Proverbs 28:6

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
– Proverbs 28:6

Proverbs consistently holds that wisdom does not equal wealth and folly does not equal poverty. Uprightness, or integrity, is contrasted with perverse, or twisted or crooked. This proverb is a better than saying that states honest poverty is better than dishonest riches. While it is possible to be honest and rich, as well as being dishonest and poor, the choice is often between integrity/wisdom and wealth. Crooked ways lead to destruction (Proverbs 28:18). Wisdom teaches it is better to be upright than rich, if that’s the choice before you (Proverbs 16:8; 19:1, 22).

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 28:4

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.

 


 

 

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