My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; Proverbs 5:1
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." This was the way Shakespeare began the speech of Mark Antony in Julius Caesar. It was a cry for people to listen and to pay close attention because something very important was going to be said. Proverbs has its own soliloquies as well - but they come from the mouths of mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters. This is how the father begins his speech to his son - by calling him to listen and to pay close attention to what he is going to say.
Give attention, pay heed, pay attention, listen is what the father is saying to his son. But he is not calling him to attention to just anything - he is calling his attention to the wisdom that the father shares with him. Wisdom is the familiar word "chokmah" in the Hebrew meaning which means not just seeing or knowing things from God's perspective - but having a skill and experience in using this wisdom to make moral and practical decisions. We are not to turn the education and en-wisening of our children over to others. That is what western culture has done too often. We turn our kids over to the school - even to their Sunday school teachers and youth leaders. Let them teach our children wisdom - that's what they're for right? WRONG! They are there to only add to and embellish the core teachings that should have come from us. When we do not do our jobs as parents - believe me - no one else can make up for it.
The father calls his son to bend his ear close when he speaks and when he instructs. "Incline your ear" is like Shakespeares, "Lend me your ears," comment. It is saying to the son that he needs to stretch out his ears - bend them toward what the father is saying. He is to extend and lean his ears to what is being said - but even more to that - to understand his father's words and see how they apply to all of life! We talk about how the younger generation is leaving the church. They are leaving because they see very little relevance to their lives from what is being taught. They see the Bible as stories told to them when they were little - as an antiquated book that no longer applies to today's world. Why? Because they did not hear from dad - nor see in dad a daily pursuit of the truth - as well as a daily understanding of how that truth applies to making decisions in the everyday life that he leads. Of course they are going to think it is of little value. Oh, but when a father teaches his children these things - calls them to listen and bend their ear close as he instructs them. When dad reveals to them a life lived from the perspective of God and of Scripture - that - dear brothers and sisters is a life that will call a son to follow. That child will value what he has heard and SEEN in his father. He will listen because he has SEEN how important this book - the Bible - is to how his father lives. That, my brothers is how we recapture this generation. We do so by living according to God's wisdom - then calling our sons to listen as we recount time after time when that wisdom guided us through the minefields of life. What is the particular "minefield" that the father is so intent on teaching to his son? It is the minefield of sexual immorality. He is talking to his son about women - actually about a certain kind of woman - the immoral one. He is also sharing much wisdom with his son about the battle that will ensue when he deals with women like this. He does not hide such things from his son - he teaches them honestly and very straight forwardly. This is not something that is relegated to the sex ed teacher - it is something the father teaches his son. I'm about to say some things that will probably offend some - while at the same time making others shout for joy that someone is saying them out loud. Sex education was meant to be taught at home and in the church. Never was this meant to be a topic brought up without very clear moral underpinnings. If you look at the first 9 chapters of Proverbs you will see that this issue was raised BY THE FATHER to the son several times. God intended for a godly father to teach his son about sex - and about the pitfalls of being a fallen male in this world. The Bible is not squeamish on the matter of sexuality. It faces it head on - sharing general teaching, instruction, warnings, as well as cautionary historical examples of sexuality running wild and causing great destruction. I've long held that if the whole Bible was ever to be put on film - it would carry at least an R rating. The perils of heterosexual sin, homosexuality, and perversion are not hidden from us. They are displayed in such a way that we see their destructive power and desire to avoid them. Dad, are you teaching your son these things? Have you sat down and taught him about his sexuality - with a proper moral foundation underneath so that his sexuality does not run rampant and destroy relationships and possibly even his health and welfare? Because the church has not stepped out in front on such issues - and because fathers have not taught their sons and instructed them in how to wisely deal with their sexuality - the world has taken over. The result is sexuality taught without biblical morality. How's that working for us so far? Have we brought about a safer, wiser, more responsible sexuality among our children and youth? It has been a disaster because teaching sexuality without morality has led to a sex-crazed society that has cheapened sex and made it accessible and acceptable in every situation. Dads . . . YOU are responsible for how your son and daughter views sexuality. If you do not teach them the truth - they most likely will not know it. The television and movies will not tell them about such things within a biblical context. Magazines and books won't do it either. They will promote the perversions of sex passed on by our society and those who view sex as an anything goes activity - just so long as you use protection. Fathers! Nothing will protect your child from the dangers of unbiblical sex. There is not a condom or a safety device made that protects the heart and the spirit from the devastation and destructive power of sin. May God grant us a revival among fathers - that we will call our children to listen - and we will talk to them frankly and honestly about their sexuality. May we also give them a godly, biblical framework in which to enjoy their sexuality as God intended. If we do not talk to them and teach them - I can promise you others will who have no intention of offering them the greatest protection we can have in sex - the wisdom of God.
