Proverbs 28

1 The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

The wicked habitually think evil thoughts about other people. As a result, they believe that others also think evil thoughts about them. Therefore, they act to counter such imagined evil – even when, in reality, others are not thinking evil thoughts about them.

When I was young, I was very critical of those around me. As a result, I thought that they were very critical of me too. This made me very self-conscious and severely limited me.

Righteous people are bold because they think good thoughts about others, and therefore believe that others have their good in mind.

Examine yourself – if you find yourself laughing (not necessarily overtly) when others fall or fail instead of being supportive and sympathetic, work on changing your thoughts. Too many young people fall into this trap of being critical because no one told them about that trap, and because they never read Pr 28:1.

Of course, I am not saying that we should be naïve and think that everyone wishes us well. Rather, I am saying that we should always think supportively of others, but also that we should assume the best in others until we see evidence to the contrary.

2 By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.

When the people in charge don’t govern with understanding and knowledge, the organization gets divided. I’ve seen this in the workplace, in the church and in the home.

When you know what others are thinking, and why they think like that, you can address their concerns properly and keep them happy and motivated to be a part of what you are building.

For example, if someone in the church wants to start a biblical ministry – a ministry that is not very dear to your heart. Instead of simply saying ‘no’, you can talk to that person and understand what they want, and discern their motives and direction, and then put parameters on what they want so that they are steered the right way. Further, if you elaborate on how their success will be measured, while affirming that you are rooting for them being successful, you will give them a chance to grow, and show that you care, and ensure that God’s standard is not compromised.

3 A poor man who oppresses the lowly is like a driving rain which leaves no food.

Rain is generally good because it enables crops to grow. But driving rain is so strong that it destroys crops. Our attitude to the lowly (those who are in trouble) should be supportive. If we are poor (that is, we can’t be supportive) then we can’t help the lowly too much, and it is better to not engage with them rather than oppress them and make their life even more miserable that it already is.

When you lead, if you don’t help the lowly to rise higher you will create discontent. On the other hand, you want to support them only in as much as they show initiative, but you don’t want to give them a free lunch, which encourages laziness.

4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them.

The wicked are among those who don’t keep the law. When you see people refusing to praise the wicked then you know that those people have not forsaken the law. When you see people not striving with the wicked then you know that those people have forsaken the law.

5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand all things.

If you want to understand spiritual things you need to seek the Lord. That is, you need to ask God to give you wisdom to understand those things.

Justice involves meting out punishment for evil doers. Evil men are those who want to do what is wrong and want to get away with it. They cannot understand why wrongdoers must be punished.

6 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than he who is crooked though he be rich.

If any portion of your wealth was obtained by being deceitful or by taking advantage of others, your relationship with God will suffer. It would be better to give that portion away than to keep it and have a bad relationship with God, for the favor of the Lord is far more valuable than any portion of money.

7 He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.

If your circle of friends includes people who do things in excess then you will eventually become like them and ruin yourself, but you will make your dad look bad. Rather, you should focus on knowing God’s Word, and using it to discern the nature of those around you and choose to associate with the ones whose behavior aligns with God’s Word.

8 He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.

Be careful about how you become rich. If your riches come by taking advantage of those who are in a tight situation then God will arrange things so that your money eventually goes to those who use their money to help those who are in a tight situation.

9 He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

If you don’t listen to what God has to say, then God won’t listen to what you have to say.

If you are disgusted by what God has to say, then God will be disgusted by what you have to say.

God is not mocked – don’t expect God to listen to you if you are not willing to listen to Him.

10 He who leads the upright astray in an evil way will himself fall into his own pit, but the blameless will inherit good.

It’s one thing to do evil; it’s another (worse) thing to get an upright person to also do evil. Such people end up in the kinds of trouble they put others in.

For example, if a young man causes an upright young girl to sin sexually with him you might find that later, when he gets married, his daughter ends up in all sorts of sexual problems. Something like this happened in David’s family because of his behavior with Bathsheba.

It works the other way too – if you take care to fix your mess-ups (this is what the blameless do) then good things will happen in your life.

11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding sees through him.

When people get money, they (over time) tend to think of themselves as experts in everything. But others who may not have as much money, but have real expertise in the area are able to see that the rich man doesn’t really know the subject matter.

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.

