1 A Bad or a Good Conscience 2-5 Not Acknowledging God’s Authority 6 Integrity Is Better Than Being Crooked 7 A Discerning Son or a Son Who Humiliates 8 Crooked Wealth Increase 9 God Is Deaf to Those Who Are Deaf Towards Him 10 Falling into His Own Pit or Doing the Good 11 The Wise in His Own Eyes and the Poor 12 The Righteous or the Wicked in Control 13-14 Confessing and Fearing 15-16 The Tyrant 17 The Guilt of Human Blood Leads to the Pit 18 To Be Delivered or to Fall 19-20 Results of Diligence and Faithfulness 21 Partiality Leads to Transgression 22 Greed Leads to Want 23 Rebuking Is Better Than Flattering 24-25 Covetousness 26 Self-Confidence or Walking Wisely 27 He Who Gives, Has No Lack 28 Wicked People Rise, but They Also Perish
A Bad or a Good Conscience

1The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.

“The wicked” may have a big mouth, but inwardly they are always in fear. They have a guilty conscience and are afraid of the judgment. They do not trust anyone, they are suspicious and they even flee for an imaginary danger (cf. Lev 26:3636As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.; Psa 53:5a5There they were in great fear [where] no fear had been;
For God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you;
You put [them] to shame, because God had rejected them.
). Wicked people continue to flee, for they always bear their bad conscience with them, wherever they go. Sin makes a man to be a coward.

“But the righteous” are aware of God’s and man’s favor. They have a pure conscience. They don’t always have to look over their shoulders to see whether somebody is chasing them to do them wrong. They “are bold as a lion” and therefore free from fear. The “boldness” that they show, is not in their own power, but in God. The righteous will not run for an imaginary enemy, for that does not exist for them.

The verse shows the connection between courage and a good conscience and also the result of a bad conscience. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2Tim 1:77For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.). He who is guided by God’s Spirit, does not have to flee. Elijah, a righteous man, was as a man of God “bold as a lion” at Mount Carmel against hundreds of false prophets (1Kgs 18:2222Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.).

Not Acknowledging God’s Authority

2By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding [and] knowledge, so it endures.
3A poor man who oppresses the lowly
Is [like] a driving rain which leaves no food.
4Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But those who keep the law strive with them.
5Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the LORD understand all things.

National sins cause national disasters. When a land does not consider God and His Word, it is due to the fact that it has no God-fearing ruler. The consequence is that the rulers follow each other in a fast pace, for every ruler seeks his own interest (verse 22By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
But by a man of understanding [and] knowledge, so it endures.
). The period of the judges with thirteen judges and the days of the northern kingdom of Israel with nine dynasties, are examples of political instability because of sin. During rebellious, turbulent times, a nation has many coups and many people who are fighting for power.

A nation gets the government it deserves. We see that not only in kingdoms but also in countries with a self-chosen government. The one government follows the other, while the government that is resigning, leaves the country in a bigger chaos than when it entered into office.

But when there is “a man of understanding [and] knowledge” in the government, “it endures”. It comes down to understanding and knowledge in the will of God. When that is present, it will “endure”, which means: rule for a long period. Enduring justice means that as soon as evil elements are exposed which endanger the legal order, the evil will be judged. As soon as this is ignored, the cycle of the many princes that succeed one another starts again, with the result of instability in the country. When the legal order is maintained righteously, there will be no change of government over and over again. This is very beneficial for the stability of a country.

It is very tragic when “a poor man” becomes powerful, when he becomes a ruler, and in that position “oppresses the lowly” (verse 33A poor man who oppresses the lowly
Is [like] a driving rain which leaves no food.
). A poor man could have become a refreshing rain to his former peers in such a position of authority which he acquires by his experiences. None better than him, after all knows what it is to be ‘lowly’. But then one on the contrary can indeed show the greatest despise towards those among whom he formerly lived. His oppression of the lowly implies betrayal.

