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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

In God We Trust–All Others Pay Cash

Wisdom in fearing in the Lord and honoring the king

Proverbs 11:7

7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of the unjust perishes.

Proverbs 21:1

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.–Proverbs 21:1

Proverbs 29:26 

26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.


The Panic of 1873 was a financial crisis that was triggered by a number of  things, ranging from the 1872 Chicago Fire, a change to the gold standard, railroads, and American progress. This economic depression struck everyone from simple farmers, who lived and operated on credit and suddenly finding silver coins worthless, to giant banks, unable to fund an overabundance of railroad bonds.  

The Panic lasted until 1877 in the US and 1879 in Europe. In an age when gold coins were scarce, and investments in the railroad boom were worthless, a man’s word and a handshake no longer sealed a deal or guaranteed funds. 

In 1877, the following appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper: 

Dull Times have driven many merchants to the cash system, and they are now ornamenting their stores with mottoes such as: “Pay to-day, trust to-morrow;” “If I trust, I bust;” “In God we trust; all others cash.”–Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 1877

Has anyone broken your trust? If so, then you are not alone. Your husband or wife breaks your trust with a lie or by being unfaithful. Your boss breaks your trust when the promised promotion goes to Jennings instead of you, just because Jennings joins him in golf. The president breaks your trust by raising your taxes. And your dog barks his head off at the UPS man, but completely ignores the “porch pirate” who takes packages left by your front door.   

“In God you trust, but all others pay cash.”

In Proverbs, chapter 11, Solomon continues his series of antithetical proverbs contrasting the fate of the wicked and the destiny of the righteous. Here, in verse, 7, he pauses to issue a synonymous proverb about the futility of trusting in mortals:

7 When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish,
And the hope of the unjust perishes–Proverbs 11:7

This is a rather bleak verse, is it not? However, it offers perspective on how far you can allow your trust in men to get the better of you. Be it a childhood hero exposed as a fraud, or even the necessity of looking to a politician for leadership, this proverb offers a hint at how you must approach those figures who influence or impact your life. 

The first thing to note is the use of “wicked man.” The first verset reminds you that a wicked man’s influence dies with him. When Hitler meets his doom in the bunker amid the ruins of Berlin, the Third Reich dies with him–despite what hysterical people on the internet claim about voters who wear red hats.

This is simple logic and easy to understand. Solomon is teaching his young pupils not to follow those who lead them into sin and foolishness. Not to idolize the wicked. This is a temptation for all of us in life at times. You admire a wealthy machiavellian as a “go-getter,” or skilled player. A ruthless politician is evil–unless he is winning victories for your preferred party. 

But what of that wealth and success? This is where another angle of translation fits in. Some ancient texts omit “wicked,” implying Solomon is simply speaking about mortals in general. All mortals, being sinful since the Fall, are wicked in this way, and all are fated to the same end: to “shuffle off this mortal coil” in the “sleep of death,” as Hamlet says [Act 3, scene I]. 

When a human being dies, his hope, influence, and even his wealth dies with him. Money can be passed down in an inheritance, and books he has written may continue to sell, but these are static and no longer affected by the man himself. 

Do you look to mere mortals for hope or a promise of the future? It is easy to find yourself trusting in someone whose influence can help you in your career. Or maybe you have a family member who has a large net worth and you think of how being named in their will is going to have you set for life when they pass on. 

Such an earthly inheritance can be a blessing, but it can get into your mind, and even tear your family apart. I have seen loving siblings roll out the lawsuits, set attorneys on each other, and shun each other for decades over a real or perceived inheritance. Sheer madness–and true to Solomon’s warning,

What humans have earned your misplaced trust? Has the hope of a future payout or benefit replaced your hope in your Heavenly Father’s provision? 

Another place you look to mortals for earthly benefit or salvation is in the realm of politics. Politics, by its nature, can be a nasty business. There are few things more challenging as a believer than to consider how and when to trust in politicians or the political process.

Christians in the west generally follow different approaches to politics: some seek to separate from politics altogether, while others rush to embrace it.

Perhaps you have chosen one or the other. The constant mud-slinging and ugliness of politics may have turned you off to participating. “After all,” you say, "we should be saving souls for Christ, not winning votes for a politician.” The church loses influence when it allies itself with a political party, and the gospel is neither the communist manifesto, nor a libertarian creed.  

