Friday Morning Reflections – Wisdom Literature
I say, “Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God. Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him.” Where the word of a king is, there is power; and who may say to him, “What are you doing?” He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; and a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment, though the misery of man increases greatly. For he does not know what will happen; so who can tell him when it will occur? No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, and no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, and wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it. All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: there is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt. (Ecclesiastes 8:2-9)
Honor The King
Government is established by God. From the first organization of man into a system of laws the Lord has expected His people to give honor to this basic institution. Paul writes about submitting to the government of the Roman Empire in his letter to the saints in Rome. Peter admonishes those (including himself) living under the tyrannical hand of Nero to ‘honor the king’ because government is established by God. From ancient time this has been the will of God. Solomon reminds us in the book of life our obedience to civil law is imperative because of our oath to God. The rule of government is power. As citizens of the kingdom of God we must submit to the authority of the kingdom of men. Those who obey the law will lessen the chances of being in trouble with the law. Rebellion to civil law is sin.
The pattern of the early disciples explains the relationship of the Christian to government in plain terms. Being warned to stop teaching Christ Peter and the apostles respectfully inform the government officials that obedience to God must come before obedience to man. Disobedience to civil law can only be done when the law of man disobeys the law of God. This does not suggest we can make the law of God apply to our personal gains or needs. Civil disobedience is sinful when the matters do not conflict with the law of God. Solomon was not suggesting that all governments of men are following the law of God. Few if any governments use the word of God for their guides. However children of God are obedient to civil government.
Civil government is established by God and all of the inequities committed will be judged by the Lord God. If there is any vengeance to be given it comes from the throne of God. The people of God are model citizens who obey the laws of the land – whether good or bad. Unless the law forbids the worship of the one true God obedience is required. These are tough lessons. We should always keep before us the words of Solomon: “Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God.”
The powers that be are ordained of God; whosoever therefore the power resisteth the ordinance of God. For rules are not a terror to good works, but to evil. (William Penn, Frame of Government for Pennsylvania, 1682)