Proverbs 29:12

If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.
– Proverbs 29:12

Verses 12-14 form a small group of sayings related to kingship and rule. This saying relies on the Deuteronomic kingship ideal, where the ideal king is exemplar in keeping God’s law and presiding over a nation of the faithful (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). The king’s character will shape the character of his kingdom, for good or bad. This saying warns against the bad. If the king will listen to lies, more lies will be told him. The last phrase presents a thorough corruption to all his servants.

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 29:2

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 28:15

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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