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.
When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
Here is a proverb dealing with what happens when wicked men come to power. Such was the case when wicked king Ahab and his equally horrible wife, Jezebel ruled over Israel. Just as this proverb states, men began to hide themselves. This was especially the case with godly men. They knew that under Ahab and Jezebel's rule godliness would not be tolerated. Thus the prophets of God hid in caves. It was the godly Obadiah who helped feed these men in their distress.
Let's take a closer look at the "wicked" mentioned in this proverb. The word used here is "rasa' which means someone who is wicked, guilty, criminal and a transgressor of God's Law. It is the antonym of the Hebrew word "saddiyq" which is the word describing the righteous or godly in a society. The wicked are mentioned as those worthy of the death sentence - and often are considered beyond being ransomed. They accept bribes - and in several Old Testament passages are murderers.
We have modern examples of such rulers in men like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and a whole list of men who became dictators and ruled with terror over their people. Such men would not tolerate those who opposed them - choosing to kill their opponents rather than deal with any dissention from the rank and file of their nations. In almost every case dictators rise in nations where there is existing law. But these men ignore and eventually usurp the written laws of their nations for their own self-styled leadership. In time they cast the ruling documents of their nations aside and begin ruling by their own decree. Truly this is a time when men hide themselves in fear. It is also a time when darkness reigns in nations. Such rulers are truly a blight to their countries.
Such leaders seldom step down. They usually are killed or overthrown. This is why we read that of them perishing. The word used here means to be destroyed and includes the idea of being overthrown or executed. When this happens the rightreous will increase. This speaks of them increasing openly. Their hidden numbers grow even as ungodly rulers reign. We know that the blood of the martyrs in any society become the seed of the church. Christianity grew far more rapidly in China under repressive communist rule than when they were free. But this growth is underground. When the godless ruler perishes - then they come out and publically and make themselves known.
With the most recent election a choice was made in our nation to embrace a certain moral direction. That direction is in opposition to God's stated morality. The two areas where this is seen most clearly are in an unprecedented expansion of abortion and homosexual marriage and rights. This will, in the end, assure President Obama that his legacy will be one of being a wicked ruler. But there is another area of his rule that is brought out by this passage. The word for wicked, as stated earlier, means to be a transgressor of law. What concerns me most about our president is his unwillingness to submit himself and his administration to the Constitution of the United States. He has ignored it in much of what he has done. This is not a good thing - and if not confronted by our other elected officials - will lead to a man who will act more and more like a dictator in his second term. I realize these are strong words - but can anyone honestly debate their accuracy? As a pastor I truly am apprehensive about the days ahead - and the manner in which gospel-centered churches will have to operate. It may become a time when men - godly men - will either have to stand and possibly be arrested for their biblical stands - or they may have to hide themselves. Now is the time for us to examine our hearts - strengthen them in God's grace and truth - and be ready to stand for what is godly and biblical in regards to true righteousness. May God grant us grace to stand - and continue standing no matter what the cost.
He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses. Proverbs 28:27
One of the things the Scriptures are certain about is the responsibility of the people of God to give to the poor. This proverb relates this responsibility in a way that reminds us of the Covenant God made with His people. That covenant often gets a bad reputation for being all about "thou shalt nots." Some think it is a religious buzz-kill - that only tells us what we cannot do. Those who think this way don't realize that there is great deal in the Old Testament Law that speaks of showing compassion and mercy.
Israel was an agrarian society - and as such there were a number of laws that encouraged them to provide for the poor. One of the things that they were told was to only harvest the land once - and not go over it a second time. This was the case with ground crops as well as things like olives and fruit which are grown on trees. The extra was to be left for the poor. This was one way they gave to the poor - as well as with what were called, "alms" which were specific financial gifts given to care for the poor in society.