The second line of the verse tells by a comparison about the result of the attitude of the poor man that became powerful. He is “a driving rain which leaves no food”. Rain is to serve as a blessing to the crop, that the harvest will become good so that there will bread, but here he is doing a devastating work. Hunger arises. A ruler has to take care of a beneficial society (Psa 72:5-75Let them fear You while the sun [endures],
And as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
6May he come down like rain upon the mown grass,
Like showers that water the earth.
7In his days may the righteous flourish,
And abundance of peace till the moon is no more.
) and not wipe it out by heavy oppression (2Chr 10:10-1910The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.’ Thus you shall say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins!11Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I [will discipline you] with scorpions.’”12So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, “Return to me on the third day.”13The king answered them harshly, and King Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the elders.14He spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I [will discipline you] with scorpions.”15So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn [of events] from God that the LORD might establish His word, which He spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.16When all Israel [saw] that the king did not listen to them the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
[We have] no inheritance in the son of Jesse.
Every man to your tents, O Israel;
Now look after your own house, David.”
So all Israel departed to their tents.17But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.18Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was over the forced labor, and the sons of Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.19So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

“Those who forsake the law” have lost the good view, God’s view, on the wicked (verse 44Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
But those who keep the law strive with them.
). They are no longer able to discern between good and evil. They are disobedient to God’s law and because of that get admiration for those who have evidently set God aside and determine their own lives. In a society where the wicked are praised, God’s Word has been thrown overboard. The free will, freedom for everyone to say whatever they think and do whatever they want, has become the greatest asset. Whoever supports that, congratulates the wicked with their wickedness (cf. Rom 1:3232and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.). An example is the sexual contact between people of the same sex.

He who wants to live according to God’s Word, shall fight against it. That may imply that he openly points out this evil. In any case, this means that he does not participate in praising the wicked. Then the ruling opinion is attacked. When that happens, it will arouse resistance.

To “understand justice” (verse 55Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the LORD understand all things.
) depends on one’s mind, not on one’s intellect (cf. Psa 119:100100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.
; Jn 7:1717If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or [whether] I speak from Myself.). “Evil men” are people who are not attuned to God, but to their own wicked nature. They set their heart on evil. Their thoughts are corrupt. Therefore they cannot understand “justice”, the legal rights of people, which have been ordained by God. They have no ‘sensor’ for it, for they are darkened in their understanding. They show it by the injustice they do to their fellow-men.

The word “but” at the beginning of the second line of the verse, ushers in the contrast in what is stated in the first line of the verse. “Seeking the LORD” means asking Him His will to do it (2Sam 21:11Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”). We seek God’s will when we examine His Word. When we keep his Word closed, we do not seek Him. The Spirit helps us to find God’s will in God’s Word and to understand it and carry it out. We “know all things” by the Spirit Who dwells in us (1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.). If we want to experience the full use of it in our lives, then we should be spiritually minded, for then we can appraise all things (1Cor 2:14-1514But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.15But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.).

Integrity Is Better Than Being Crooked

6Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than he who is crooked though he be rich.

This verse is again a “better … than” proverb. This proverb says that poverty in integrity is better than being crooked though wealthy. There are certainly dishonest poor people and honest rich people. The verse only contrasts “the poor who walks in his integrity” with someone who “is crooked though he be rich” (cf. Pro 19:11Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.
). The word “crooked” suggests that the rich man’s ways goes two ways, sometimes right, sometimes left. It means that he is a hypocrite and that he acts in two ways. Outwardly he is religious, but inwardly he is corrupt and greedy. One moment he plays the role of a religious man, but the other moment he acts like a greedy man.

Integrity is not automatically connected to wealth as an evidence of God’s appreciation for that integrity. Being poor entails the risk to be dishonest or insincere. The poor who walks in his integrity does not give in to that risk. His walk with God protects him in his integrity.

Wealth is not automatically an evidence of God’s appreciation. The rich man who is crooked, shows that he does not see his wealth as a gift from God. His crooked ways are ways without God. He does not walk with God, but he walks according to his own corrupt ideas with which he thinks to keep his wealth and increase it in that way.

A Discerning Son or a Son Who Humiliates

7He who keeps the law is a discerning son,
But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.