After all, God Himself warns the people of Israel about the consequences of demanding a king:

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.–I Samuel 8:10-11 

An earthly king will take your sons, your crops, your women, and your life, if need be. The prophet Samuel continues:

18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”–I Samuel 8:18

If you struggle with trust issues in your life, can you imagine what it must have been like to see Saul stumble and fall as he did? And then, when David, a “man after God’s own heart” is anointed, to see all of the bloody evil of his lust for Bathsheba and resulting family drama. 

But politics and political involvement may be necessary, and even beneficial for believers to take part. For one thing, the political process is necessary in this life–should you give it all up to unbelievers and wicked men? 

Solomon, in Proverbs, is actually teaching young rulers. Proverbs is a textbook of wisdom, but he is teaching his son, and other noble youth who are the future rulers of Israel. Believers, Christians, seem to have an obligation to not only participate in politics, but to sanctify it with their presence.  

One way you do this is to remember that God, the I AM, is sovereign over all earthly kings and rulers:

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.–Proverbs 21:1

What comfort is in these words! Both the benevolent president and the brutal dictator are under God’s ultimate rule. This tempers how you see them in your hope and despair, and the media frenzy of politics:

26 Many seek the ruler’s favor,
But justice for man comes from the Lord.–
Proverbs 29:26

If you are like me, you may have been frustrated or confused about your role as a believer when it comes to politics. On one hand, things are so ugly, it is easy to say the wrong thing, or hold the wrong belief and pay a price of losing friends or dishonoring Christ. On the other, you know that divorcing yourself from it all, except to cast a vote, seems weak and wasteful. 

Dr. Bruce Waltke, whose detailed and remarkable work on Proverbs has helped unlock this book of wisdom, has some insight on how you as a Christian, can see and understand your role in politics. Here are several ways Proverbs reveals to you about how to have political influence. You must:

Be wise 

Wisdom, as found in Christ, leads you to live in an honorable and righteous manner. A king, likewise, is called to promote competence and shun corruption:

35 The king’s favor is toward a wise servant,
But his wrath is against him who causes shame.–Proverbs 14:35

Be gracious

Participate, vote and support a candidate–but do not sacrifice your integrity or righteousness. Be an honorable constituent or subject: 

11 He who loves purity of heart
And has grace on his lips,
The king will be his friend.–Proverbs 22:11

Be patient

Seek to see the big picture of this life. Do not get worked up or discouraged. God is sovereign, and His plan even includes idiot politicians and ignorant voters:

15 By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded,
And a gentle tongue breaks a bone.–Proverbs 25:15

Be humble

For you, as a modern voter, to “know your place” can be difficult. Your elected officials are servants of the people, not rulers to be groveled to. Nevertheless, Christ calls you to be humble, and to treat others–even elected officials–accordingly [Luke 14:8-11]. 

6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of the great;

For it is better that he say to you,
“Come up here,”
Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.–Proverbs 25:6-7

Be proficient

Never forget that godly men like Daniel and Joseph won favor by being skillful and wise. Do your best to be a good citizen, despite real or perceived abuse:

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.–Proverbs 22:29

Fear the LORD and the king

The king, and even a president, is the Lord’s anointed. He or she has been elevated to power by God’s providence, and you function under their authority. If you grumble, engage in plots of insurrection, or seek to undermine their rule, you may be rejecting God’s own will, to your shame:

21 My son, fear the Lord and the king;
Do not associate with those given to change;

22 For their calamity will rise suddenly,
And who knows the ruin those two can bring?–Proverbs 24:21-22

Are you struggling with any of this? If so, I completely understand, and have shared your own frustrations. Over all of this, you will remember, reigns the “wisdom of God” Himself, Jesus Christ. Jesus, who stood before Pilate, and reminded the Roman that even as Governor of Judea, he had no actual power over Him, nevertheless went obediently to the cross. 

Jesus knew, as you do, that His Father holds the keys to ultimate victory:

30 There is no wisdom or understanding
Or counsel against the Lord.

31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord.–Proverbs 21:30-31

Can you see yourself in light of this victory, as an obedient participant in it? Will you trust God to work His will in your life, and your nation? The future is unknown, but He who holds it is not:

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.–Corrie ten Boom



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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