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Go to Bible: Proverbs 29
|Pro 29:1||- (top)|
“groan.” The problems and pain that wicked rulers cause is very real, and in those times the people who are ruled over groan from pain and burden. In the countries like the USA that allow people to elect their rulers, it is important to elect rulers who value personal choice and freedom, instead of those who think that the government can run someone’s life better than they themselves can.(top)
|Pro 29:3||- (top)|
|Pro 29:4||- (top)|
|Pro 29:5||- (top)|
|Pro 29:6||- (top)|
“legal claim.” The Hebrew word is din (#01779 דִּין), and it usually means “judgment,” but it can also mean “legal suit, strife,” or “cause,” or “rights, legal rights, legal claim.” The HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon has “legal claim” for Proverbs 29:7. Every human has certain rights, and when those rights are violated, a person then has certain legal claims. Righteous people are sensitive to the legal rights and legal claims of the poor, in part because they know that God never shows favoritism when it comes to people, and that God is the Judge of all people. On the other hand, wicked people oppress the poor and take advantage of them. They do not keep God’s Day of Judgment in mind, to their own temporal and everlasting detriment.(top)
|Pro 29:8||- (top)|
“person.” The word “person” (twice in this verse) is iysh (#0376 אִישׁ), which most literally refers to a man, a male in contrast to woman. But it can also be used to refer to men and women, and it makes sense to translate it in a gender-neutral way in this context (see commentary on Prov. 2:12, “the one”).
“disputes.” The usual meaning of “disputes” is to have a controversy in court, although sometimes the word means more of a dispute in general.
“rages or laughs.” The fool is right in his own eyes (Prov. 12:15), and when challenged may either try to bludgeon you with words (Prov. 12:16; 27:3), or, as this verse says, may try to just “laugh you off,” as if what you said was ridiculous. In either case, the fool can make quite a scene (Prov. 27:3), and it is unlikely the case (or the courtroom) will come to a peaceful settlement.(top)
|Pro 29:10||- (top)|
|Pro 29:11||- (top)|
|Pro 29:12||- (top)|
|Pro 29:13||- (top)|
|Pro 29:14||- (top)|
|Pro 29:15||- (top)|
|Pro 29:16||- (top)|
“rest.” The Hebrew word means “rest,” and can refer to rest, comfort, peace of mind.(top)
“Law.” See commentary on Proverbs 1:8.(top)
|Pro 29:19||- (top)|
“a person.” The word “person” is iysh (#0376 אִישׁ), which most literally refers to a man, a male in contrast to woman. But it can also be used to refer to men and women, and it makes sense to translate it in a gender-neutral way in this context (see commentary on Prov. 2:12, “the one”).(top)
|Pro 29:21||- (top)|
|Pro 29:22||- (top)|
|Pro 29:23||- (top)|
“He hears an oath.” This is a great example of a verse that cannot be understood without understanding the scope of Scripture and the culture of the time. The reference is to testifying in a courtroom, and this verse is tied to the following verse, Proverbs 29:25, which says that being afraid of people brings “a snare” into one’s life.
The context and vocabulary in Proverbs 29:24 tells us that the person being called to testify in court as a witness has partnered with a thief, who has now been caught and is on trial. In the trial, there was generally understood to be some kind of oath or “oath-curse” for people to tell the truth (Lev. 5:1). Here in Proverbs 29:24, the witness hears the “oath,” but refuses to speak. The witness has some kind of partnership or understanding with the thief, and he is afraid, but that fear is about to bring a snare into his life. The Hebrew word translated “oath” is alah (#0423 אָלָה), and it means both “oath” and “curse.” The reason for the two meanings of alah is understandable in the culture because many of the “oaths” were more accurately “oath-curses,” that is, the oath and the curse were bound up together into one statement.