God intended for the poor to receive more than just money or food. The church is better equipped morally to help the poor than the government. Governments most often just give out money. Unfortunately this leads to government programs that do more to harm than help the poor. The phrase a hand up - rather than just a hand out comes to mind. Government has made laws that actually award immoral behavior by offering more help to those who have children out of wedlock. These kind of laws may help with the hand out - but they have a bad tendency to lock people into assisted living - rather than help them to eventually become self-reliant and self-sustaining. When the church offers help, they can address immoral behavior in a way that government cannot do. This is the way God desires for the poor to be blessed. He desires for a person's moral choices to be addressed, for often a mroal choice leads to a blight on our financial state.
We are told here that the one who gives to the poor will never want. Another proverb states that when we give to the poor, we are lending to the Lord. When we do this - God will be sure to bless us and meet our needs. The second half of this proverb addresses what often happens when the poor are neglected. We do this by closing our eyes to the problem and to their needs. We simply shut our eyes - and then shut our hearts to their plight. This, according to God's Word, will bring to the one who does it, many curses. First there is the curse which comes from not obeying God's law. That comes with a withdrawal of blessings from God. But there is also a curse that comes from the poor as well. They watch as the rich pamper themselves and ignore their situation. In some situations this reaches a fever pitch and results in revolutions and other violent confrontations. The French Revolution was such a reaction to the abuses of the rich.
God desires for His people - and His church - to care for and love the poor. Because the church has adbicated her role in this - the government has taken over this task. The result of our disobedience in this area is that the government begins to take greater and greater amounts of money to give to the poor. In the end, we are cursed with over-reaching government intrustion into our finances and our lives. We are also cursed with a government which in time realizes it can control the people through ever increasing gifts to the poor. This leads to a curse on those with any level of financial security in society, because the government must increase its revenues to continue the giveaways. This is why God wants His Word to govern such charity - because without something to guide us - our natural sinful tendencies will lead us to use our gifts to secure power or influence.
To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. Proverbs 28:21
Favoritism and partiality is characterized as not being good in this proverb. In order to understand this we have to have a worldview that sees mankind as fallen and sinful. The modern worldviews that see man as basically good will not fully grasp this. They blame things on the environment in which someone was reared - or on a lack of education. If this were the case, then the most priviledged and educated would be the godliest among us - right?
The reason partiality is not good - is because men and woman can be bought. The proverb that we are looking at today says they can be bought for a piece of bread. That is cheap. But we only need to remember Esau to be reminded that he sold the birthright of a very rich family for a bowl of stew. The offer of immediate gratification will trump the mind of a sinful man that should counsel him to see the full price of what he is about to do.
Bribery in the matter of judges must have been as common then as it is today among politicians. The Old Testament is filled with admonitions to even the least official who would pervert justice for a bribe. Today it is a rare thing to see a man in public office who has not been bought with money donated to his campaign. What we MUST remember is that if a man can be bought for a price - who's to say that he cannot be bought by someone offering a little more?
God's admonition to us is not the size of the bribe - but whether the heart can be bought at all. The Scriptures warn us that he who is unfaithful in a little - will be unfaithful no matter how much is offered. The trustworthy man is the one who rejects any kind of bribe. His desire is to offer justice based on the Word of God. He knows that truth will prevail no matter how much money is thrown his way. He also knows that there will be a day when even judges will face the judgment. We read of that day in Psalm 2 as God gives the following admonition to the kings and judges of the earth, "Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!" Even judges will be judged - and rulers have One who rules over them. Thus the wise man is one who recognizes the ultimate authority of God, who submits to Him, and who makes his decisions, not in light of the bread or bribe set before him, but in light of day when every judgment will be judged itself.
A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding, But he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days. Proverbs 28:16
When a leader becomes an extortioner either through bribes or through taxation - he is not a wise leader at all. Today's Proverb has to do with governing officials and how they receive the money with which they work - and by which they are paid.
We are presented with a leader who according to Solomon is a "great oppressor." The word "oppressor" is very interesting because it, along with the second half of this proverb, opens up the meaning for us. The Hebrew word is "masaqqot" and it means one who oppresses by extortion. Zhodiates' dictionary defines this word this way, "It indicates a leader abusing his people by forcing them to pay money or contribute goods against their will. This he then uses to enrich himself and those ruling with him.
