IF we HAVE SEEN in chapter 27 the blessing of God and refuge in the sanctuary, chapter 28, a fourth section. brings our feet abruptly back to the wilderness path, where walk and ways must be tested by the crucible of trial. These tests are particularly stern, the more so because of the widespread departure from the revelation of God in Hezekiah's days. which we have seen to be so similar to "the last days" of the history of the church on earth.
"The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are hold as a lion."
A bad conscience of course breeds cowardice. and fleeing is to be expected on the part of a wicked man. It does not follow that all fear is the result of a bad conscience: nevertheless a believer should learn to never give in to fear: faith gives courage to stand as boldly as a lion. Why should we even resemble a wicked man by acting in the timidity of fear? "God hath not given us the spirit of fear. but of power. and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7). When tempted to hide in the temple. Nehemiah firmly replied. "Should such a man as I flee?... I will not go in" (Neh. 6:11).
"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."
When evil is able to gain the upper hand in any nation, among the people themselves, there will he many princes, with no true authority properly maintained: they may rise and fall rapidly and many will be clamoring for the highest places. Conscience will not make them flee, as in verse 1, because evil has become popular. On the other hand, one man of understanding and knowledge, maintaining authority, is able to prolong the peace and welfare of a nation - if the nation will submit to his authority. This will be pre-eminently true when the Lord Jesus reigns: but meanwhile there are tests in all these varying conditions among nations. The Christian is to discern all these principles and to know how to act in whatever condition prevails: he is not here to change world conditions, nor national conditions: but neither is he to he ignorant of them.
"A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food."
A poor man who had learned through his adversity, if placed in any authority could be as a refreshing rain, producing food: but if not having learned to bow to the will of God he is likely to take most unseemly advantage of his position to exalt himself and cruelly oppress those for whom he should have special sympathy. Like rain driven by a fierce wind this will devastate rather than produce. The antichrist will have this revolting character (Psa. 55:12-14) just as Saul raised to the throne persecuted David.
"They that forsake the late praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them."
Let the spirit of disobedience to God once take possession of a man and he will eventually commend the most wicked doers. Do our hearts not tremble then at the thought of treating carelessly even the least of God's commandments? This is no justification of a hard, legal spirit; but an insistence that God has a right to my utter obedience. Moreover, the obedient child of God will have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11).
"Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things."
The solid, sober principles of governmental judgment are a foreign language to an evil man, because he has no intention of bowing to God's judgment. A spirit of disobedience will not humbly accept the consequences of wrong doing; but one who seeks to avoid such judgment, will by this means only in the end increase its severity. "But he that is spiritual judgeth (or discerneth) all things" (1 Cor. 2:15). Having the mind of Christ by virtue of the indwelling Spirit of God, the believer may understand the significance of every matter of moral importance, for the Spirit of God produces true self-judgment and dependence upon the Living God.
"Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich."
So simple and elementary an observation needs no explanation, but it does need serious attention, for these things are too easily forgotten when the lure of riches exerts its baneful influence upon the mind. Ten thousand times rather be poor than to resort to crooked ways to gain wealth.
"Whoso keepth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father."
If this is so in natural relationships, how much more so spiritually! An obedient child of God is wise; but if disobedient, and engaging in wrong companionships, the shame of this will reflect upon his Father in Heaven.
"He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor."
The ways of God are equal, when man's ways are not. Man may use his wits to take dishonest advantage of another - legal as it may be, - whether in lending money at a high interest, or other means not thoroughly honorable; but in the end he will lose it, whether before or at death. Then another may use it in compassion toward the poor. At least God will pity the poor, and greed will have its just recompense.
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination."
If a child coolly refuses to be subject to his parent, yet asks for everything he wants, is this not so brazen an attitude that his parent would refuse his demands? In God's sight such prayer is "abomination" that is it has the character of idolatry.
'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" (Psa. 66:18).
"Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession."
Evil does not stand still: if one harbors it, as in verse 9, he is likely to go further, and treacherously influence others who are not so inclined until drawn by subtle words. But the tempter here is criminally guilty, and God will bring his evil upon his own head. See how Absalom craftily influenced the men of Israel against his own father, then led them in rebellion. His end was swift and dreadful (2 Sam. 15-18). Such men, using others as tools for their own gain, eventually end with nothing in their possession; while the upright "have good things" as a permanent possession. Luke 16:12 provides an excellent comment along this line. "If ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" Only true faithfulness in the use of our present means (God's property) will result in our being entrusted with what is permanently our own.
"A rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out" (New Trans.).
It is one of the strange follies of man to consider that his wealth is attributable to his own superiority to others; or that his wealth makes him superior to others; while, if he were wise, he would only be humbled in appreciation of the grace of God that had so prospered him. Few indeed there are who evidence this latter attitude; but if one is wise in his own eyes, a poor man of understanding is able to so speak to his conscience as to deeply unsettle his self - confidence. May God give to us such wisdom as this. How perfectly we see this in our Lord's dealings with the Pharisees, who trusted in themselves and despised other men. See Luke 16:14-31.
"When the righteous triumph, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, men conceal themselves" (New Trans.).
In any sphere of government this is true: where righteous men are in power, there is peace, joy, and no fear: but if the wicked rise, fear and apprehension permeates the entire atmosphere.
"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but who-so confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
This is an unalterable, Divine principle, applicable in the first place to the salvation of the soul, and just as applicable to the conduct of a believer. If a sinner deceitfully covers up his guilt, he can expect no mercy from God, no prospering, but eternal judgment. If he honestly confesses his sins, having faith in the blessed Son of God, then mercy forgives him, and for eternity. On the other hand, if one is a true believer, but walks in disobedience to God, seeking to cover up his wrongdoing, God will not allow him to prosper in his Christian path: he will suffer. But if he honestly confesses his wrongs to his God and Father, then he will prove the sweetness of God's mercy as his present experience.
"Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief." When there has been true confession, this sobers the soul to watch seriously against the many snares that evil sets. This is godly fear,-not terror, but a sensible guarding of oneself from further danger. If this is habitual with us, we shall be happy. But a callous, proud attitude of indifference to spiritual danger will lead to disaster. This will always follow the deceitful covering of our own sins. for the pride that resists confession will harden more and more. Let its beware of it.
"As a roaring lion and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people."
If this hardened character is seen in a ruler. how dreadful the results will be! Not only is God dishonored and his own conscience badly abused, but he is as a destroying beast toward the poor: at their expense he and his rich friends will seek their gain.
"The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days."
In tracing the sequence here, it is clear that a want of understanding stems from the stubbornness that refuses to confess sin before God. This attitude in anyone who holds any place of authority will make him "a great oppressor." For evil will not stand still, but if indulged, will go onward to greater lengths.
"A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him."
Oppression too often ends in murder. The steps we have seen here are displayed in all their naked horror in the history of man's callous treatment of the Lord Jesus, and culminating in violence to his blood. This cool, calculated blood-guiltiness will find no forgiveness. On the other hand, for those who in ignorance "knew not what they did," there was definite possibility of forgiveness, as Saul of Tarsus surely experienced. But only the pit awaits those, whose character being formed by hatred of God, have committed themselves to absolute rejection of the blessed Son of God. It is the spirit of the willful man-slayer: "let no man stay him." His case is utterly with-out hope.
"Whoso walketh uprightly shall be delivered: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once."
He whose heart is upright will walk uprightly; and he need have no fear whatever of the dangers that threaten the perverter, who ought to be prepared to expect dire results from his abuse of the kindness of God.
"He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough."
Honest work will follow an upright walk, and God has decreed that this is the true means of prospering. But if one chooses lazy, vain companions, he is choosing poverty. How true is this spiritually! Laxity, self-indulgence, wrong companions will cause spiritual decay, stagnation, poverty.
"A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent."
The first was true of Abraham, whose faith depended on God, and in calm, faithful continuance, he gradually increased. abounding with blessings. Lot on the other hand, hasted to be rich, his eyes fascinated with the well watered plain of Jordan, and drawn by the glitter of Sodom. He lost all his possessions, his end pathetically dismal. What recollections must have pierced his soul with grief as he ended his days!
"To hare respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress."
The man who shows favoritism to any person is not to be trusted: he will transgress for any trifling thing. How important to do nothing by partiality, but to be thoroughly fair and honorable in every matter of judgment.
Or, if we take a little different viewpoint of the verse, it is not good to have respect of persons because the flesh cannot be trusted: a man will transgress for the smallest reason: let us therefore give no man a place of dignity such as really belongs to the Lord alone.
"He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him."
An evil eye is the opposite of a single eye (Matt. 6:22, 23), which indicates simple, straight-forward honesty. But a man grasping after riches is devious and crooked in his ways, and his eye will betray him. He is not thoroughly honest and careful in his dealings. But neither does he seriously consider that he is defeating his own ends. Grasping eagerly for riches, he is inviting poverty! Let the believer take this to heart.
"He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with his tongue."
It may not he easy for us to rebuke wrong in a kind, gentle, faithful way; and we cannot expect that it will be taken kindly at first, but the long-range results will be valuable. On the other hand, one who flatters a wrong doer may be considered very kind and considerate at first, but his friendship will not long be desired, for he cannot be trusted. Yet let us always carefully distinguish between mere criticism and true faithfulness.
"Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith: It is no transgression: the same is the companion of a destroyer."
In this section the evil effects of self-centeredness are laid bare - perversity, vain companionship, hasting to be rich, favoritism toward some, flattery; and now a shameful mistreatment of parents. How grossly ungrateful that a young man should rob those who have cared and provided for him from his youth, - and his own flesh and blood. He is a companion of a destroyer, for this is the very principle of destruction, the destruction of proper solid relationship, the destruction of the very blessings upon which for years he has been dependent. And yet his moral sense is so warped that he considers it not transgression: he excuses himself for this wickedness because of his relationship to his parents. They are not likely to press legal charges against him. This attitude is warned against by Paul in writing to servants: "They that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit" (1 Tim. 6:2).
"He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat."
Man's self-importance is like a wild beast that cannot be restrained from its destroying effects: it will stir up resentment and contention, which among the people of God is disastrous. Putting one's trust in the Lord is the opposite of pride of heart, for confidence in God means no confidence in the flesh. The result is being "made fat", a term implying spiritual prosperity.
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered."
If in the previous verse the damage done by the proud heart is stressed, this goes further in designating the man's character as a fool. Solemn denunciation! Yet it is the Word of God that so speaks. A man's own heart is manifestly utterly untrustworthy, and that man who trusts it is worse than ignorant. A wise walk is put in contrast to this, for this will deliver from the snares and pitfalls into which the ignorant easily fall.
"He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse."
A liberal spirit is only a normal product of faith: the Lord cares for the poor, and faith in Him will show the same attitude. Moreover, the Lord will see that the giver is not impoverished by his kindness: he shall not lack. But a cold, selfish spirit that looks the other way when real need presents itself, will reap its proper reward in "many a curse."
"When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase."
History itself is sufficient comment on these matters, and the believer has but to consider them also in connection with spiritual associations.
This page is part of the book: Wisdom's Closing Message - Bible Commentary on Proverbs 25-31 - by L M Grant
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