by: FCC Staff
In the 16th chapter of Proverbs there is a section that contains a lot of wisdom when it comes to interactions and the character of kings. Politics and faith meet, and God’s wisdom, being ever true, shows us some insights into how political power and faith interact, regardless of who is in power.
Our first proverb for today tells us that when a ruler is evil, it is an abomination to God. Political power should and often is established in right-action, righteousness. But sometimes despite good intentions, the temptation to do evil tempts a ruler, and they can bring much misery and suffering to those they are entrusted to govern. In the time of Proverbs, Israel was governed by an absolute monarchy.
This wasn’t God’s plan, but his concession. God was to be king over Israel, and his wisdom and justice to be established by judges. However, a human king was what the people wanted, and what they got. And if a man was to be king of Israel, he had best represent the will of God.
In our society we understand this in the inverse, where Israel’s king was to represent God’s interests, our leaders are to represent ours. How frustrated are we when our elected officials seem more interested in their own agendas than representing us? It’s an abomination to us. We do bear responsibility as Christians to elect leaders that we can trust to represent our values, and hopefully God’s.
But too often We The People forget to align our values with God’s, simply wanting someone who will give us what we want, when we want it. This is something to deeply consider and pray over as we approach our election season.
Our next proverb tells us that a king is pleased with those who will tell him what is right. While some rulers ignore wise counsel, the best listen to others and hear the truth of what they say. Saddam Hussein had Christian men in high levels of authority in his government. He knew the value of men who would speak the truth to him, their values, even when it was dangerous to do so.
Just having yes men around may please a ruler in the short term, but having someone to be a truth-teller, even when it is not popular, is key to ruling in the long term. This is true in our own lives as well, as we surround ourselves with men and women of Christian ethics. We need accountability, and if a man as tyrannical as Saddam Hussein can see the value in honest counsel, we who seek the path of righteousness should all the more.
Finally our third proverb reminds us of the absolute temporal authority over life and death our rulers can wield. It’s a pragmatic proverb, as a wise person should not enrage a righteous king with bad behavior and court his wrath. But a wise and righteous person can also find ways to stay true to their morals and ethics, while not triggering the wrath of a wicked king. A wise person knows how to “read the room” as it were and act with wisdom and integrity both.
A king held that level of authority in ancient Israel. In our culture we probably don’t have to worry that our actions will trigger the president or other leaders to seek our deaths. But we also have to be wise to not court the wrath of the authority they do have over us. Jesus may forgive your sins, but a judge will still sentence you to jail. Whether in sinful rebellion of which we should repent, or righteous defiance, we can be wise in how we exercise our freedoms. Whether you agree, disagree, or are indifferent to the politics of our leaders, a wise person has to consider that there is authority over us, good or bad, and be wise in how they interact with that authority.
Prayer for Today
Father, I lift up the men and women who represent me in government. Give them wisdom to be good and righteous leaders. Surround them with wise people who honor you, that can help guide their decisions and do your will, even if they don’t seek it themselves. Jesus, I know that you are the King of Kings, but while I sojourn here, help me to play my part in ensuring peace and just governance for all. By your Holy Spirit, give me the wisdom to select wise leaders. Teach me how to pray for them all, even if they do not represent my views, or honor your will. Amen.