Proverbs 29:12

If a Ruler Hearkens to Lies

If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

Introduction: This short proverb makes a connection between a ruler and his servants; and in particular, the influence a ruler has on his servants.

If a ruler hearkens to lies

1. Solomon is speaking about a RULER.

a. A ruler is one who has dominion or power over others; one who exercises authority over others.

b. It is often used of kings and their dominion or rule over others.

c. But the term could also refer to a master or an employer.

d. It was also used of a husband ruling over his wife.

2. The ruler Solomon is describing is one who HEARKENS to liars.

a. In other words, he listens to dishonest people.
• The English word “lies” is a translation of two words meaning one speaking lies.
• The term for “lies” means false; tricks; cheat; deal falsely; deception; misleading.
• The proper attitude is found in Ps. 119:104 – “I hate every false way.”
• But this ruler does not hate deception.
• He is attracted to it. He listens to it and takes heed to it.
• He surrounds himself with deceivers and cheats; and they share with him all their dishonest schemes to scam and cheat the people.

b. Hearken: To hear; give heed to; to regard; to pay attention to.

c. Solomon is describing a ruler who not only listens to dishonest liars, but he pays attention to their lies. He gives heed to what they say.

d. WHY would this ruler give heed to liars and cheats? Probably because he himself is a liar and a cheat.

e. There is an old proverbial saying: Birds of a feather flock together.

f. A ruler (employer; master; politician; person of authority) surrounds himself with people like himself… people who think like he does… people who have the same ideology and values—or lack thereof.

g. Ps. 101:1-8 – In stark contrast is King David.
• He determined NOT to have any wicked people on his board of counselors.
• Vs. 3- He hates them that turn aside (from the Lord).
» This kind of person will NOT be allowed to “cleave to David”.
» He “hates” their evil works. He wants no part of them in his court!
» Psalm 97:10 – ye that love the Lord hate evil!
» As King, David wanted to be sure that he did not align himself with evil men who cared not for the things of the Lord. Separation in the monarchy was important to him!
• Vs. 4 – He rejects any cabinet members with a froward heart. They will not serve with him.
• Vs. 5 – He doesn’t even want proud people before him.
» Men will a froward or evil heart “need not apply” for positions in David’s court!
» Men who slander… proud men… David said he would not SUFFER… he would not put up with… would not tolerate in his court!
» Those are not the kind of people David wanted around him… to serve him in the kingdom… as generals, as stewards, as appointed officials… character meant something to him!
• Vs. 6 – When he looks for men to serve on the board, he looks for the faithful of the land that walk in a perfect way.
• Vs. 7 – He that works deceit shall not dwell within his house (palace – royal seat of the government).
• Vs. 8 – He will actively remove the wicked and dishonest men from the land… and from the royal city.
» Character matters much to God.
» Notice the qualifications for leaders in the local church: nearly all of them deal with the issues of character and integrity and faithfulness!
» Whether you are running a kingdom, or a church, or a business, or a school, or a lemonade stand… character counts!
» Wisdom demands that we avoid those who are unscrupulous… those who cheat… those who steal… those who are wicked…

3. But the ruler that Solomon describes is nothing like David, Solomon’s father.

a. This ruler is a dishonest liar and cheat.

All his servants are wicked.

1. The second part of this proverb speaks of the influence this dishonest ruler has on his servants.

a. If everybody knows that the boss cheats; if everybody knows that the ruler lies; if everybody knows that the leaders are corrupt; they too are encouraged to be corrupt… wicked.

b. If he listens to cheats and liars, then he must approve of them.

c. Therefore, the servants under him feel empowered to lie and cheat themselves.

d. Why not? The boss seems to reward that kind of behavior.

2. Note that the word “are” is italicized. It was not in the original and was added by the translator.

a. Something needs to be added there.

b. I would probably insert “will be” or “will become” rather than “are.”

c. Solomon is not simply pointing out a fact: that the servants of this dishonest ruler ARE wicked.

d. He seems to be implying that there is a connection.

e. It is BECAUSE the ruler is a dishonest cheat that his servants are wicked.

f. The bad behavior of the leader will encourage more bad behavior from his servants.

g. Corruption spreads from the top down very quickly.

h. A leader sets the moral tone for those under him—either for good or for evil.

i. This is true in a kingdom, a business, or a home.

3. Prov. 20:8 – A righteous king can discourage wickedness by not engaging in it himself and by making it clear to those around him that he disapproves. Just a simple but stern glare at the right time will let others know he disapproves of dishonest behavior.