Those Given to Change
1. These verses conclude the first part of the “sayings of the wise men” found in Proverbs 22:17-24:34.
a. Many believe that Solomon was not the only author of proverbs in this section.
b. Other wise men may have added to this collection.
c. Regardless of the human author, the Divine Author was the Holy Spirit.
2. This section of the book has two parts:
a. The first part (22:17-24:22) is introduced as “the sayings of the wise” (22:17).
b. The second part (24:23-34) is introduced by the statement, “These also are the sayings of the wise” (24:23).
3. We have noted before that what makes this section distinct is the fact that most of the “proverbial sayings” consist of more than one verse (usually two or sometimes three).
4. We are now going to look at the final proverbial thought in the first part of this section of “wise sayings.”
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: (vs.21a)
1. The charge in this verse is to FEAR.
a. Fear: To reverence; to be afraid; to honor; to respect.
b. In this context, it is a command to fear, honor, and respect two levels of Divine authority: The Lord and the King.
c. Lev. 19:32 – a similar exhortation- honor the aged and fear God.
d. It means to show respect; reverence; honor.
2. Fear the Lord:
a. Prov.1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.
b. Fearing the Lord always comes first for He is the ultimate Authority.
c. All other authorities (elders; kings; etc.) derive their authority from God.
d. Gen. 22:12 – Abraham demonstrated that he feared God by offering his son.
• If you know who God is, then fear is the natural response: for God is awesome… fearful… omnipotent… omniscient… sovereign… He holds our next breath in His hand.
• To know Him is to fear Him.
• A casual or low concept of God results in a lack of fear and a lack of reverence for Him.
• But if a person really knows who God is, then disobedience to His word is unthinkable… regardless of the cost.
• Consider the cost to Abraham!
• But by offering up his son, Abraham demonstrated that he knew who God is… and that he feared Him.
e. The first charge is to fear the LORD (Jehovah).
3. Fear the King
a. The readers are also commanded to fear the king.
b. The king derives his authority FROM the Lord.
c. Since the days of Noah, divine authority had been given to men in positions of authority in human governments.
d. In Israel, the king served as a representative of God to the people. He was to be obeyed.
e. Rom. 13:1 – Paul later wrote that the powers that be are ordained of God.
f. The king was to be feared because in a sense, he stood in a position of authority that had been ordained by God Himself.
g. Rom. 13:3-4 – “Wilt thou not be afraid of the power?” He has the power of life and death over those who do evil.
h. I Pet. 2:17 – “Fear God. Honour the king.”
• This is the very same charge as in our proverb.
• And Peter wrote these words as Nero was in power and persecuting Christians.
• Respect and honor for the king is to be given NOT because we believe the PERSON is worthy of honor.
• Respect and honor for the king is to be given, not because we agree with his policies.
• But respect and honor is to be given because of his God-given position.
• Rom. 13:4 – “He is the minister of God to thee for good.”
i. This responsibility is trans-dispensational.
j. It is easy for believers to get all stirred up over political issues.
• What our leaders decide can affect us for years to come.
• But regardless of the political issues at hand, our attitude towards the King (or president or prime minister) is to be in harmony with the Bible: honor the king; fear the king.
• I Tim. 2:1-4 – If we don’t like his policies, then PRAY for kings and for all that are in authority that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life!
4. Thus, the first command is to fear, honor, and respect the Lord and the king. He has been put in a position of power and authority.
a. The Lord and the King each had the ability to punish evil doers. They both should be feared… honored… and obeyed.
b. Fearing and honoring the king implies submission to his authority.
c. It speaks of obeying his commands; paying his taxes; respecting his rules and regulations—whether we agree with them or not.
d. That’s the way a monarchy ruled. Thankfully we live in a democratic republic and we can vote out of office those with whom we disagree.
e. But as long as they are in office, our responsibility is to obey, submit, and honor.
And meddle not with them that are given to change:
1. “Those given to change.”
a. This is one Hebrew word that means “change; to make a change; and can have the meaning of rebellion.”
b. Note that he speaks not of those who make changes.
• Many changes are for the better.
• He is not disparaging change.
