Proverbs 29 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Stiff-necked – Inflexibly obstinate, haughty, stubborn. –Merriam Webster
Within the Old and New Testaments, this word was used for those who were stubborn and unable to be led. This term was used often in agricultural purposes and very familiar to Jewish listeners. It was a term concerning a plowman working with two oxen. The farmer was required to guide the oxen with one hand and use an ox-goad in the other. This light poke had an iron spike at the end of it which was used to prick the hind legs of the oxen being stubborn to increase their speed or used on the neck to keep them on the straight course needed. So, if an ox was hard to control or stubborn, this pole was used and the animal was called stiff neck.
Consequently, this term was used by teachers and prophets, the apostles and Jesus Himself who spoke of these who were unresponsive to the guidance of God, set in their ways and stubborn.
“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”Proverbs 29:1
Sometimes the lack of humility within an individual is stunningly shocking. It is a terrible thing to watch someone who has no intention of bowing their knee in obedience to the Father, reject the spiritual leadership He’s established in others to lead them. It is such a burden to watch someone who is so determined to do things their way, make no bones about apologies and carry on in their drive to do things their way. Oh yes, they may super spiritualize things, but God knows the heart and knows the motives. And because He loves, He will pull out that ox-goad of His to break their will. Sometimes that brings devastation.
Correction and discipline are also written of throughout the Old and New Testaments and it is obvious that these are not done through hate but because of love. These are done because God loves so much He desires and will go to whatever extreme necessary to get them back on the path of which He is leading.
I sometimes look at situations and individuals and wonder, “How much further can they fall? How much more can they lose?” These are lamenting thoughts as for some they seemingly don’t get it and are standing in the wreckage of their choices, still defiant. God who loves so much more than we can fathom, will use whatever it takes to bring these to that point of total surrender. If you are watching a loved one or an individual of your life who is in this place, pray strongly for the Holy Spirit to breakthrough their stubbornness. Ask God to do whatever it takes to get them back to the place of His will. Pray boldly for the pride of their heart to be broken so they may seek Him in repentance and purpose.
Proverbs 29 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
“Bloodthirsty men hate an honest person, but the upright care about him.”Proverbs 29:10 HCSB
“When the wicked increase, rebellion increases, but the righteous will see their downfall.”Proverbs 29:16 HCSB
“An unjust man is detestable to the righteous, and one whose way is upright is detestable to the wicked.”Proverbs 29:27 HCSB
This chapter is full of verses contrasting good with evil.
In verse 10, we read of the increasing tension between those who seek to cause hate, destruction and bloodshed, and those who are upright, righteous followers of God’s ways. Take note that these “men of bloodshed” are not rebuked for refusing to be all-inclusive. The idea of tolerance is very popular these days. They are rebuked for hating God’s ways and hating God’s people.
Verse 16 highlights the fall that takes places when the wicked get their way. This is especially true for leaders. When a wicked person is put into a position of leadership, transgression increases. In my opinion, the most difficult aspect of watching a wicked person on a rampage is wrestling with the tension of God’s patience. Often, we want to see Him do more in the situation.
Like Jonah, we want to see God’s wrath poured out on Nineveh. We desire for conniving people to be supernaturally disarmed in this life. Verse 16 promises that the righteous will see the downfall of their own evil. This requires an insane amount of trust because we may not see that downfall in our lifetime.
Verse 27 further illustrates the point made in verse 10. Are we surprised when people who hate God also hate us? Jesus told us in this life we will have trouble. Just as Proverbs reminds us in chapter 25, we are to love our enemies and in doing so, will reap hot coals on their heads. Love them, pray for them, and do not be surprised when persecution comes. Trust that God will right every wrong. Believe that His love never fails.