Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Marks of Magistrates - Ecclesiastes 10:16-17

"Woe to you, O land, whose king is a lad
and whose princes feast in the morning.
Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility
and whose princes eat at the appropriate time -
for strength and not for drunkenness."
(Ecclesiastes 10:16-17)

Well, there is certainly nothing new under the sun - including the reality of wise and foolish leadership. Throughout history, nations have been guided by the prudent and by the idiotic, by the kind and by the treacherous. In our current times it is so -one country is governed well and another is governed wildly. In our own nation we see it to be true - look at the headlines regarding those folks who rule over us and think of your first reaction to some of their shenanigans - "He did what?!?!!"

Clearly Solomon knew of the reality and here he addresses the problem with both woes and blessings.

First of all, he offers a "woe" to the nation who is "led" by an immature prince. Matthew Henry pointed out that it may not refer only to immaturity of age but immaturity of understanding. There may be an old foolish king and there may also be a young wise king. Age is not the issue.

The foolish magistrate is the one who "feasts in the morning." In otherwords, his appetites rule him, not he them. He is a slave of his own lusts and serves himself when he should be serving his people.

Why woe? Because when the land is led by a lax lad things will fall apart. "Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks" (Ecc 10:18). The foolishly feasting prince is not the prepared prince. His walls are weak. His borders are broken. His people become peasants. The nation that is thus ruled by the fool will suffer grave consequences.

"When judges are epicures, and do not eat to live but live to eat, what good can a nation expect?!" (Henry)

"Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time - for strength, and not for drunkenness."

Quoting Mr. Henry at length:

"The people cannot but be happy when their rulers are generous and active, sober and temperate, and men of business. Wisdom, virtue and the fear of God, beneficence, and a readiness to do good to all mankind, these ennoble royal blood. When magistrates are more in care to discharge their trusts than to gratify their appetites; when they eat in due season, that is, when they have dispatched their business, the land is blessed. Magistrates should eat for strength, that their bodies may be fitted to serve their souls in the service of God and their country. It is well with a people when their princes are examples of temperance, when those that have the most to spend upon themselves know how to deny themselves."

Oh, for such leaders in our own land. I am reminded by these words of my need to heed Paul's admonition in 1 Timothy 2.

"I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity."

Are we praying for increasing wisdom and selflessness for those who rule over us? If not, shouldn't we start?

In His glorious grace,

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