The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal: Proverbs 30:1
Here we have an interesting verse in Proverbs. It is generally accepted that this person named Agur was an actual man - and that his students, Ithiel and Ucal were also real as well. Thus this is probably part of the collection of wisdom that Solomon had. He was probably greatly impressed by this collection of wise sayings and incorporated it into his own collection as well.
What do we know of these three men. Well, beyond the meaning of their names and this particular collection of sayings - nothing. Yet God used them to offer to us an entire chapter of Agur's wise sayings. In fact, Agur is called, "the oracle," which means that Solomon considered him a prophet - or at least a man inspired by God to put these sayings from Him into a list of sorts. Let's take a closer look at their names and what they mean.
Agur means collector or gatherer. This name probably designates that he was a collector of wise sayings - but the "son of Jakeh" refers to his father. Jakeh means to be on one's guard - and this particularly before God Himself. Thus the idea here is that of piety - guarding ourselves before God - and guarding others so that they walk in godliness. Thus, when we grasp Agur's full name - he would be considered to be the gatherer, the son of the man who guarded piety - who desired to walk in holiness and purity before God. If a name meant anything - and in Hebrew culture it did - then this was quite a man God used to collect these sayings from God and then declare them as an oracle from God Himself.
Not only did this man offer these wise sayings as much needed wisdom - he took the time to state them to others. Ithiel and Ucal were Agur's students. Ithiel means, "with me is God" while Ucal means "to eat or to devour." These are quite the names of his students. Evidently his students wanted the presence of God in their lives - and also had a hunger for the things of God. At least this is what their parents hoped and desired for them when they named their children.
We come back to this verse - apart from trying to gain information from the names themselves and see a very important principle of discipleship here. At face value, we have a situation where a godly man - even a prophet or oracle of God is taking two others under his wing for the purpose of declaring to them the things God has made known to him. This is the heart of true discipleship. Life on life ministry is so important. It is not enough to just try to read the Bible - we so desperately need for godly men to pour their lives into younger men and pass wisdom to them. Jesus did it with 12 - Paul did it with Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Epaphroditus and others. If we are wise, we will do it too.
The other thing we learn is that this kind of discipleship only happens as godly men take the time to spend a life gathering wisdom from God for the purpose of living a godly, holy, God-glorifying life. That means a life devoted to reading, studying, and knowing the Word of God. This means other things that waste our time need to be set aside for the Word. In our day we have young men who are experts at video games - who spend countless hours playing them. They will not be wise. There are others who waste countless hours watching television - and in our current culture - who use netflix to watch entire seasons of shows for days at a time. They too will not become wise. A choice has to be made to become an Agur, an Ithiel, or a Ucal. The choise has to do with time - with what is eternal - and with whether we desire to be worldly-wise - or Word-wise.
A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understand, there will be no response. Proverbs 29:19
Ever wonder how to deal with someone who works for you - but is not really willing to listen all that well to what you tell them? That is what today's proverb addresses. It speaks of the workplace and relationships within it. This especially relates to those who have employees who are either not working - or - are guilty of slipshod work or work that is counterproductive to what the business is seeking to accomplish.
