1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.
“wicked flee” – see Lev 26:17, 36; Ps 53:5).
”bold as a lion” – like David in 1 Sam 17:46; cf, Ps 18:33-38.
2 For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.
”many are the princes thereof” – Israel’s rebellion often brought rapid change in leadership (see 1 Kgs 16:8-28; 2 Kgs 5:8-15).
”by a man of understanding…shall be prolonged” – a wise ruler will be successful (se
e 8:15-16; 24:5; 29:4).
3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
“sweeping rain” – describes the destru ctive power of Assyria’s army in Is 28:2. The gentle rain is compared to a righteous king in Ps 72:6-7).
4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.
“law” – – either the teachings of wisdom (3:1; 7:2) or the law of Moses (Ps 119:53).
5 Evil men understand not Judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.
“they that seek the LORD” – who fear Him (1:7).
”understand all things” – all things that are necessary to live a godly and successful life. They know “righteousness, and justice, and equity” (2:9).
6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
7 Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
“companion of riotous men” – persons who pursue a hedonistic lifestyle without regard to God.
8 He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
“usury and unjust gain” – prohibited in Ex 22:25; Lev 25:35-37; Deut 23:19-20; Ez 22:12.
9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
“his project shall be abomination” – like the sacrifice of the wicked in 15:8 (see Ps 66:18; Is 1:15; 59:1-2).
10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession.
11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
“rich man is wise in his own conceit” – like the fool (26:5) or the sluggard (26:16).
12 When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory: but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.
“a man is hidden” – he hides to avoid the tyranny of the wicked ruler. Obadiah hid 100 prophets during the reign of Ahab (1 Kgs 18:13), and Joash was hidden for sex years while the wicked Athaliah ruled (2 Kgs 11:2-3).
13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
“covereth his sins” – tries to hide his wrong-doing. Not the physical and psychological pain referred to in 3:7-8; Ps 32:3.
14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
“he that hardeneth his heart” – like Pharaoh (Ex 7:13), and the Israelites who tested the Lord at Horeb (Ex 17:7; cf Ps 95:8; Rom 2:5).
15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
“roaring lion” – full of rage and murderous intent (cf 19:12; Matt 2:16; 1 Pet 5:8).
”ranging bear” – an angry bear on the attack (see 17:12).
16 The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
“he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days” – unlike those who love such gain (see 1:19).
17 A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.
“A man that doeth violence to the blood” – a murderer.
”Shall flee to the pit” – will experience an early death himself as punishment for his sin. Murder was punishable by death (see Gen 9:6; Ex 21:14).
18 Whoso walketh uprightly shall be saved: but he that is perverse in his ways shall fall at once.
“uprightly…perverse” – contrasted also in v 6; 19:1.
19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
“followeth after vain persons” – Lit. “follows after unprofitable [things].” Probably referring here to schemes for making easy money.
20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
“abound with blessings” – with God’s gifts and favors (see 3:13-18; 10:6; Gen 49:26; Deut 33:16).
”he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent” – he will not go unpunished for his wrong-doing. Cf, similar warnings in 20:21; 23:4).
21 To have respect of persons is not good: for a piece of bread that man will transgress.
”for a piece of bread that man will transgress” – perhaps a reference to a bribe, however small (cf, Ez 13:19).
22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
”hasteth to be rich” – a warning to him is given in v 20 (cf, similar warnings in 20:21; 23:4).
”hath an evil eye” – he has impure motives (see 23:6).
”poverty shall come upon him” – because it is the generous man who prospers.
23 He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue.
24 Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.
25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.
“shall be made fat” – will become prosperous, as will also the generous person (11:25) and the one who is diligent (13:4, “the soul of the diligent shall be made fat”).
26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.
“whoso walketh wisely” – equals “whose putteth his trust in the LORD” in 29:25; cf 3:5).
27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
“shall not lack” – generosity is the path to blessing (see 11:24; 14:21; 19:17).
”hideth his eyes” – from the needs of the poor (see 21:13).
28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.