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.