Those of us who live in the United States have never experienced a coup in our lifetimes. The most disturbing event of our republic has been the Civil War in the 1860's. There has been a remarkable stability that God has allowed in this nation when it comes to how we deal with our rulers and the peaceful transition of power down through the years. That is what this particular proverb comments upon - what brings about the stabilty and enduring character of a nation.
The transgression of a land brings it many princes. Transgression here means a breach of trust or rebellion. Understanding that we are reading Scripture - we need to grasp that the rebellion spoken of here is that which is against God. When a nation begins rebelling against God - trouble is brewing for it. Contrary to our current psuedo-constitutional view of separation of church and state - (which is interpreted more like separation of state and the God of the Bible) - our nation is under God. That fact exists regardless of whether that phrase is printed on our money or recited in our public school classrooms. All nations are under God Who is Sovereign over the universe. Thus God holds all nations to His moral law. When a nation rejects Him and His moral law - a measure of chaos results which grows over time. If a nation continues on its path of rejecting God and His ways - soon there will be rumblings of the coming moral and political earthquake that will hit society.
In our nation we began to reject God's ways in the early part of the 20th century. That continued through the teen's and 30's - where we faced the first world war and the beginnings of the great depression. God was trying to get our attention, but we ignored Him for the most part. The 40's brought another world war - even more horrific than the first. Europe, who rejected the Lord in greater measure than the U.S. was doing, faced devastation from this war. Unfortunately, we really didn't learn much from their example either. There was relative prosperity in the 50's but the moral rumblings were gathering to become an earthquake. Parents who chased the American dream - soon found in their children of the 60's the American nightmare. Those children rejected the idol of money their parents served and toked up, tuned out, and rebelled against everything their parents stood for in life. They also embraced publically what their parents had done privately. The 50's and 60's saw the rise of private indiscretion and adultery - the practice of keeping mistresses (though secretly for the most part) and the beginning of the divorce culture in our nation. The children of these parents rejected marriage altogether and embraced what they called, "free love" which was just the bondage of fornication. This culture of sexual immorality then gave rise to easily accessible abortion as a convenient way to deal with problem pregnancies in the early 70's. Just as Scripture tells us in Romans chapter 1 the heterosexual immorality of the 50's, 60's, and 70's gave way to the homosexual immorality of the 80's and 90's. But during this time we saw another thing begin to happen. The political dialogue, which has always had a tendency to be contentious, began to be toxic. There also began was a great rise in the number of politicians who no longer cared about any kind of long term benefit or damage to our country, as long as they could be re-elected and consolidate their power. Decisions were made and money was spent without thought to the problem their debt was causing for our future. This kind of careless and selfish rule has given rise to our current political climate. Our current situation is that our country is badly divided over political and moral issues. The rift is about 50/50 - and the radicalism of those opposing each other is rising - as is the rhetoric used to describe one another. Could it be that a coup or a revolution could be in our future. I certainly hope not - but our proverb today tells us to the contrary.
The "many princes" spoken of at the first part of our proverb do not refer to our current type of government with many leaders serving within it. It refers to the problem of coups and overthrows. It speaks of those usurping power. When a land or country begins having a total disregard for the Lord and His Laws - that country is headed for trouble.
The proverb also tells us how to have a nation endure. It endures by having a man of understanding and knowledge around. The two words used here are vital to us grasping what God is saying here. Understanding is the Hebrew word "bin" and it means to be discerning, to be able to perceive, to pay attention to things - having the ability to apply God's wisdom to a situation in life. The second word, knowledge, is the Hebrew word "yada" and it means to know - and here it refers to the ability to discriminate between what is right or wrong, good or bad. It also has the idea along with it of knowing what to do - which in this case refers to what God desires that the nation do. Consider these two words - their overt reference to God's wisdom - and the current way God is viewed by our elected leaders. Do you see much of a chance outside of God's intervention in revival for us to have leaders like this?
A wise and discerning counsellor or leader is able to help a nation endure. Think for a moment about our founding fathers and the documents they gave to us in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. These were for the most part godly men - or at least God fearing men. Their wisdom and desire to honor God in this nation resulted in a document that has guided our nation for over 200 years! Considering the history of democracies and constitutional republics, this is nothing short of astounding.
There have also been wise counsellors that were able to help out even godless dictatorships to prosper for a season. Men like Daniel and Joseph offered wise, godly counsel that allowed the nation in which they lived to prosper greatly for a season. Such nations would have imploded were it not for the direction given by these wise sages who gave wisdom according to God's direction. Oh, that such a man would rise up in our day and give much needed direction to our leaders in the midst of their political and legislative quagmire.
God blesses nations - and He also humbles nations. Scripture tells us that the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord. I know that this goes against the grain of the constitutionally ignorant in our nation, who believe the lies of the separation of church and state crowd. Our nation prospered and was blessed not due to liberals and the godless. It prospered and endured because of the godly men of understanding and knowledge - our discerning forefathers and those who followed the design they laid out for our nation. May God have mercy upon the United States of America and give us more men like them in the very near future!