Day 28: Righteous and wicked compared (28:1)
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion”
Just as Proverbs often contrasts the wise with the fool, it also does so with the righteous and the wicked. “Righteous” appears 75 times in Proverbs, 4 times in this chapter. “Wicked” appears 95 times in Proverbs, 5 times in this chapter. Three times, including today’s text, the righteous is compared with the wicked, and it is quite evident which camp we ought to be in. In another rendering of today’s text we read: “The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them; Honest people are relaxed and confident, bold as lions” MSG). Whatever it is that is bugging the wicked, he is on edge, ready to flee at the slightest provocation, even at false alarms. This in marked contrast to the righteous, who can confidently stand his ground whatever he is faced with. Seen in such a light it is quite evident which camp we are better off in.
Our second compare is: “When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden” (28:12) or “When good people are promoted, everything is great, but when the bad are in charge, watch out!” (MSG). What is being observed is a simple fact and one we would have seen, maybe many times. Too often the baddies get to the top and the goodies left behind and the result is misery. The opposite is true when good people are promoted and bad people demoted. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was always so? Our third compare is: “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase” (28:28) or “When corruption takes over, good people go underground, but when the crooks are thrown out, it’s safe to come out” (MSG). Corruption in government at any level is a horrible thing and is something if one had any sense they will try to avoid. On the other hand, if corruption is rooted out people can breathe a sigh of relief. In line with his non-moralising tone Solomon doesn’t follow up calling for a righteous crusade to promote good people and root out corruption, possibly realising for most of us our power to do so is limited. But we can be those who are among the righteous, who the Lord will surely honour in His time. It is clear the people we should be: “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (25:25-27).
Prayer: We thank you again you set out what happens to the wicked and to the righteous. We pray for righteous government and for corruption to be rooted out. Help us to follow the path of righteousness for your name’s sake.