There are those who will not be instructed by words alone. Solomon speaks to his sons about this fact. Finding a good employee is often a difficult thing to do. There is an attitude that is being fostered today among those who are in the laboring class that will prove to do great damage to our nation - and in fact it already has. That attitude is one of jealousy and envy toward the business owner - and anyone else who makes more than they do for their work. This leads to an attitude where the worker does not listen to his boss when he instructs him on what to do. This brings about poor work habits - a poor work ethic - and an even poorer attitude toward authority. This will cost us millions in lost profit and the benefit that would come from it in future business expansion and growth.
The problem though is not in whether the employee can hear or not. Note from the passage before us that he hears fine - he even understands what has been said to him. The employee has a serious attitude problem though - and refuses to respond to his employer. This lack of respect will result in the worker also not taking the boss seriously. In the end he will do his work with the same attitude with which he listens. So what is an employer to do when these things happen to him?
First, the employer (at least the one in this culture) needs to know that such attitudes will always exist. As long as there is a sin nature in man there will be jealousy and envy in the work environment. The wise employer will work to defuse such things so that the work environment is more healthy. Decrying the sin in workers will do little good - because sin will always be present. What the employer needs to do is to find ways to defuse the problem.
A wise employer seeks to hire people of character. You do background checks and seek information from other employers for this reason. If someone has a bad attitude - don't hire them. They will only bring that bad attitude into your workplace as well. If someone has a history of causing problems in the workplace - they will have that same problem in your situation as well. When you have people with good character - reward them and do all you can to keep them around.
A wise employer also will incentivise his workplace. Just as no employer starts a business for the purpose of providing employment for others - no worker gets a job for the joy of working alone. The employer starts his business to make money. He puts in the hours, makes the sacrifice, and labors hard to make a profit for himself and for his family. He grows the business so that it will expand his profitability - so he can provide better for his family. The worker is motivated by the same thing. He does not work for the joy of working alone. He wants to provide for his family - and would like to see that provision become greater over time. When the workman knows that he will be blessed as the company is blessed - he will work hard. The wise employer will not merely instruct with words - he will make a case for his employees that if things become more profitable for the company, things will be more profitable for everyone who works for the company. Words alone won't elicit response - but a share of the bounty of the company over time will.
A wise employer will also build a servant's heart in his people. He will do this first by his own example. He will not be so detatched from his people that they think he does nothing but play and collect a check. He will spend time with his people - and will let them know that he is a servant to the company as well. They all work together to serve their clientel. That attitude needs to spread to every level of management in the company. It also needs to spread to everyone who works in any position there is. They are not there to be served (which will lead to a bad attitude as they want more and more done FOR them) but to serve, and by so serving to make the company more successful. They are a success when their clients are happy.
Ultimately - the wise employer will let his employees know and see that he does not work for himself - he works for God. This will only be for those employers who submit themselves to God and realize that everything they have is from God. Not only will their employees be judged for their performace - even they as an employer will be as well - by God. God warns both employee and employer that they are responsble to Him. They will have to answer for their actions in the end before His throne. When an employee sees that even his boss submits to God - and wrestles with what is right before Him - it will give the employee a sense of confidence and safety knowing that his boss is not a law unto himself.
Words alone do not often bring about a response when we speak them. Words and promises are cheap - when they are not backed up with character and action. But when we speak the basic self-interest that exists within all of us - and do so with character, godliness, and a servant's heart toward those we lead - we will see response where previously there has been none. Whether it is in reference to a slave - a paid worker - or even family and friends, people want to know that they are doing something that will matter - and will profit them in the end. The truly wise boss will do this - and will let his employees know that the ultimate goal of any business venture in which he is involved is to serve their clients unto the glory of God. Want to have them listen, hear, understand, and respond? Live like this!
If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever. Proverbs 29:14
Just recently we finished an election cycle in the United States. The pattern for many years now has been that the candidate with the most money usually wins the election. Thus, for an American leader, the addage is that whoever can court the most wealthy people and gather the most money will rule over the land. It is not so much how one will rule - or what they plan to do in this country - as it is how many of the wealthy come to their $5000 a plate each fundraisers. One must keep the wealthy happy - or else you will no longer have the money to win an election.