An unwise leader is one who decides that the money of the people he rules is his money. It belongs to the government - and therefore to him and those who serve with him. There are numerous instances where government leaders tax their people - and use that money to enrich themselves. They also use it to enrich those who support them - making sure that anyone who is their friend, supporter (or in our society, voter, campaign contributor) is rewarded richly for their efforts. In the times of kings this group was their nobles and knights - in today's society it is donors and voters. God allowed for His people to be taxed for the purpose of their governmental leaders. He also warned the leaders not to oppress His people by taxing them exorbitantly. Bribes also were expressly forbidden by God. The proverbs are filled with wisdom that promotes hard work and labor so that we can be blessed and become more and more financially blessed by it. Nowhere in Scripture does God encourage government to take confiscatory taxes from the people and redistribute it to those whom the government desires to bless.
We are told that any leader who does this kind of thing is lacking understanding. To understand something meant that you had gathered data together and were putting the pieces together so that you got a much bigger picture of things. In the context in which we find this proverb we are speaking of God's wisdom and knowledge being gathered so that we have an understanding of things beyond that of just this earth. It is seeing far enough into the future to make a wise decision and follow wise actions. The financially oppressive leader truly lacks any vision into the future.
Government leaders have authority - but it is high level authority to lead and serve people as God would have them go. Their role, like any other is to serve the people - and bless them with how they lead a nation. Unfortunately for some people, their leaders see their authority and misuse it to get rich or to stay in authority by oppressing the people with ridiculous, oppressive taxes. The king and his officials live lavishly off the people's money - and care little for the plight of the average man. They think the tax money of the people is their own to use as they see fit. They then see fit to line their pockets and their supporter's pockets. Often this is done as the rest of the nation suffers under the load of larger and larger taxed amounts.
We are told that the one who hates this kind of unjust gain will prolong his days. Two things we see here. First, God calls this kind of ungodly confiscation of the goods of hard working people "unjust." It is not good - and God does not approve of it. Second, we see that this kind of activity in government will not last long. The people will inevitably rise up and call for this to stop! History has shown that leaders who oppress their people with extortionary taxes will eventually be overthrown. Kings and queens have been beheaded - dictators overthrown, and elected officials voted out of office because they were making themselves rich on the people's taxes. Unfortunately for us, we've watched over the years as our leaders on both sides of the aisle have voted themselves to wealth and to pensions that are beyond imagination - while taxing us out of more and more of the money we earn. Over the past four years alone - the Washington D. C. area has grown in wealth and luxury, while the populace is either given the wealth of others through taxation - or taxed barren to provide such things.
As I studied this passage - and looked over history - I saw again and again leaders who loved their unjust gain. This was the case whether the government was a monarchy or a representative republic like our own. Men are greedy and want to be rich. They will do so even while falsely championing the "little guy" in their speeches. The one thing that we can be sure of though is that these governments will not long endure. They will fall just like all the others have over the years who have oppressed their people with their taxation and schemes to be rich on the people's dime.
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1
Who controls world history? That is a question that makes some people squrim in their seats. The reason it does is because it seems easier to say that history is at times in Satan's hands - or at least it is in no one's hands than it does to say that God is sovereign over all history. If God is sovereign over all history - then the questions about evil and about suffering become far more complicated to us. God is sovereign over all human history - and at all times the hearts of all kings and rulers of this world are like channels of water in his hands. This proverb is true - He turns the hearts of these kings wherever He wishes. If then this is true, what are we to do with the Hitlers and others like him in this world - and in the course of history?
What do we do with the Pharaoh's who oppressed and enslaved Israel for hundreds of years? What do we do with the kings who conquered Israel and Judah - and leveled the temple to the ground? If you have a God Who functions according to the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, these things become very difficult to deal with in terms of the sovereignty of God. God is more than just a cosmic sugar daddy who has come to give us everything we want if we just claim it. He is a God Who is working toward His own purposes and plans. He is a God who is concerned with the manifestation of His grace - yet Who does it while maintaining justice and righteousness. These are deep issues that find their only final answer in the end when we gaze at God's beauty, glory, wisdom, and majesty for all eternity. Yet - there are whispers of His workings for us in Scripture while we live here on earth.