He who keeps the law shows that he “is a discerning son”. His father has been telling him the importance of the law and he has lived up to it; the discerning son has taken that teaching to heart. Therefore he makes wise choices and is a joy to his father.

A son “who is a companion of gluttons” – for example indulging in food and drinks and sexuality – does not care at all about the teaching of his father. He does not say: “Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God” (Psa 119:115115Depart from me, evildoers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God.
). Instead, he chooses his own friends who behave cross-bordered in all kinds of areas. He is profligate. This bad company and debauched life are a great sorrow to his father, whom he also “humiliates” by his behavior. He insults his whole family.

Crooked Wealth Increase

8He who increases his wealth by interest and usury,
Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.

The connection between the first and the second line of the verse seems to assume that wealth increase is the result of taking advantage of the poor who had to lend or buy from him. This saying presumes that the wealth of someone who has gained it in a dishonest way, will ultimately find its way to the poor (cf. Jer 17:1111“As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid,
[So] is he who makes a fortune, but unjustly;
In the midst of his days it will forsake him,
And in the end he will be a fool.”
; Jam 5:1-61Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you.2Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.3Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!4Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, [and] which has been withheld by you, cries out [against you]; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.5You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.6You have condemned and put to death the righteous [man]; he does not resist you.). God will ensure that it will happen (Job 27:16-1716“Though he piles up silver like dust
And prepares garments as [plentiful as] the clay,
17He may prepare [it], but the just will wear [it]
And the innocent will divide the silver.
; Ecc 2:2626For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight. This too is vanity and striving after wind.). He will ensure that it will come into the hands of someone “who is gracious to the poor”.

The law prohibits it to ask interest from a neighbor, a compatriot (Exo 22:2525“If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.; Lev 25:36-3736Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you.37You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.; Deu 23:19-2019“You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, [or] anything that may be loaned at interest.20You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.; Psa 15:55He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things will never be shaken.
). When the poor needed help, the rich had to give it to them as a charity. They were not to exploit the tight situation of another Israelite for their own benefit.

God Is Deaf to Those Who Are Deaf Towards Him

9He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.

Fellowship with God takes place by His Word and by prayer. Through His Word, God speaks to man and through prayer, man speaks to God. When God speaks, but a man refuses to listen, God will not listen when that man speaks to Him. Listening is not only hearing, but also doing. When a man for his part is deaf for the teaching from God’s Word, when he excludes himself from it, God will, from His side be deaf for this man’s prayer.

His prayer will certainly not be sincere. God is not only deaf for it, but it is an abomination to Him. He who refuses to obey God, cannot possibly pray according to God’s will. If somebody still has the nerve to ask God something in an attitude of disobedience, he will hear that God rejects his prayer (Isa 1:1515“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer],
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
). When the elders of Israel came to Ezekiel to ask for God’s will, God said that He would not respond to their question, because they did not obey what He earlier had told them to do (Eze 20:1-81Now in the seventh year, in the fifth [month], on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.2And the word of the LORD came to me saying,3“Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Do you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.”‘4Will you judge them, will you judge them, son of man? Make them know the abominations of their fathers;5and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “On the day when I chose Israel and swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I swore to them, saying, I am the LORD your God,6on that day I swore to them, to bring them out from the land of Egypt into a land that I had selected for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.7I said to them, ‘Cast away, each of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’8But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not cast away the detestable things of their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.). He who does not hear, deserves not to be heard. Of course a prayer of repentance is no abomination to the Lord.

Falling into His Own Pit or Doing the Good

10He who leads the upright astray in an evil way
Will himself fall into his own pit,
But the blameless will inherit the good.

The judgment is certain for him “who leads the upright astray in an evil way”, which means: who seduce them to commit sin. To God it is a great evil to cause “the upright”, which are those who are in relationship with Him, to stumble (Mt 18:6-76but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.7“Woe to the world because of [its] stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!). Satan will try everything to lead the upright astray and he has enough people that he can use for this purpose. The world presents an enormous selection to cause the upright to go astray. That happens via advertisements and the internet. The evil of unfaithfulness in marriage is denied; there is nothing wrong with ‘a love affair’. Satan will fall, together with every creature that does the same as he does, in the pit that he and they have dug.

