I’ve said before, I think, that this is an intermittent project. I’d love another writer or two to flesh out the Proverbs blog, but I don’t have time to recruit. If you want to do it, drop me an email or leave a comment with your qualifications. Like if you are a Christian and have read Proverbs seriously. And we’ll talk.
Proverbs 20 is a continuation of the general wisdom section of the book. Overall, we see a recurrent theme: wisdom, skillful living in fear of YHWH, applies to all aspects of life.
Proverbs 20:8 speaks to the role of kings in life. They are there to sift evil out of the kingdom. The purpose of earthly government is to deal with justice issues. Now, modern-day folks like to add a lot to the term “justice:” to some, not having as good of medical insurance as the next guy is injustice. That’s not what we are dealing with here: here it is about the definite wrongs perpetrated by others.
If a king is not striving to secure justice for the people, if a government is about its own self-preservation and not about the people, that government is doomed. Either time will destroy it or the people will. The people should: when justice and right are neglected, the longer that wound exists, the more it festers and the worse it gets for everyone.
Proverbs 20:18 speaks to the need for securing advice on major issues. The king, though he should share in the risk and hardship of war, is not the only source of military expertise. He should consult with those who understand war perhaps better (or differently) than he does before he goes to war. This includes, to my mind, not only conversations with advisers but the study of the art. Any king or government official who has not read at least one Eastern and one Western classic text on war should never get his nation involved in one.
Sun-Tzu is free on Kindle. So are part of Carl von Clausewitz’ writings. Get them. Read them. Understand and grow. And then spread out: read others that critique these writings. Find wisdom in a multitude of counselors.
Proverbs 20:28 shows how the king keeps the throne. He does so through loyal people and through those who will tell him the truth. For far too long, we have seen people afraid to tell the governing authorities around us the truth—I would hazard it has been since someone advised President George H.W. Bush not to take out Hussein that an American President has truly been told the truth in such a way that he listened.
The result? A sincere lack of righteousness, a dearth of loyalty. And a thin hold on the continuation of the nation, much less any individual’s throne.