Proverbs 29:16

When the Wicked are Multiplied

Introduction: This proverb speaks of the results of bad leadership. The result is that sin increases.

16a When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth:

A. When the Wicked are Multiplied

1. Solomon speaks here about the wicked in general – wicked people.

a. His point may be simply that the more wicked people there are, the more wickedness there will be.

b. When wicked people are multiplied, there will be more transgression and sin… injustice… lawlessness… crime and violence.

c. This is certainly true—and the proverb may be making that general point.

d. However, it is also possible that Solomon had wicked leaders in mind here.

e. Usually leaders are a reflection of the people. People put in power someone who is like them. When the wicked multiply in the land – there will be wicked leaders in positions of power and authority.

2. Solomon has mentioned leadership (both the wicked and righteous) several times Proverbs chapters 28-29.

a. Prov. 29:2 – Here he speaks of when the righteous are in authority or when the wicked bear rule. There are consequences to leadership—and the people pay the price… either rejoicing or mourning.

b. Prov. 28:2 – “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”
• When transgression fills the land, there will be many princes… because they won’t last long.
• Again he speaks of the relationship between the people and their rulers.

c. Prov. 28:12 – there is great glory!
• Note the contrast in this proverb: he is speaking about righteous vs. wicked men rising to power.
• Men hide when wicked men are ruling.

d. Prov. 28:28 – “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
• When the wicked ruler perishes then the righteous increase… they prosper—they thrive… they no longer fear for their lives or their wellbeing.

e. In Prov. 29:16, when Solomon mentions the wicked being multiplied and the consequences of it, it is best to understand him to mean (as he has several times in the last two chapters) to refer to wicked rulers and leaders and their effect of their wicked reign on the righteous people in the land.
• The context may hint at this.
• Also, the meaning of the word “multiplied.” The Hebrew word means to increase, to be many, to be great, to excel, and one of the meanings is “to be in authority.”
• Dan. 2:48 – “Then the king made Daniel a great (same word) man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.”

B. The History of Israel and Judah

1. Israel’s and Judah’s histories are FULL of the multiplication of wicked rulers.

a. All of the kings of Israel were wicked.

b. Most of the kings of Judah were wicked.

2. Of course, Solomon is writing this at the early stages of Israel’s history – before the division of the nation and before the influx of unrighteous kings.

a. Up to this point, David and Solomon were the only two kings in the royal line.

b. And though not perfect, they were godly men who loved the Lord.

c. Solomon was not aware of just how prophetic this proverbial statement would become over time.

d. Israel’s history demonstrated the truthfulness of this proverb.

C. Transgression Increaseth

1. When wicked rulers were multiplied in Israel and Judah, transgression certainly DID increase.

a. When wicked rulers came to power, wicked men seemed to increase and multiply. Wicked men beget wickedness.

b. Certainly the wicked leadership of Ahab and the wicked influence of his wife Jezebel resulted in untold multiplication of wickedness in Israel – idolatry, rejection of Jehovah God, immorality, lies, treachery, violence, etc.

c. Then multiply this by all the other wicked kings. No one could deny the truth that when wicked men rule, transgressions increase in the land.

d. All wicked men in positions of authority have to do is to pass a wicked law and transgressions increase.
• Consider the sins that abounded when men voted to allow slavery. (untold evil and abuse was a direct result)
• Consider the sins that abounded when men voted to allow abortions and made them legal. (millions of unborn babies have been scrambled alive in the womb)
• Consider the sins that abounded when men today have voted to legalize gay marriage (transgression does and will abound!)
• Consider the sins that abound when men vote to legalize drugs. (God help us… transgression will increase)

e. When the wicked are multiplied, sin abounds.
• When such laws are passed, people begin to think that it is NORMAL.
• During slavery, people began to think that slavery was normal.
• Today, most people look at abortion as normal – because it is legal and so many people get abortions.
• Gay marriage will soon seem normal to our kids and grandkids.
• Drug stores may soon be selling not only Tylenol, but marijuana and who knows what else… and after a while it will seem normal.
• It is NOT normal, but it will seem normal.
• The multiplication of wickedness causes transgression to increase.
• When there is a lowering of moral tone and attitude in the land (or in a business—or in a church) it is a perfect environment for sin to prevail.
• Wicked people promote wicked ideas… and they catch on… and over time seem normal. And once it seems normal, it is accepted by society and increases.
• And people become emboldened in wickedness when wickedness increases and becomes accepted in society.
• And it is not easy to reverse wickedness. It is hard to reverse when the wicked are MULTIPLIED…. And their ways become entrenched in the thinking of the majority.

2. And it might seem like the wicked will hold on to power forever.

a. They keep on multiplying and multiplying.

b. Sin abounds under their leadership.

c. It probably seems like a lost cause to the righteous in the land.

d. Vs. 2 – It causes the righteous to mourn. They feel defeated, discouraged, and perhaps a bit hopeless for the future of their nation.

e. Prov. 28:28 – When the wicked rise to power, the righteous have to hide out of fear of persecution or abuse.
• Darkness hates the light.
• Those who stand for truth and righteousness are not treated well by the wicked—especially when the wicked are in positions of power.
• The voices of the righteous are no longer heard.

16b But the righteous shall see their fall.

1. But Solomon gives some very good news in times when wickedness seems to rule and reign.

a. The good news is that the wickedness will not last forever.

b. The good news is that the righteous will one day see the FALL of those evil men and their wicked ways.

c. Somehow, someday, and in some way, the righteous will prevail.

d. The righteous will one day see the FALL of the wicked.

e. Wickedness may seem to prevail all throughout life, but our proverb states that the prosperity and the reign of the wicked will not last forever.

f. Just read the book of Revelation. Even if you don’t understand any of the symbols, you do get the picture that in the end, the wicked are judged, and God rules.

g. Solomon doesn’t tell us when, but he does state the fact: in the end, righteousness triumphs.

h. Job 20:5-8 – Zophar had it right when he said, “That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? 6Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; 7Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? 8He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night.”

2. There are examples in the Old Testament of righteous men seeing the “fall” of the wicked.
• Noah saw the destruction of those who perished in the flood.
• Abraham saw the destruction of those in Sodom and Gomorrah.
• The Israelites saw the fall and destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.
• But ultimately, when the Kingdom is established, righteousness will finally reign on earth.
• Jer. 23:5 – “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”

3. Psalm 37:34-38 – Eventually, the wicked will be cut off and the righteous rewarded.