Proverbs 28:28

ESV When the wicked rise, people hide themselves, but when they perish, the righteous increase.
NIV When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.
NASB When the wicked rise, people hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
CSB When the wicked come to power, people hide, but when they are destroyed, the righteous flourish.
NLT When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding. When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish.
KJV When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

What does Proverbs 28:28 mean?

Prior lessons noted that when evil people come to power, it drives their subjects to hide (Proverbs 28:2, 4, 12, 15–16). That might not mean cowering underground, literally, but it can include fear of speaking or acting. The less a culture follows righteousness, the fewer good examples are seen, so the descent into sin accelerates (Proverbs 14:34; 29:18). Wicked rulers see their roles as a means to power and wealth (Proverbs 22:16, 22; 31:9). Godly leaders seek to honor the Lord and serve their people (Proverbs 16:12; 20:26; 29:4).

The reign of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:30–33; 21:25) caused God's prophets to go into hiding (1 Kings 18:4). It was a reign of terror. However, this verse presents a vivid contrast. When those wicked oppressors die, righteous people no longer hide; they increase, literally, "become great." They celebrate the demise of the wicked rulers (Proverbs 11:10), and they thrive. They come out of hiding and become prosperous.

This pattern even applies to the end times. The tribulation period will see the rise of two beasts: one political (Revelation 13:1–4), the other religious (Revelation 13:11–18). Their evil influence covers a wide area, and the beasts force people to serve them under penalty of death (Revelation 13:5–10). When Jesus judges them and seizes control of earth, He will reign in righteousness for a thousand years, and people will thrive during those peaceful times (Revelation 20:1–6).
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