Category: Opinions Written by The Nation Mirror Admin
By Rt. Rev. Dr. Peter Joh Abraham Mayom
he fundamental purpose of the Proverbs are to give man wisdom and sound instruction on how to live in accord with the principles of God’s moral law. Wisdom, in the Hebrew sense of the word, enables man to live successfully in the world created by God. In Proverbs, God reveals this wisdom to all men and nations including Church leaders & government leaders. The proverbial saying in proverbs 29:2 and 28:28 teaches us wisdom by means of comparing good and bad leaders. Let us read the Scripture and see whether we are good or bad leader on authority in your central leadership whether in the church or in the organization/government.
The wisdom of Proverbs covers all areas of life: personal, family, business, education, and politics as well so let know reduced my rational into political mimic. The book of Proverbs, like the rest of the Hebrew wisdom literature (i.e., Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon), is cast in the form of poetry. The antithetical pattern proverbs are based on the biblical antithesis between good and evil, truth and falsehood, blessing and cursing.
There are only two kinds of men (or societies), and only two paths upon which they can walk: the righteous, who walk according to the law of God-these are the “wise”; and the unrighteous, who walk according to the counsel of the ungodly-these are the “fools” (cf. Ps. 1). Are we leading this country according of to ungodly or godly counsel? The answer to this question is at your own disposal!
This moral antithesis finds clear expression in Proverbs 29:2. This text pictures two different times in a civil community, two different kinds of civil rule, and two contrasting expressions of the people to the rule being exercised over them. The first line depicts the blessing of righteous rule in the community, while the second expresses the curse of wicked leaders.
It is significant to note that the moral wisdom of this proverb is given as an observation of the actual experience of men and nations. This does not mean that the proverb is based on a moral postulate derived from experience. Solomon knows from the law of God that civil leaders are God’s ministers charged with the duty of judging the people righteously; hence, only God-fearing men of wisdom and integrity should be appointed as magistrates (Deut. 1:15-17).
Solomon understands by means of divine revelation that blessing will attend righteous government, and cursing will accompany wicked government (Deut. 10:13; 11:26-28; 28:1-2, 15). Let us judge leadership whether we have wicked government or righteous government as per our service delivery to the people of the Republic of South Sudan. However, Solomon states the proverb as an observation to presence the truth of God’s law concerning the necessity and blessing of righteous civil government!
The first line of thought observes that, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” When conditions so prevail in a city, state, or nation that the righteous have control of affairs, the people rejoice. The term “righteous” comes from a Hebrew root that denotes conformity to an established ethical standard; thus, it carries the idea of that which is straight or right because it does not deviate from the path laid down.
In the Bible, the ethical standard that judges whether or not a man is “right” in his character and deeds is the revealed law of God. Therefore, a “righteous” man is one who thinks and acts in conformity to God’s moral law. The word “righteous” employed here is an adjective that functions as a substantive (a noun), and is used in three ways in the Old Testament: first, of a ruler or judge who maintains the right and dispenses justice; second, of one who has a just cause; third, of a man who is righteous in character and conduct in his dealings with both God and other men.
In all these uses, the basic significance of the word must be kept in mind-a man is righteous or just, or his cause is just because of conformity to God’s law.
The Hebrew verb raba, that is translated “are in authority,” comes from a root that means to multiply or increase (cf. Prov. 28:28; 29:16). This is recognized by the translators of the KJV who give “increased” as an alternative rendering in the center column notes. So why then is the verb translated “are in authority,” and is this an accurate translation? Yes, it is. The verbraba is used in parallel to the verb mashal (“beareth rule”)-which signifies to rule, reign, or have dominion over-in the second line. When the evil men/women increase, the righteous suffered, but when the wicked perished the righteous flourished.
So what is being contrasted is the civil rule of the righteous to the civil rule of the wicked. Thus, the translation “are in authority” is preferable to “are increased” due to the requirements of Hebrew poetry and its parallelism of thought.
However, we must not lose sight of the basic significance of the word in our interpretation, for it denotes the means whereby the righteous come to authority, i.e., by increasing in numbers. The righteous increase to the point where they are enabled to take control of the civil government. The “righteous” is a reference that goes beyond the actual men who rule. It is in the plural and seems to suggest a larger community of righteous citizens who pave the way for the ascendancy of righteous men to the leadership of the Country. Before you can have righteous rulers you must have a large contingency of righteous cabinets to provide support needed to the citizens.
When a city, state, or nation has the righteous men/women in authority “the people rejoice” and when the righteous people are in charge of affairs then people rejoice in The Lord. Rejoice in The Lord does not mean the absence of disappointment, but we should be thankful and rejoice in the Lord even when things are going on wrong or good. Their hearts (people) are cheered and gladdened because the righteous govern according to the perfect law of liberty-God’s law. Under the rule of righteous men who love God and their neighbor, liberty and justice abound.
The wicked are suppressed, and the citizens are secure in their persons and property (Rom. 13:1-6). As Delitzsch (2000, pg.20) puts it: “If the righteous form the majority, or are in such numbers that they are the party that give the tone, that form of predominant power among men…then the condition of the people is a happy one and their voice joyful…”
In contrast to the dominion of the righteous is the rule of wicked men. The word “wicked” refers to those guilty of sin against God and of crimes against their neighbors. The wicked do not love neither God nor their fellow man, but act in defiance of God’s authority and in hostility to others. The “wicked” are the exact opposite of the “righteous.” They walk according to their own evil hearts and the counsel of the ungodly. They deviate from the right way of truth, love, and justice set forth in the law of God.
The author is a Bishop-ECSSS Diocese of Malek
A/Professor University of Juba Center for Peace & Development Studies