Proverbs 29

Introduction

‘Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.’ Proverbs 29:1

The Stiff Necked

In what ways we do become stiff-necked? We become stiff-necked by making the same mistake over and over again, Proverbs 13:18 / Proverbs 15:10.

We refuse to learn or listen, those who harden their neck are stubborn, Exodus 33:3-5 / Acts 7:51-53. Christians should not take lightly the Lord’s discipline because if we harden ourselves to it, we will be broken on judgment day, Proverbs 6:15.

‘When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.’ Proverbs 29:2-3

God’s ways are always the best because when we just do our own thing, then terrible things happen, Proverbs 28:28.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

1. The people will have cause to rejoice or mourn according as their rulers are righteous or wicked; for, if the righteous be in authority, sin will be punished and restrained, religion and virtue will be supported and kept in reputation; but, if the wicked get power in their hands, wickedness will abound, religion and religious people will be persecuted, and so the ends of government will be perverted.

2. The people will actually rejoice or mourn according as their rulers are righteous or wicked. Such a conviction are even the common people under of the excellency of virtue and religion that they will rejoice when they see them preferred and countenanced; and, on the contrary, let men have ever so much honour or power, if they be wicked and vicious, and use it ill, they make themselves contemptible and base before all the people (as those priests, Mal. 2:9) and subjects will think themselves miserable under such a government.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This proverb is only a slight variation from at least a dozen others that stress the same truth. ‘Licentiousness is put as the opposite of wisdom in Proverbs 2:10 / Proverbs 2:16 / Proverbs 5:1-3 / Proverbs 6:23-24 / Proverbs 9:1 / Proverbs 9:13. Additionally, the first line is found in Proverbs 10:1 / Proverbs 23:13 / Proverbs 23:24 / Proverbs 27:11; and line two is similar to Proverbs 5:9-10.’

Prostitutes were common in Bible times, but they all have one thing in common, they do it for the money, not the joy.

‘By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down. Those who flatter their neighbours are spreading nets for their feet.’ Proverbs 29:4-5

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘A policy of excessive taxation has usually been the primary cause of every fallen government in the history of the world. ‘A king by justice gives stability to a land, but he whose exactions are excessive ruins it.’ This rendition is applicable, not merely to excessive taxation, but to bribery by the ‘exaction of gifts.’ ‘By justice a king gives stability to the land, but one who exacts gifts ruins it’.’

Beware of the flatterer! They are not trying to please us but to deceive us so that they can get what they want from us later.

‘Evildoers are snared by their own sin, but the righteous shout for joy and are glad. The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.’ Proverbs 29:6-7

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘While the offence of the wicked, rising out of a confirmed habit of evil, becomes snare for his destruction; the righteous, even if he offend, is forgiven and can still rejoice in his freedom from condemnation. The second clause is taken by some as entirely contrasted with the first; it expresses the joy of one whose conscience is void of offence, and who is in no danger of falling into the snare.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘There is no test that separates the wicked from the righteous as effectively as this one. The Christ himself said, ‘Blessed are ye poor’; and to ignore the rights and necessities of the poor, in all dispensations of God’s love, is the invariable hallmark of the wicked.’

The righteous person knows to whom they belong. Every human being has rights, but wicked people look only at their poverty and despise the righteous.

‘Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger. If a wise person goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace. The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.’ Proverbs 29:8-10

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

1. Who are the men that are dangerous to the public—scornful men. When such are employed in the business of the state they do things with precipitation, because they scorn to deliberate, and will not take time for consideration and consultation; they do things illegal and unjustifiable, because they scorn to be hampered by laws and constitutions; they break their faith, because they scorn to be bound by their word, and provoke the people, because they scorn to please them. Thus, they bring a city into a snare by their ill conduct, or (as the margin reads it) they set a city on fire; they sow discord among the citizens and run them into confusion. Those are scornful men that mock at religion, the obligations of conscience, the fears of another world, and everything that is sacred and serious. Such men are the plagues of their generation; they bring God’s judgments upon a land, set men together by the ears, and so bring all to confusion.

