|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:1 Sin makes men cowards. Whatever difficulties the righteous meet in the way of duty, they are not daunted. 2. National sins disturb the public repose. 3. If needy persons get opportunities of oppressing, their extortion will be more severe than that of the more wealthy. 4. Wicked people strengthen one another in wicked ways. 5. If a man seeks the Lord, it is a good sign that he understands much, and it is a good means of understanding more. 6. An honest, godly, poor man, is better than a wicked, ungodly, rich man; has more comfort in himself, and is a greater blessing to the world. 7. Companions of riotous men not only grieve their parents, but shame them. 8. That which is ill got, though it may increase much, will not last long. Thus the poor are repaid, and God is glorified. 9. The sinner at whose prayers God is angry, is one who obstinately refuses to obey God's commands. 10. The success of ungodly men is their own misery. 11. Rich men are so flattered, that they think themselves superior to others. 12. There is glory in the land when the righteous have liberty. 13. It is folly to indulge sin, and excuse it. He who covers his sins, shall not have any true peace. He who humbly confesses his sins, with true repentance and faith, shall find mercy from God. The Son of God is our great atonement. Under a deep sense of our guilt and danger, we may claim salvation from that mercy which reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord. 14. There is a fear which causes happiness. Faith and love will deliver from the fear of eternal misery; but we should always fear offending God, and fear sinning against him. 15. A wicked ruler, whatever we may call him, this scripture calls a roaring lion, and a ranging bear. 16. Oppressors want understanding; they do not consult their own honour, ease, and safety. 17. The murderer shall be haunted with terrors. None shall desire to save him from deserved punishment, nor pity him.
Verse 1. - The wicked flee when no man pursueth. The unreasoning terror of the sinner arises partly from his uneasy conscience, which will not permit him to transgress without warning of consequences, and partly from the judgment of God, according to the threats denounced in Leviticus 26:36, 37. A terrible picture of this instinctive fear is drawn in Job 15:20, etc., Cand Wisd. 17:9, etc. There are numerous proverbs about unreasonable timidity, such as being afraid of one's own shadow (see Erasmus, 'Adag.,' s.v. "Timiditas"). As the Eastern puts it, "The leaf cracked, and your servant fled;" and "Among ten men nine are women" (Lane). On the cowardice of sinners St. Chrysostom says well, "Such is the nature of sin, that it betrays while no one finds fault; it condemns whilst no one accuses; it makes the sinner a timid being, one that trembles at a sound; even as righteousness has the contrary effect How doth the wicked flee when no man pursueth? He hath that within which drives him on, an accuser in his own conscience, and this he carries about everywhere; and just as it would be impossible to flee from himself, so neither can he escape the persecutor within, but wherever he goeth he is scourged, and hath an incurable wound" ('Hom. in Stat.,' 8:3, Oxford transl.). But the righteous are hold as a lion. They are undismayed in the presence of danger, because their conscience is at rest, they know that God is on their side, and, whatever happens, they are safe in the everlasting arms (see Psalm 91.). Thus David the shepherd boy quailed not before the giant (1 Samuel 17:32, etc.), remembering the promise in Leviticus 26:7, 8. The heathen poet Horace could say of the upright man ('Carm.,' 3:3, 7) -
"Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinae." Whoso feareth the Lord shall not fear nor be afraid; for he is his Hope (Ecclus. 31 (34):14, etc.). St. Gregory ('Moral.,' 31:55, "The lion is not afraid in the onset of beasts, because he knows well that he is stronger than them all. Whence the fearlessness of a righteous man is rightly compared to a lion, because, when he beholds any rising against him, he returns to the confidence of his mind, and knows that he overcomes all his adversaries because he loves him alone whom he cannot in any way lose against his will. For whoever seeks after outward things, which are taken from him even against his will, subjects himself of his own accord to outward fear. But unbroken virtue is the contempt of earthly desire, because the mind is both placed on high when it is raised above the meanest objects by the judgment of its hopes, and is the less affected by all adversities, the more safely it is fortified by being placed on things above" (Oxford transl.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The wicked flee when no man pursueth,.... Through the terrors of a guilty conscience, as in Cain and others; who fear where no immediate cause of fear is, are frightened with their own shadows; and as Gaal was with the shadow of the mountains, he took for an army of men, as his friend told him, Judges 9:36; they are chased with the sound of a shaken leaf, and fancy men are at their heels to destroy them, and therefore with all haste flee to some place of safety; see Leviticus 26:17;
but the righteous are bold as a lion; which turns not away from any creature it meets with, nor mends its pace when it is pursued, but walks on intrepidly, and oftentimes lies down and sleeps in open places, and as securely as in woods and dens, being devoid of all fear; hence the heart of a valiant man is said to be as the heart of a lion, 2 Samuel 17:10; see Proverbs 30:30; so Pindar (z) compares a courageous man to a lion for boldness. Now righteous men are as bold as this creature, or more so; some of them have stopped the mouths of lions, and have dwelt securely in the midst of them, as righteous Daniel: and all righteous men are or may be as fearless as the lion; fear God they do, but have no reason to fear any other; and many of them are fearless of men, of their menaces and reproaches, or of anything they can do to them; since not only angels are their guardians, but God is on their side, and Christ has overcome the world for them: they are fearless of Satan and his principalities; they are delivered out of his hands; they know he is a coward, though a roaring lion, and when resisted will flee from thorn; yea, that he is a chained, conquered, enemy: and, though they are afraid of committing sin, yet are fearless of the damning power of it; Christ having bore their sins, made satisfaction for thong; for whose sake they are pardoned; and whose righteousness justifies and blood cleanses from all sin: they are fearless of death; its sting being removed, itself abolished as a penal evil, and become a blessing, and is the righteous man's, gain: they are fearless of wrath to come; Christ having delivered them from it, and they being justified by his blood: they are courageous as the lion in fighting the Lord's battles with sin, Satan, and the world, and in enduring hardiness as good soldiers of Christ; knowing their cause is good, that Christ is the Captain of their salvation, their spiritual armour is proved, and they are sure of victory and of a crown They are "confident" (a) as the lion, as the word may he rendered; they are confident of the love of God, of their interest in Christ, of the grace of God in their hearts, and that all things work together for their good; and that it is, and always will be, well with them, let things go how they will in the world, and so are secure. They are bold and undaunted, both before God and men; before God in prayer, knowing him to be their covenant God in Christ, having in view the blood and righteousness of Christ, and being assisted by his Spirit: and they are undaunted before men; if the righteous man is a minister of the word, he speaks it boldly, as it ought to be spoken, fearing the faces of none, knowing it to be the Gospel of Christ, the truth, as it is in him, and the power of God to salvation; and if a private Christian, he is a public professor of Christ, this word and ordinances, which he is not ashamed to own before all the world; in short, the righteous are bold in life and in death, and will be so in the day of judgment; and it is their righteousness which makes them so, from which they are denominated righteous, even not their own, but the righteousness of Christ.
(z) Isthm. 4. antistroph. 3. col. 1. v. 5. (a) "confiduat", Mercerus, Gejerus, Trigurine version; "confidet, vel confidere solet", Baynus; "confidit", Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1. A bad conscience makes men timid; the righteous are alone truly bold (Pr 14:26; Ps 27:1).
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