Paul's Letter to the Romans

Dealing with the Wicked

 

Text: Proverbs 28:1-13


Proverbs 28:1-13 forms a chiasm:


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

            By the transgression of a land many are its princes,
            But by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.

                        A poor man who oppresses the lowly
                        Is like a driving rain which leaves no food.

                                    Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
                                    But those who keep the law strive with them.

                                                Evil men do not understand justice,
                                                But those who seek the LORD understand all things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

Going In: Differences

(Proverbs 28:1-5)

The wicked might appear bold while doing evil, but in truth they are nervous most of their life. Guilt turns men into cowards. They don’t know if someone looking at them knows what they had done or not. In contrast, the righteous are confident even though they are humble in their actions (Psalms 27:1; 46:1-3). They don’t have a guilty conscience. A similar proverbs is Proverbs 14:26. In Hebrew, this verse forms a chiasm:

They flee
            without a pursuer
                        the wicked
                        the righteous
            like a lion
are confident.

When sin is prevalent in a country, the turnover rate of its leadership is high (Isaiah 3:1-7; Hosea 13:11). But a single man with righteous knowledge and understanding can bring stability to a country. Compare the many dynasties of northern Israel to the single dynasty established by David in southern Judah.

You would think that a person would have compassion for people in similar situations to his own, but some poor prey on other poor people (Matthew 18:28-30). Instead of a rain that brings growth and harvest, it is a rain that floods and erodes. Thus, people who prey on other people who are having hard times are destructive.

Law breakers praise wicked people (Psalms 10:3; Romans 1:32). Law keepers contend with the wicked (Psalms 15:4; Ephesians 5:11). Thus, you can determine a person’s character from who he supports or battles.

Evil people don’t understand the concept of justice (I Corinthians 2:14). Righteous people do understand justice (I Corinthians 2:15; Jeremiah 4:22).

Integrity is far more valuable than a person’s economic situation. You are better an honest poor man is better than a scheming rich man (Proverbs 19:1).

For discussion:

  1. What would cause a poor man to oppress his peers?
  2. How would you put Proverbs 28:4 to use?
  3. Why is Proverbs 28:6 true?

The Seventh Point: Judgment and Self-control

(Proverbs 28:7)

The law abiding display good judgment in who they select for companions (Proverbs 2:3). The rebellious will accumulate friends who have no self-control (Proverbs 1:10-19; 22:24-25; 23:20-21). The result will both destroy the person’s life and embarrass his parents.

Going Out: Consequences

(Proverbs 28:8-13)

A person who makes money by excessive interest or extortion won’t hold on to it. It is forbidden in God’s law (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-38; Deuteronomy 23:19-20). The one who is generous to the poor will gain (Ecclesiastes 2:26; Job 27:16-17; Proverbs 13:22).

God finds the prayers of the disobedient sickening (Psalms 66:18; 109:7; Isaiah 1:15; Zechariah 7:11-13). God doesn’t listen to the prayers of those who will not listen to Him. This is similar to Proverbs 15:8; 21:13.

A person who causes a good man to sin will be also trapped by the same sin (II Peter 2:18-20; Ecclesiastes 10:8; Psalm 7:12-16). Instead of being trapped by sin, the blamelessness inherit good, not because it was earned but because it is the result of listening to God (Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 6:12). This is similar to Proverbs 1:18-19; 7:15; 26:27.

Wealth does not indicate wisdom, but the rich often assume they are wise simply because they have more money The poor tend not to think too highly of themselves and can see that the rich are not as wise as they claim to be. Their humbleness grants them greater insight.

When the righteous win, all celebrate. When the wicked win, people hide. People prefer righteousness because it makes them feel secure. Evil spreads insecurity. This is similar to Proverbs 11:10.

Hiding sins doesn’t help avoid the consequences of those sins. It is by admitting wrong and changing that a person improves (Psalms 32:3-5; Numbers 32:23; I John 1:8-10).

For discussion:

  1. Since law is from God, why would someone ask in prayer, if one is not inclined to listen?