By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
Here is a lesson in political science. Princes, nobles, and judges all need wisdom to discharge their offices well. A very similar proverb precedes this one, which shows by repetition God's emphasis on the importance of wisdom for rulers (Pr 8:15). The practical lessons are these: rulers with wisdom will be good rulers, and those without it will not; and if wisdom serves the throne so well, then wisdom is something worth pursuing.
Who is represented by the first person, objective case, personal pronoun, "me"? Whenever reading the eighth chapter of Proverbs, remember that the entire chapter is a personification of wisdom as a woman, Lady Wisdom (Pr 8:1-3). Solomon pursued this literary form in making wisdom as desirable and personal as possible, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We do the same with Lady Liberty, Uncle Sam, and Mother Nature.
The proverb is theoretical and practical, not historical or literal. Not all princes, nobles, and judges are wise. In fact, most are not. Many executive, legislative, and judicial decisions are foolish, contrary to even basic common sense. The theoretical lesson is that great rulers use wisdom in order to do their jobs well. The practical lessons were stated earlier: you should esteem wisdom and pursue it, because it is precious, and you need it.
All civil offices require wisdom, a qualification not even understood today. Jethro told Moses, "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them" (Ex 18:21). Jehoshaphat charged the Levites and chief rulers at their inauguration, saying, "Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart" (II Chron 19:9).
What is wisdom? Simply put, it is the power of right judgment! Wisdom is the choices and decisions that balance mercy and truth, benefit the entire nation, and are perfectly righteous in the sight of God! Where does it come from? The fear of the Lord (Pr 1:7; 9:10; Job 28:28; Ps 111:10)! How is the fear of the Lord applied to the political processes of a nation? By obeying the inspired and preserved Scriptures of the God of heaven (Deut 17:18-20; Ps 19:7; 119:23,98-100,128,161; Is 8:20; II Tim 3:16-17)!
Does that mean only Christian rulers following the Bible can truly be great and noble? Absolutely! It is the fear of God and the word of God that makes rulers and nations great. To the degree the word of God is promoted, preached, and obeyed in a nation is the degree to which a nation will be great as measured by freedom, justice, morality, and peace. David, one of the greatest and noblest kings, wrote, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD" (Ps 33:12). Nations rejecting God will be turned into hell (Ps 9:17).
Here is what Moses declared about just a small part of the Old Testament:
"Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
"Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
"For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
"And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?"
Are all princes, nobles, and judges wise? Hardly. God told King Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest monarch ever, that He often puts the basest of men in civil offices (Dan 4:17). While they and their offices are to be honored, as being ordained by God, yet there are few honorable among them (Rom 13:1-7). Consider the greatest crime ever - the corrupt trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. It was arranged, approved, and executed by a combination of Jewish religious leaders and two Roman appointees, Pilate and Herod.
When a nation rejects God, as America has today, He takes away all their great men, so they are left with children and women oppressing them into disaster (Isaiah 3:1-5,12). When a nation sees its mighty men, men of war, great judges, prudent men, honorable men, counselors, skilled craftsmen, and eloquent orators disappearing, God is at work! Watching a presidential debate should be all you need to know you are there! Unless and until America repents and returns to God, she is going down, down, down!
What is the purpose of Proverbs 8? To exalt wisdom by its great service to God and men in order to provoke you to embrace it with all your heart and strength (Pr 8:1-11,32-36)! In this particular proverb, wisdom is exalted by its usefulness to great and noble rulers. For rulers to be glorious, discharging their duties with benevolence, fairness, and prudence, they need wisdom. That high value and usefulness should motivate your desire for it.
If wisdom is necessary for kings, princes, nobles, and judges to rule well, how much effort should you make in pursuing it yourself? If wisdom is that great, it should be the chief goal of your life (Pr 4:7; 18:1). Where is it found? In the fear of God and obedience to the inspired and preserved scriptures of God! Are these great priorities in your life? If you love wisdom and seek her early, you will easily find her (Pr 8:17)! Start today!
There is only one truly wise King, Prince, and Judge - Jesus of Nazareth - He is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim 6:13-16). He is coming soon to judge the earth, right all wrongs, correct all errors, end all lies, punish all evildoers, and reward the righteous with eternal life. He presently sits at God's right hand and is dashing the nations into political fragments (Ps 2:1-12; Rev 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:11-16). The Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Hallelujah! Amen!