Ecclesiastes: Day 26: Our attitude toward rulers (10:20)

Day 26: Our attitude toward rulers (10:20)

Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter” (10:20).

Today, we will consider kings or, our modern day near equivalent: them who rule over our lives. While we may accept this sobering fact of life with understandable reticence, given what we know about many of those who do so rule, and however much we may want to qualify Paul’s words, we ought to be mindful of the biblical injunction: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” Romans 13:1-3, and act accordingly. Interestingly enough, Solomon aka “the Preacher” was a king and besides his great wisdom he also understood how “the system” worked and how best to work the system. A motley bunch, kings may be, but it is worth being reminded from his other book to do with wisdom that “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” Proverbs 21:1.

Already in this chapter, we have been wowed by the thought “If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences” (1:4) and alarmed at the notion that despite how egregious folly is, kings can and do exalt fools to positions of authority, who thus empowered go on to upset those who want to just get on with their lives. It may be a further reason for another of Paul’s exhortations that: “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” 1Timothy 2:1,2. It brings us to two more, pretty insightful, kingly texts. Firstly, a statement of fact: “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” (10:16,17). Secondly, some sound advice, which may help us to come to terms with living life that is conducted mostly under the sun: “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter” (10:20).

Prayer: Lord we praise you that you raise up and put down kings, and you can since you are ruler over all the universe. Help us to conduct ourselves wisely when dealing with earthly authorities, who we pray for in your mighty Name.

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