But if we are “blameless” and remain that, we will not only be kept from falling into the pit of the false teacher, but we “will inherit the good”. God will grant us the good as an inheritance. “The good” includes all things that God has given to the Lord Jesus as a reward, which we will be allowed to share with Him. We can thereby think of the good things which we will enjoy in the kingdom of peace.

The Wise in His Own Eyes and the Poor

11The rich man is wise in his own eyes,
But the poor who has understanding sees through him.

This proverb again deals with a contrast between “the rich man” and “the poor”. In this verse the rich man is “wise in his own eyes”. He is filled with self-conceit. He sees only himself and thinks that he can judge everything. “But the poor who has understanding sees through him”; such a poor man does not allow himself to be fooled. The poor sees the lack of the rich man, he sees straight through his arrogance.

Wealth and wisdom do not often go together. It is mostly the case that the wealth of the rich makes him to be blind of his spiritual poverty. He believes that his money determines the value of his soul. He who has money can buy power and can even assert it. But one who has no money but understanding, sees through him and sees that he is just a conceited bigot, who is not what he pretends to be.

Wealth can lead to pride (1Tim 6:1717Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.). The wisdom of the righteous is not that he knows how to earn money as much as he possibly can and to become rich as soon as he possibly can. His wisdom is that he sees the insecurity of wealth and does not put his trust in it (Mt 6:1919“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.).

The Righteous or the Wicked in Control

12When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.

The contrast in this verse is between the situation of “the righteous” triumphing and “the wicked” being in control (Pro 11:1010When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.
). The thought is that when the righteous are exalted, when they are in control, when they “triumph”, the people have much confidence. They have a positive impact on the people. The righteous give glow to the society. The society prospers by that. Everyone is glad and happy, for there is a righteous way of sharing of the burdens and an honest sharing of advantages.

But “when the wicked rise”, when they are in control, it is the end of a peaceful, happy society. They have a negative impact on the people. When the wicked become powerful, it becomes silent on the street, because the people hide themselves out of fear of them. We see the two contrasting effects in the government of Mordechai (Est 8:1717In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.) and that of the Midianites (Jdg 6:22The power of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds.).

Confessing and Fearing

13He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.
14How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

The contrast in verse 1313He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.
– indicated by the word “but” – is between “he who conceals his transgressions” and “he who confesses and forsakes [them]”. The former “will not prosper”, the latter “will find compassion”. This verse is unique in the book of Proverbs. It deals with the truth about forgiveness. Every part of this verse is essential for this truth. The forgiveness by God is obviously connected to a real return to God to find compassion with Him instead of judgment (Psa 32:1-51[A Psalm] of David. A Maskil.
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
3When I kept silent [about my sin], my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away [as] with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
; 1Jn 1:6-96If we say that we have fellowship with Him and [yet] walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.).

A ‘transgression’ is the crossing of a border, while the border has clearly been indicated. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he transgressed, crossed the border which God had drawn around marriage. First, he covered that sin and was silent about it. He was not prosperous then. His bones wasted away and God’s hand was heavy upon him. Then he acknowledged his sin, he confessed them and said: “My iniquity I did not hide” (Psa 32:3-53When I kept silent [about my sin], my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away [as] with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
). Then he was able to say that God surrounded him “with songs of deliverance” (Psa 32:7b7You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

The result of receiving compassion is “to fear always” (verse 1414How blessed is the man who fears always,
But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
) for sin. Fear for sin seems to be more the intention of this verse, than fear for the LORD. The latter is always true, but the emphasis is not on that.

‘To fear’ is to fear greatly. It is to fear greatly for sin, like Joseph feared sin (Gen 39:8-98But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me [here], my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge.9There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”), a great fear for the consequences caused by sin. It is the fear for falling (again) into sin; it is a fear for or anxiety about the power of sin. The point is that one should always have that fear. We certainly have that fear for the sin that we had to confess (verse 1313He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.
). If we have this fear, “how blessed”, happy we are, for we will avoid sin.