The way God moves kings is always in accordance with His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. It always has been and it always will be. There are times when God moves the hearts of kings to deliver His people - much like He did with Esther and Mordecai. These are glorious times when we see God protecting His covenant people and showing that He is the One with the last word. There are other times when the king acts - and even in the king's wrath God delivers - as with Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. In situations like these God does not move the king's heart until after that king has seen God's power and might. But there are other cases like that of Nebuchadnezzar destroying and carrying away God's people. These are times when a king is used for the purpose of disciplining and correcting God's people. Kings are used for a myriad of purposes by God for His ultimate plan and purpose. Even the ultimate worldly king, the antichrist, will serve God's ultimate purposes of bringing judgment on the earth and saving His covenant people, Israel.
Kings serve God's purposes and plans - even when they themselves do not know it. They serve God even though they may even deny His existance and rebel against Him. We must remember that even the New Testament tells us in Romans 13 that there is no authority except from God. Paul goes on to remind us that all authorities are established by God. Our problems come when we think that these authorities are here for our blessing alone - misonstruing Paul's admonition to Timothy which says, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Some mistakenly think this admonition is a carte blanche to us to always have kings and rulers who bless us. Yet Paul's own life was taken by an ungodly ruler when he died. Persecution came upon the church again and again in the early days of its existance. We are to pray for such things - and ask God to move the king's heart. But ultimately God's plans and purposes will prevail. Remember here we are told He moves the king's heart - wherever HE wants it to go. That will mean for both blessing and for discipline - for good and for bad - for times of peace and also times of conflict and yes, even persecution and great difficulty.
The one constant for us is not that everything goes well all the time. This is a recipe for spiritual disaster and a severely stunted spiritual growth rate. Our one constant is that God is working all things after the counsel of His will - His good purposes - and His glory. This is a constant becasue we know that He is good and in Him is no darkness, no sin, no evil, and no wrong. Therefore regardless of our current situation - and in light of today's proverb - regardless of our current leader here on earth - God is still sovereign. He is in control and all things are working toward His ultimate end of summing all things up in Christ Jesus. He WILL work whatever we think is good, bad, or anywhere in between toward His ultimate purpose for us as well. That purpose is not for us to be rich or live in perfect health - and to never have problems. His ultimate purpose for us? It is that we are conformed to the image of His Son. It is that our character and lifestyle look more and more like that of Jesus every day we live! To that end He will move kings and rulers, despots and even maniacal dictators to work with Him so that we, and all other believers in all ages and all places, will be to the praise of the glory of His grace!
Stripes that wound scour away evil, And strokes reach the innermost parts. Proverbs 20:30
Physical punishment . . . here is a topic that brings out the most strident opposition in a lot of people. When it refers to children some call it child abuse - and when it comes to the punishment of those who break the law the phrase "cruel and unusual punishment" is used. So what exactly is God's take on the idea of corporal punishment and some kind of physical response to disobedience and criminal activity?
There are two levels to understand this Proverb - that of the physical and the responsibility of parents and the state - and a purely spiritual level and how it relates to our growth in a relationship with the Lord. I'll begin with what is being addressed most clearly here - which is the response of parents and governing officials to disobedience and crime.
Our justice system has turned away from the biblical view of crime and punishment. We try to rehabilitate criminals without thought that they need to acknowledge that they've stepped over a very serious line in their behavior. The results are not encouraging at all. We have overcrowded jails and prisons where repeat offenders abound. We've gotten to the point where we have more people interested in the rights of the criminals than in the rights of those they infringed upon with their godless behavior. Our prisons therefore have revolving doors on them - and with the present focus, there are few who are rehabilitated while incarcerated. Put our current record next to one of a modern state that practices physical punishment for a crime. Several years ago a young American citizen was arrested from a crime in one of these states. He was convicted and sentenced to a caning. People in the United States, especially among liberals, went ballistic. Yet the facts should be viewed without all the hysteria. Their crime rates are much lower than ours. What they see currently and have seen in the past is that truly stripes and strokes do scour away evil in the heart. They do reach the innermost parts of a person. They are a very powerful deterrent to crime and disobedience.
