The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
A ruler with no understanding will oppress his people, but one who hates corruption will have a long life. (NLT)
When I typed the question ‘how many countries are there in the world?’ into Google I expected the answer to be around the 200 mark. One website provided more information than others naming dependent and disputed territories in the answer:
Since South Sudan became an independent state on 9 July 2011, there are now 195 independent sovereign states in the world (including disputed but defacto independent Taiwan), plus about 60 dependent areas, and five disputed territories, like Kosovo.
That makes 255. I grew up in the island of Guernsey, which is one of the dependent areas, being a Crown Dependency of the UK. Systems of government vary widely across the spectrum of states, dependent areas and disputed territories. One thing that seems common to all systems is the requirement for someone to be in charge. In Guernsey the Crown is represented by a Lieutenant Governor and a Bailiff. In the UK the Queen is a constitutional monarch who is represented in parliament by the Prime Minister.
The teaching in this proverb appears to be directed to monarchs, prime ministers, presidents, governors, and the like. We don’t have to look far in our world to discover that many of the leaders of the 255 nations and dependencies have either never heard this proverb, or have chosen to ignore it. In many countries, perhaps even our own, politics has become a system of power that enriches the incumbent politicians to the detriment of much of the remainder of the population. Perhaps that is why it was God’s preference for Israel not to be like other nations and be ruled by a king? When the prophet Samuel warned the people that a king would draft their sons into his army, and their daughters into his service, they ignored him. Even warnings of slavery to the king and taxation failed to change their minds (1 Samuel 8:10-20). The people’s response was; “Even so, we still want a king, we want to be like the nations around us.”
Isn’t that true for us too? We want to be like those around us? We forget that God calls us to be different. If we keep one foot in the world then we will be corrupted by it. If you think about it, what the world has to offer is a form of oppression. We don’t need a prince or a politician to oppress us, because the ways of the world will suck us in and keep us in servitude, oblivious to all that God has to offer. Do you want a king? Then you need to look beyond the world and the voices that try to drown out the gentle whisper of the true and incorruptible King.