Proverbs 28:4
They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) They that forsake the law praise the wicked.—The mark of extreme wickedness. (Comp. Romans 1:32.)

But such as keep the law contend with them.—Just as the sight of ill-doing was the one thing which roused our Lord to wrath, while insults and wrongs offered to Himself were passed by unnoticed.

Proverbs 28:4. They that forsake the law — That live in contempt of, and disobedience to, God’s law; praise the wicked — Honour their persons, freely and familiarly associate themselves with them, and approve of their sinful practices: all which proceeds from their great likeness to them. But such as keep the law contend with them — Are so far from praising or applauding them, that they severely rebuke them, and to the utmost of their power oppose them in their wicked enterprises.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.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. 4. They that forsake … wicked—Wrongdoers encourage one another. They that forsake the law, that live in the contempt of and disobedience to God’s law,

praise the wicked; honour their persons, contrary to Psalm 15:4; freely and familiarly associate themselves with them, and approve of their sinful courses; all which proceeds from their great likeness to them.

Contend with them; are so far from praising or applauding them, that they severely rebuke them, and to the utmost of their power oppose them in their wicked enterprises. They that forsake the law praise the wicked,.... Who are like them; who forsake and transgress the law, as they do; every like loves its like; wicked men delight in sin, the transgression of the law, and in those that do it. One covetous man will bless and praise another, whom the Lord abhors, and commend his covetousness as frugality and good husbandry: one proud man will call another happy, and praise him as a man of spirit, that will not debase himself, but keep up his authority, rank, and dignity, and not condescend to men of low estates; the workers of wickedness are set up and extolled, and tempters of God, men of atheistical and deistical principles, are not only delivered from the punishment they deserve, but are commended for their bold spirits; see Psalm 10:3. Or, "every wicked man praises those that forsake the law", so Schultens;

but such as keep the law contend with them; that is, with them that forsake it and praise the wicked; they are displeased with them, and show their resentment at them; they tend with them by arguments, and endeavour to convince them of their folly and wickedness; they prove them for it, even though they may be in high places, as John the Baptist reproved Herod. The Targum is,

"they contend with them, that they may return,''

or be converted; they strive and take pains with them, to convince them and bring them to repentance, and to a change of sentiments, life, and manners.

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. the law] not in its Jewish form, “The Law,” sc. of Moses, but in its wider sense; and so in Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 28:9, below. See Introd. p. 13.Verse 4. - They that forsake the Law praise the wicked. This they do because they love iniquity, and like to see it extend its influence, and arm itself against the good, who are a standing reproach to them. St. Paul notes it as a mark of extreme wickedness that gross sinners "not only do the same iniquities, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:32). Such as keep the Law contend with them; are angry with them. They are filled with righteous indignation; they cannot hold their peace when they see God's Law outraged, and must have the offenders punished (comp. 1 Kings 19:14; Psalm 74:11. etc.; Psalms 119:136, 139; 139:21). The LXX. connects this verse with the latter part of the preceding, thus: "As an impetuous and profitless rain, thus those who forsake the Law praise ungodliness; but they who love the Law raise a wall around themselves." An exhortation to rural industry, and particularly to the careful tending of cattle for breeding, forms the conclusion of the foregoing series of proverbs, in which we cannot always discern an intentional grouping. It is one of the Mashal-odes spoken of vol. i. p. 12. It consists of 11 equals 4 + 7 lines.

23 Give heed to the look of thy small cattle,

     Be considerate about the herds.

24 For prosperity continues not for ever;

     And does the diadem continue from generation to generation?

25 (But) the hay is gone, and the after-growth appears,

     And the grass of the mountains is gathered:

26 Lambs serve to clothe thee,

     And goats are the price of a field.

27 And there is plenty of goats' milk for thy nourishment,

     And for the nourishment of thy house,

     And subsistence for thy maidens.

