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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 28
28 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
2 When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.
3 A ruler who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
5 Evildoers do not understand what is right,
but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
than the rich whose ways are perverse.
7 A discerning son heeds instruction,
but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.
8 Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.
9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
even their prayers are detestable.
10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
will fall into their own trap,
but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.
11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.
13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.
16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.
17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
will seek refuge in the grave;
let no one hold them back.
18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.
19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good—
yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.
22 The stingy are eager to get rich
and are unaware that poverty awaits them.
23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
rather than one who has a flattering tongue.
24 Whoever robs their father or mother
and says, “It’s not wrong,”
is partner to one who destroys.
25 The greedy stir up conflict,
but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.
26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.
Proverbs 28 gives us numerous side-by-side comparisons of the effects of both understanding and foolishness. Juxtaposition is a literary device used to place two dissimilar things in close proximity so that the reader can compare and contrast them. Throughout these verses, the writer of this Proverb juxtaposes the outcomes of pursuing understanding versus pursuing foolishness.
In this chapter we learn:
- That the righteous will be bold, while the wicked will flee (v. 1).
- That understanding brings stability (v. 2).
- That understanding gives you a reputation of wisdom, while foolishness can bring shame to your family (v. 7).
- That the foolish are wise in their own eyes, while understanding gives you discernment (v. 11).
- That those who walk in integrity will be delivered, but the foolish will suddenly fall (v. 18).
- That those with understanding trust in the Lord, while the foolish stir up strife (v. 25).
None of us want to be categorized as “foolish.” If given the choice, we would all choose stability over instability. We would choose a reputation of wisdom over shame. We would choose deliverance over failure. Yet time and time again, our sin leads us to make foolish choices that could then label us fools.
So, where do we find the understanding and wisdom to help us make these choices? Job asked that same question in Job 28, and the Lord answered him in Job 28:28: “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding ”(ESV). GotQuestions.org defines the fear of the Lord as “respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshiping Him in awe.”
As believers, we should be afraid of the consequences of sin and have a healthy fear of the discipline of God. That fear should impact the way that we live our lives and make our decisions. These 28 verses of the 28th chapter of Proverbs give us a roadmap of the benefits that seeking understanding will bring, as opposed to the hurts from foolishness. May we be believers who seek to “fear the Lord always” (v. 14) so we benefit from the stability, wisdom, and deliverance that only the Lord can bring.
- Where do you tend to look for wisdom and understanding?
- What changes do you need to make in your life to seek understanding over foolishness?
- Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Do you feel that you worship the Lord with reverence and awe?
By the Way
Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” This is reminiscent of what James, the half brother of Jesus, would later say in James 5:16:
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
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