2. Who are the men that are the blessings of a land—the wise men who by promoting religion, which is true wisdom, turn away the wrath of God, and who, by prudent counsels, reconcile contending parties and prevent the mischievous consequences of divisions. Proud and foolish men kindle the fires which wise and good men must extinguish.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘All modes of teaching – the stern rebuke or the smiling speech – are alike useless with the ‘foolish’ man; there is ‘no rest.’ The ceaseless cavilling goes on still.’

The fool cannot appreciate the wise person’s argument and so the wise person becomes exhausted trying to convince them. They are concerned for their life because people of bloodshed come after them, 1 John 3:12.

‘Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.’ Proverbs 29:11

A fool has no control and loses their temper, whereas the wise calm the arguments down.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘A man should be careful to keep his own secret, and never tell his whole mind upon any subject, while there are other opinions yet to be delivered; else, if he speak again, he must go over his old ground; and as he brings out nothing new, he injures his former argument.’

‘If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials become wicked.’ Proverbs 29:12

This is the idea of knowing what the king likes to listen to and so his officials tell him falsehoods.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

1. It is a great sin in any, especially in rulers, to hearken to lies; for thereby they not only give a wrong judgment themselves of persons and things, according to the lies they give credit to, but they encourage others to give wrong informations. Lies will be told to those that will hearken to them; but the receiver, in this case, is as bad as the thief.

2. Those that do so will have all their servants wicked. All their servants will appear wicked, for they will have lies told of them; and they will be wicked, for they will tell lies to them. All that have their ear will fill their ear with slanders and false characters and representations; and so if princes, as well as people, will be deceived, they shall be deceived, and, instead of devolving the guilt of their own false judgments upon their servants that misinformed them, they must share in their servants’ guilt, and on them will much of the blame lie for encouraging such misinformations and giving countenance and ear to them.

‘The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The LORD gives sight to the eyes of both.’ Proverbs 29:13

The poor and the oppressor both receive life from Him, Proverbs 22:2 / Matthew 5:45 / Romans 1:19-21, and He will judge them both, Acts 17:31.

‘If a king judges the poor with fairness, his throne will be established forever. A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.’ Proverbs 29:14-15

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Proverbs 16:12 and Proverbs 25:12 are similar. Throughout Proverbs, it is taught that, ‘The perpetual duration of a dynasty depends not upon intellectual or physical superiority, but upon moral character.’

There are two types of discipline: 1. The rod, which is physical and, 2. Reproof, which is verbal. We should never stop punishing our children when they deserve it, Proverbs 13:24 / Proverbs 23:13.

Toy, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The mother might have been mentioned here (1) because she is charged with the principal duty of rearing the child, or (2) merely for rhetorical purposes.’

‘When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall.’ Proverbs 29:16

Here we have a perfect example of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 19:1-30 / 2 Peter 2:8.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

1. The more sinners there are the more sin there is: When the wicked, being countenanced by authority, grow numerous, and walk on every side, no marvel if transgression increases, as a plague in the country is said to increase when still more and more are infected with it. Transgression grows more impudent and bold, more imperious and threatening, when there are many to keep it in countenance. In the old world, when men began to multiply, they began to degenerate and corrupt themselves and one another.

2. The more sin there is the nearer is the ruin threatened. Let not the righteous have their faith and hope shocked by the increase of sin and sinners. Let them not say that they have cleansed their hands in vain, or that God has forsaken the earth, but wait with patience; the transgressors shall fall, the measure of their iniquity will be full, and then they shall fall from their dignity and power, and fall into disgrace and destruction, and the righteous shall have the satisfaction of seeing their fall, Psalm 37:34, perhaps in this world, certainly in the judgment of the great day, when the fall of God’s implacable enemies will be the joy and triumph of glorified saints, Isaiah 66:24 / Genesis 19:28.