The beginning directs to the fut., as is not common in these proverbs, vid., Proverbs 26:26. With ידע, to take knowledge, which is strengthened by the inf. intensivus, is interchanged שׁית לב, which means at Proverbs 24:32 to consider well, but here, to be careful regarding anything. צאן is the small or little cattle, thus sheep and goats. Whether לעדרים (here and at Isaiah 17:2) contains the article is questionable (Gesen. 35. 2 A), and, since the herds are called העדרים, is not probable; thus: direct thy attention to the herds, that is, to this, that thou hast herds. פּני is the external side in general; here, the appearance which the sheep present; thus their condition as seen externally. In Proverbs 27:24 I formerly regarded נזר as a synonym of גּז, to be understood of the produce of wool, or, with Hitzig, of the shearing of the meadow, and thus the produce of the meadow. But this interpretation of the word is untenable, and Proverbs 27:25 provides for Proverbs 27:24, thus understood, no natural continuation of thought. That חסן signifies a store, fulness of possessions, property, and abundance, has already been shown under Proverbs 15:6; but נזר is always the mark of royal, and generally of princely dignity, and here denotes, per meton. signi pro re signata, that dignity itself. With the negative expression in 24a the interrogative in 24b is interchanged as at Job 40:9, with the implied negative answer; ואם, of an oath ("and truly not," as at Isaiah 62:8), presents the same thought, but with a passionate colouring here unnecessary. Rightly Fleischer: "ready money, moveable property, and on the other hand the highest positions of honour, are far more easily torn away from a man, and secure to him far less of quiet prosperity, than husbandry, viewed particularly with respect to the rearing of cattle." In other words: the possession of treasures and of a lofty place of power and of honour has not in itself the security of everlasting duration; but rural economy, and particularly the rearing of cattle, gives security for food and clothing. The Chethı̂b לדור דור is found, e.g., at Exodus 3:15; the Kerı̂ לדּור ודור substitutes the more usual form. If Proverbs 27:25 was an independent whole (Hitzig: grass vanishes and fresh green appears, etc.), then the meaning here and onward would be that in the sphere of husbandry it is otherwise than is said in Proverbs 27:24 : there that which is consumed renews itself, and there is an enlarging circulation. But this contrast to Proverbs 27:24 must be expressed and formed unambiguously. The connection is rather this, that Proverbs 27:23 commends the rearing of cattle, Proverbs 27:24 confirms it, and 25ff. discuss what real advantages, not dependent on the accidents of public and social life, it brings.

I rejoice to agree with Fleischer in the opinion that the perfects of Proverbs 27:25 form a complex hypothetical antecedent to Proverbs 27:26 : Quum evanuerit gramen (sc. vetus) et apparuerint herbae recentes et collecta fuerint pabula montium, agni vestitui tuo (inservient) et pretium agri (sc. a te emendi) erunt hirci, i.e., then wilt thou nourish thy herds of sheep and goats with the grass on thy fields, and with the dried gathered hay; and these will yield for thee, partly immediately and partly by the money derived therefrom (viz., from the valuable goats not needed for the flocks), all that is needful for thy life. He also remarks, under גּלה, that it means to make a place void, empty (viz., to quit the place, vacuer la forteresse); hence to leave one's fatherland or home, to wander abroad; thus, rhetorically and poetically of things and possessions: to disappear. חציר (from חצר, to be green) is hay, and דּשׁא the after-growing second crop (after-grass); thus a meadow capable of being mowed a second time is though of. עשּׂבות הרים (with Dag. dirimens, as e.g., ענּבי Deuteronomy 32:32) are the herbage of the mountains. The time when one proceeds to sheep-shearing, Proverbs 27:25 cannot intend to designate; it sets before us an interesting rural harvest scene, where, after a plentiful ingathering of hay, one sees the meadows again overspread with new grass (Ewald); but with us the shearing of sheep takes place in the month of May, when the warm season of the year is just at hand. The poet means in general to say, that when the hay is mown and now the herbage is grown up, and also the fodder from the mountains (Psalm 106:20) has been gathered home, when thus the barns are filled with plenty, the husbandman is guaranteed against the future on all sides by his stock of cattle. חלב (from חלב, Arab. halyb, with halab) is the usual metaplastic connecting form of חלב, milk. דּי (from דּי, like חי from חי), generally connected with the genitive of the person or thing, for which anything is sufficient (e.g., Proverbs 25:16, דּיּך, to which Fleischer compares Arab. hasbuha, tassuha kifayuha), has here the genitive of the thing of which, or in which, one has enough. The complex subject-conception is limited by Rebia, and the governing דּי has the subordinated disjunctive Legarmeh. עזּים is a word of two genders (epicoenum), Gesen. 107, 1d. In וחיּים the influence of the ל still continues; one does not need to supply it meanwhile, since all that maintains and nourishes life can be called חיים (vita equals victus), e.g., Proverbs 3:22. The lxx translates בּיתך by σῶν θεραπόντων, and omits (as also the Syr., but not the Syro-Hexap.) the last line as now superfluous; but that the maids attending to the cattle - by whom we particularly think of milkers - are especially mentioned, intentionally presents the figure of a well-ordered household, full of varied life and activity (Job 40:29).

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