• Rather, he is speaking of those who are GIVEN to change. That speaks of those who seek to change just for the sake of change… to alter for the sake of altering.
• It speaks of those who are weary of the old and enamored by anything new—even though it be untried.
• This kind of spirit exists in the political realm: seeking to overthrow governments.
• It exists in the spiritual realm. Men opposed the authority of Moses and the prophets.
• It exists in the churches today too. There is a generation who seems to be enamored by anything “new” and who seek to change “church” into something else… though that new thing be untried and untested. (Let’s revisit these new wave churches in 10-15 years to see how they are doing!)
• It speaks of those who are restless rebels who simply seek to overthrow.
c. This passage is a good illustration of interpreting Scripture according to “the literal, grammatical, and historical method.”
d. The passage needs to be understood according to the historical and social setting at the time of writing.
e. This was written during a monarchy in Israel; the king was to be God-appointed.
f. Thus, trying to CHANGE the king was seen in that setting as rebellious against God’s anointed.
g. This was why David refused to cut the skirt of Saul. He would not touch God’s anointed—even if Saul was trying to kill him!
h. Opposition to the man God appointed to office was in fact, rebellion against God Himself.
i. Our system of government is not a monarchy—and certainly not a theocracy.
j. In our form of government, it is perfectly acceptable to be part of an opposition party. That’s how our government works.
k. So be careful in applying this passage.
• It does not require that all Christians join the party of the person in office at the present.
• It does not forbid us from working for “change”—or to oust him from office.
• But it DOES forbid us from rebelling against his authority or disobeying his rules.
• It does forbid us from attempting to overthrow the government… or from joining a military coup.
• As believers, we are to fear the king and submit—and not to rebel against his rule over us.
2. “Meddle not”
a. Meddle defined: Aid; support; join; make a pledge to; associate with.
b. Thus, the command here is that the readers were NOT to associate with those who were seeking to rebel against the king.
c. They were not to support them or make a pledge to them.
d. It has been translated variously:
• Do not join with the rebellious.
• Don’t join those people who refuse to obey them.
• Don’t associate with rebels.
• Have nothing to do with people who rebel against them.
e. In Solomon’s day, God’s people were not to have anything to do with those given to the overthrow of the monarchy.
f. God’s people are not to be seen as troublemakers on earth.
• Today, we as Christians are not to be seen as rebels against authority either.
• We are not to have a testimony as rabble rousers.
• I Pet. 2:14-17 – We are to obey EVERY ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake… for His name’s sake… for His testimony before men.
g. Matt. 26:51-54 – Jesus forbade Peter and company from taking up swords against the Roman soldiers (the powers that be). Even though their actions were unjust, Jesus commanded the disciples to submit and not to rebel.
h. Jesus also said, we are to “render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? (vs. 22)
1. Verse 22 states the REASON why the readers should not join forces with the rebels against God’s authority or the King’s.
a. Because their calamity shall rise suddenly!
b. “Their” refers to both the rebels and to those who join forces with them… or make pledges to them.
c. Calamity: Distress; disaster; destruction; violence; ruin.
d. Those who join forces with the rebels and those who seek to change the government by overthrowing it will discover that they themselves shall experience calamity: disaster and destruction.
e. This destruction could come from the king… who discovers their plot… or it could come from the Lord Himself.
f. Sometimes sudden calamity against rebels comes directly from the Lord as with the case of Korah. God opened the earth and the earth swallowed up Korah and the rebels who followed him.
g. Sometimes sudden calamity against rebels comes from the king… Consider the rebellion of Absalom and his end – hanging by his head in an oak tree… with three darts stabbed into his heart.
h. Whether the outcome is from the Lord or from the king – it is not good either way.
2. “Who knoweth the ruin of them both?”
a. Ruin = a synonym for calamity.
b. Neither the rebel nor those who join with them can expect good to come from their rebellion. They can expect nothing but ruin.
c. “Who knows the ruin of them both?”
• God does! God knows the time, the means, the circumstances, and all the details of their destruction.
• He has planned it all.
• And rest assured, their ruin shall come one day… either in this life or in the life to come.