‘Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.’ Proverbs 29:17

Not all correction is with a rod, the punishment we give our children must be determined when it is needed but we do need to correct our children, Proverbs 29:15. When done so correctly, our children will give us peace and be our delight.

‘Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.’ Proverbs 29:18

If anyone tries to live without God’s truth, restraint is cast away. In other words, anything goes.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Where Divine revelation, and the faithful preaching of the sacred testimonies, are neither reverenced nor attended, the ruin of that land is at no great distance.’

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The felicity of a people that have not only a settled, but a successful ministry among them, the people that hear and keep the law, among whom religion is uppermost; happy are such a people and every particular person among them. It is not having the law, but obeying it, and living up to it, that will entitle us to blessedness.’

‘Servants cannot be corrected by mere words; though they understand, they will not respond. Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.’ Proverbs 29:19-20

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘A slave, whose obedience is reluctant. He may ‘understand’ the words, but they produce no good effect. There is still lacking the true ‘answer’ of obedience.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verse 20.

‘This is the same as Proverbs 26:12, except there it is the man ‘who is wise in his own conceit’ who is more hopeless than a fool. Here it is the man who is hasty in his words.’

There are times when words just won’t work and so action needs to be taken when it comes to correcting some people. The lesson here is simple, be slow to speak, and quick to listen, James 1:19.

‘A servant pampered from youth will turn out to be insolent.’ Proverbs 29:21

Solomon says we need to be willingly obedient.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Such persons are generally forgetful of their obligations, assume the rights and privileges of children, and are seldom good for any thing.’

‘An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honour.’ Proverbs 29:22-23

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘See here the mischief that flows from an angry, passionate, furious disposition.

1. It makes men provoking to one another: An angry man stirs up strife, is troublesome and quarrelsome in the family and in the neighbourhood, blows the coals, and even forces those to fall out with him that would live peaceable and quietly by him.

2. It makes men provoking to God: A furious man, who is wedded to his humours and passions, cannot but abound in transgressions. Undue anger is a sin which is the cause of many sins; it not only hinders men from calling upon God’s name, but it occasions their swearing, and cursing, and profaning God’s name.

Although pride is meant to lift us up, it really brings us down, Proverbs 11:2 / Proverbs 16:18-19 / James 4:6-10 / 1 Peter 5:5.

‘The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies; they are put under oath and dare not testify.’ Proverbs 29:24

These accomplices won’t tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we hear that a person broke the law, do not remain silent, Leviticus 5:1.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘On the first discovery of the theft, the person wronged, Judges 17:2, or the judge of the city (marginal reference), pronounced a solemn curse on the thief and on all who, knowing the offender, were unwilling to give evidence against him. The accomplice of the thief hears that curse, and yet is silent, and so falls under it, and “destroys his own soul.’

‘Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.’ Proverbs 29:25

We shouldn’t be afraid of people because they can’t do eternal harm, 1 Samuel 15:24 / Matthew 10:28 / Luke 12:4-5.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Saul, Aaron, and Peter are examples of men who were stained by the fear of man. “How often has this led weak men, though sincere in their general character, to deny their God, and abjure his people!’

‘Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.’ Proverbs 29:26

A person may not be punished by the law of the land, but God will not let him go unpunished, 1 Corinthians 4:4.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘To be screened from the punishment determined by the law; but should he grant the favor sought, and pardon the criminal, this takes not away his guilt in the sight of God, from whom all just judgment proceeds.’

‘The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.’ Proverbs 29:27

Here we see the contestant clash in our society, Genesis 3:15 / Proverbs 29:10. This is good versus evil; God versus the devil, Cain versus Abel, and Christians versus non-Christians, Jeremiah 6:16.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The words point out not only the antagonism between the doers of good and evil, but the instinctive antipathy which the one feels toward the other.’

‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’ Genesis 3:15

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