When the Wicked Rise
1. This proverb makes a simple statement about the rise of wicked leaders and its effect on righteous people.
2. Similar statements have been made in other proverbs.
A. When the Wicked Rise
1. This speaks of wicked men rising to power as rulers, kings, presidents, and prime ministers.
2. The fact that a man rises to political power does not guarantee that he did so out of noble motives and with honorable character.
3. We saw in the book of Daniel that sometimes God raises up the basest of men to rule.
a. 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.”
b. But note that regardless of who rises to power (righteous or wicked) it is the Lord who raised him up and for His purpose.
c. Ex. 8:16 – God raised up Pharaoh for His purpose.
• Pharaoh was an ungodly king who enslaved God’s people and refused to let them go. God raised up Pharaoh for His purposes.
• Moses records God’s reason for raising him up: “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”
d. Jer. 27:5-6 – God raised up Nebuchadnezzar
• Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king – an idolater. He may have come to know the Lord later, but God raised up an idolatrous pagan king to rule.
• And the Lord did so for His own glory.
• “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. 6And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him.”
e. Isa. 10:5-7 – God raised up Assyria for His own purpose.
• The Assyrians were especially cruel and wicked towards the people they conquered.
• “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. 6I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.”
f. This concept has been a perennial problem for the Jewish mind—WHY would God raise up wicked men to rule? Why not raise up good men and make the world a better place?
• Because that is not God’s purpose. God’s purpose is not to “fix” the world system but rather to replace it with HIS Kingdom.
• Hab. 1:6-7a – “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. 7They are terrible and dreadful…”
• Hab. 1:13 – The prophet was puzzled as to WHY God would raise up those who were dreadful and terrible.
» It seemed out of character for a holy God to raise up wicked rulers and put them in positions of power.
» “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”
• Hab. 2:20 – The prophet heard God speak and (like Job) was left speechless and in awe of who God is.
» “But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”
» Who are we to question who God raises up to rule?
2. This is a helpful thought during election season in our own country.
a. Regardless of what you think of the candidates and their policies, God is still on the throne.
b. He has a purpose for whatever He allows and for whomever He raises up to a position of authority.
c. God is bringing His plan to pass.
d. As Christians, our responsibility is to “honor the king.”
e. We may disagree strongly with his religious beliefs, with his political policies, and with his handling of social issues.
f. But God didn’t command us to agree with the king—but He did command us to honor the king.
g. Whether we like it or not, we are living in the end times and God’s plan WILL come to pass. The world will be brought into a one world government. We should expect to see more and more indications of that coming to pass in the next generation or so.
h. We may find ourselves puzzled as Habakkuk was; but we should also be willing to be silent before Him and trust that His ways are perfect… even if puzzling to us.
B. Men Hide Themselves
1. Hide defined: To hide; conceal. It has the sense of preventing someone to know or see something, to keep something from public notice or from certain persons. It has the sense of to guard and protect oneself from perceived danger.
2. Solomon’s point is that the character and quality of the leadership has a direct effect on the people they rule over.
a. Solomon suggests that when wicked men rule, the righteous in the land head for the hills and hide!
b. Some may have to literally hide. This is certainly the case in many Middle Eastern countries today.
c. Sometimes righteous men are considered enemies of the state and have to hide or leave the country. Life is not good for Christians in Egypt right now.
d. Others may not have to literally hide. They simply lose their voice and sink back into the woodwork… silent… ignored… abused… without power… waiting for a change on top.
3. Prov. 29:2 – When the wicked bear rule, the people MOURN.
1. But when the wicked ruler perishes…
a. Wicked rulers often DO perish.
b. We have seen a good number of wicked rulers in the Middle East perish in recent years… with a few more ready to be assassinated or perish some other way.
2. Even the removal of kings is the Lord’s doing.
a. Dan. 2:20-21a – “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: 21And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings:”
3. What is the result of that? The righteous INCREASE.
a. Prov. 28:28 – They had been hiding in the shadows, but now they can come out in the open.
• They are no longer hunted and persecuted and decreasing.
• Now they are increasing—in power, prosperity, and freedom.
b. Prov. 28:12 – With a righteous leader, righteous people can REJOICE! They will increase, prosper, thrive, and rejoice and glory in it!
4. There is a direct connection between the quality of the leadership and the condition of the people.
a. With a wicked leader, righteous people hide themselves; they know that they will be trampled over and oppressed by the wicked leader.
b. Bad leadership has an adverse effect on the righteous.
5. While this proverb seems to be directed towards the political leaders, this same principle is operative in the churches too.
a. Leadership matters.
b. There is also a direct connection between the spiritual quality and character of the leadership and the spiritual condition of the people.
c. When wicked men (or false teachers) rise to power in the local church, righteous men have to go into hiding.
• The righteous and the godly are silenced and have no voice.
• They are ignored and relieved of their duties.
d. When the bad leader perishes (or leaves) then the godly increase.
• They increase in influence and position and numbers.
• They can come out from the shadows and be out in the open… sharing godly views and godly influence.
• It’s a breath of fresh air.
e. Charles Bridges lists some Biblical examples of the righteous increasing and rejoicing when the wicked perish:
• There was a revival after Hezekiah opened up the Temple doors which his wicked father Ahaz had shut up.
• When the wicked Haman was hanged, the godly Jews increased and rejoiced. (Esther 8:17)
• When the wicked Herod perished, “the word of God grew and multiplied.”: (Acts 12:23-24)
f. Leadership affects the condition and well-being of the people—whether it’s in a nation, an office, or in the churches.
6. It’s no wonder we are commanded to pray for leaders: those in positions of authority in the local church and in the government:
a. I Tim. 2:1-3 – “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” Paul asks for prayer for our political leaders.
b. I Thess. 5:25 – “Brethren, pray for us.” As an apostle (a church leader), Paul asks for prayer.
c. God is still on His throne… both with respect to the nations and the churches. Trust in Him.