That we may here preferably think of fear for sin, appears also from the contrast in the second line of the verse. The verse puts the man who ‘always fears’ against “him who hardens his heart”. It is inevitable that he who does the latter, “will fall into calamity”. A deep sense of sin is a special grace. He who has no fear for sin and hardens his heart against the warnings about it, will sin and leads himself and also others into calamity.

The Tyrant

15[Like] a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
[But] he who hates unjust gain will prolong [his] days.

“A roaring lion and a rushing bear” are fear instilling animals that have no compassion at all (verse 1515[Like] a roaring lion and a rushing bear
Is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
). They follow their instincts and chase their prey. As soon as they have caught it they tear it apart. With these animals that are frightening and chase their prey, “a wicked ruler over a poor people” is compared. Political tyrants are like these animals, incalculable, powerful, insensitive, cruel, bloodthirsty and devouring. The ruthless world leaders whom Daniel sees in a vision, are also presented as animals (Dan 7:1-81In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon Daniel saw a dream and visions in his mind [as he lay] on his bed; then he wrote the dream down [and] related the [following] summary of it.2Daniel said, “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.3And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.4The first [was] like a lion and had [the] wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it.5And behold, another beast, a second one, resembling a bear. And it was raised up on one side, and three ribs [were] in its mouth between its teeth; and thus they said to it, ‘Arise, devour much meat!’6After this I kept looking, and behold, another one, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird; the beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it.7After this I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong; and it had large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed and trampled down the remainder with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.8While I was contemplating the horns, behold, another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots before it; and behold, this horn possessed eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth uttering great [boasts].). The poor are suffering under these tyrants because they cannot meet their requirements (cf. Ecc 4:11Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold [I saw] the tears of the oppressed and [that] they had no one to comfort [them]; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort [them].).

In this “wicked ruler” we see a picture of the antichrist. This extremely cruel ruler will be accepted by the non-believing mass of the Jewish people as the leader after the rapture of the church. This wicked ruler will be especially targeting the believing remnant that we see in “a poor people”. But they will be redeemed by the true David, when He returns to the earth. Just like David “killed both the lion and the bear” (1Sam 17:34-3634But David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock,35I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued [it] from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized [him] by his beard and struck him and killed him.36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”), the Lord Jesus will kill the wicked antichrist, which we see here in the picture of the lion and the bear.

A tyrant always “lacks understanding” (verse 1616A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding,
[But] he who hates unjust gain will prolong [his] days.
). He is blinded by the lust for power and maintains his power by oppression. His love for money determines his performance. He oppresses people, for example by imposing high tax burdens. On the other hand (“but”) we have the righteous king. That is someone who does not seek his own gain (Exo 18:2121Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place [these] over them [as] leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.). It is not only that he is not focused on money, but it someone who “hates unjust gain”. This ruler “will prolong [his] days”. In this we again see the Lord Jesus, Whose kingdom will have no end (Lk 1:32-3332He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;33and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”).

The Guilt of Human Blood Leads to the Pit

17A man who is laden with the guilt of human blood
Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him.

The first line of the verse literally reads: ‘A man tortured by the blood of one’s life.’ It regards a murderer who is a fugitive. He is a “man who is laden”, which means that he has a laden soul or a guilty conscience. Even when by his run he remains out of the hands of the avenger of blood, his conscience continues to accuse him. This is how his running will always end up in the pit of the grave after a shorter or longer time. Nothing can be done about it. The brother murderer Cain has understood it (Gen 4:12-1412When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”13Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear!14Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”).

The second line of the verse reads that it is not good to try to support a murderer who is a fugitive. One should not get involved with him, for justice must take its course (Gen 9:66“Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.

The gospel can however be brought to him, so that he may get rest for his conscience by repentance and conversion. Then he is still on his way to the pit of the grave, for he deserves the death penalty, though not any more as a fugitive for the justified judgment.

To Be Delivered or to Fall

18He who walks blamelessly will be delivered,
But he who is crooked will fall all at once.