The spiritual level is little diffeerent. God disciplines those He loves and, according to Hebrews 12, He scourges every son He accepts. How does God deal with His own children? He disciplines them with scourgings - stripes and strokes that scour away the evil of our hearts and make us think twice about being disobedient again. We are fallen beings and have a sad tendency to ignore God and His commandments and turn instead to what our flesh cries out for constantly. The way God deals with this is to bring us into discipline. Anyone who has ever experienced this discipline knows that it is stern but loving. There is no doubt that God loves us when He disciplines us - but He is dead serious about it too. He knows what is at stake - and is wanting to deter us from walking in rebellion and sin. These things will hurt us - and in some cases even destroy us - therefore He takes it very seriously a trip to the proverbial spiritual woodshed. But do not ever be mistaken . . . God does these things because He loves us. The same should be said for parents and for a society that crafts effective physical punsihments for those who break the law.
Physical punishment and corporal punishment may be unpopular with the liberal elements of our society - but in all honesty, they are wrong. Yes there need to be limits put in place - there needs to be a humane way to practice the death penalty - and there should be wisdom in a parents administration of discipline. Yet there also should be a full acknowledgement that the sinful nature of man will not respond to a call to reform alone. It is in the best interests of a family - and indeed a society to practice physical and corporal punishment. How do we know? The Word of God informs us.
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.
A wise king winnows the wicked, And drives the threshing wheel over them. Proverbs 20:26
If a leader of a nation is wise - he will know that leaving the wicked alone to do what they want will ultimately be very bad for that nation. To do otherwise is to leave a group of people who have no regard for law or for any kind of self-restraint for the good of others around them. The wicked do not care if their actions cause problems and suffering for others - they just have a will to do what they want to do. This is why we the king is told that he needs to winnow the wicked and drive a threshing wheel over them. Let's take a look at what these two pictures reveal to us.
The word "winnow" is an agricultural term. It means to separate the wheat from the chaff in processing grains. The word came from the word for wind - because often the process for this involved beating the wheat on a threshing floor - and then tossing it into the air where the wind would blow away the chaff and the wheat kernels would fall to the floor where they would be gathered to make flour for bread. Because of this process, the word winnow came to mean other processes used to separate what is worthless from what is of value. That is what it means in our proverb today. The wise king uses the law to winnow the wicked in his society. He establishes and enforces law in order to separate the worthless elements from society. This makes for a law-abiding culture which can prosper. If he does not winnow out these elements of society - there will be a very detrimental effect on the culture. People who lie and are untrustworthy in life - will be this way in business. Some might wonder why this is important - until they see the kinds of things we have seen in the financial world where stock brokers bilk people out of their entire life savings by setting up a ponzi scheme to take other people's money. Dishonesty and a lack of integrity actually will cost a society . . . actually billions of dollars . . . which we've actually seen.
The king is also encouraged to drive a threshing wheel over the wicked as well. Whereas the word winnow has a separating aspect to it, the word does not bring to mind much violence. This is not the case with the threshing wheel. This was a heavy stone wheel that was pulled by oxen or horses (or in Samson's case, by a man) that would roll in a circle over wheat or corn that was put in its path. As the heavy wheel rolled over the grain it would crush the grain separating the wheat from the chaff. This was then further "winnowed" by letting the wind blow away the chaff as the grain fell to the floor. The picture though here with the threshing wheel was a violent one. It involved punishment and a crushing process. Thus a wise king will set up law so that it punishes the wicked for their actions. This will further eliminate the elements of a society that are evil and wicked - while preserving the godly who will submit to the law.
