October 4th 2018 – Proverbs 28:21-28

To show partiality is not good,
    but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.
A stingy man hastens after wealth
    and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
Whoever rebukes a man will afterwards find more favour
    than he who flatters with his tongue.
Whoever robs his father or his mother
    and says, “That is no transgression”,
    is a companion to a man who destroys.
A greedy man stirs up strife,
    but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
    but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
    but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
    but when they perish, the righteous increase.

Proverbs 28:21-28

The need for integrity is still in view in 21. For as petty a thing as a piece of bread - or a seat on the platform, or an invitation, or an invitation to a society function - a man will risk losing his honour and integrity. How very sad: 'Verily' said Jesus 'they shall have their reward'. 22 underlines the danger stressed in 20b, and reminds us in addition that the covetous eye also suffers from shortsightedness. It is disquieting to see how many people can be completely taken in by a specious flatterer (23b). It can only be because they want to believe what he says that this can happen. If so, this means that they have a problem in themselves that needs to be faced. Outspokenness in this context is all the more welcome; but we need to beware of the insensitive 'outspokenness' of the man who prides himself in 'calling a spade a spade'. 24 recalls to us our Lord's strictures on the Pharisees in Mark 7:11, and Paul's forthright injunctions in 1 Timothy 5:4, 8. Charity begins at home! Some pertinent comments about the heart are given in 25 and 26. To be 'proud of heart' (the RSV has 'greedy', and the same is true of this also) is to be out of joint, and anyone who is out of joint is going to cause trouble. He does not have to say anything, he simply needs to be there, and trouble will emanate from him. 25b and 26a should be read along with 3:5, 6 (see Note for Sept 1st 1973) Walking in wisdom (RSV) is a New Testament theme also (Ephesians 5:15, Colossians 4:5). With 27, compare 11:24-26 and 22:9. It is more blessed to give than to receive, as Jesus said, and it is one of the wonderful paradoxes of spiritual life that generous spirits never seem to lack.  28 re-echoes 12 (cf also 29:2). When the truth of 28b is understood, it helps us to appreciate why the Psalmist prayed so frequently for the Lord to deal with the wicked.