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Adam Clarke Commentary

Proverbs 28

Introduction

The timidity of the wicked. Quick succession in the government of a country is a punishment to the land. Of the poor who oppress the poor. The upright poor man is preferable to the wicked rich man. The unprofitable conduct of the usurer. The prosperity of the righteous a cause of rejoicing. He is blessed who fears always. A wicked ruler a curse. The murderer generally execrated. The faithful man. The corrupt judge. The foolishness of trusting in one's own heart. The charitable man. When the wicked are elevated, it is a public evil.

Verse 1

The wicked flee - Every wicked man, however bold he may appear, is full of dreary apprehensions relative to both worlds. But the righteous has true courage, being conscious of his own innocence, and the approbation of his God. The unpitious fleeith - Old MS. Bible. This word is often used for impious, wicked, ungodly; hence it appears that our word pity anciently meant piety or godliness.

Verse 2

Many are the princes - Nations, as nations, cannot be judged in a future world; therefore, God judges them here. And where the people are very wicked, and the constitution very bad, the succession of princes is frequent - they are generally taken off by an untimely death. Where the people know that the constitution is in their favor, they seldom disturb the prince, as they consider him the guardian of their privileges.But by a man of understanding - Whether he be a king, or the king's prime minister, the prosperity of the state is advanced by his counsels.

Verse 3

A poor man that oppresseth the poor - Our Lord illustrates this proverb most beautifully, by the parable of the two debtors, Matthew 18:23 . One owed ten thousand talents, was insolvent, begged for time, was forgiven. A fellow servant owed this one a hundred pence: he was insolvent; but prayed his fellow servant to give him a little time, and he would pay it all. He would not, took him by the throat, and cast him into prison till he should pay that debt. Here the poor oppressed the poor; and what was the consequence? The oppressing poor was delivered to the tormentors; and the forgiven debt charged to his amount, because he showed no mercy. The comparatively poor are often shockingly uncharitable and unfeeling towards the real poor.Like a sweeping rain - These are frequent in the East; and sometimes carry flocks, crops, and houses, away with them.

Verse 4

They that forsake the law - He that transgresses says, in fact, that it is right to transgress; and thus other wicked persons are encouraged.

Verse 5

They that seek the Lord understand all things - They are wise unto salvation; they "have the unction from the Holy One, and they know all things," 1 John 2:20 , every thing that is essentially needful for them to know, in reference to both worlds.

Verse 8

He that by usury - increaseth his substance - By taking unlawful interest for his money; lending to a man in great distress, money, for the use of which he requires an exorbitant sum. O that the names of all those unfeeling, hard-hearted, consummate villains in the nation, who thus take advantage of their neighbour's necessities to enrich themselves, were published at every market cross; and then the delinquents all sent to their brother savages in New Zealand. It would be a happy riddance to the country.

Verse 9

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law - Many suppose, if they do not know their duty, they shall not be accountable for their transgressions; and therefore avoid every thing that is calculated to enlighten them. They will not read the Bible, lest they should know the will of Good; and they will not attend Divine ordinances for the same reason. But this pretense will avail them nothing; as he that might have known his master's will, but would not, shall be treated as he shall be who did know it, and disobeyed it. Even the prayers of such a person as this are reputed sin before God.

Verse 10

Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray - He who strives to pervert one really converted to God, in order that he may pour contempt on religion, shall fall into that hell to which he has endeavored to lead the other.

Verse 12

When righteous men do rejoice - When true religion is no longer persecuted, and the word of God duly esteemed, there is great glory; for the word of the Lord has then free course, runs, and is glorified: but when the wicked rise - when they are elevated to places of trust, and put at the head of civil affairs, then the righteous man is obliged to hide himself; the word of the Lord becomes scarce, and there is no open vision. The first was the case in this country, in the days of Edward VI.; the second in the days of his successor, Mary I: Popery, cruelty, and knavery, under her, nearly destroyed the Church and the State in these islands.

Verse 13

He that covereth his sins - Here is a general direction relative to conversion.1. If the sinner do not acknowledge his sins; if he cover and excuse them, and refuse to come to the light of God's word and Spirit, lest his deeds should be reproved, he shall find no salvation. God will never admit a sinful, unhumbled soul, into his kingdom.2. But if he confess his sin, with a penitent and broken heart, and, by forsaking every evil way, give this proof that he feels his own sore, and the plague of his heart, then he shall have mercy. Here is a doctrine of vital importance to the salvation of the soul, which the weakest may understand.

Verse 14

Happy is the man that feareth alway - That ever carries about with him that reverential and filial fear of God, which will lead him to avoid sin, and labor to do that which is lawful and right in the sight of God his Savior.

Verse 16

The prince that wanteth understanding - A weak prince will generally have wicked ministers, for his weakness prevents him from making a proper choice; and he is apt to prefer them who flatter him, and minister most to his pleasures. The quantum of the king's intellect may be always appreciated by the mildness or oppressiveness of his government. He who plunges his people into expensive wars, to support which they are burdened with taxes, is a prince without understanding. He does not know his own interest, and does not regard that of his people. But these things, though general truths, apply more particularly to those despotic governments which prevail in Asiatic countries.

Verse 17

That doeth violence to the blood - He who either slays the innocent, or procures his destruction, may flee to hide himself: but let none give him protection. The law demands his life, because he is a murderer; and let none deprive justice of its claim. Murder is the most horrid crime in the sight of God and man; it scarcely ever goes unpunished, and is universally execrated.

Verse 18

Shall fall at once - Shall fall without resource, altogether.

Verse 19

He that tilleth his land - See Proverbs 12:11 .

Verse 20

He that maketh haste to be rich - See Proverbs 13:11 ; Proverbs 20:21 .

Verse 24

Whoso robbeth his father - The father's property is as much his own, in reference to the child, as that of the merest stronger. He who robs his parents is worse than a common robber; to the act of dishonesty and rapine he adds ingratitude, cruelty, and disobedience. Such a person is the compatriot of a destroyer; he may be considered as a murderer.

Verse 25

Shall be made fat - Shall be prosperous.

Verse 26

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool - For his heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked, will infallibly deceive him.

Verse 27

Be that giveth unto the poor - See the notes on Deuteronomy 15:7 (note), Detueronomy Deuteronomy 19:17 (note), Deuteronomy 22:9 (note).

Proverbs 28


  1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
  2 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.
  3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
  4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
  5 Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
  6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
  7 Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
  8 He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
  9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
  10 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.
  11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
  12 When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.
  13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
  14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
  15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
  16 The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
  17 A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.
  18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
  19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
  20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
  21 To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
  22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
  23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
  24 Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
  25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
  26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
  27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
  28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

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