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 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 27:24

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).

 


 

 

Proverbs 25:7

For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.
– Proverbs 25:7

Humility and patience are better than promoting oneself and later being humiliated. The king or prince determines the places of their people. If you grasp for a higher place, you will likely be shamed when someone higher in standing arrives and you must give place to him. Jesus alluded to these wisdom principles in Luke 14:8-10. At first glance, the proverb may seem mere helpful advice to avoid social embarrassment. With further reflection, wisdom teaches there are more important matters than one’s social standing, whether real or perceived.

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Proverbs 24:22

For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
– Proverbs 24:22

Verse 22 explains the warning in the previous verse. The wording is a little difficult. The word for calamity means ruin and indicates the downfall of the rebels of the previous verse. The word for ruin means destruction. The both referred to is most naturally understood of God and the king in the previous verse. The warning is in light of the judgment coming upon the rebellious (Proverbs 16:14; 20:2).

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Proverbs 24:21

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
– Proverbs 24:21

Verses 21-22 form the last saying in this set of the “Words of the Wise.” The last saying teaches fear, or respect, of authority. We reverence the civil authority as God’s appointed authority (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). The word for meddle means to braid. The word for given to change means to alter. Wisdom teaches not to be mixed up with rebels and agitators. Peter gave similar warning (1 Peter 4:15). This saying starts with the fear of Yahweh, which is the beginning of wisdom and the ground for respect of authority.

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Proverbs 23:1

Introduction
Chapter 23 continues the collection of sayings from chapter 22, introduced as the “Words of the Wise.” The sayings are usually grouped in two to three verses about a general subject. Subjects covered in this chapter include caution, wealth, hospitality, wasted words, advocacy, wisdom, child discipline, parents, perspective, excess, honoring parents, avoiding the pit, and drunkenness.

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
– Proverbs 23:1

Verse 1 begins a warning to keep your wits about you. A ruler may be a king, governor, magistrate, or otherwise powerful person. Verse 3 makes plain that things are not always what they seem. The word for consider diligently means to discern, perceive, or separate mentally. Wisdom teaches to discern the situation. One should be cautious, perhaps even skeptical of the motives. The ruler likely wants something from you, or is testing you in some way. The flattery of the situation could be blinding and so the warning to keep our heads.

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Proverbs 21:1

Introduction
Chapter 21 continues the Proverbs of Solomon, which form the largest section of this book and continues through the next chapter. The proverbs in this chapter touch on God’s sovereign omniscience, righteousness, justice, rewards, laziness, moderation, pride, and home life.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
– Proverbs 21:1

The phrase, rivers of water, refers to channels, or watercourses, like what might be dug for irrigation or drainage. A gardener, or farmer, digs such channels in order to direct the water where he wants it to go. The image is analogous to God’s control, even over kings. He turns the king’s heart to accomplish the purposes of his will. The word for heart has a range of meaning and Proverbs often uses it in a way comparable to our use of mind. The proverb does not speak to how God does this, but leaves that mysterious. Other proverbs speak to God determining outcomes even though men plan and act according to their own hearts (Proverbs 16:9, 33; 20:24).

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