He who walks blamelessly may be threatened by hostile people or be struck by an accident. He who walks blamelessly, walks with God. There is no other possibility to walk blamelessly. Therefore he knows that God is with him and will help him out. He who walks blamelessly, walks safely.

The second line of the verse begins with “but”, which indicates that a contrast follows with the previous line of the verse. There are two contrasts in this verse. “He who walks blamelessly” is in contrast with “he who is crooked”, and “will be delivered” is in contrast with “will fall all at once”. He who is crooked, walks insincerely. He is dishonest and corrupt and seeks to enrich himself at the expense of others. He does not take God into account. Therefore there is no deliverance for him when he needs help. And his fall will suddenly come, it will be all at once.

Results of Diligence and Faithfulness

19He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty [pursuits] will have poverty in plenty.
20A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

In verse 1919He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty [pursuits] will have poverty in plenty.
there is mention of two kinds of saturation (cf. Pro 12:1111He who tills his land will have plenty of bread,
But he who pursues worthless [things] lacks sense.
). There is saturation with food and saturation with poverty. “To have plenty of food” is the result of diligently doing your work daily, which is indicated here with “he who tills his land”. One does not get food by this or that miracle, but you have to work for it. When you do, you will have plenty of food and will be saturated.

The second line of the verse again begins with “but”, which indicates that a contrast follows. In contrast to the diligent worker is someone who “follows empty pursuits”. He who does such a thing shows how he himself is. He does not do anything at all, but profits from others. Once in a while he has something to eat, but ultimately, he “will have poverty in plenty”. He who tills his land, will have his bread bin, his table and his stomach filled with food. He who follows empty pursuits will have a bread bin, table and stomach full of emptiness.

The contrast is between the one who concentrates on his work, and the one who allows himself to be distracted and spends his time and energy to non-productive activities. Some recreation and distraction at the right time is useful, but too much of it leads to poverty, both materially and spiritually.

Verse 2020A faithful man will abound with blessings,
But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.
connects to verse 1919He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
But he who follows empty [pursuits] will have poverty in plenty.
. The first line of the verse deals with “a faithful man”, which means that he is among others diligently at work and does it faithfully. He “abounds with blessings”. By the contrast with the second line of the verse it seems that one of the bountiful blessings is that of sufficient income. He doesn’t need to make haste to become rich; he is rich by his faithfulness in his work. Therefore he is able to provide for his family. He is also able to give something to the poor and specially to give to God His part. He rejoices about God’s grace. Faithfulness determines success.

In contrast to a faithful man is “he who makes haste to become rich”, also to be translated as ‘he who cannot wait to become rich’. Such a person uses dishonest means to succeed. We can conclude that from the words “will not go unpunished”. The thought is that the first one is faithful to his obligations towards God and towards other people. The second, which is someone who makes haste to become rich, is doing so without working diligently for it, but by using deceit. In that way he not only overloads himself with riches, but especially with debts. He will be punished for his deceit and misbehavior (1Tim 6:9-109But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.).

Partiality Leads to Transgression

21To show partiality is not good,
Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress.

Partiality is not good, it is not allowed (Lev 19:1515‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.; Deu 1:1717You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’; 16:1919You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.; Pro 18:55To show partiality to the wicked is not good,
[Nor] to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.
; 24:2323These also are sayings of the wise.
To show partiality in judgment is not good.
). One can show partiality because a distinguished man is involved, or a rich man, or a family member, or a friend. The second line of the verse begins with the word “because”, which indicates that the reason follows from what is said in the first line of the verse. Partiality causes a dishonest judgment of a conflict. When a judge in a court case, or someone who is in conflict with another person, shows partiality, he is corrupt. His motives are impure. Therefore he already is a transgressor when someone offers him a piece of bread in order to cause him to make a false judgement. He is just that easy to bribe.

We can apply this to the preachers who tell the church people what they love to hear, to benefit from it. Here the following saying is also true: ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’. People want to pay preachers who make speeches that they love to hear and are willing to pay them for it. The preachers show partiality; they choose for the favor of people and against the grace of God. They transgress God’s Word and violate it for a piece of bread.

