October 5th 2018 – Proverbs 29:1-6

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck,
    will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
    but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
He who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
By justice a king builds up the land,
    but he who exacts gifts tears it down.
A man who flatters his neighbour
    spreads a net for his feet.
An evil man is ensnared in his transgression,
    but a righteous man sings and rejoices.

Proverbs 29:1-6

This chapter brings us to the last of Hezekiah's collection of Solomon's proverbs, which began at 25:1. The emphasis in 1 is very solemn. Even the patience of God Himself comes to an end at last, and men pass the point of no return. The story of Herod in the gospels is a case in point. Jesus at the end had no word to say to him. For the thought in 2, see 28:12, 28. It is righteous government that makes for true happiness. Rectitude pays the best dividends, and this should be the blueprint in political situations: not expediency, not economics, but righteousness. 3 echoes 28:7 and 10:1. Substance in 3b may be the father's, or his own. Perhaps the elder son in the story of the prodigal in Luke 15 had this verse in mind when criticising his brother's behaviour. The theme in 4 is bribery and corruption, and the destroying effect this has on society. Judgment (which so often in the O.T. means justice, fair dealing) is the urgent alternative; no land can be established and stable without it. Compare 5 with 28:23. The spreading of the net seems to indicate that flattery will get a man all tangled up in awkward and even ruinous situations, for he is simply being used by the flatterer for his own purposes. Are we susceptible? Easily taken in? In 6, we have a similar metaphor to that in 5, but here the snare enmeshes the evil man himself. The reason why he is ensnared in his transgression is that there is something in evil which is too powerful for man, something he does not reckon with, which is essentially self-destructive. On the other hand the righteous man escapes the entanglement, and so has something to sing about.