3 A ruler who oppresses the poor
is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
4 Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
but those who heed it resist them.
5 Evildoers do not understand what is right,
but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.
The poor may not have much, but they have potential. The wise ruler seeks to cultivate their success, knowing that the fruit of their flourishing will eventually outweigh his investments. Because he is generous with them, all of society benefits from their improvement. The foolish ruler squanders potential, robbing the poor of their hope to prosper. Without hope, why work harder than one must? Without opportunity, what is there to do but survive?
“Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked, but those who heed it resist them.” The way a person responds to evil is a window into their character. It takes courage to resist the wicked, the same courage enables a person to carry out instruction even when it is difficult. Those who praise the wicked are bound to imitate them. At first they forsake instruction because they hate it, but eventually they despise instruction because they have forsaken it. As they stray further and further from obedience, their cowardice is hardened into contempt. Not only do they reject instruction, they despise those who heed it. Instead of fighting evil, they fight those who fight evil.
“Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.” Refusal to do what is right eventually turns into the inability understand what is right. Evildoers may commit themselves to many causes, but their efforts are doomed by their lack of understanding. Because they’ve failed to deal with the evil within, they are incapable of remedying the evil without. Those who seek the Lord, however, understand their own flaws because they oppose them. Through obedience they gain understanding of themselves, and of the reasons why the Lord’s commands are worth following. They have the dignity of participating in what the Lord is doing in the world, and the assurance that His will will prevail.