-18; Micah 3:4; Zech. 7:12-13; James 4:3; 1 Peter 3:7). Sadly, this is often ignored by stubborn and hardhearted people who think they are righteous in the sight of God and who therefore pelt Him with prayers that He does not hear. If we are caught up in sin, it is good to pray for God’s help, but that needs to be combined with a genuine effort to overcome sin and become more godly in our walk.(top)
“onto an evil road.” The Hebrew uses the word “road” idiomatically for “way of life.”
“will fall into his own pit.” It is a consistent theme through Scripture that evil people bring evil upon themselves (see commentary on Prov. 1:18).(top)
|Pro 28:11||- (top)|
“When the righteous triumph.” The Hebrew word translated “triumph” is more literally “rejoice.” The idea is that the righteous triumph, and so they rejoice. The Hebrew text is a metonymy of effect, where the effect, rejoicing, is put for the cause of the rejoicing, which is success or triumph.
“when the wicked rise up, people conceal themselves.” When wicked people rule, the actions of righteous people often draw attention and bring persecution and trouble. So often when the leaders or governments are evil, righteous people “hide,” that is, they do not engage in obvious righteous acts or acts of worship, instead they “fly beneath the radar” so to speak. However, often they engage in undercover acts of civil disobedience. Hiding, lying, and acts of civil disobedience will be much more how godly people will have to live as we approach the Last Days, a time when the love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). Proverbs 28:12 is similar to Proverbs 28:28, but the word “conceal” is different than the word “hide” in verse 28, and actually here means more like “people must be sought out,” meaning that they hide and must be looked for. [For more on lying and civil disobedience, see commentary Exod. 1:19].(top)
|Pro 28:13||- (top)|
|Pro 28:14||- (top)|
|Pro 28:15||- (top)|
|Pro 28:16||- (top)|
|Pro 28:17||- (top)|
|Pro 28:18||- (top)|
|Pro 28:19||- (top)|
|Pro 28:20||- (top)|
|Pro 28:21||- (top)|
“a stingy person.” The Hebrew text uses the Semitic idiom about the “evil eye” and says, “A man with an evil eye.” The idiomatic phrase about a person having an “evil eye” referred to the person being stingy, selfish, and greedy. The meaning of the idiom of the “evil eye” changed over time, and today if someone gives you the “evil eye” it means he wishes harm to come to you. However, that was not the meaning of the idiom in biblical times.
Here in Proverbs 28:22, the man with the evil eye is stingy and greedy, and so he rushes after wealth. Sadly, he does not know that that is the path to poverty, either in this life or the next. In Deuteronomy 15:9, the man with an “evil eye” was stingy so he would not lend anything to the needy if it was close to the seventh year, the year of release, when people did not have to pay him back. In Deuteronomy 28:54, a man who is in a difficult situation may not even be generous towards his family, but have an evil eye concerning them and be stingy and not help them, and similarly, Proverbs 23:6 warns not to eat the food of a stingy man, a man with an evil eye, because he is always worried about how much it costs him.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught that a person who had an evil eye and thus was stingy, greedy, and selfish, was full of darkness (Matt. 6:23; Luke 11:34). In fact, the person who is stingy and greedy is not even happy if others get ahead a little (Matt. 20:15). Jesus made it clear that having an evil eye and being greedy and selfish was a heart issue (Mark 7:22).
In contrast to an “evil eye,” which was selfish and stingy, a person with a “good eye” (Prov. 22:9), or a “single eye” (Matt. 6:22), was generous. [For more on the “good eye,” see commentary on Prov. 22:9].(top)
|Pro 28:23||- (top)|
|Pro 28:24||- (top)|
“A greedy soul stirs up strife.” The Hebrew is more literally a “wide soul” (rahab nephesh) where “wide” is rahab and nephesh refers to a person and/or the person’s appetites. The Hebrew word nephesh (#05315 נֶפֶשׁ), has a wide range of meanings, and the exact meaning is closely tied to the context. As Bruce Waltke points out, “Rahab with concrete nouns denotes breath or width…but in construct with psychosomatic words it denotes unrestraint, immodesty: with nephesh an unrestrained appetite (see Prov. 28:25; cf. Ps. 101:5); with leb [“heart”], of unrestrained thoughts, ambitions, plans, and so on. This heart, recognizes no boundaries to curb its aspirations, behaves as if it were God (Waltke, NICOT, The Book of Proverbs, chapters 15-31, p. 171). Waltke later writes about Proverbs 28:25 and says, “the unrestrained appetite (rehab-nephesh, lit. “wide of appetite”...stirs up strife. ...The greedy person’s insatiable appetite brings them into conflict with others, for he transgresses social boundaries. Not content with his portion, he becomes disruptive and destructive, and those whose person and property he violates fight back. This is how wars are started” (Waltke, p. 427).
“prosperous.” The literal Hebrew is “fat.”(top)
“He who trusts in his own heart—he is a fool.” This verse shows the need for each person to have trusted advisors who will reprove and correct him. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) warns us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” We cannot always trust our judgment, so we surround ourselves with trusted advisors and loved ones, who can give us advice and counsel. Surely it is true that there is safety in a multitude of counselors (Prov. 11:14).(top)
“will not be in need.” Proverbs 28:27 is one of the many “ideal” promises in the Word of God. It was always God’s intention that people would get what they deserve in this life, and that is expressed in verses such as this one. This verse would be fulfilled here on earth today if we lived in a godly world with godly people, but people do not always get what they deserve. Many people who give to the poor end up in need themselves later in life. [For more on promises like this, see commentary on Prov. 19:5].(top)
“When the wicked rise up, people hide themselves.” See commentary on Proverbs 28:12.(top)