Things were not always like this - in fact, today's proverb gives wise guidance to the leader or king who will hear it. That advice is not based upon men making you or keeping you as their leader. It is insted about caring for things like compassion toward the poor and truth. These are things that have long been trampled under the foot of American political process and theory. Yet God still considers them very important in a leader.
The king is to judge the poor with truth. That is his responsibility. It is an easy thing to forget - especially when the poor do not have the means to protest or challenge an unfair ruling in the courts. It is even more difficult when the one you rule against is rich. The wealthy don't appreciate truth in those situations. But a ruler may not face a challenge greater than maintaining truth when it comes to disputes between the wealthy and the poor. God's wisdom is to judge with truth - then it will not matter what a man's position in life is. Only one thing matters - and that is that truth is upheld.
The promise of God is equally as clear. When you judge the poor with truth - your throne will be established forever. God rewards the king who qppreciates truth and justice more than power and position. The people of that nation will greatly appreciate their king, and will joyfully support him. It is hard to overthrow a king who acts this way because he is very popular among the people.
There was a king in Israel named Ahab who decided that he wanted a piece of land next to his palace. The land was owned by a man who took great pride in his families' inheritance. Though the king offered to purchase the land, the man refused because he desired to keep the land in his family. At this point the king pouted like a two year old because he did not get his way. Others acted on his behalf and got him the land - although it meant departing from the truth and judging unrighteously. So aggregious was this situation that they chose to have the man killed in a false court proceeding. When the king was informed that the dirty deed was done, he went to claim his new garden next to his palace. He was met by the prophet Elijah whom God informed of the entire sordid affair. What was going to be a time of rejoicing over his new land - turned into a horror story. The prophet informed the king that God was going to judge him and his wife for their wickedness - and their unwillingness to treat the poor with truth and justice. Jezebel, the queen, would be eaten by dogs - and the king and all his entire family would be killed and not allowed to rule Israel any longer. This is what happened when the king decided to oppress and abuse the poor. He, his kingdom, and even his legacy were destroyed.
Leaders can get cocky and decide that they are beyond the reach of justice and truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. God will eventually bring even kings and rulers under his bar of justice. Therefore it is good for kings to know that one of the measures of the fitness of their kingdoms is how they treat the poor. Do that with justice and your kingdom will endure. Cast justice to the curb - and you might just find yourself sitting next to those who have previously robbed of justice.
Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations. Proverbs 27:23-24
We are on day three of our look at the Ministry of Neglect - and how to avoid it. Today, we will look at knowing well the condition of our families. This area is one where we are truly dealing with a "flock" God holds us accountable to lead and love. The commands to love our wives and to rear our children in the fear and admonition of The Lord are pretty clear. Yet in the midst of everything that is going on in our lives, it is too easy to not pay attention to these precious people God gives to us.
Note the second half of this verse. Riches are not forever - nor does a crown endure to all generations. There are riches in every area of which we speak. For the family, these riches are the people themselves. These riches are the relationships we have with our spouses and with our children. My relationship with my wife grows a day shorter every day that we live. If I am not careful I will spend a lifetime with a woman I hardly know. Too many marriages wind up being two people who are strangers living in the same home. Do you know your wife? Do you love her? Are you spending time with her - leading her spiritually and loving her in concrete ways? We can get so busy with work - with school - with sports - with life itself that we realize that we've not spent time just being with, talking to, and loving our spouses.
Now consider your children. Here is where we see not only the riches of knowing and being with them, but also the part of this proverb that says how the crown will not endure. If you are a dad or mom, you have a crown in your family. You are to rear your children for Christ. As your children grow up - they want to be with you and learn from you. But remember, the crown will not endure forever. They will grow up and eventually have a mind of their own. They will quickly grow to where they have their own goals, their own spouse, their own family. The crown you have will be passed to your children. Lead and love while you can. Know the condition of their hearts. Know where they are spiritually. Know what they need. Honestly . . . just know them! There will be stressful and hard times - but learn to enjoy your children.
