Proverbs 28:4

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
– Proverbs 28:4

Verses 4-6 contrast the wicked, evil men, and the perverse with the righteous who are described as keeping the law, seeking the Lord, and walking in uprightness. This verse contrasts the conditions of forsake the law and keep the law. The word for forsake means to leave, or neglect. The word for keep means to guard, or heed. Leaving the law leads to praising the wicked and keeping the law leads to contending with the wicked. Leaving God’s fixed, transcendent standard leads to lack of discernment between right and wrong, and even to calling evil good and good evil (Psalm 10:3; Isaiah 5:20).

 


 

 

Proverbs 28:3

A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
– Proverbs 28:3

The poor are the oppressed and afflicted in Proverbs. This would be the only occurrence, though, of the poor oppressing the poor. It may be difficult to envision, but not impossible. The simile compares that situation to a sweeping, or driving, rain that beats down the field and destroys the crops. Rain is necessary for the food to grow and where a blessing is expected, a curse can be found when the rain destroys. It is a fitting illustration of a poor man oppressing the poor given the opportunity, such as coming to power. Isaiah used the image of a driving rain that destroys to depict the Assyrians coming upon Ephraim (Isaiah 28:2). Whereas the reign of the righteous King bringing justice and judgment to the poor is compared to a gentle, watering rain that causes the fields to flourish (Psalm 72:1-7).

 


 

 

Proverbs 28:2

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.
– Proverbs 28:2

The word for transgression points to rebellion and land is put for a nation of people. Rebellion and multiplication of rulers go together. The northern kingdom of Israel had nine different dynasties consisting of twenty different kings in just over two hundred years. New dynasties were inaugurated by assassination of the previous one. Hosea prophesied against this sinful state in Israel (Hosea 7:7; 8:4; 13:11).

The contrast in the saying is not to a nation of people but to a single ruler who is a wise king, a man of understanding and knowledge. The wise and righteous king brings stability to the land (Proverbs 16:12; 29:4, 14).

 


 

 

Proverbs 28:1

Introduction
Chapter 28 continues the proverbs of Solomon collected by Hezekiah’s men, which runs through chapter 29. These last two chapters of wise sayings are mostly two-line antithetical proverbs. This chapter is part of the kingly instruction and touches on themes of law, justice, hearing, and understanding. There are also references to confession of sin, oppression of the poor, riches, and pride.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
– Proverbs 28:1

Fleeing when no one is pursuing is twice mentioned as a curse upon those who break God’s law covenant (Leviticus 26:17, 36). The word for wicked conveys the idea of a criminal, or one who is guilty of wrongdoing. The word for bold means trust, or confidence. In contrast with the wicked, the righteous, or just, man walks confidently like a lion. The lion does not fear any (Proverbs 30:30), but rather instills fear in others (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13).

The lion symbol is often associated with kings or rulers (Proverbs 19:12; 20:2; 28:15; 30:30-31). David cited his overcoming a lion and a bear as evidence for his confidence in God and the righteous cause against Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). Ultimately, it will be the Lion of Judah that prevails, overcomes all enemies, and will suffer no uprising of the wicked (Genesis 49:9; Numbers 23:24; 24:9; Revelation 5:5).

When the king rules in righteousness, the kingdom is established (Proverbs 16:12; 25:5) and the people dwell safely. When the people walk in righteousness, they walk in confidence and come to reward (Proverbs 12:28; 13:6, 9, 21, 25). The wicked walk in fear and come to destruction (Proverbs 10:2-3, 11, 16, 24-25, 28; 29:16), as their kingdom shall not be established (Proverbs 10:30; 14:34; 16:12).

 


 

 

Proverbs 27:27

And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
– Proverbs 27:27

This verse ends the saying and the consideration of the reward for diligence. The word for maintenance means alive and has the idea of lively, or active. It speaks of health. The general picture of the faithful farmer-shepherd is a vibrant estate, well supplied.

 


 

 

Proverbs 27:26

The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.
– Proverbs 27:26

This verse describes the reward for diligent care of the flocks and herds. The care for living things provides sustainability and stability. Applying the metaphor to a kingdom, it is the downfall of king and kingdom when the shepherd-king steals, kills, and devours the flock (2 Samuel 12:1-12; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:1-6).

 


 

 

Proverbs 27:25

The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.
– Proverbs 27:25

This part of the saying reflects the divine provision of growth from the earth. The whole saying captures the cyclical nature of life lived in the created world. The hay appears. The grass shows itself. The herbs are gathered. These provide food for the house, servants, and animals. The wise farmer-shepherd-king lives wisely within the created order.

 


 

 

Proverbs 27:24

For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?
– Proverbs 27:24

Verse 24 gives the reason for the previous verse and is expanded on in the following verses. Flocks and herds, when properly cared for, will produce and reproduce. They are a renewable resource. Riches, or wealth accumulated, do not work the same way. The mention of the crown gives the saying its kingly flavor. The crown is like the stored wealth in that it’s not as renewable. Clearly, the establishment of the crown requires righteous care of the people (2 Samuel 23:3; Proverbs 31:3-9).

 


 

 

Proverbs 27:23

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.
– Proverbs 27:23

Verses 23-27 form a saying using shepherding as a metaphor for investing in sustainability through care for living things. Ultimately, the saying contributes to the training of the sage/king, as is common to the latter part of the book of Proverbs.

The word for state literally means face and is put for knowing the condition of the flocks. The word for look means to put or set. The word for well means heart. The last phrase means to set your heart to your herds. It doesn’t mean to have sentimental feelings about them, but rather to think on them, to intentionally know their condition and provide for their care. The wise king knows his real business is the welfare of his people (Proverbs 14:28; 29:2).

 


 

 

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