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.
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!
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.
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."
Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; At the head of the noisy streets
she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: Proverbs 1:20-21
If you go to most wise men - you will find that they say that you have to get away from everything to gain wisdom. Some sit on mountain tops - where you have to come and sit in silence so that you can gain their wisdom and perspective. Others require you to come to a school - and there you receive your wisdom. What is truly interesting to me is that the Bible does not have this view of where you can receive wisdom. What is delightful about the biblical view is that it makes wisdom available where it is needed most - in the throes of everyday life.
Where do we find wisdom in this passage? According to Solomon, wisdom is shouting to us in the streets and in the square. Wisdom calls to us at the head of the noisy streets and at the entrance gate of the city. These are not places isolated from everyone - but rather are places where you can find the greatest number of people - and they refer to the places where there is abundant activity taking place.
The first place we see wisdom calling to us is in the street. The street could be any street - but no matter which street is being referred to - it is still out where we live our lives each and every day. God's wisdom is not made for ivory towers of high learning and inquiry - but for everyone. It is accessible to the average every man - who walks the streets. The way wisdom calls to us is with a ringing cry or shout. There is no mere whispering of wisdom - we will find a ringing shout when God desires to give us His wisdom. If we ignore it - that is our own doing - for wisdom's call is not a quiet thing that can be missed easily. It is a loud, attention-getting shout.
The next place is more populated. It is the square. This was the public square or plaza. This would be a very high density place to be - and was where most of the people met in the city. Wisdom calls out to us here - for the public square is a place where most public conversation takes place. If we will listen to the Spirit of God as He is seeking to teach us wisdom - we will know how to speak in the public place - as well as how to discern what is said there. This word in the Hebew not only referred to one square - but also to a network of streets that would lead to it. When you move from streets to the open square in a city - you are coming to a place of greater importance and influence. It is imperative that when we come to greater and greater places of influence, that we have wisdom guiding us every step of the way.
The next place wisdom meets us is at the head of the noisy streets. This is the place where a fork in the road was usually found. Once you came to the head of a street, you had a decision to make as to which way you were going to go. What a great place to have wisdom from God guide us. It is here that we see once again wisdom calling out to us. Even more fascinating is that this word means to summon or to invite. At the place where we have a decision to make as to what way we are going to take - it is there that wisdom offers an invitation to us to listen and learn. Since this word was also used in places like Exodus 34:6
to introduce a section of Scripture that dealt with moral and ethical issues - we see that wisdom's invitation is to know our way both morally and ethically at the crossroads of our life. How often have we faced a crossroad wondering which way to take. If we will turn to God, we will find that His wisdom is freely offered to us so that we can know the way that we should go.
The last place where wisdom is offered to us in at the gates of the city. This was the political arena - or the place where the elders of the city would sit to discuss not just political ideas - but also economic ones as well. The gate was the place where they sat to make business decisions. What a wonderful place to have wisdom available to us. As we face decisions about morals and direction for not just our individual lives - but for our city, state, and nation - we can know that wisdom is there uttering her sayings. As we walk in the business world and face a situation where wisdom would keep us from making a bad decision, we can know that wisdom sits wanting to utter to us the very things we will need to avoid a foolish decision.
God's wisdom is not locked away in come castle or on some mountain top where the practical issues of every day life seem far far away. God is waiting in all the places where we walk - waiting to give us wisdom to walk in the manner pleasing to Him. He is also waiting to impart wisdom to us that will bless us and guide us in His way. You will not have to become a monk or a seeker who has to walk to the ends of the earth to get an hour or two with a guru who gives you some obtuse saying you will have to parse to grasp any meaning from it. God is in all the places you walk. God is there wanting to shout out, call out, or simply utter His sayings. These will guide us into His way - which is the way of blessing. What a joy to know that our God is omnipresent and waiting with His glorious wisdom to lead us in every situation. Turn to Him then in the streets, in the square, at every crossroad, and in all the affairs of life, business, and even politics. What you will find is wisdom that will direct you in the way of His blessing and favor. There is no better place to be!