The Ministry of Neglect is unfortunately rampant in our society when it comes to marriage and family. The world says to us that our value and meaning is attained by success in our work. We are successful because of what we do. This leads to neglected marriages and neglected children. Over generations this can be multiplied again and again to where an entire society is damaged. The wisdom of knowing the condition of your spouse - of your marriage - and of your family is worth the time it takes to gain it. It will help us grow spiritually - and it will prevent many problems. May God give us grace to walk in true understanding of the little flock God grants to us - in our homes.
Loyalty and truth preserve the king, And he upholds his throne by righteousness. Proverbs 20:28
What preserves the king or the president of any society? According to today's proverb - which presents to us the wisdom of God - it is loyalty, truth, and righteousness. Now I hear what is happening there where you are reading this - you are rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably. But regardless of what our current society thinks or practices, this proverb is true. So, let's take a look at what is taught here - because good leaders follow these principles.
Loyalty is the first principle we will look at today. A good leader knows that loyalty preserves him and blesses him. But the Bible does not refer to blind loyalty. This begins as loyalty to God and to His principles in Scripture. That loyalty will create in others who see it a desire to follow and be loyal to their leader. The best example of this is king David in the Old Testament. A group of men gathered themselves around David and served him in every situation imaginable. They did this because they watched David be loyal to God's principles first. His loyalty to God showed his men that they could rely on him to be loyal to them. This engendered the most amazing loyalty in them. Therefore the best of leaders do not seek loyalty by commanding it - but rather by being an example of it in their relationship with God.
Truth is the second principle that preserves the king. This follows the first principle because we see that what a leader is becomes far more important than what he requests or demands of his followers. When those who are around him realize that he is an honest man who values truth - they will see that they serve an honorable man. This love of truth will protect and preserve him no matter what happens. Consider Daniel for a moment when thinking about this proverb. Daniel loved the truth of God more than anything else in his life. Therefore when he faced either living according to God's truth - or that of a king corrupted by his officials - Daniel chose God. He prayed to God even though the king made a law saying one could not pray to anyone but him. But what at first seemed to get Daniel in trouble - became the manifestation of how far his God, to whom he prayed, would go to protect and honor him. In the end - even the king pledged to protect not just him - but even the honor due to his God.
Righteousness is the last principle tha preserves the king, This particular promise even states that God will uphold the throne - or seat of power - of one who embraces what it right. In our society we question whether there even is an absolute standard of right beyond what we ourselves choose to make our own personal standard. Thus, over time, we've embraced things that oppose God's standards and are trying to make them right - even though they will be the very things that undermine the pillars of our society and make it crumble. The godly leader realizes that God is the One with absolute authority to determine matters of right and wrong. He also realizes that God has revealed Himself through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in the Bible. Therefore a wise leader holds to things like the 10 commandments as a basis of good law. He sees the value of using the Bible in case law to help determine what is right and wrong. As a result, such leaders have God's very standard of right upon which to build stability in a nation. Granted such things require the rule of law, which can be hard to embrace. Without it though, a society will become lawless and will degenerate to however the flesh desires to live. If you read the latter part of Romans 1 and Galatians 5:16-20, you will see that such a state will be very lawless indeed.
Rule by true loyalty to God, truth, and righteousness is a rule that God Himself will support. There is no guarantee that such a rule will not face difficulties, but at least one knows that God's support and deliverance will be there to help such a nation survive the worst of times as well as the best of them. How wonderful it would be if such wise leadership would return to our nation. The way we can support such a move is to first establish these three principles in our own lives - and then teach and widen their influence as God grants us favor. We cannot establish them from a top down election. At this point in our history, such a thing would result in wide-spread revolution. What we need it revival of such things first in the church among our leaders and people. Then as the wisdom of our ways is seen - we can hope and pray that God will allow them to spread through revival and through seeing others embrace them as they embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This, dear brothers and sisters, is the way to establish godly leadership. First it comes individually - and then through influence it spreads to larger groups. May we be wise enough to embrace it now - and pray that it spreads through the grace of God to His glory - and our benefit.
