Proverbs 29:27

An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.
– Proverbs 29:27

This verse ends the collection of Solomon’s proverbs collected by Hezekiah’s men, which began in 25:1. A thematic contrast between the righteous and the wicked has ran through this collection and finds an appropriate conclusion in this last verse.

The word for abomination speaks of something abhorrent and detestable. It is usually applied to what God hates (Proverbs 3:32; 6:16; 11:1 et al). In this saying, the word describes the intense incompatibility between the righteous and the wicked. This saying then also contributes to the wisdom theme of the two way featured so prominently in chapters 1-9.

A brief survey of this collection of proverbs reveals Solomon’s practical wisdom in touching on family, neighbors, friends, citizens, kings, rulers, etc. This, of course, demonstrates that the way of wisdom, the way of righteousness, not separated from mundane daily concerns, but rather the way lies through them. Of course, the way of wisdom in society gives a foretaste of the glories of Christ’s kingdom where wisdom reigns over all the earth.

Proverbs 29:16

When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall.
– Proverbs 29:16

This saying seems to have the wicked ascending to authority, like in Provers 29:2. The increase of wicked authority will increase the sins of a society. The point of the saying comes in the contrasting last line. The wicked may outnumber the righteous at various times, but ultimately the righteous will outlast the wicked.

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 29:6

In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.
– Proverbs 29:6

Wisdom often asserts providential justice as the wicked being taken by their own devices (Proverbs 1:19; 5:22; 11:5-6; 12:13; 26:7). The main contrast of the saying is the captivity the evil man comes to with the freedom of the righteous. Singing and rejoicing here indicate the free response of the righteous (Proverbs 13:9; 23:24-25).

Proverbs 29:2

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
– Proverbs 29:2

This saying echoes the theme of righteous rule contrasted with wicked rule. The general tenor of wisdom emphasizes the flourishing of people under righteous rule and also issues warning to rulers (Proverbs 11:10-11; 28:12, 28; 29:16).

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 28:16

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
– Proverbs 28:16

A prince is a ruler and wanting understanding means he is a foolish ruler. He lacks the wisdom needed in ruling justly. The foolish ruler becomes an oppressor, or tyrannical in his rule. The word for oppressor refers to extortion. The second line forms an uneven parallel. The ruler that hates covetousness has wisdom and it tends to life (Proverbs 15:28; 29:14). The word for covetousness refers to unjust gain that might result from deceptive business practices, or in this case, tyrannical abuse of authority. The implication for the foolish ruler is their folly rejects wisdom and tends to death (Proverbs 8:36).

Proverbs 28:12

When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.
– Proverbs 28:12

The saying is close to Proverbs 28:28 and Proverbs 29:2. Wisdom acknowledges the blessing of righteous rule and the rejoicing and glory are emblems of human flourishing (Proverbs 11:10). The contrast is with wicked rule and the result that men hide themselves. The contrast is with open rejoicing and glory. The seek refuge from the oppression and injustice of the rule.

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).

 


 

 

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