The Effect of Leadership
“When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory:
but when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.”
1. This proverb speaks of the effect of leadership on the people.
2. Solomon speaks of two different kinds of leadership rising to power and the effect that it has on the people.
a. The contrast is between the righteous and the wicked.
b. Using poetic language, their “rise” to power is described.
3. This is an especially appropriate proverb for today—in light of the moral and spiritual decline in our country… but especially appropriate in light of the moral and spiritual decline in the churches today!
When righteous men do rejoice, there is great glory…
1. The righteous man rejoicing stands in contrast to the wicked man who rises to power and prominence.
a. As we have seen, very many of the proverbs come in two parts in order to make a contrast. That is the case here.
b. In many of these two part proverbs, the only way to understand the meaning of one part is to compare it to the other… which adds a little context.
c. Looking at the first part of this proverb, we might not know that Solomon is speaking about leadership, but when compared to the wicked man “rising,” it becomes obvious.
d. Thus, the proverb speaks of two different kinds of leaders rising to power – the righteous and the wicked.
e. Righteous: Upright; just; i.e., pertaining to being a person in accordance with a proper standard.
f. Rejoice: To be jubilant; i.e., be in a state of joy, which may include verbal expressions of joy and praise.
• The term “rejoice” sometimes has the meaning of “triumph” and is translated as such in at least two translations.
• That does seem to be the sense here – a righteous man triumphing… (and the context here speaks of rising to political power).
2. The righteous man is rejoicing because of his rise to power.
a. The righteous man rejoices and is jubilant because he is prospering and doing well.
b. The righteous man has risen to political power. He has been selected as the king or ruler or governor at some level. That is cause for rejoicing.
c. When a righteous man is chosen or permitted to take the reigns of power, it usually indicates that it is because the people are with him.
d. That is a good sign – when the people WANT a righteous man to be their leader.
e. People usually chose a leader who is LIKE THEM. They follow a leader who is like them. They vote for a leader who will promote their values.
f. Thus, when a righteous man is placed in the position of leadership, it usually because not only he, but the people desire that his righteous values be promoted, preserved, and proclaimed.
3. There is great glory…
a. Glory: This term has several different connotations in different contexts.
• Consider two slightly different shades of meaning the term has; they are not mutually exclusive; there seems to be a blending of these thoughts in our proverb.
» Honor, splendor.
» Pride, i.e., the state or quality of being legitimately proud of a person or circumstance
→ Prov. 17:6 – the glory of children are their fathers.
→ Prov. 20:29 – the glory of young men is their strength.
b. When Solomon says, There is great glory, he means that when a righteous man rules, there is great glory among the people.
• The people are proud to have such a leader. He represents their values. He represents them. There is a sense of national pride in such a leader.
• The people glory also in the sense of honoring that leader. They honor him by putting him into office and by following his leadership.
• The righteous leader and the righteous people are able to rejoice together.
• That is a sign of strength: righteous people AND a righteous leader.
• When righteous people have a righteous leader, they too glory in it… rejoice together.
• In a good sense, they are proud of it… national pride… patriotism.
c. Prov. 11:10a – The thought is similar in meaning: when things are going well for the righteous in the land, the city rejoices.
• They WANT righteousness in the land. That’s a good sign.
• They desire for justice, truth, high standards, things done well… and honoring to the Lord.
• For the Jews, that meant that God’s Word was honored, obeyed, and promoted.
• The people and the leaders are united around righteousness… and the result is that they GLORY in it… they rejoice and are jubilant.
d. Prov. 28:2 – “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.”
• We also saw a similar principle in vs. 2.
• When transgression fills the land, there will be many princes… because they won’t last long.
• But when a man of understanding, wisdom, and discernment is in power, the state thereof shall be PROLONGED… it will be good for the land and the country.
• That results in stability and strength for the nation.
• That is cause for the people to rejoice. They glory in righteous leaders.
e. Prov. 29:2a – “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…”
• Once again, we see this principle stated. When righteous men are in positions of authority, the people rejoice. It is GOOD for them and they know it.
