Proverbs 28
Barnes' Notes
The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
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.
Transgression - Better, rebellion. A revolt against a ruler leads to rapid changes of dynasty (the whole history of the kingdom of Israel was a proof of this), but "with men of understanding and knowledge thus shall he (the prince) continue." True wisdom will lead people to maintain an existing order. The King James Version implies that political disorders may come as the punishment of any national sin.

The state - Better, it (the land) shall surely prolong its days in stability.

A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
People raise a man of the people, poor like themselves, to power. They find him the worst oppressor of all, plundering them to their last morsels, like the storm-rain which sweeps off the seed-corn instead of bringing fertility.

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
The deep interdependence of morality and intellect. We have a right judgment in all things in proportion as our hearts seek to know God. Compare James 1:23-24.

Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Perverse in his ways - literally, "Perverse in his double ways." Compare Ecclesiasticus 2:12 and James 1:8.

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
Unjust gain - Omit "unjust:" "usury and gain" make up the notion of "gain derived from usury." Ill-gotten gains do not prosper, after a time they pass into hands that know how to use them better.

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
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.
When the wicked succeed in tempting the righteous, Vice seems to win a triumph. But the triumph is suicidal. The tempter will suffer the punishment he deserves, and the blameless, if true to themselves, will be strengthened and ennobled by the temptation.

The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
Wealth blunts, poverty sharpens, the critical power of intellect.

When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.
There is great glory - Men array themselves in festive apparel, and show their joy conspicuously.

A man is hidden - Better, men hide themselves, they shrink and cower for fear, and yet are hunted out.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
The conditions of freedom are confession and amendment, confession to God of sins against Him, to men of sins against them. The teaching of ethical wisdom on this point is identical with that of psalmist, prophet, apostles, and our Lord Himself.

Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
The "fear" here is not so much reverential awe, as anxious, or "nervous" sensitiveness of conscience. To most men this temperament seems that of the self-tormentor. To him who looks deeper it is a condition of blessedness, and the callousness which is opposed to it ends in misery.

As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
The form of political wretchedness, when the poverty of the oppressed subjects not only embitters their sufferings, but exasperates the brutal ferocity of the ruler.

The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.
The case of willful murder, not the lesser crime of manslaughter for which the cities of refuge were appointed. One, with that guilt on his soul, is simply hasting on to his own destruction. Those who see him must simply stand aloof, and let God's judgments fulfill themselves.

Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
In his ways - Rather "in his double ways" (as in Proverbs 28:6). The evil of vacillation rather than that of craft, the want of the one guiding principle of right, is contrasted with the straightforwardness of the man that "walketh uprightly."

Shall fall at once - Better, shall fall in one of them (his ways). The attempt to combine incompatibilities is sure to fail. Men cannot serve God and Mammon.

He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
Not the possession of wealth, nor even the acquisition of it, is evil, but the eager haste of covetousness.

Shall not be innocent - Better, as in the margin, in contrast with the many "blessings" of the "faithful."

To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
Dishonest partiality leads men who have enslaved themselves to it to transgress, even when the inducement is altogether disproportionate. A "piece of bread" was proverbial at all times as the most extreme point of poverty (compare the marginal reference).

He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
The covetous temper leads not only to dishonesty, but to the "evil eye" of envy; and the temper of grudging, carking care, leads him to poverty.

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
Is the companion of a destroyer - i. e., he stands on the same footing as the open, lawless robber. Compare this with our Lord's teaching as to Corban Mark 7:10-13.

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
Shall be made fat - He shall enjoy the two-fold blessing of abundance and tranquility (compare Proverbs 11:25).

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
The contrast between the wisdom of him who trusts in the Lord, and the folly of self-trust.

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
Hideth his eyes - i. e., Turns away from, disregards, the poor. Compare Isaiah 1:15.

When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.
Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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