Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning! Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes feast at the proper time — for strength and not for drunkenness! Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks. A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but money answers everything. Do not curse the king, even in your thought; do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter. (Ecclesiastes 10:16-20)
A Little Bird Told Me
Living in the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ can be a great blessing. It can also bring about a serious offense in the eyes of the Lord. Since early childhood, we are taught how our great democracy was formed by the rebellion of the colonists to the rule of Great Britain. An independent spirit of American zeal flows in our blood to enjoy the benefits of freedom that allows us to bear arms, live where we choose and worship in any manner we desire. Few nations have enjoyed the breadth of liberty found in the United States of America. This is a great nation to live in and we should never take for granted to blessings we have in this great nation. But like so many blessings there must also be a warning.
Paul tells us in Romans 13 that God establishes government. The relationship of man to authority for the child of God is very peculiar in the relationship of the citizen to civil authority. As Christians we are held to a higher principle of obedience than the person who does not subject themselves to God. Our first allegiance is to God and Him alone. Government falls down the pecking order after we have served the Lord and His will. As the elect of God we view government in a different manner than the world. Throughout the history of the Bible the Lord shows His hand in the affairs of man and emphasizes in the New Testament a continued presence in the rising and falling of nations. Jesus was subject to the Roman Empire rendering to Caesar the things that belonged to Caesar and to His Father all that was required. Peter exhorted the citizens of Nero to honor the king. Our text in the wisdom literature shows the continual mind of God on how His people are to conduct themselves in relationship to government.
Every nation has good rulers and bad rulers. The United States has had good presidents and bad presidents. Some of our presidents have shown themselves to be of less character morally and spiritually. The evils of government plague the nation as the highest office in the land is used for personal gain. This should not surprise us as we see men of corrupt character gain a foothold in the leadership of our country. Ecclesiastes is a book about the trials of life including how to deal with government gone awry. Our text also shows the blessings of a nation guided by men of wisdom and noble character. Presidents will arise that bring order and prosperity to the citizens. In our land there have been days of greatness and days of shame. The lesson points to the voice of the bird.
The people of God do not have a democratic freedom to express their American views of dishonor to the one who resides in the oval office or the one who may be taking the reins of government. God emphatically states that His children are not to curse the king nor curse the rich – even in their thoughts. The influence of godly people is destroyed when they are caught up in the political fray of disrespecting the leaders of the land and not giving honor to whom the Lord God Almighty demands His people to respect. Too many noble Christians have taken the penknife of self-righteousness and removed passages that speak against cursing the king in the fervor of freedom. Just because we have freedom in America does not mean we have freedom in the body of Christ. Our allegiance is not to country first; our allegiance is to God alone.
We live in perilous times – but friends we do not live in anything close to what Jesus lived in and even the early disciples. Jesus never railed against leaders. The early church was an example of righteousness that endured the wrathful hand of a despot leader but did not curse the king. Even when the ruler is personally unworthy of respect, the people of God shone as lights of purity in a dark world. We can do no less. How many birds have flown to the throne of God telling the thoughts of His people against their government? The warning is clear. Do not curse the king even in your thoughts lest a little bird gives wings to your voice and the Lord hears.
There is a worse evil than misgovernment, and that is anarchy (J. Willcock)