Guilt and fear are twin maladies for many. One can only imagine how many are dependent upon psychotic drugs because they have failed to confess their sin and face their fears. Like Adam and Eve who, hearing the voice of God in the garden, “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8), many are too proud to deal honestly with their sin. Left unresolved, sin and the fear of man drive many from the opportunity of restoration.
Proverbs 28:1 draws a contrast between the fear of the guilty and the courage of the innocent. We read:
Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked [ungodly; guilty] flee [take flight] when no man pursueth: but the righteous [innocent] are bold [confident] as a lion.”
I have seen this pattern throughout my years in ministry. Someone sins and, rather than humbly confessing their sorrow for the offense, they avoid facing the one they have wronged. Strained friendships result when a proud offender flees responsibility and fails to love his friend enough to ask forgiveness. The apostle John exhorted Christians be honest, “walk in the light”, don’t be self-deceived and “confess our sins” (1 John 1:7-9).
The ungodly flee out of fear; while the just and upright, delivered from the shackles of guilt and fear, is “bold as a lion” when he speaks (1 John 4:18).
Since we have drawn a contrast between the wicked and the righteous, let us note one more parable that draws a contrast between the two.
Proverbs 28:4 – “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.”
What a cutting insight this proverb gives us for why men are so apt to praise the deeds of the wicked, but find fault with the righteous. Those who offer gratuitous praise of the wicked are themselves deserters of God’s Law (Romans 1:32)! Remember the idiom, “Birds of a feather flock together!”
Taking the characteristic of the righteous who are “bold as a lion” (28:1), we note they “keep the law” and contend with the wicked (28:4b)! To be contentious is not the desire of a righteous man, but neither will he, nor can he, be silent when he observes injustices. The righteous, moved by his fidelity to God, contends, strives, stirs up and engages the wicked.
1 Peter 3:16-17 – “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.”