Proverbs 29:15

The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
– Proverbs 29:14

Long-term establishment of kings requires justice, or righteousness. Just treatment of the poor, or vulnerable, is godly (Proverbs 20:28; 29:4). The standing or falling of kingdoms turns on such justice (Proverbs 16:12; 20:28; 28:16).

Proverbs 29:14

The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
– Proverbs 29:13

This saying removes the facades of accomplishments or designations and considers all men on the same footing. The word for deceitful points to oppression. The poor are easily oppressed, so there is a natural opposition between the two. The last line refers to God as the giver of life to both (Proverbs 22:2). The king is concerned with both groups and must uphold justice for his throne to be established (Proverbs 28:16; 29:14).

Proverbs 29:7

The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
– Proverbs 29:7

This saying rounds out the group of sayings concerned with justice. The cause of the poor refers to justice, the rights and needs of the poor. The poor as a group often represent not merely the economically depressed, but those who are weak and vulnerable in various circumstances. The righteous know the state and condition of the easily oppressed, much like the faithful shepherd knows the state of his flocks (Proverbs 27:23). Such knowledge is coupled with action (Proverbs 29:4; 13-14; 26), but those who care nothing about it are here called wicked (Proverbs 21:13).

Proverbs 28:28

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.
– Proverbs 28:28

This is the second of four similar sayings. The first is Proverbs 28:12, the third is Proverbs 29:2, and the fourth is Proverbs 29:16. These sayings frame this kingly section of wisdom sayings by emphasizing the righteous rule as a blessing to the people and wicked rule as a curse. These sayings form a string where each saying continues from the previous in the sequence. This saying picks up the thread of hiding from wicked rulers.

Thematically, the saying is also linked with the previous one (Proverbs 28:27). There the care or neglect of the poor brings either blessing or curse, and this saying could extend that to a nation. The word for increase means abundance, or being multiplied. The same word is used to denounce extortionary practices on the backs of the poor in Proverbs 28:8. This accords with a wise and righteous ruler who hates covetousness (Proverbs 28:16). So, righteous rule leads to the increase of the people.

Proverbs 28:27

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
– Proverbs 28:27

Generosity counters greed. The general tenor of wisdom sayings runs to the blessing of generosity so that the giver needn’t worry about want (Proverbs 11:24-26; 19:17; 22:9). The hiding of the eyes to the plight of the poor reveals selfish indifference of the covetous. Such greed earns curses, from the people (Proverbs 11:26; 24:24) and from the Lord (Proverbs 1:23-33; 3:33; 21:13; Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

Proverbs 28:15

As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
– Proverbs 28:15

The sayings in verses 15-16 continue the theme of wisdom to rulers. The saying compares a wicked ruler to a roaring lion and a ranging bear. Wild and predatory animals provide descriptive analogies for various foolish human behaviors (Proverbs 19:12; 20:2; 30:29-31). The saying means a wicked ruler abuses power to prey on helpless, poor people. Wisdom teaches that God is a just judge who will execute justice for the poor (Proverbs 14:31; 17:5).

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 28:8

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 28:3

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 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.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Next Page »