In life, the good guys don’t always win. But when they do, it benefits everyone. But when the bad guys win, life becomes better for the bad guy, but worse for everyone else. As a result, everyone tries to go elsewhere. You see this a lot in politics.

13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

When you mess up, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it to yourself, to God, and when appropriate, to those who were affected negatively by your mess-up. Further, you should forsake doing that wrong – i.e. you should decide to not repeat it ever again. On the other hand, if you try to hide it then it remains to interfere with your relationship with God.

14 How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

To fear God is to want to abstain from doing anything that displeases God. If you make it a habit to live in the fear of God then you will be blessed by God. If, on the other hand, you have no desire to please God you will find yourself in all kinds trouble.

15 Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.

A roaring lion and a rushing bear strike fear. When the person in charge doesn’t care for those under his charge, they become afraid for their well-being. As a parent, don’t strike fear in your children; instead, show them that you are concerned about their well-being, and they will grow up feeling secure.

16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.

If you are in charge, and you use your power to fleece those under you (i.e. you get them to give you their best but you don’t compensate them in the same measure) then you are engaged in unjust gain. The people under you won’t want you in charge, and will try to get you ousted as soon as possible.

If you want to be in charge for a length of time, make sure that those who are under you get rewarded well for what they do for you.

17 A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.

18 He who walks blamelessly will be delivered, but he who is crooked will fall all at once.

If you find yourself repeatedly in trouble with no one to deliver you then you should examine yourself to see whether you are crooked or walking blamelessly.

19 He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.

An empty pursuit is one that doesn’t bring in money. If you don’t want to be poor then you need to do things that bring in money. Initially, don’t spend your time doing things that may bring in money but spend time doing things that will bring in money.

One you have sufficient money then you can spend time on things that have greater risk and greater reward. You certainly shouldn’t spend time on things that have high risk and little potential reward or on things that have low risk and no potential reward.

20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

If you try to get rich too quickly (e.g. taking huge risks in the stock market to make a killing in the market) then you will lose your money eventually.

However, if you keep your promises then you will be blessed.

21 To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.

If you are in charge, and you give preferential treatment to some and not to others then those who don’t get the preferential treatment will try to get what you don’t give them by going around you or by working outside the boundaries of your laws.

22 A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him.

A person with an evil eye is a person who is looking for opportunities to make a quick buck even if it means breaking the law. Such people eventually get caught and end up poor. So don’t try to make a quick buck if it involves breaking the law.

23 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue.

What kind of person are you? Are you someone who dislikes those who show you your faults or your lacks, but who surrounds himself with those who praises you?

Don’t be like that.

Also, be willing to help people improve if you find that they are willing to listen. Such people will be grateful to you afterwards.

24 He who robs his father or his mother and says, “It is not a transgression,” is the companion of a man who destroys.

Don’t rob your parents. You live in their home, and they may leave money lying around. Don’t take it without their permission. If you do such things, and think that it is okay to do so, you are setting yourself up for destruction.

25 An arrogant man stirs up strife, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

When at work, if you see a co-worker being given a higher position than you even though you deserve the higher position, don’t go to your manager and try to convince him to give you the higher position by putting the other guy down and telling your manager how wonderful you are. Instead, let the Lord make a way for you in His time. Let the Lord educate your manager about your greatness. The Lord has ways to do this, and He can do a much better job of it than you.

26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Your heart includes that part of you that creates thoughts in your mind. A foolish person believes all the thoughts that occur in his mind – thoughts of suspicion, treachery, evil intent, and so on.

To escape such a trap, you need to be wise and rely on God’s word to guide you.

For example, if someone fails to greet you at work, your mind might tell you that he doesn’t like you. In reality, he may just be preoccupied with some family issue or work issue. If you believe your mind, you might choose to ignore him the next time you see him, and thus unnecessarily cause a rift in your relationship with him. It is better to give him the benefit of the doubt for a few times, and test what your mind tells you before you jump to any conclusions.

27 He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

If there are people around you who need things, and you can afford to help them, consider helping them, anonymously if possible. God will bless you instead of allowing curses against you to come to fruition.

28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase.

People hesitate to do what is right when the wicked are in charge. People also try to go elsewhere when the wicked are in charge, because the wicked do what is good for themselves rather than for the greater good of the community.

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