• It is being repeated in this section of Proverbs… because it is important to realize!
But when the wicked rise, a man is hidden.
1. Now for the contrast: In contrast to the righteous leader who causes the people to glory and rejoice, is the wicked leader who RISES to power.
2. Dan. 4:17 – “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
3. The fact that a man rises to power should not lead us to conclude that he must therefore be righteous. Sometimes the basest of men rise to power.
4. Solomon’s warning is that when that happens, instead of the people glorying and rejoicing and taking pride in their leader, they HIDE!
a. When righteous people – who truth, justice, fairness, and righteousness to rule in the land find that their leader is wicked… unfair, unjust, and unrighteous, they run for the hills!
b. This is what Elijah did when Ahab and his lovely wife Jezebel were in power—he ran for a cave!
c. Righteous men realize that the wicked leader might take their property… take their land… and make life miserable for them. He may even execute them.
5. Prov. 28:28 – “When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
a. The first part of this proverb makes the same statement.
b. When wicked men rise to positions of power and authority, men have to run for their lives and hide.
c. They know that the wickedness of the leader is going to have an evil effect on their lives.
d. Note that this proverb also states the opposite: “When they (the wicked leaders) perish, the righteous increase.”
e. When the wicked leader is removed from power (perishes; dies; etc.) then the righteous can increase and prosper once again.
6. Prov. 28:15-16a – “As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people. 16The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor…”
a. A wicked ruler is like a roaring lion and raging bear to the people. (He is not out for their good, but to feed on them.)
b. A prince or ruler who lacks wisdom and discernment becomes an oppressor of the people.
c. This section is FULL of such warnings about good and bad leaders.
7. There is a direct connection between the quality of the leadership and the condition of the people.
a. With a righteous leader, righteous people can increase, prosper, thrive, and rejoice and glory in it!
b. With a wicked leader, righteous people hide themselves; they know that they will be trampled over and oppressed by the wicked leader.
c. Leadership matters! It is the difference between being treated well and rejoicing AND being trampled over and running for the hills!
d. There are people (some of them our brothers in the Lord) who are running for the hills in Syria, Iran, and in Egypt today… and in various other places around the globe.
8. While this principle seems to be geared towards political leaders, there is certainly good application to the church today.
a. Leadership in the churches is still a problem.
b. Our political leaders (presidents and congress from both aisles) have pushed our country into a moral and spiritual decline.
• These rulers are spineless. They refuse to stand up to culture in decline and do what is RIGHT rather than what is popular. They go with the flow to attract votes.
• Things that would have been shocking, repulsive, and rejected by our grandparents (gay marriage; redefining family; banning the 10 commandments; etc.) have gradually become tolerated and accepted… and are standard fare today.
c. So too we see the present generation of church leaders promoting or at least tolerating a moral and spiritual decline in the churches… which is far worse!
• Things that would have been shocking, repulsive, and rejected by our grandparents, (lowering of standards in clothing; immodesty; pop culture music in churches; lack of concern about doctrine; etc.) have gradually become tolerated and accepted… and are standard fare today—yes even in churches that consider themselves fundamental and orthodox!
• We have political rulers who are spineless – they refuse to stand up to culture in decline and do what is RIGHT rather than what is popular. They go with the flow to attract votes.
• We also have Christian leaders in churches who refuse to stand up to Christian culture in decline and choose to do what is popular rather than do what is RIGHT… because it is hard to do what’s right. They go with the flow not to attract votes, but to attract the crowds..
d. And what is the effect on the righteous?
• They are abandoned and rejected… and hidden away.
• The author of Hebrews speaks of the plight of the righteous during the reigns of wicked men: “they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
• He also describes them as they of “whom the world was not worthy.”
• So as the church continues its decline – from the pure and chaste virgin church after Pentecost until it becomes the harlot church of Revelation, the righteous will be relegated to obscurity… a tiny remnant.
• But a godly remnant! Don’t be discouraged by present conditions—the Lord is coming! Maranatha.
9. PRAY for our leaders… that they would do what is right rather than what is popular… both in the country and especially in the churches.