15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
is a wicked ruler over a poor people.
16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
17 If one is burdened with the blood of another,
he will be a fugitive until death;
let no one help him.
18 Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.
19 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings,
but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
21 To show partiality is not good,
but for a piece of bread a man will do wrong.
22 A stingy man hastens after wealth
and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
23 Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
than he who flatters with his tongue.
24 Whoever robs his father or his mother
and says, “That is no transgression,”
is a companion to a man who destroys.
25 A greedy man stirs up strife,
but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.
26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,
but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
27 Whoever gives to the poor will not want,
but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
28 When the wicked rise, people hide themselves,
but when they perish, the righteous increase. – Proverbs 28:15-28 ESV
We have a leadership void. Don’t get me wrong; we have no shortage of leaders in this country. It’s just that we don’t have very many godly leaders. There are plenty of ambitious, intelligent, capable, and sometimes even moral men and women who hold positions of leadership in our nation, but most of them lack the wisdom that only God can provide.
The following verse above paints a pretty bleak picture for a nation that finds itself with a moral and spiritual leadership void.
When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.
But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability. – Proverbs 28:2 NLT
The Message paraphrases verse two this way: “When the country is in chaos, everybody has a plan to fix it – But it takes a leader of real understanding to straighten things out.”
What an apt description of our own country at this stage of the game. We are in chaos, and everybody has a plan to fix it. We have an abundance of “princes” as the NIV describes them. These so-called leaders and a host of political pundits each offer up solutions to our nation’s myriad problems, but none of them really have a clue as to what should be done about the economy, terrorism, or any other issue facing us. They fail to realize that the root of all our problems is a spiritual one.
A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor
as a roaring lion or an attacking bear.
A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people,
but one who hates corruption will have a long life. – Proverbs 28:15-16 NLT
Because they lack the wisdom of God, these godless rulers have no way of understanding that the troubled economy is a symptom of a much more serious issue. Raising or lowering taxes is not going to fix what is broken. A larger or smaller government will not be the panacea for our problems. In the very next chapter, Solomon gives us the real solution.
When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice.
But when the wicked are in power, they groan. – Proverbs 29:2 NLT
In other words, when godly men and women lead a nation according to godly principles and provide wisdom and insight directly from God Himself, the people find themselves living in peace and moral prosperity. Godly leaders make godly decisions. They are not selfish and self-centered. They are not greedy and out to benefit only themselves.
Greedy people try to get rich quick
but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty. – Proverbs 28:22 NLT
Leaders who lack godly wisdom operate in a spiritual vacuum and are unable to see things from God’s perspective. They are motivated by pride and consumed with the need for recognition. But a godly leader views any power they possess as having been given to them by God, to whom they must report and by whom they will be held accountable.
The trustworthy person will get a rich reward,
but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble. – Proverbs 28:20 NLT
What we pass off as leadership today is a far cry from what God had in mind. All you have to do is look at Jesus to see what God views as godly leadership. Jesus came to earth to be the Messiah of Israel. He was to be their King and set up His kingdom on earth. And yet, Jesus claimed that He “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ESV).
Jesus came to give His life away for the sake of others. He was concerned with and consumed by the will of His Father. He was obedient to God to the point of laying down His life. He knew that the world’s problems were spiritual in nature and the solution would have to be a spiritual one. Toppling the Roman government was not going to bring peace to the Jews. Only a Savior could heal them from what ailed them. They needed deliverance from sin, not relief from high taxes. They needed dependence on God, not independence from Rome.
Jesus did not come to tell people what they wanted to hear. He refused to tickle their ears with pleasant-sounding platitudes or comforting words designed to placate their guilt. No, as the apostle Paul makes clear, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Timothy 1:15 NLT). And as this Proverb so powerfully states:
In the end, people appreciate honest criticism
far more than flattery. – Proverbs 28:23 NLT
Jesus was the ultimate example of a godly leader. After all, He was God in human flesh and as a man, He manifested all the wisdom of God perfectly and completely. Jesus lived to do the will of His Father.
“My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” – John 4:34 NLT
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” – John 6:38 NLT
Jesus was not a flatterer or glad-hander. He didn’t tell people what they wanted to hear but, instead, He boldly proclaimed the words of His Heavenly Father and demonstrated the attributes of a godly leader. And His example was emulated by men like the apostle Paul.
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 NLT
Paul and his fellow apostles modeled their lives and ministries after Jesus. They fully understood the wisdom found in Proverbs 28:26.
Those who trust their own insight are foolish,
but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.
But we live in a day when everyone seems to be doing what is right in their own eyes. Our society is obsessed with the idea of individual autonomy and freedom from restraints of any kind. Everybody wants to be their own king ruling over their kingdom. And yet, when things don’t turn out quite the way we expect, we look to the government or a political leader to bring us relief and restoration. We naively expect a flawed and failed system to deliver us from our self-inflicted predicament.
Yet God has already provided a deliverer in the form of His very own Son. Godly leaders point a nation back to God. They don’t try to act as a substitute for Him. We find ourselves in trouble as a nation, not because of a bad economy, social inequities, or global warming, but because we have appointed leaders who have no respect for God. Without Him, they are helpless and hopeless to lead us because they lack the wisdom required for the job.
We need to pray that God will raise up men and women who know Him, love Him, and are willing to live for Him. But we also need to pray for a spiritual reawakening among the people of God who have become complacent and sometimes even contributors to the moral chaos facing our nation. We lack godly leaders because we have become a godless nation. But the wise see things from God’s perspective and always know there is hope.
When the wicked take charge, people go into hiding.
When the wicked meet disaster, the godly flourish. – Proverbs 28:28 NLT
In the end, the godly win. The wicked may have their 15 minutes of fame, but the righteous will always come out on top. Those who walk the way of the wise will find that their path ultimately leads to joy, peace, comfort, and blessing.
…trusting the Lord leads to prosperity. – Proverbs 28:25 NLT
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.