Proverbs 28:15-28: Get Wisdom!
September 21, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
“Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people. A tyrannical ruler practices extortion, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign” (28:15-16).
These two proverbs extol the virtue of godly and good leadership. It is important to train good leaders and to support good leaders. If you are a leader, nothing matters more than your character.
“Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back” (28:17).
To have murdered someone is a terrible burden to carry. But for even that there is hope in the One who died that we might not have to: take your burdens to Christ and lay them at the feet of the cross.
“The one whose way of life is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit” (28:18).
To stay on the straight and narrow provides security when accusations are flung around. Someone today might say: have nothing on your laptop that would prove your undoing if your boss searched through all your files. Or do nothing in private that you would not want to be known in public.
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty” (28:19).
We are often told today that we must “have a dream.” It is certainly good, without question, to have goals and aspirations, as long as they are worthwhile goals and aspirations. But we should not stay in “dreamland.” Work your land: that is, do what is right in front of you. Dream by all means, but keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
“A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished” (28:20).
Don’t focus on “making money”; focus on doing something that will benefit other people and that they want and need. People will be willing to pay for that. Be faithful to that vocation. Do it for the glory of God!
“To show partiality is not good—yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread” (28:21).
It is easy to espouse theories about doing the right thing and to give them lip service and philosophical approval. But when someone is hungry, in real need, the temptation to do anything, lie or cheat, to get food is of course very strong. Even well-meaning people can be put under enough pressure that without the power of Christ they may buckle under the strain.
“The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them” (28:22).
This seems to be making a similar point to that which we commented on in verse 20. With this addition: generosity. There is a strange divine economy whereby if we are generous with what we receive, we often receive more with which we can be generous (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:6).
“Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue” (28:23).
It is tempting to give way to someone and not correct them when they are in the wrong. We think if we flatter them or appear to agree with them, then we will avoid difficulty and gain more favor. But it is the other way around: normally, people appreciate straight-shooters. Speak the truth, but do it in love. There is no virtue in rudeness or incivility.
“Whoever robs their father or mother and says, ‘It’s not wrong,’ is partner to one who destroys” (28:24).
There are more ways than one to rob your father and mother. You can rob them of the respect they deserve, or the love and care they need in their old age. When someone behaves in this way, they not only do what is wrong, they also confirm an approach to life that is selfish and rebellious. In that sense, they are partners “to one who destroys.”
“The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper” (28:25).
To always want more is bound to lead to conflict. You will want more than what someone else has, and that will lead to jealousy and friction and conflict. Competition can be a good thing; greed is not. Have the wisdom to be content with what you have and be generous when you have more than you need. With that attitude, as you trust in the Lord, then you will find more and more that you will truly “prosper.”
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe” (28:26).
This is an interesting proverb in that it runs counter to almost everything that pop-psychology says today. We are told today to “believe in yourself.” But this proverb says that “those who trust in themselves are fools.” The truth is that our “self,” while made in the image of God, is also sinful and fallen. Therefore, to trust in our sinful self is foolish. Instead, we need to walk in the wisdom that is based in the fear of God. Don’t trust in yourself; trust in God.
“Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses” (28:27).
Another proverb extolling the importance of generosity. 2 Corinthians 9:6 and context says something similar. Be generous with what you have.
“When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive” (28:28).
An evil person in power is a terrible thing; sometimes it feels as if all you can do is duck and take cover and try and stay out of the way. When there is a change of rule, though, the righteous thrive. Leadership matters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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