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 28:1

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 25:26

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
– Proverbs 25:26

The word for falling down means to shake or slip. Its use here points to a loss of integrity for the righteous, or just man. A troubled fountain describes a water source that has been muddied by stamping, and a corrupt spring is contaminated water in some way. The images portray water that has been ruined and is useless. The comparison is to the compromised person, who’s reputation has been lost and they are effectively useless.

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Proverbs 24:16

For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
– Proverbs 24:16

Verse 16 continues from verse 15 and provides explanation for the warning in that verse. The warning was against plotting against the righteous. Falling seven times is a figure implying strength or resiliency. Such falling would seem to be final, but the righteous will not ultimately fall, but rise. The wicked’s plots may seem to succeed in the short term, but will ultimately fail. The success of the wicked will be short lived as they will finally fall into mischief, or evil. This contrast is consistently thematic throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 4:18-19; 10:28; 11:7, 23; 28:18).

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Proverbs 24:15

Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
– Proverbs 24:15

Verses 14-15 form the next saying, which speaks to the futility of plotting against the righteous. The dwelling of the righteous and his resting place are figures of the full life of the righteous. The plotting of the wicked is not just an effort to steal money or goods, but an attack on the whole way of life of the righteous. Lying in wait and spoiling reminds of the warnings earlier in the fatherly addresses (Proverbs 1:11; 7:12). This warning, though, is aimed at the wicked.

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Proverbs 24:11

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and that are ready to be slain;
– Proverbs 24:11

These next two verses illustrate the failure of verse 10 and end with God’s sovereign judgment as strong incentive to live righteously. Commentators vary on the specific application of those who are drawn unto death and ready to be slain. At least, the phrases refer to those in mortal dangers, and most likely due to some form of unjust oppression. The word for deliver means rescue and the condemnation here is failure to rescue. The general tenor comports with the teaching of wisdom, which requires eschewing the way of the wicked and doing righteousness (Proverbs 31:8-9).

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Proverbs 23:24

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.
– Proverbs 23:24

The word for righteous means just in conduct and character. Such a child brings joy and rejoicing to his parents. Joy and rejoicing in children, as well as the grim alternative, is a steady encouragement and exhortation to parental wisdom in raising children throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16). Children who come to maturity with wisdom are a great delight to parents. The delight is also reciprocal, mature and wise children glory in their parents (Proverbs 17:6). Wise parents lovingly, patiently, and persistently teach their “law” to their children as they grow for the purpose of equipping them to walk in wisdom securely and honorably (Proverbs 1:9; 3:1, 23; 4:8-9, 12; 7:2-3). It is only a foolish and rebellious child who wants his parents to get out of his way (Proverbs 19:26; 30:11, 17; Luke 15:12-13).

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Proverbs 21:26

He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
– Proverbs 21:26

This proverb continues from the previous one and describes the desire of the slothful. Greed marks the slothful and unrighteous. Greed contributes to their ruin (Proverbs 15:27; 28:22, 25). The antithesis in the second phrase shows generosity a mark of the righteous. Generosity is set against greedy coveting by showing the righteous giving without restraining their giving (Proverbs 11:24-26; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27).

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Proverbs 21:21

He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor.
– Proverbs 21:21

The word for righteousness means rightness, or justice. The word for mercy means goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. The word has a range of meaning that includes pity, but also loyalty, or fidelity. Sometimes it is translated as kindness or lovingkindness. The word is used to describe God’s remembering to show kindness to Naomi (Ruth 2:20), and Boaz doing the same for Ruth (Ruth 3:10). The two together describe a life in the way of wisdom and the proverb speaks directly to those pursuing that way. Pursuing and keeping to the upright way of wisdom enriches the life of the wise (Proverbs 3:16; 22:4).

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