“When the righteous triumph, there is great rejoicing, but when the wicked come to power, people hide themselves.” (Proverbs 28:12 HCSB)
A trip to our nation’s capitol reveals the close connection between the founding of our government and faith in God. Tour the monuments, and you will see quote after quote engraved in stone referencing God’s role in providing and preserving this nation. The writings of the founding fathers often attest to their conviction that God’s grace and good government are inseparable. Our first President, George Washington declared, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
The Bible has much to say about government. Proverbs, in particular, has abundant teaching about the important role of godly rulers to good government. Today’s Bible reading leads us to reflect on the nature of good government.
SENSIBLE LEADERSHIP LEADS TO STABLE LIFE
“When a land is in rebellion, it has many rulers, but with a discerning and knowledgeable person, it endures.” (Proverbs 28:2)
“A king who judges the poor with fairness--his throne will be established forever.” (Proverbs 29:14)
Constant upheaval in government is a mark of a nation in rebellion against God. There is no stability because the foundation is not solid. Such a people have abandoned the bedrock of truth. The prevailing winds of popular opinion elicit promises from partisan politicians and when that party fails to deliver, then the ship of state finds a new pilot to direct them in the opposite direction. The ship speeds back and over on the same spot of open sea, but never really getting anywhere. Eventually, the ship will sink, unless a principled pilot and crew arises that steer by the spiritual North Star—the fixed reference point—Scriptural principles. Citizens in rebellion against God’s authority, however, look for leaders who tell them what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. The godly leader delivers justice for all the citizens—and a Just God promises to establish such a government.
MORALLY BANKRUPT LEADERS WILL MONETARILY BANKRUPT THE LAND
“A destitute leader who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no food.” (Proverbs 28:3)
Rain is important to water the fields and grow the crops. But, if there is a cloudburst, then that which might have been productive, becomes destructive. The seed is swept away and the fertile soil washed downstream. Solomon likens this to a ruler coming to power who has been poor, and so promises to help the poor because, “I feel your pain,” but then in office, takes from the poor to enrich himself. The fundamental problem is that a leader who is destitute in his soul will suck the blood of the nation’s economy. Who suffers the most? Not the powerful, but the poor. It is interesting to note that while we hear more about taxing the rich and redistributing to the poor, that poverty is increasing, government’s share is growing and those who occupy government are living lavishly while claiming to champion “fairness” to all. The rhetoric does not match the reality--vacuous promises of vacant hearts that are void of God.
THE VALUES OF THOSE IN AUTHORITY AFFECT THE CITIZENRY
“When the righteous triumph, there is great rejoicing, but when the wicked come to power, people hide themselves.” (Proverbs 28:12)
“When the wicked come to power, people hide, but when they are destroyed, the righteous flourish.” (Proverbs 28:28)“When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)
There are those in public life who have been championing pragmatism. They say that the character of a leader is insignificant so long as they get results. But the end does not justify the means. This is a house of cards that will one day collapse. A godly ruler knows he or she is accountable to God. They can exercise authority properly because they are under God’s authority. At their core, they have convictions that guide them and this brings joy to the citizens. On the other hand, the wicked man is in bondage to his own evil heart and this breeds tyranny. He doesn’t fear God, and so terrorizes the people. Perhaps you have seen the bumper sticker, “Character counts; morals matter.” Competence is important too—but character is indispensable in leadership.
MONEY HAS A CORRUPTING POWER IN GOVERNMENT
“A wicked ruler over a helpless people is like a roaring lion or a charging bear. A leader who lacks understanding is very oppressive, but one who hates dishonest profit prolongs his life.” (Proverbs 28:15-16)
“By justice a king brings stability to a land, but a man [who demands] ‘contributions’ demolishes it.” (Proverbs 29:4)
Influence peddling is not anything new. Solomon warned about how leaders can be swayed by greed. We hear politicians pledge to stop this, and seemingly forget those promises as soon as they take their oath. The leader becomes a prostitute to the lobbyist who buys their favor. It doesn’t matter to those who wish to obtain influence which political party is in power—the game remains the same.A RULER IS IMPACTED BY HIS ADVISORS
“If a ruler listens to lies, all his officials will be wicked.” (Proverbs 29:12)
We tend to look at the Presidential candidate and make a judgment based solely on the way they look, what they promise, and sometimes their previous record. But, it is critical to examine those behind the scenes who influence them. A man is known by the company he keeps. One should look past the public persona and examine the personal philosophy of the potential leader. What kind of books do they read? What kind of people do they listen to? Who are their heroes? If they are married, what is their spouse like? The past that has shaped them is the greatest predictor of their future course. Can a man or woman sit year after year under the preaching of warped theology and it not twist their thinking? Can a person spend hours in the home, in the classroom and in organizations of Marxists and terrorists and it not impact their philosophy? It might be possible for someone to change—with God all things are possible—but apart from that the dreams of ones father can become a nightmare to a nation.
GOD IS THE ULTIMATE RULER
“Many seek a ruler's favor, but a man receives justice from the Lord.” (Proverbs 29:26)
The Christian is a citizen of two kingdoms. In my case, I am a citizen of the
. As such, I have a responsibility to be a law-abiding citizen, and in our form of government, a precious opportunity to participate in selecting those law-makers. If I am not seeking to elect godly leaders, then I have no reason to complain about the rule of the ungodly. But, I am also a citizen of the United States of America . Jesus is my King—He is the King of kings. My ultimate allegiance is to Him, and in the final analysis, His will is going to be imposed. This is the inexorable march of the Conquering Christ. Kingdom of God
There is coming a day when, “The kingdom of the world has become the [kingdom] of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever!” (Rev.11:15)
But, until that day, we must be busy doing all we can to serve our Lord faithfully. That means influencing the kingdom of this age in view of the Kingdom of the age to come. The Word of God instructs us in the kind of leadership we need today.