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 28:12

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).

 


 

 

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 24:24

He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
– Proverbs 24:24

The “respect of persons in judgment” from the previous verse is explained as declaring the wicked to be righteous. Declaring the guilty to be innocent is a corruption of justice. Such perverting of justice is an abomination to God (Proverbs 17:15), and also to the general public (Proverbs 11:26). Perverting justice may win power and position, but it will lose the people.

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Proverbs 24:20

For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
– Proverbs 24:20

This verse gives the explanation for the warning in the previous verse and takes a deathly serious turn. Commentators vary as to how much the afterlife is in view in Proverbs. Wisdom in Proverbs is concerned with the long view and the end of ways, so it is expected that the end of life, and what’s after, is in view. The word for reward means after part, or end. It is most often translated “end” in this book (Proverbs 5:4; 14:12-13; 16:25; 19:20; 20:21; 23:18; 25:8). Those verses reflect the meaning of outcome, and in many instances it is the outcome of life. When taken with the last phrase, it is plain this verse is talking about death and the loss of expectation or hope for the wicked. The imagery of the candle being put out for the wicked is used consistently to indicate the forfeiture of any good expectation at the death of the wicked (Proverbs 13:9; 20:20).

The saying is a sober warning to realize the end of the wicked and therefore not to envy or begrudge their successes. The prosperity of evil men is temporary, though it may seem to last their entire earthly lives. This warning is echoed throughout Proverbs (Proverbs 5:23; 8:36; 9:18; 11:7; 23:13-14).

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Proverbs 24:19

Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
– Proverbs 24:19

Verses 19-20 form the next saying concerning envying the wicked. This saying focuses on the inner attitude. The word for fret means become angry, and the word for envious means to be jealous. Wisdom teaches neither to be angry with the success of the wicked, nor to be jealous of their prosperity. The saying echoes previous sayings (Proverbs 23:17; 24:1).

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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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