For example, after Elijah killed the prophets of Baal in Jezebel’s kingdom, she said, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I don’t make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time!” (1 Kings 19:2). In other words, Jezebel was making an oath-curse and saying she would kill Elijah by the next day, and if not the gods could do the same to her and worse. The king of Israel said the same kind of thing about Elisha when there was a famine in Samaria that he blamed on Elisha (2 Kings 6:31). When David’s son Adonijah, who was Solomon’s rival, asked to have David’s last concubine, Abishag, Solomon said the same thing about Adonijah (1 Kings 2:23), and then did in fact execute him (1 Kings 2:25).
When a person was called to testify in court the oath or oath-curse was spoken, and even if there wasn’t one, there was a general understanding from the Mosaic Law that if a person lied in court and was caught he too would receive the punishment that the criminal himself received (Lev. 5:1; Deut. 19:16-19). Although Deuteronomy is specifically about someone who lies about another to incriminate him, everyone understood that the Mosaic Law, the “Torah,” was given for “instruction” (“Torah” means “instruction,” not “law”), and the Torah gave general instruction for guidance, and thus the regulations about false testimony in court applied for both lying in court to incriminate someone and lying in court to cover for someone else’s sin.
Proverbs 29:24-25 teaches a powerful lesson. People who enter into relationships with evil people “hate their own soul;” they ruin their lives. People involved in evil usually get more and more deeply involved and end up living in genuine fear for their lives and welfare. The pressure and fear can be so great that they lie in court, as the person in Proverbs 29:24 does. The way out of the trouble and mental anguish is to trust God and obey Him. That does not mean that there will not be serious consequences in this life, because sometimes there still are, but it does mean that in the end there will be protection and even being exalted by God. Romans 8:18 tells us that the sufferings of this life are not comparable with the glory we will experience in the next life.(top)
“protected.” The Hebrew word is sagab (#07682 שָׂגַב), and it more literally means, “to be set on high,” or “to be set or placed high, high up.” It also has the meaning of “to be exalted.” As we will see, both “protected” and “exalted” are important meanings in this verse. The idea of being “set in a high place,” meaning safe or “protected” (cp. HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon), comes from the military metaphor of being put in a high place that is inaccessible to the enemy and therefore safe. While fearing man brings “a snare,” i.e., trouble upon trouble, trusting God leads to ultimate protection, safety, and exaltation.
This verse parallels Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 10:28 that we should not be afraid of people, but rather should fear God. The worst any human can do to us is kill our body. But God will raise the righteous people from the dead and give them better bodies and everlasting life. In contrast, God can and will destroy the unrighteous people in Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, so He is the one we should really fear and trust.
People who are afraid of other people do things they should not do, or do not do things they should do, and their lives are just one snare and trouble after another. This verse is tied to the previous verse, Prov. 29:24, in which a person is so afraid of other people that he will not testify in court and tell the truth, which under Old Testament law could even result in his death, depending on the particular case. The way to rid oneself of fear of others is to trust God. That does not mean that troubles in this life will disappear, but they will certainly be lessened, especially mentally, and furthermore God is the ultimate deliverer. Even if godly people are killed, if they have trusted God and gotten saved, they will be “protected” in the end. More than that, however, because of their obedience to God, they will also be “exalted” by God and given rewards for their obedience. The Hebrew word means both “protected” and “exalted,” and thus is an amphibologia, a double entendre, and the native Hebrew reader sees both meanings when he reads the verse. We chose “protected” for our English version due to the context and the use of “snare” in the first stanza.(top)
“attention.” The Hebrew word is “face,” and in this context is means “attention” (cp. HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon), or “favor.” People seek the attention and favor of human rulers, but true justice for people comes from God. Of course, that “justice” can be desired or unwanted depending on how godly the person is. The wicked don’t want justice, they want the attention of the ruler so they can get what they desire in life, while the righteous crave God’s justice on earth and sometimes get it here, but will certainly see it done in the next life.(top)
“dishonest person.” The word “person” is iysh (#0376 אִישׁ), which most literally refers to a man, but it can also be used to refer to men and women, and it makes sense to translate it in a gender-neutral way in this context (see commentary on Prov. 2:12, “the one”).
“Wicked person.” The word “wicked” is a singular adjective, and we added “person” to clarify that fact.(top)