Proverbs 28:1

ESV The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
NIV The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
NASB The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion.
CSB The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
NLT The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions.
KJV The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

What does Proverbs 28:1 mean?

This proverb notes one tendency of a guilty conscience: to be defensive even without an accusation. A person who knows they are at fault for something—or believes as much—may become excessive in attempts to clear their name. A related series of English expressions are variations of the phrase, "you protest too much," adapted from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. These are used when another person's claims of innocence seem insincere and overdone, to the point of suggesting guilt, instead.

Here, Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) depicts morally guilty persons as paranoid, because of their conscience. Their sinful lifestyle leads them to assume that consequences are always just around the corner. In this imagery, they are like criminals who run from law officers who aren't even aware a crime has happened. In spiritual application, this attempt to "flee" from accountability is a common human response to God. When Jonah refused to obey God, he boarded a ship that was bound for a destination as far from Nineveh as possible (Jonah 1:1–3). When God rains down wrath on the wicked in the tribulation period, world leaders will try to hide from God. They will wish for landslides to hide them from His anger (Revelation 6:15–17).

By contrast, those with a clear conscience (Acts 24:16; Hebrews 13:18) have no such fears. Lions, in most circumstances, fear no predators or hostile enemies. They proceed with confidence and assurance, lacking fear: they are "bold." The person who does right can rest assured that God will vindicate them in the end (1 Peter 3:16). Just as false guilt exists, so too can a person lack conviction for sin (Matthew 24:38–39; Acts 3:17). Lack of conviction is not a perfect test for righteousness (1 Corinthians 4:4). Yet peace is a genuine benefit of personal integrity (Psalm 4:8; Proverbs 10:9).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: