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

Sweet, Spring Rain

Wisdom of reflecting God’s righteousness in public life 

Proverbs 16:10-15

10 Divination is on the lips of the king;
His mouth must not transgress in judgment.

11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s;
All the weights in the bag are His work.

12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.

13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.

14 As messengers of death is the king’s wrath,
But a wise man will appease it.

15 In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.


There is a curious passage in the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy novel “The Fellowship of the Ring.” In this first book of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Frodo, the humble Hobbit has found himself the bearer of the evil “Ring of Power.” He must reluctantly embark on an odyssey across Middle Earth to destroy it in the volcanic fires of Mount Doom, where the ring was forged long ago by the dark lord Sauron.

As Frodo and his small group of friends make their way across the perilous wilderness, Frodo thinks longingly of his quiet, happy home in the now-distant Shire:

I should like to save the Shire, if I could - though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.–Frodo, The Lord of the Rings: “The Fellowship of the Ring”

There is a debate that seems to rage among christians in this modern, politically-charged culture of the west. Do you, as a Christian, shun politics–and even public service–in order to keep your integrity as a believer and focus on the gospel? Or do you, as a follower of Christ, embrace the political debates and perhaps seek public office in order to combat the worldliness and debauchery that seems to threaten to flood your community?

You may desire to pick up the sword of civil service, or fiery internet argument in order to protect the “safe and comfortable” shire of the church–and perhaps risk losing the message of Christ in the dungeons of political gamesmanship. Or maybe you feel the best strategy would be to barricade the church as a safe-haven against political influence, and shelter while kingdoms around her burn.

Those who choose the latter have risked being accused of “hiding behind the gospel.” But those who go politicking can find themselves allied with a political party that espouses “family values,” yet elects an amoral self-promoter–or a party that claims to be “socially conscious,” that elects a kleptocrat with totalitarian dreams. 

What is a believer to do? Do you engage the culture through the political tools God has given, or do you hide safely at home, and pretend the west is not collapsing under the weight of its own sins?

Even in ancient Israel, Solomon was no stranger to this debate. The wise king had sought wisdom from God as his only request (I Kings 3:1-15), and his desire was granted. Here in Proverbs 16, Solomon provides advice to the politically–minded, and those who are predestined to live under their earthy authority. In doing so, he shows you what it means to live under the divine rule of the King of Kings–and what to do if you find yourself a leader of your fellow men:

10 Divination is on the lips of the king;
His mouth must not transgress in judgment.–Proverbs 16:10

Solomon chooses the curious word “divination” here to describe the ruling of a king. This is the Hebrew quesem (קֶ֤סֶם) that can literally mean “witchcraft,” or simply an “inspired verdict.” Solomon has chosen the latter in his description of a royal decision that is a wise and just decision–one that comes from the Lord. 

An earthly king may be a benevolent ruler, or an evil tyrant. Due to his position of power, a king speaks by divine right. Some cultures, such as ancient Egypt and ancient Rome, even deify their leaders, and raise them to the status of gods on earth. Even if a king is recognized as simply a man, and a head of state, he still rules by God’s grace and providence and his decisions effect the lives of millions and the course of history. 

This kind of power is not wielded lightly and a king must rule justly, with all the means within his power:

11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s;
All the weights in the bag are His work.–Proverbs 16:11

A king who leads with integrity and justice will possess dignity that goes beyond his heralded titles. In contrast, a wicked king brings misery to his people–and the judgement of God:

12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.–Proverbs 16:12

To be a king is to be placed in position by the Almighty. Even if a king refuses to recognize that he is under this divine authority, God will, in time, remind him and his people otherwise.

What of a nation that finds itself with an ungodly king and in danger of God’s wrath? God makes it clear that the morality of a public leader is held to greater responsibility, resulting in punishment or reward.

When a nation elects public officials who embrace the spirit of the age and seek to exalt themselves, God’s wrath will be kindled. On the other hand, a godly king will be loved by his people and be pleasing to God:

13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.

14 As messengers of death is the king’s wrath,
But a wise man will appease it.–Proverbs 16:13-14

St. Augustine wrote in “City of God” that governments were a necessary evil–that were necessary because of evil. The sinfulness of this fallen world requires strong, moral, earthly leadership, and even a Christian cannot escape this need, despite being a citizen of the kingdom of Christ, now and yet to come.

Scripture is filled with examples of godly kings and civil leaders.  Naaman, the army commander sought out Elisha, the prophet of God for healing. As a result, Naaman praised God–and went back to his civic duties (II Kings 5). Zacchaeus, the tax collector, climbed the tree to see Jesus (Luke 19). Paul praises Erastus of Corinth (Romans 16:23), and wins the Philippian jailor and his entire family for Christ (Acts 16). 

Jesus does not bid the faithful centurion or converted soldiers to lay down their arms, nor does Paul condemn the jailor and demand he leave his civil service position.

Paul reminds you in Romans 13 that you are under the authority of your earthly leaders, as placed over you by God. It is clear, however, that Christians can, in turn, serve God in positions of political office too.   

If you do, you are called to restore justice and dignity to government as you seek to live as Christ. Peter encourages you that as you do this you must live in a way that pagans will glorify God:

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.–I Peter 2:11-12

This can only mean that you live for Christ, not separate from your culture, but IN the city or town in which He has placed you. In the Old Testament, God tells His people through the prophet Jeremiah that even in exile in Babylon they are to truly dwell among their captors, not set themselves apart in enclaves or ghettos:

Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.–Jeremiah 29:5-7

As a Christian, you are called, thus, to live among your neighbors as an ambassador of Christ. You must not compromise morally, but you must also remember that as a sinner, you too are in need of His mercy and grace. 

So, be sure that those you vote for reflect the morality and wisdom of God’s divine authority. You cannot always be on the “winning” side of an election, but when you hold to the standard of the King of Kings, you will always be on the side of righteousness.

This may mean that you will not go “all in” on a favorite candidate if he or she has questionable morals. It can also mean that if you run for office yourself, you must live to the highest standards of Christ’s righteousness, seeking His glory and not your own.

God doesn’t choose perfect men and women to lead. God chose the flawed and failure-prone David, and Jesus reinstated the failed Peter (John 15:15-25). Yet, David knew that his salvation lay only in seeking the mercy of God, and Peter went to his own cross seeking only to praise his glorious savior and friend.

So what about you and me? You may not be a king or queen, but you are a leader of others in your life. As a parent, you must govern your children. As a boss or business owner, you manage your staff or your company. As a pastor, you seek to lead your flock.  

You must never compromise, but seek to be the image-bearer of Christ to them. In humility, and with a grasp of your own shortcomings and sins, you lead your own people to the cross, where He will provide blessing and strength. For as Solomon concludes this section:  

15 In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.–Proverbs 16:15

“Latter rain” here is the Hebrew מַלְקֽוֹשׁ׃ (malkosh) and refers to the gentle rains that come in spring. As winning the favor of an earthly king will earn you rewards, so enjoying the favor of the King of Kings will result in eternal rewards.  Pray for Christ’s protection as a leader of your fellow men. Pray for Christ’s protection for your earthly leaders, as you find yourself under their rule. 

Then you, too, will experience the sweet refreshment of the spring rains of God’s love and mercy–even in the sweltering heat of today’s political climate.


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:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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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