Greed Leads to Want

22A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth
And does not know that want will come upon him.

He who seeks to increase his wealth and also hastens after it, is fixed on his wealth in such a way that he doesn’t award anyone, which is literally translated here as “has an evil eye”. The thought of awarding somebody is despicable to him. Then he would shoot into his own foot. No, never award somebody anything. What he would award someone else might cause him to lack something and therefore his wealth will not grow.

He has an evil eye because his eye is focused on the wealth of the world and not on God and His will. Therefore he does not know that God will punish him with “want” for his greed. He will not be able to keep his wealth, but loose it as a result of what God will bring upon him.

Rebuking Is Better Than Flattering

23He who rebukes a man will afterward find [more] favor
Than he who flatters with the tongue.

Rebuking someone for his character mistakes or for his wrong actions or remind him on his responsibility often does not reap recognition directly. People may respond negatively or even get angry. But after a course of time the hurt will change into appreciation. They will understand that the rebuke was justified and that listening to it has brought a blessing. Here it is not about interference or a critical spirit, but about a rebuke from love with the intention to help.

A young woman of faith who had a relationship with a young unbeliever had been rebuked for the wrong of it. The Scripture says that a believer should not be bound together with an unbeliever (2Cor 6:1414Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?). It is not pleasant to confront anyone with that and it is not pleasant to be confronted with that. The sister accepted the rebuke. Thereafter the man truly came to a living faith in the Lord Jesus. They were both very grateful about the rebuke. After a while they got married.

If this woman had been congratulated with her wrong connection, she would have possibly felt flattered and also supported in her choice at that moment. But how dramatic the development of the relationship would have been then. A rebuke in love based on God’s Word brings a blessing for him who rebukes and for the rebuked.

He who flatters with the tongue, leads others and himself to calamity. He who flatters seeks personal advantage. In any case, he doesn’t want to be found unkind, which indeed can happen at rebuking. If we want to please men we will flatter; if we want to please God and find favor with men, we will rebuke. God doesn’t flatter anyone, but admonishes man to repent. He who listens to Him and does what He says, will find His favor, or grace.


24He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
25An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

In verse 2424He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
it goes further than not fulfilling the duty of taking care of the parents (Pro 19:2626He who assaults [his] father [and] drives [his] mother away
Is a shameful and disgraceful son.
). There is mention of someone who “robs his father or his mother” and who even dares to claim without shame or guilt: “It is not a transgression.” Is it possible to sink lower than this? The person whom it is about here, is one with whom the most elementary form of natural love has disappeared, which is the love for his parents. The company he joins is that “of the man who destroys”.

He who robs his parents, no matter how he tries to justify it, is a destroyer. He anticipates what he is going to inherit when they die. He can’t wait until it happens. He tries to get control over the possessions of his parents prematurely. He uses a form of psychological pressure or even physical abuse to succeed. His reasoning is that the inheritance will anyway on one day be his. Therefore, no one needs to blame him for a transgression.

Such a man is spiritually related to the Pharisees who have invented cunning methods for robbing father and mother (Mt 15:1-91Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,2“Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”3And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?4For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’5But you say, ‘Whoever says to [his] father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given [to God],”6he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And [by this] you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.7You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
; Mk 7:6-136And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
8Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”9He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.10For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’;11but you say, ‘If a man says to [his] father or [his] mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given [to God]),’12you no longer permit him to do anything for [his] father or [his] mother;13[thus] invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
). They said to the people that they should speak out the word “Corban” as a spell concerning an amount of money that actually was intended for the support of the parents. In that way the amount of money was declared holy and it was no sin when it was given to the Pharisees. That’s what these corrupt men did for their own financial gain. The Lord Jesus condemns them for this hypocrisy in sharp words.

