Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Friday, February 9, 2024

Proverbs 28:2 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  Proverbs 28:2

(2) For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. 
King James Version   Change your email Bible version

If a people begin turning from righteousness, a natural consequence is greater human oversight—government—in one form or another.

The history of the United States proves this principle: The nation started with ideals of limited central government, but federalism leaped forward following the Civil War. Liberalism flourished during the Roaring '20s, followed by increases in governmental size and power during the Great Depression and World War II. During the '60s and '70s, the mores of the nation continued to slide and a rebellious generation arose, followed a short time later by continued growth in the bureaucracy. Today, as licentiousness and selfishness explode, the government continues to assume more authority and control.

This cause-and-effect is clear in hindsight—for those willing to see it—but rarely anticipated ahead of time. However, one of the most insightful American Founders, John Adams, had this principle in mind when he wrote, "Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Likewise, William Penn noted, "If we will not be governed by God, then we must be governed by tyrants." Yet, the nation ceased being a moral people. It ceased recognizing God. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Constitution, which allowed for a tremendous amount of liberty and granted few powers to the government, is now essentially a relic.

In the church, heavy-handed leadership indicates that—rightly or wrongly—the governor is mistrustful of the governed. Sometimes that mistrust is unwarranted, as when the governor is more concerned about his position and power than about serving those entrusted to his care. At other times that mistrust is warranted, as when the governed continually produce the works of the fleshsexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, etc. (Galatians 5:19-21, NIV). Like Paul dealing with the Corinthians, in such cases the governed typically need to be dealt with carnally rather than spiritually (I Corinthians 3:1).

However, the ideal outlined in various other passages is not so. Jesus contrasts the behavior of the Gentiles—those who do not know God—in lording over their subjects with great authority with His own: servant leadership (Matthew 20:25-27Mark 10:42-45Luke 22:24-27). Paul exhorts the elders at Ephesus, the overseers, "to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28; emphasis ours throughout), not to browbeat or oppress. In II Corinthians 1:24, he states that the ministry does not "have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand." A few chapters later, he writes that there were limits to the "sphere" to which God appointed them (II Corinthians 10:13-14). Hebrews 13:17 counsels us, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account"—to God! Peter, too, exhorts the elders to shepherd God's flock willingly and eagerly, setting a proper, Christian example for the people (I Peter 5:1-4).

Ephesians 4:11 explains that it is God who gives the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and He gives them for the edification of the church. This does not preclude false prophets and ministers, of which many of the epistles warn, nor does it mean that these human servants are infallible. But it does mean that God works through His servants, and the servants do what is in their authority to help the Body spiritually. The individual, in turn, learns from those whom God has gifted to teach, and he governs himself so heavy-handedness or rigid control becomes unnecessary. When one sees "many princes" arise, it is a sure indicator that transgressions are increasing.

— David C. Grabbe

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