Proverbs 28:26

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
– Proverbs 28:26

This saying begins with a contrast from the last phrase of the previous verse. The very essence of folly is trusting in one’s own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). The fool follows his own way and walks by the suggestions of his own mind (Proverbs 14:12, 15; 15:14; 17:24). The first phrase emphasizes wisdom is from outside of us and must be received. To walk wisely is not to trust in oneself. Those who walk wisely will find safety (Proverbs 3:5-6; 28:18; 29:25).

Proverbs 28:25

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
– Proverbs 28:25

Verses 25-27 are sayings touching on issues of self-sufficiency, such as pride and greed. A proud heart is here contrasted with trust in the Lord. The word for proud is more often translated large and broad. Being made fat is typically a figure of prosperity, or abundance. Contrasting the two gives the first phrase the sense of a large heart, or large appetite, and so means greedy. The saying amounts to greed bringing contention and trust in the Lord bringing prosperity. This saying would add greed to list of what stirs up strife: lying (Proverbs 6:14, 19), hatred (Proverbs 10:12), quick anger (Proverbs 15:18; 29:22), and froward gossip (Proverbs 16:27-28).

Proverbs 28:24

Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
– Proverbs 28:24

Robbing parents was a serious violation of the law (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16). The act pointed to in the saying is probably not the nighttime B&E larceny variety. The idea is likely more along the line of the son who is a waster in Proverbs 19:26. He may squander his parents’ wealth (Luke 15:11-32), and refuse to support them in old age (Mark 7:10-13). He may be a perennial moocher, draining his parents resources (Proverbs 18:9). The middle line of the saying reveals a hardened conscience, like that condemned by Jesus in the practice of corban. The result is becoming a destroyer, and Paul said worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:4, 8), which is another shameful association (Proverbs 28:7).

Proverbs 28:23

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue.
– Proverbs 28:23

This saying contrasts the immediate with the long term. The general tenor of wisdom is to consider the long view more than the short run. The word for rebuketh means give a corrective of some kind that could range from gentle to severe. It speaks of frankness as in Proverbs 27:5-6, which is preferable.

The contrast is with smoothness, or flattereth. Flattery is typically a cover for some ulterior motive (Proverbs 2:16; 7:5; 29:5). The thrust of the saying is not to the recipient of rebuke or flattery, but to the giver. Flattery may gain immediate favor, but it will not last (Proverbs 26:28).

Proverbs 28:22

He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
– Proverbs 28:22

This saying continues the theme of greed from the previous one. The phrase evil eye literally means bad of eye and is contrasted with the bountiful eye, or good of eye in Proverbs 22:9. Here, hasteth to be rich is a consequence of having an evil eye. The evil eye is a recurring figure that refers to greed, covetousness, and stinginess. It is contrasted with kind generosity (Proverbs 22:9; 23:6).

The figure is first used in the books of the law in Deuteronomy 28:54-55. The wider context there are the curses upon Israel for covenant disobedience and the more immediate context is talking about famine conditions. The verses describe the severity of the judgments such that a tender man becomes hardened and stingy (evil eye) with his own wife and children in refusing to share food with them. Jesus also used this figure of greed and stinginess during his ministry (Matthew 6:23; 20:15; Mark 7:22; Luke 11:34).

Jesus spoke of the evil eye, which distorted a person’s ability to see reality clearly and the second phrase of the saying agrees with this. The stingy, greedy man is in a hurry to get rich and considereth not, or does not know, the consequences of poverty to come. On the one hand, wisdom has cried out in the streets a warning for the covetous in a hurry to be rich (Proverbs 10:22; 19:2; 20:21; 21:15). The evil eye is darkened and turned away from wisdom and so does not know or consider the end (Proverbs 7:23; 9:18).

Proverbs 28:21

To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
– Proverbs 28:21

Verses 21-23 address greed in some form. This saying refers to the perversion of justice through bribes. Respect of persons refers to discrimination on the basis of a person’s standing, whether ethnically, socially, etc. The miscarriage of justice can go in favor of a person or against them depending on their standing. Such injustice is consistently condemned in Proverbs, as well as in the law (Proverbs 18:5; 24:23; Exodus 23:2, 8; Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19).

A piece of bread is a slight temptation and so speaks to the power of unchecked greed within a covetous heart. As Kidner pointed out, this sin, or temptation to sin, is not only limited to public officials, but to teachers as well (Ezekiel 13:19).

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
– Proverbs 28:20

This saying continues the the theme of rewards for diligence and the condemnation of greed. The word for faithful means steadfast, stable, reliable. Contextually, it refers to honest and diligent work. The rewards are multiplied blessings. Read in the context of wisdom sayings and inferred from the meaning of faithful, the rewards come over time so that patience in implicit in the first phrase as well.

The contrasting phrase contains an irony by speaking of the haste to be rich. The saying doesn’t contrast the diligent with the slothful, though many sayings do just that. The saying contrasts faithful work over time with a hurry to get rich. The former will be rewarded and the latter will be punished, for that is the indication of not be innocent. This saying accords with the general tenor of wisdom (Proverbs 13:11, 22-23; 20:21; 21:5, 25).

Proverbs 28:19

He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
– Proverbs 28:19

Verses 19 and 20 are sayings related to the rewards for diligence. This saying relies on contrasts. Tilling land and pursuing vanity are contrasts in approach to work. Plenty of bread and plenty of poverty are contrasting parallels regarding the outcomes. Tilling the land refers to one who diligently attends to his work. Following vain persons refers to one who wastes time pursuing empty ideas and gains. This saying agrees with various sayings that teach the wisdom of diligence and the folly of slothfulness (Proverbs 12:11; 13:11; 14:4; 21:5, 25; 27:23-27).

Proverbs 28:18

Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
– Proverbs 28:18

The way of walking is a consistent theme in Proverbs, where there are only two ways—wisdom or folly. The word for uprightly means complete, or whole. It is often contrasted with perverse, as it is here (Proverbs 28:6; 10). The image of falling is common to one walking perversely. The thrust of the saying is the contrast between the safety of integrity and the certain fall of those who twist and distort the way of wisdom (Proverbs 2:8, 12-15, 20; 3:6, 23; 10:9, 25; 11:3-6).

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