Proverbs 28:8

He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
– Proverbs 18:8

Just as the previous saying, this wisdom saying follows the law closely (Exodus 22:24; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:20-21). The law forbade exorbitant interest rates and prices, false scales, and other oppressive or predatory business practices. Israelites were not to profit off the poor and needy, or their family, which they were required to care for. The saying speaks to a redistribution of the gain that is consistent with other wisdom sayings (Proverbs 13:22). This saying fits in the general wisdom theme of injustice being resolved by justice.

Proverbs 28:5

Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.
– Proverbs 28:5

This verse continues the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. Judgment is the issue at stake in the contrast. The word means a judicial verdict and refers to receiving right treatment according to law. The standard of judgment was referenced in the previous verse and is the law of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” and the goal of instruction is wisdom, including the understanding of judgment (Proverbs 1:1-7). Evil men are fools who despise wisdom, so it remains out of reach for them and they do not understand true justice (Proverbs 1:7; 24:7). Evil men do not seek the Lord and do not understand justice, but the wise seek the Lord and do understand (Proverbs 2:1-9).

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 24:24

He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
– Proverbs 24:24

The “respect of persons in judgment” from the previous verse is explained as declaring the wicked to be righteous. Declaring the guilty to be innocent is a corruption of justice. Such perverting of justice is an abomination to God (Proverbs 17:15), and also to the general public (Proverbs 11:26). Perverting justice may win power and position, but it will lose the people.

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Proverbs 24:23

These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.
– Proverbs 24:23

Verse 23 begins an additional collection of wise sayings, which runs through the end of the end of the chapter. Verses 23-26 form a saying concerning just judgment. The phrase respect of persons literally means: look at the face. It is put for showing partiality in judgment. The word for judgment means a verdict, or decision. It has legal connotations. The saying is a warning against perverting justice. We show partiality in giving favor to the rich or powerful. We also show partiality by giving favor the poor or downtrodden. The latter is sometimes called reverse discrimination. Any perversion of justice, regardless of the direction favor is shown, is unjust (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; Proverbs 18:5; 28:21).

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Proverbs 24:12

If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?
– Proverbs 24:12

Proverbs doesn’t often refer cases upward, but verses like this one bring us back to the deeply theological realities of wisdom. We know that justice, or righteousness, is the context of this saying. Walking wisdom means walking in the way of justice, and that may not be the way of momentary successes. If we consider proverbs such as Proverbs 18:16 and Proverbs 17:23, we righteousness is more important than wealth. Additionally, religious acts will not make up for the lack of doing righteousness (Proverbs 15:8; 16:6; 21:27; 28:9, 13). The first phrase is a feigned ignorance and the rest of the verse dismisses this with the sovereign omniscience of Yahweh. Wisdom understands Yahweh knows us inside and out (Proverbs 5:3, 11, 21; 16:2; 17:3; 20:12; 21:2), and shall reward us according the reality of ways (Proverbs 3:32-33; 11:4, 19, 21; 12:14; 15:9; 16:4; 17:5; 19:5; 28:20).

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Proverbs 23:11

For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.
– Proverbs 23:11

This verse adds the consequential warning for the command, “Remove not the old landmark,” in verse 10. The warning has primarily to do with theft and oppression of the poor. The word for redeemer means next of kin and we sometimes refer to kinsman redeemer. A near kinsman was an advocate and deliverer by the law. Sometimes this might be through relieving the suffering of poor relatives (Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 3:12-13). The redeemer might also be the avenger of blood (Number 35:19). Yahweh is the ultimate redeemer who will defend the weak and exact justice (Proverbs 22:23; Exodus 22:22-24). Wisdom teaches us to be mindful of this, though the poor are easily taken advantage of.

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Proverbs 23:10

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
– Proverbs 23:10

The old landmark refers to the boundary markers that were set to apportion the land inheritance to the tribes and families throughout Israel. The word for old means time out of mind, referring to antiquity. The saying accords with the setting of landmarks by “thy fathers” in Proverbs 22:28. The law forbade moving or removing those landmarks so as to encroach on the inheritance of another (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17). The old landmark is here tied to the fields of the fatherless, which is the focus of the saying. Wisdom teaches with the law against the oppressing, defrauding, extorting, or otherwise afflicted the weak, i.e., widows and fatherless (Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5; James 1:27).

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Proverbs 22:28

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
– Proverbs 22:28

The saying of this verse stands alone, giving the simple imperative, “Do not.” No reasons or consequences are given, though those can be found elsewhere in Scripture. The word for landmark literally means a twisted cord. The word is used by implication to refer to a border, edge, or boundary. The word appears over 200 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is most often translated border or coast. In a few places it is translated as landmark or bound. In the law, the word refers to the property boundaries given to the tribes by allotment from God. The inheritance was to remain in the families and the borders were important to be maintained. The law forbade falsifying property boundaries (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:27). This very act brought God’s judgment on the people (Hosea 5:10).

Wisdom reinforces the command of law. Moving a boundary marker was lying and stealing. The law did not provide a specific penalty inflicted by man, but did warn the sin would incur the curse of God (Deuteronomy 27:27). Proverbs echoes this warning by assuring Yahweh will “establish the border of the widow” (Proverbs 15:25) and will “plead their [the fatherless] cause” (Proverbs 23:10-11). This proverb is another stern warning against oppressing, extorting, and defrauding of the weak and vulnerable.

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