My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
You think outside the box? Make sure it is not the box of the government God picked for you. God chose your government and each person in its offices. He will change it when it pleases Him, but you do not have the ability, duty, or right to even consider it (Dan 2:21). You should submit to those He placed over you as you expect those under you to submit.
The most valuable proverbs for you are the ones you compromise or violate. It is human nature to love the proverbs that condemn others, especially your competitors or enemies. But real wisdom, had only by a few rare men, loves the proverbs that hit nerves and point up a problem with you. Are you humble enough and wise enough to fully trust God here?
The great God Jehovah commands you to honor and obey civil rulers. This includes presidents, governors, mayors, sheriffs, clerks, and all public offices. God ordained these offices and chose the persons in them, so He connects your reverence of them with your reverence of Him. Here is basic wisdom for the glory of God and the peace of nations.
He further commands you to avoid those with revolutionary rhetoric, ideas, or plans. They are guilty of sedition and treason against men and rebellion against God, and they deserve damnation (Rom 13:1-2). As you do not want a spouse, children, or employees fomenting rebellion against you, it is your duty to set the same standard for civil rulers.
If you want a peaceful, prosperous, God-blessed life, submit to this proverb and its strict wisdom. God hates free thinkers and talkers, and those who read them or listen to them. He says, “Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (II Pet 2:10). You have opened God’s word for wisdom. Here it is. Take it, and prosper.
Would you have been a loyalist or a revolutionary in America in 1776? It is a good question, but beyond the scope of this study due to many historical factors and much revisionism. Yet, it can and should be answered soberly by wise men. Think; it does not matter how God used America’s revolution; it matters what He said about revolution.
Solomon here taught his son to fear the LORD. The fear of God can be taught, as David showed (Ps 34:11). Since it is the beginning and end of wisdom and knowledge, it ought to be taught first and most (Pr 1:7; 9:10; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; Ps 111:10; Eccl 12:13). It is the fountain and foundation of wisdom, the most precious thing on earth (Job 28:1-28).
He then added fear of the king, for both are to be feared. The LORD is first, because you fear God first. He is feared over the king, and you fear the king because of God. You fear and obey civil government first out of duty toward God (Rom 13:1-5; I Pet 2:13-17). You then support rulers to uphold God’s ordained authority and preserve the peace of a nation.
There is another reason to fear the king – he can punish you for resisting his authority. Paul wrote that civil rulers do not bear the sword in vain; they will use their power to fine, imprison, or kill to maintain their God-given control of those under their rule (Rom 13:3-4). So you should submit due to fear of them and out of conscience toward God.
Living in a world of internal and external political unrest, extreme scrutiny and exposure of government, increasing governmental intervention and regulation, free speech abused by revolutionary citizens, and an arrogant, ignorant media gone to seed, here is needful, valuable, inspired wisdom from heaven. Noble men will consider it and adjust their lives accordingly. They know a king wrote it for the King of kings sitting in heaven.
As you consider this proverb carefully, understand two words seldom used today:
Meddle. To mix or join in company; to mingle, associate with.
Given. Inclined, disposed, addicted, prone.
You “meddle” with persons when you join or associate with them. God hates those who criticize government, so He condemns you mingling with them. You should avoid them, their philosophy, and their plans. There is no wisdom to read their literature, listen to their rants, or consider their explanations for political events they know nothing about.
A person is “given to” something when he is inclined to it. Some men are prone to criticize and despise government and seek change. They are generally haughty, critical, proud, and rebellious. They want to talk, lead, and judge, though God did not make them teachers, leaders, or judges. God commands you to avoid them. You have been warned.
You cannot be a revolutionary. Government is not by the people – government is by God. The Declaration of Independence is neither inspired nor derived from the Bible. If you want to vote for change, then vote for it. The Bible supports lawful efforts for change (Neh 2:1-8; Acts 22:25; etc.). But you cannot despise government or support civil disobedience, for God severely judges such rebels, as the next verse declares (Pr 24:22).
Seeking to change an established government is the sin of sedition; it is a work of the flesh and shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:20; II Tim 3:1-5). While some call themselves patriots, they are anarchists – rebels against existing authority. This attitude toward government is contrary to Christianity (Rom 13:1-7; I Pet 2:13-17). Jesus honored a de facto government over God’s own nation, so flush your de jure constitutional heresy.
Those who criticize, despise, or want to change government are brute beasts, according to God, who need to be destroyed like rabid dogs (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10). They have no clue about government and shall perish in their own profane ignorance. Read well the language used to describe and condemn them, for it is the inspired words of God. Why is He so harsh against such “free thinkers”? Because they resist Him and His ordinance.
Citizens despising or resisting government are the same as children rebelling against parents, wives undermining husbands, and unions shutting down employers. It is rebellion, and America’s hatred for centralized authority promotes it from earliest school days. It is useful wisdom to evaluate your attitude or actions toward civil government by considering the consequences of that attitude or actions by children, wives, or employees.
It is just retribution and recompence to see anti-government thinkers and talkers with revolt in their marriages and homes. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal 6:7), which includes arrogance or rebellion against any authority. You have been warned. God will not be mocked, because your arrogance against civil rulers is against Him. He will ruin your leadership in your home or business and bring you down.
Fools and scorners will bark and whine about being doormats to a political regime, but they forget Him that is higher than the highest (Eccl 5:8). He condemns even cursing a king in your thoughts (Eccl 10:20). God has the king’s heart in His hand, where He can bring about change righteously and much more efficiently than you ever could (Pr 21:1-4). If you think you could do it better, you should be God, and He should be your servant.
The prosperity and security of a nation do not depend on vigilant citizens to question or resist rulers – they rather depend on the faith and righteousness of citizens to obey the Ruler of nations and to pray to Him. God rightly sets up kings and puts them down, not men (Dan 2:20-21). Why do you think the title of Jesus Christ is King of kings? God does not need you to help Him work righteousness by sinfully disobeying His government.
When should a Christian disobey civil government? Only when government violates God’s commandments for his life. The apostles declared, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” (Acts 5:29). It does not matter what government does outside your life, for they will answer to God. You must obey every ordinance they create for you until there is a clear and direct personal conflict with plain commandments from God’s written word.
Civil rulers may live wicked lives; they may promote sinful lifestyles; they may institute laws contrary to Bible morality; they may use tax revenues for wicked ends; they may oppress the righteous; they may defend the profane. But until their laws directly affect you personally, you have no right under God to disobey or promote rebellion.
You should follow the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, though being the King of kings, submitted to Caesar’s de facto government’s taxing authority over Israel and avoided all unnecessary political offence (Matt 17:24-27; 22:15-22). Later, exercising His sovereign rule of the world, He ended the nation of Israel in 70 A.D. and the Roman Empire in 476. He rules heaven and earth with a rod of iron, and no earthly ruler causes Him any grief.