Proverbs 28 and 29
Several of the verses in these chapters of Proverbs deal with justice and leadership, and our personal reaction to it. I’m a little nervous as I write today because our world at the moment seems to be full of injustice and protests. It seems that people are of two minds – law and order at all times, or just crash everything apart. People are so divided on what is happening. What does Solomon say?
First of all, lets’ look at what Solomon says about leadership:
“When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.
But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.
5 Evil people don’t understand justice,
but those who follow the Lord understand completely.
12 When the godly succeed, everyone is glad.
When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.
15 A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor
as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.
16 A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people,
but one who hates corruption will have a long life.
28 When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.
When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish.
2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice.
But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
4 A just king gives stability to his nation,
but one who demands bribes destroys it.
7 The godly care about the rights of the poor;
the wicked don’t care at all.
8 Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
but the wise will calm anger.
12 If a ruler pays attention to liars,
all his advisers will be wicked.”
Solomon sees two kinds of leadership – leaders who are morally rotten and don’t follow God’s principles, or godly leaders. We are so fortunate in Canada to have leaders who may not be committed Christ followers, but who do follow many Christian principles of caring for others and being accountable. It doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes, but overall, their concern is for our country and the people who live here. As we look around our world today, we see leaders who seem to be only concerned with their power and with their personal wealth. For example, after the disaster in Lebanon, we’re seeing other world leaders saying they are willing to help, but only if the corrupt ruling class gets out of the way. I don’t think I’ve ever heard people be quite that open and strong in their criticism.
Solomon states that good leadership brings stability. It brings justice and fair practices to a country. It cares about the people. People who ignore God’s values only bring instability, and their people hide looking for protection knowing their leaders are only out for personal benefit.
Then Solomon addresses the average person in a country:
“Young people who obey the law are wise;
those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.
9 God detests the prayers
of a person who ignores the law.
14 Blessed are those who fear to do wrong,
but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
23 In the end, people appreciate honest criticism
far more than flattery.
26 Those who trust their own insight are foolish,
but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.
18 When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
20 There is more hope for a fool
than for someone who speaks without thinking.
22 An angry person starts fights;
a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.”
Following the law seems to be the main idea here. Today we are seeing so many violent protests. In a way, I understand why that is happening. If people think that peaceful protests haven’t accomplished anything, and distress is running high because they think they are not listened to – then control is lost and violence breaks out. But is breaking the law, toppling statues, burning and trashing buildings the solution?
Following the law – not breaking the law – is what God wants. “God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law.” We are allowed to criticize the government. We can protest in a law-abiding way. We can look for ways to access government leaders and influence the decisions they make. We can run for leadership positions in local and higher levels of government. What God wants is for us to walk in his ways, to advocate for his values – “anyone who walks in wisdom is safe”.
In our troubled times, we can be thankful that God is still present with each one of us, guiding us through each day.
Our song for today is Is He Worthy? by Chris Tomlin