The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. Proverbs 20:27
Here is a proverb that wisely reveals to us the workings of the Spirit of God within a man. One might ask how this imparts wisdom to us. We must remember though the definition of wisdom. That definition is seeing things as God sees them - and thus making decisions that are in concert with His will and purposes. With wisdom defined in this way we can easily see why a verse showing us the workings of the Holy Spirit in man is very valuable to grasping wisdom in our lives. Such information allows us to better understand how God imparts and gives us His wisdom.
The first thing we learn is that the "spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord." A lamp is something we use to give us light. What is being said to us is that the lamp of God is the spirit of man. When God wants to reveal Himself and make Himself and His wisdom known to man, He does so in and through our spirit. By the working of the Holy Spirit - Who speaks in our spirit - we are made aware of the mind and heart of God. Watchman Nee in his amazing volume on the working of the Holy Spirit, The Spiritual Man, spoke of how the Holy Spirit worked in us through our intuition, our conscience, and through something I'll call "our knower." Let's take a look at these three features of our spirit in concert with God's Spirit.
God reveals Himself to us primarily through His Word. As we read and know His revelation of Himself in the Word, the Holy Spirit will speak to our conscience. This might also be referred to as conviction. We are convicted of truth and our conscience speaks to us. This is not some kind of "devil on one shoulder - angel on the other" kind of experience. Instead is it a settled understanding of some things. First is might be that soemthing it true - true about God - true about who we are in Christ - true morally - true in any number of ways. Our conscience speaks to us and we know that it is true (because we see it in God's Word). We also might see that something is sinful. God's Word points out an action, an attitude, a word spoken - and our conscience bothers us as we come to the settled conviction that either we have sinned, or that something is sin. Another way this works is when we are convicted about something as the will of God. Our conscience prods us to act - to speak - to turn away from some temptation or toward an act of obedience - serving in some way - witnessing - and any number of other aspects of walking in obedience with God.
The second tool used by the Holy Spirit is our intuition. This really also fits the idea of our "knower." This is when the Spirit of God works in our spirit to help us just 'know' that soemthig is true. This would speak to the working of God to simply through an intuitive knowledge - to bear witness with the truth. One thing about this 'intuitive' aspect of God's working must be said. That is that God's Spirit will NEVER contradict God's Word in what He grants us as intuitive knowledge. Probably the best way I can describe this working is that we have a sense that someting is wrong - or something is warning us that we are about to sin. There is also a way where we just know that something is God's will and that we should act. Again - this is one of the more subjective ways the Spirit of God works - so this must be tested with God's Word - and a working knowledge of it.
We need to note how God's lamp works in this proverb. We read that it, "searches all the innermost parts of our being." God's lamp - our spirit as the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us - searches us out. Even to the very innermost parts of our being this lamp lights things up within us. The reason this is needed is at least in part because sin has made it difficult to know our own hearts. Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all else and is dsperately wicked. We are told immediately afterward, "I the Lord search the heart." Thus this working by God's lamp is vital to us knowing the truth.
It is wise to regularly - even daily or hourly - submit to the teaching, leading, and searching of the Holy Spirit of God. This work that God does is so very important if we want to know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to teach us - we know the truth. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to lead us - we will walk in the will and ways of God consistently. When we surrender to Him and allow Him to search us - we will be delivered from sin and from deceiving ourselves by following our hearts instead of being led by the Spirit and the Word. Wisdom - yes this proverb gives us great wisdom indeed.
In a multitude of people is a king's glory, But in the dearth of people is a prince's ruin. Proverbs 14:28
A king is not a king unless he has a kingdom over which to rule. A kingdom will not exist where the people are not fruitful and multiply. Therefore it is wise for kings to encourage their people to grow in number. Today's proverb handles this situation - but the implications of this proverb are fascinating, especially when applied to what is happening in both the United States and Europe.