At this point I must make a point - especially because of the day in which I am writing this post. We currently have a very foolish president in the United States. I say this because he has recently made it clear that he has no respect for the laws of our land - or the Constitutional process by which they are established. He has chosen in recent months to disregard laws concerning the sale, distribution, and use of mariuanna. He has decided in dictatorial fashion that this is not good for us - and has decided on his own (with no act of congressional approval - or the approval of the courts) to not enforce the law. Almost every study ever done on the long-term affects of this drug is that it is a gateway drug to more serious and harmful involvement in the use of illegal drugs. He has also decided not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act - because he sees it as unfair. This is even though the law was passed with overwhelming support - and was signed by a fellow Democrat. He has unilaterally decided to also give amnesty to illegal aliens who have come into our country illegally (Yes that was bad grammar, but felt the need to emphasize the word illegal - meaning not legal - or said another way - breaking the law). These are just three things he has done - unfortunately the lack of any respect for the law is rampant in his administration. He has effectively made himself a law unto himself - choosing enforcement options at his own whims - with a complete disrespect for any kind of constitutional prccess. This is foolishness - and will damage our nation in the end. The populace will follow his example - and will also have a disregard for the law as well - except the parts they agree with - and want to keep. As a result there will be a rapidly growing wickedness that will at first creep into our society - but then later will flow into it like water from a broken dam. Pray with me for our president. Pray that he will be wise - and will see the wisdom in enforcing the laws as given - not just as he wants them to be at the time. Pray that he will see the wisdom of enforcing all our laws - regardless of whether he personally likes them or not. Oh, also pray one other thing - that the people of the United States will have wisdom this November to not re-elect anyone who does not show respect for our laws - and our constitution.
Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
The New Testament reminds us in Romans that if we obey the Law, we will have no fear of judgment or punishment. Thus, the man who is driving the speed limit does not have his heart jump when he sees the speed trap too late on the highway. He has no fear of being caught doing anything wrong - because he's not doing anything wrong. But the scoffer who has no regard for the Law - who actually mocks it and speaks out against it - he has no such peace. The fool who is ignorant of the law and who loves his folly and sin - he too will know no such peace.
We are reminded that judgments are prepared for the scoffers. This refers to the Word of God. The fact that many miss is that God has already pronounced His judgments on those who scoff at His Word. He has given His commandments and also offered His warnings to those who ignore them - and who indeed ignore Him. There is no lack of passages in Scripture to remind us that God will judge the wicked - and that those who reject Jesus Christ face a terrifying specter of God's unreserved wrath. Therefore, if you are a scoffer, you can know exactly what you will get from God for your scoffing.
We are also reminded that there are blows for the backs of fools. The fool is the one who enjoys his folly - and ignores God's Word. He loves his foolishness and will not turn away from it. He has no use for anything that restrains what he wants - what His flesh cries out for each moment of each day. Thus the only way to reach this one and turn him from his way is by blows to the back. This brings howls of protest from those who think any kind of punitive action that involves physical striking as punishment is evil. But the facts tend to speak for themselves. Countries that bring quick judgment to bear on those who disobey the law - are also countries that do not have an abundance of lawless behavior in their country.
A few years ago a young man was caned in Singapore for breaking their law. Our nation was horrified as they considered what was about to happen. But the facts in Singapore stand on their own. The type of lawlessness this young American man embraced was almost non-existent in their culture. Their culture is this way because people see the cost of their actions - in literal blows that will come to them. Therefore they stay away from such behaviors. The cries that such laws and actions increase violence are not founded in fact. The violent societies are those who refuse to bring blows upon the backs of the fools who violate their laws. There is actually LESS violence in societies who punish with physical blows. There is a very real deterrent when you are facing real consequences for your actions.
Our nation has become obsessed with the rights of criminals. We are so concerned about possibly infringing upon their rights that we have forgotten the victims of their actions. In our march toward perfect justice (which does not exist) we have committed the greatest injustice to those injured by scoffers and fools. What needs to happen is for our nation to return to the principles of true justice and righteousness. This will also require us to return to judgments that make a fool pay for his actions. He will no longer be coddled by the justice system, but rather held accountable for choices that have injured and affected others. Maybe then we can move away from our current insanity - and toward a more just and righteous society.