Proverbs 28

Chapter 28

Two Types of Men[a]

1 The wicked flee even though no one is pursuing them,
but the righteous are as confident as young lions.
2 When a land is in revolt, it has many leaders,[b]
but it will enjoy security under a prudent leader.
3 A needy man[c] who oppresses the poor
is like a drenching rain that destroys the crops.
4 Those who forsake the law[d] praise the wicked man,
but those who observe the law are in constant opposition to him.
5 Evildoers simply cannot comprehend justice,
but those who seek the Lord[e] understand it completely.
6 It is far better to be poor and beyond reproach
than to become rich through dishonest means.
7 A wise son obeys the law,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father.
8 Whoever increases his wealth by charging exorbitant interest[f]
amasses it for another who will be generous to the poor.
9 When anyone turns a deaf ear to the law,
even his prayer is detestable.[g]
10 Whoever tempts the upright into following evil ways
will fall into his own pit,
but the blameless will have a good inheritance.
11 The rich man may believe he is wise,
but the poor man with discernment will see through him.
12 When the righteous triumph, there is a great celebration,
but when the wicked prevail, the people go into hiding.
13 No one who conceals his transgressions will prosper,
but one who confesses and renounces them will obtain mercy.[h]
14 Blessed is the man who guards himself against temptation,[i]
but anyone who hardens his heart will be overtaken by evil.
15 Like a roaring lion or a bear on the prowl
is a wicked man who governs a powerless people.
16 A ruler who lacks sense will oppress his subjects,
but one who detests ill-gotten gain will have a long life.
17 Someone guilty of murder will be a fugitive till death;
no one should attempt to stop him.
18 Anyone who leads a blameless life will be safe,
but whoever follows a crooked path will fall into the pit.
19 One who tills his land will not lack for food,
but he who chases fantasies[j] will live in poverty.
20 One who is trustworthy will abound with blessings,[k]
but no one who seeks to get rich quickly will go unpunished.
21 To show partiality[l] is never good;
a man may do wrong even for a morsel of bread.
22 The miser is in a hurry to get rich,
never considering that want may eventually afflict him.[m]
23 Whoever rebukes another[n] will in the end win more thanks
than one who flatters with his tongue.
24 Anyone who robs his father or mother
and denies that he has sinned
is no better than a marauding bandit.
25 A greedy person provokes quarrels,
but whoever trusts in the Lord will have success.
26 Anyone who trusts in his own wits is a fool,
but he whose guide is wisdom[o] will come through safely.
27 No one who gives to the poor will suffer want,
but one who closes his eyes to them will get many a curse.[p]
28 When the wicked gain power, people go into hiding,
but when the wicked perish, the righteous increase in number.


  1. Proverbs 28:1 The proverbs succeed each other without any connection among them. There is little new in these chapters for those who have already perused the great collection of Solomon, i.e., chapters 1–22. Perhaps the continuous reading of these disparate verses brings out more clearly the opposition between wisdom and folly, justice and evil. There is no middle ground between these two lines of life, these two modes of thought, these two ways of feeling. Whether pauper or prince, everyone belongs to one or the other. Indeed, human beings make their choice each day in their private and in their social behavior, in their education and in their duties. Wisdom is an option for authenticity, a profound comprehension of life. Since the remote time when these proverbs were fashioned, the cultural climate has changed. Yet it is still true that our age of conflict and self-indulgent desires has need of a wisdom, a rectitude, a supplement for one’s soul without which there is no respect for self, for others, and for God! These ancient texts do not give us a letter to be observed; rather they invite us to discover for ourselves a meaning to life and put it into practice.
  2. Proverbs 28:2 When a nation is corrupt, its leaders have no permanency, revolts spring up, and various personages appear who scheme to win the crown at any cost.
  3. Proverbs 28:3 A needy man: another translation is “a ruler” (or “tyrant”). Who oppresses the poor: see Prov 14:31. Drenching rain: a similar phrase is used to indicate a destructive army (Isa 28:2), while a gentler rain is used to indicate a righteous king (Ps 72:6-7).
  4. Proverbs 28:4 The law: it can refer to the teachings of wisdom (Prov 3:1; 7:2) or the law of Moses (Ps 119:53).
  5. Proverbs 28:5 Those who seek the Lord: i.e., those who fear him (see note on Prov 1:7). Understand it completely: they “understand equity and justice / as well as righteousness—every good path” (Prov 2:9).
  6. Proverbs 28:8 Exorbitant interest: was forbidden (see Ex 22:24; Lev 25:35-37; Deut 23:20-21; Ezek 22:12). Amasses it for another: see Prov 13:22. Generous to the poor: see Prov 14:31.
  7. Proverbs 28:9 Prayers offered without good faith are detestable—like the sacrifice of the wicked (see Prov 15:8; see also Prov 3:32; Ps 66:18; Isa 1:15; 59:1-2).
  8. Proverbs 28:13 Sin weighs heavily on those who do not own up to it (see Prov 3:7-8; Ps 32:3), but those who acknowledge their sin find mercy, forgiveness, and joy (see Ps 32:5, 10-11).
  9. Proverbs 28:14 Guards himself against temptation: i.e., fears the Lord (see note on Prov 1:7; see also Prov 23:17).
  10. Proverbs 28:19 Chases fantasies: hatches plots to gain ill-gotten goods (see also Prov 12:11).
  11. Proverbs 28:20 Will abound with blessings: i.e., God’s blessings (see Prov 3:13-18; 10:6; Gen 49:25-26; Deut 33:13-16).
  12. Proverbs 28:21 Partiality: see note on Prov 18:5. May do wrong . . . bread: may refer to taking a bribe in the form of bread (see Ezek 13:19).
  13. Proverbs 28:22 Get-rich-quick schemes often lead to ruin; only the man who is generous will prosper (see note on Prov 11:24).
  14. Proverbs 28:23 Rebukes another: see Prov 15:31; 25:12. Flatters with his tongue: see Prov 16:13; 26:28; 29:5.
  15. Proverbs 28:26 He whose guide is wisdom: i.e., he who trusts in the Lord (see Prov 3:5; 29:25).
  16. Proverbs 28:27 Generosity to the poor brings blessings (see Prov 11:24 and note; 14:21; 19:17).

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