The simple meaning of this proverb is obvious - a king needs people to have his kingdom flourish. When there is a multitude of people under his rule - he is blessed, but when there is a declining population within the kingdom - it points to the ruin of his son. The son will have a far smaller kingdom over which to rule - or possibly none at all.
As I stated at the beginning of this post, this has amazing ramifications for both our nation and the nations of Europe. Both places have declining populations when it comes to the original population of the countries. As a result of this both of these regions are trying their best to maintain population growth by immigration. The problem is that as the numbers of immigrants grow, they are having more and more influence in the policies and direction of the nation. Give this direction a few more years - and soon Europe will be different - completely different than their forefathers. The United States is not that far from this development either. Why is this happening to these once great nations?
For a king to continue to rule over his own people, he has to encourge his own people to multiply in their families. If they do not, the indigenous people of the land will begin to dwindle in numbers. The result of this will be that a different group of people will begin to rise up and rule the land. All this happens because the people do not have children. Or, in our case, they only want 2.4 children or less. That is what has happened in our nation. We have become a people who do not believe that having multiple children is a blessing. This all began with people espousing a worldview that did not value children. We became a people so interested in our own comforot and our own pleasure that we decidd that children were no longer a blessing of the Lord. We came to the conclusion that the man whose quiver if full of children is not blessed at all. In fact, we decided children were a burden - an unnecessary burden - and within a couple of generations - an unwanted burden.
According to the humanistic worldview - this was a wonderful development. We were supposedly choking the world to death with our overpopulation - our poluting - and our urban sprawl. So when people bought this unbiblical view, they stopped having childen, or they did what was necessary to reduce the number of children they have. Everything seemed wonderful and the planet would be saved. But over time, the dearth of children began to weigh heavy on our society. Now we face problems as our system is imploding. It is doing so because we no longer have far more families coming up, because we do not like or enjoy the thought of having multiple children. Programs like Social Security require a larger generation of younger people than in the older generation. Even our national character - is shifting from being European and western to being either Mexican or Islamic.
A wise set of leaders would have had a biblical worldview. That worldview remembers that God said to be fruitful and multiply. The whole concept of overpopulation is foreign to God. He promises to supply our needs if we will live for His glory and obey His Word. But since those things have been jettisoned just as we have done with His view of children and family - we are facing the "dearth of a people."
An interesting thing about this passage is that it says that the prince is ruined by this. The king is to rule not just with an eye toward himself - but toward his sons - and his grandsons. That is a fascinating thing to see here. It is fascinating because one of the curses of our current political fabric is that we only see the immediate future as important. Most of our elected officials actually only see the next election cycle as important - therefore they plan only to keep people fat and happy til past the next election. All the while as we are doing this - the princes of our future (our children) are having their future ruined by the selfishness of the current generation.
Wisdom means that rulers think ahead - they think long-term - and honestly, they should think biblically. To do otherwise is to think in a way that God will not bless. This, more than the economy or any other factor, is what will bring about the blessing or the dearth of our society and its people. We should always remember the verse, "Blessed are the people who are so situated. Blessed is the nation who's God is the Lord."
When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, But when the wicked rise, men hide themselves. Proverbs 28:12
The Bible does not know anything about a political environment where issues of godliness and righteousness are not considered. Since God is sovereign over all things - He is also sovereign over all political entities. So, even though our worldly wisdom counsels us never to mix politics and religion - God knows no such artificial division.
Our proverb today tells us that when the righteous triumph, there is great glory. When godly men rule a nation according to God's ways and laws - that nation will be blessed. We read in the psalms that the nation is truly blessed whose God is the Lord. Too many consider the righteous ruling to be an oppressive thing. Yet we see that it is not godly men who oppress but sinful ones. Sin brings bondage and injustice to a society - whereas godliness brings justice and truth to bear on all that happens there. Solomon gave a godly judgment when the two women were fighting over whether the child was there child or not. But in the end, it was not pure justice that let Solomon know the truth - it was which woman was willing to show mercy. Godly rulers will know both how to administer justice and how to show great mercy.
