Proverbs in 365 Devotions
Proverbs 28:15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
I love the metaphors Solomon uses in his writings… Proverbs is full of them. Even in this chapter so far we have encountered a few. In verse one he says how the righteous are bold as a lion and then in verse 3 he gives a scenario where oppressing the poor is like a beating rain.
Here the picture Solomon paints is a wicked ruler coming for the poor people in his land… and he’s attacking in full assault mode like a roaring lion or a charging bear. Thats a pretty graphic picture… the outcome will not be rated G or PG13 but a lot worse… still its a true and honest representation.
The next verse… 16 continues speaking of a ruler who is a cruel oppressor saying he lacks understanding and then Solomon says how one who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
Solomon does this quite often… He starts us with a truth to ponder… say a positive to a negative… something about the wise and righteous and something else about the wicked… Either somehow they are related… or we get to fill in the blanks to the negative or positive truth he is sharing. Many times Solomon seems to want us to finish the thought so we can work it out in our own mind and internalize it for ourselves. I think he wants us to know why we believe what we say we believe instead of taking his or anyone else’s word for it.
So verse 16 says how a ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor… We might also consider 15 about a wicked ruler charging at the poor… and therefore as we think through this we can figure that a ruler who has understanding will be compassionate and just toward the poor instead of a beating rain that strips them bare. A understanding leader will work to raise the poor from their poverty for their own good and that of the nation.
Solomon then says the word “but’… “but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days”.
Again this seems to be a positive end for the ruler who has understanding… so what is the negative? Yes, Solomon says how a leader without understanding is a cruel oppressor; Solomon says that's the negative side but he has now added something else for us to ponder. The cruel oppressor must have loved unjust gain… Solomon tells us how this wicked leader oppresses the poor… They unfairly take advantage of those who have no recourse. They unjustly take what they have like the beating rain in verse 3 of this chapter.
Solomon also gives us another nugget to backtrack on. A good just leader will prolong his days. Therefore we can surmise that being an oppressive unjust leader will not wind up being a healthy course for his career or his life.
How does any of this relate to me? I’m not a king or leader of a nation.
We all lead others. Our life, our choices, our faith, our attitude… the way our heart works out into our life actions… even our facial expressions. At the very least even if we stay home and never involve ourselves socially with others there is some kind of butterfly effect that contributes to the heartbeat of the culture.
Fathers, be encouraging leaders in your families. Dont be a roaring lion or charging bear dominating them for your own self-centeredness. Don't seek to have your family serve you but rather serve them and work to the end that they have joy in serving God and loving their neighbor… Encourage them… Work for peace and truth that your family might grow out of the things they are weak in and your family might become strong in the Lord for his glory. One benefit this will surly bring is that it will prolong your days as one who is looked to in love as the godly leader God has called you to be.