Proverbs 28:4, 5
They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.…
We have a double contrast here between the practice of the sinner and of the righteous man, and between the consequence of sin and of goodness upon the mind of the guilty and of the good.
I. THE PRACTICE OF SINFUL MEN. They "praise the wicked;" they "bless the covetous" (Psalm 10:3).
1. It is a fact that they do so. We hear the voice of ungodliness lifted up in favour of what is utterly wrong in the sight of God; it is expressed in the language of the lips and in every form of literature. There is hardly an evil thing perpetrated by men which does not find its advocate in some quarter.
2. It is comprehensible that they would do so. And this for two reasons. The wicked, as such, have an interest in lowering the standard of public morals; the more they can reduce this. the less will be their own condemnation, and the higher they may hope to move in the society they affect. But perhaps the main account of it is found in -
II. THE BLINDING INFLUENCE OF SIN. Those who break God's Law praise those who are wicked and that which is unworthy, because they "understand not judgment" (Ver. 5). It is the fearful and fatal effect of sin upon the soul to pervert the moral judgment, to deprave the conscience, to make men regard with a diminishing disapproval the wrongness of evil deeds, until they become absolutely indifferent to it, until they positively approve the actions which they once hated and denounced. Then the light that is in them is darkness, and how great and how sad that darkness is (see Matthew 5:23)! Everything is seen in a false light; truth appears as falsehood, good as evil, wisdom as folly; and, on the other hand, all those miserable delusions which a sinful heart holds, and which are leading it down to death, appear as truth, and wrong and guilty actions appear as right, and lives which are dismal failures seem to be successes.
III. THE FUNCTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Their duty, or one of their duties, is to "contend with the wicked." This was the office, the service, of righteous Noah, of Lot, of Elijah, of Daniel, of Nehemiah, of John the Baptist, of Paul; it has been the function of every true and loyal-hearted man placed in the midst of those who are opposing the will of God. Contention is not the highest, as it certainly is not the most inviting, duty we have to take in hand. But it is often very necessary, and is sometimes quite noble service.
1. We may have to contend with the flagrantly bad, to denounce violence, oppression, injustice, vice, profanity, etc.; or with the mere hypocrite, who is right in form but wrong in heart; or with those who are halfhearted, and who are practically opposing the truth and the kingdom of God.
2. We should be very sure of our ground before we take up the attitude and use the weapons of hostility.
3. We should oppose ourselves to those who are wrong in no spirit of animosity against men, but of hatred of all evil.
IV. THE EFFECT AND REWARD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. "They that seek the Lord understand all things." It is the most blessed effect of obedience that it elevates the doer; it purifies his heart, it clarifies his vision, it unlocks the door within which are rare treasures of immortal truth, it makes the soul to see and to rejoice in that to which it had been wholly blind. It unveils the living truth of God. It enables us:
1. To know ourselves as God knows us.
2. To understand our life as God intended us to regard it.
3. To appreciate the words and to recognize the will of the Divine Teacher.
4. To know him himself, "whom to know is life eternal." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.