But when the wicked rise in power - men hide themselves. Consider the history of the despots who have ruled over the affairs of men. Godless men make the populace fear for their lives. They are terrified of a man who knows nothing except his own immediate self-interest. They cringe when his mode of justice knows little beyond swift and terrifying judgment. Very seldom is there mercy manifest. Consider Daniel and his judgment for praying to God rather than to the king. For his supposed crime he was thrown into a lion's den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were cast into a firey furnace because they refused to worship the image of the king. These men were not shown mercy - but were judged swiftly without it.
Over time who segments of the population hide from the king - terrified not just of his justice, but of his anger. There were wicked kings who killed men for being sad in their presence. Others were murdered because the king either did not like them - or thought that they might be an adversary in the future - whether it was true or not. They hide themselves because a wicked king or ruler is untrustworthy in his judgment. They don't know what might come next - or who might be killed for just looking a little suspicious.
The wise man desires a righteous man to triumph. Such a man is far easier to understand - because his decisions will be made on the basis of justice and righteousness. He will judge based upon truth - and it is truth that does not change. You see it again and again in the books of Kings and Chronicles. It is far better to have a righteous king who speaks, lives, and judges according to the truth - than it is to have a wicked king who will ultimately rule on his own authority alone.
By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. Proverbs 11:11
The upright and the wicked have a way of affecting the cities in which they live. The upright are said to exalt a city by the way they speak. They bless the city. The word for bless here is "berakah" and it means to bestow favor upon something or speak well of it. What is interesting about this word is that its root form has the idea of kneeling and blessing. What I see here is that the upright may doesn't just speak blessings over his city - he primarily blesses it when he falls to his knees and prays for it. The blessing here is when a city has many praying, godly men within it.
I know a story of a small town in Alabama where three precious grandmothers began to have great concern for their city. Their concern was that the spiritual climate in the city was going down year after year. They watched with broken hearts as the children of the city grew up and no longer were concerned about spiritual things. Their response to this was to ask a local Methodist minister if they could pray at the altar of their church each night. The ladies began praying at 10 o'clock each evening and ended at 11. Soon, though, they could not finish their prayers at 11 so they prayed longer. Before long the ladies were praying through the night - night after night - crying out for the youth of the city - and for God to bring revival. God answered these prayers when an outpouring of the Holy Spirit came upon the city - first in that little Methodist church - then moving the meeting to the Baptist church because it could seat more people - and eventually to the local High School football field because only it could hold the people who began coming. They watched the entire atmosphere of that city radically changed because hundreds of children and youth came to Christ. Truly these little ladies - "the upright" - had blessed the city with their words of prayer and intercession.
The wicked though, have no such blessing. They only tear a city down with their actions and words. It is telling what this passage calls these people. They are called, "the wicked" which is the Hebrew word "rasha." This term refers to the wicked - and one of the ways they are described is as the "criminally wicked." These men not only do not bless the city - they are taking from it - and promoting a criminal and lawless lifestyle. No wonder that the city is torn down by their actions. Their actions promote people disobeying the law and living a selfish and self-centered lifestyle.
Our nation is in the midst of this very proverb today. For too many years we have had elected officials that disregard the laws they are elected to uphold and establish. Congress actually has the gall to exempt themselves from the laws they pass. If that were not bad enough, we seem to have an endless parade of Congressmen and Senators who are thrown into jail for breaking the law. What have these leaders given to us over the years? They have torn down the very country that was given to them. Instead of protecting and defending it - they are tearing it down with their very hands. It is absolutely essential for the future of our nation that we see this - and correct it immediately. It is essential that we learn about our leaders and hold them accountable to be men and women of character and integrity. If they prove to be other than this - we need to boot them out of office at the next election possible. We need men and women in office who will bless our land once again by their godly, praying leadership. Until we see this happen - we can only expect our nation to continue to spiral downward toward destruction.