Verse 2424He who robs his father or his mother
And says, “It is not a transgression,”
Is the companion of a man who destroys.
deals with the family atmosphere; verse 2525An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.
concerns the whole society. “An arrogant man” (verse 2525An arrogant man stirs up strife,
But he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.
), believes that happiness is related to possessions. Therefore all his desires are all about that and he makes his best efforts to gather as much as he can. He is a great self-centered man and he is often also ruthless. He would kill you to satisfy his greed. Wherever he comes, he “stirs up strife”. He never cares about anyone but himself. His conduct and actions cause strife because people do not tolerate him for long.

Against the agitation which sounds through the first line of the verse, the second line of the verse is an oasis of peace. The word “but” initiates the contradiction. “He who trusts in the LORD” for the temporal and eternal things, “will prosper”. Trusting in the LORD negates covetousness. There is no need for more earthly possessions, no room for greed. God meets all needs of those who trusts in Him. That is the prosperity that fills a person. For the earthly circumstances, saturation is being content with “food and clothing” (1Tim 6:88If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.).

Self-Confidence or Walking Wisely

26He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

A characteristic of “a fool” is that he “trusts in his own heart”. He has no idea that the heart of a human being, even his own, is deceitful (Jer 17:99“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
). Being filled with self-confidence he trusts that what his heart tells him will deliver him most benefit. That is why he follows the promptings of his own foolish heart, without consulting anyone else and certainly not with God. This is not necessary, because he himself knows what is best and he alone knows it. This verse condemns and puts an end to exhortations such as ‘simply follow your heart’ or ‘do what your heart tells you to do’.

The word “but” indicates that there is a contrast following the fool who relies on his heart. Opposite to this fool is “he who walks wisely”. God looks at such a person with pleasure, for he walks according to His Word and listens to its teaching. In this way he escapes the foolishness to follow the promptings of his own heart. It will save him from the disasters and plagues that are the inevitable part of the fool. He escapes from this, while the fool dies in it.

He Who Gives, Has No Lack

27He who gives to the poor will never want,
But he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Generosity is rewarded, but indifference is cursed (Pro 22:99He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
; 11:24-2624There is one who scatters, and [yet] increases all the more;
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, [and yet it results] only in want.
25The generous man will be prosperous;
And he who waters will himself be watered.
26He who withholds grain, the people will curse him;
But blessing will be on the head of him who sells [it].
). The presence of the poor in God’s people is a test for the rich. God wants His people to be giving people, as imitators of Him (Deu 15:7-117“If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;8but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need [in] whatever he lacks.9Beware that there is no base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you.10You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.11For the poor will never cease [to be] in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’). Whoever gives does not become poorer, but richer. God will not let him suffer a lack, but will provide him with what is needed. That experience is already a great reward. In addition, the poor person will pray for the giver and will also be prepared to do what he can for him.

The contrast, introduced with the word “but”, is the indifferent rich. A person who “shuts his eyes”, or “looks away”, turns his head, when he sees a poor person, is not open to the distress of his neighbor. Every time he “looks away”, he will be “cursed” by that poor person. This is what characterizes the human being in question. The fact that he “will have many curses” indicates that he is a seasoned egoist. He doesn’t want to be confronted with distress, because that costs money or loss of property. Eventually he will be cursed by God.

Wicked People Rise, but They Also Perish

28When the wicked rise, men hide themselves;
But when they perish, the righteous increase.

When the wicked can manifest themselves and behave ungodly, when they are given space and even come to power, no man is safe anymore (cf. verse 1212When the righteous triumph, there is great glory,
But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.
). The righteous will hide from this evil. Also other groups of people who may be targets of the wicked will hide. The wicked have no mercy. They are eager to cause as much evil as possible and as much damage as possible.

“But” their reign is limited; they do not reign forever. The moment comes when “they perish”. When this happens, the “righteous” appear and “increase” (cf. Est 8:1717In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.). There will be room for multiplication of those who give God what is due to Him. This will be fulfilled in full in the kingdom of peace. When the kingdom of peace will be established, the Lord Jesus first will cleanse the earth by judging the wicked. Then a righteous people can enter the kingdom and be made numerous by God (Isa 26:22“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter,
The one that remains faithful.
; Jer 30:1919‘From them will proceed thanksgiving
And the voice of those who celebrate;
And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished;
I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.

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