Proverbs 28: Leaders & Justice

Read the Bible in 2011Week 40: Thursday

When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.”
Proverbs 28:12

Thursday’s Bible reading of Proverbs 28 is a continuation of the “Further Proverbs of Solomon (Hezekiah’s Collection), (cf. Proverbs 25:1).”1

This chapter has several proverbs on leaders and rulers: both the righteous and the wicked.

“By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.”
Proverbs 28:2

A. F. Walls remarks on verse 2:

“This saying would be particularly apposite when Hezekiah’s men copied it out, for the northern kingdom of Israel tottered to its ruin after a series of coups and changes of dynasty.”2

As you look at some of the other verses regarding rulers in this chapter remember these proverbs were collected by King Hezekiah’s men:

Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.”
Proverbs 28:15–16

Verses 12 above and verse 28 are two others about the impact of the wicked and the righteous, with verse 28 reversing the order of contrast:

“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase.”
Proverbs 28:28

There are also proverbs about obedience to the law and integrity as well as insight into the rich and poor in this chapter.

One verse that I’ve personally found important is:

“To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.”
Proverbs 28:21

I think this verse provides a vital component of integrity and relationships. To follow this verse means you understand justice and right and wrong. I think not showing partiality also indicates that you know your own heart and the temptation to collect fans or scratch the back of those who scratch yours, and you refuse to sin in this matter. Obeying this verse also indicates understanding of the implication of this proverb in regards to one of God’s ten commandments—not to covet—because partiality stirs up jealousy and envy, leading to sin. You help others not to covet when you are not partial. I always think of Jacob showing partiality to Joseph which resulted in bitterness and hatred in Joseph’s half-brothers.

“Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the LORD understand all things.”
Proverbs 28:5

May the Lord gives us hearts to seek Him.

UPDATE: After reading this post, my husband reminded me of the following passage from James. Favoritism within the church is a huge problem, and the tone and standard of a church can be rigidly set by either an old guard or by an inner core of leaders and their friends. Too frequently people are welcomed and sometimes even placed in leadership because of their material wealth, appearance, education or some other worldly measure, rather than being welcomed without distinction as brothers and sisters in Christ.

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
James 2:1–9

When I was thinking about Proverbs 28:21, I had meant to include this passage, but in the process of writing the post I forgot about it! Next time I need to jot things down!
Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Derek Kidner, Proverbs, p. 57.
2A. F. Walls, “Proverbs,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 568.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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