In the multitude of people is the king’s honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince.
The Bible is the world’s most useful book. Here is wise advice for rulers, which Solomon taught his son, so he might be a great king. You are privileged to read an inspired rule of the world’s wisest king (Deut 17:18-20; Eccl 1:12-18; 12:8-11). The proverb observes that growing kingdoms are a political blessing, but shrinking kingdoms are a problem.
Immigration is better than emigration. Expansion is better than contraction. A growing population increases economic productivity, military strength, and government revenue. As a man with many children was great, so is a government with a growing population (Ps 127:4-5). Pharaoh, monarch of the greatest nation on earth at the time, feared with all of Egypt the rapid growth of the Israelites, who exploded from 70 immigrants to a nation of 600,000 men, not counting women and children, in just 215 years (Ex 1:1-12; 12:37).
How does this proverb help rulers? Nations only grow, by immigration and birth rate, when leaders promote freedom, justice, opportunity, safety, truth, and wisdom (Pr 8:1-21). With these goals in place, people will travel far to participate, and parents will have large families to build estates. As David prayed for Solomon, by promoting the people’s welfare, the prince secures his own throne (Ps 72:1-20). The more righteous the ruler, the more righteous are those seeking immigration (II Chron 11:16-17; 15:9; 30:1-11,25).
If a ruler is wise, he will first accept the truth of this proverb that growth is good. He will then commit himself and his rule to those wise principles that foster population growth of good men, which requires the godly balance of mercy and truth (Pr 20:28). He will admit that without happy and diligent people, he and his government are nothing. As a master delicately treating his servant can have him eventually become his son (Pr 29:21), so a ruler delicately treating his citizens can foster growth and prosperity (I Kgs 12:7).
David, the man after God’s own heart, and whom all Israel loved, expanded Israel to its greatest power (II Sam 8:1-18). He did it, not by intimidation and oppression, but by righteousness, compassion, generosity, judgment, and justice (I Sam 18:5,14-16,30; II Sam 6:19; I Chr 18:14; Ps 78:72). His son Solomon began to compromise, but followed his father in many things (I Kgs 4:20-34; 5:7; II Chron 9:8). But his grandson Rehoboam lost the nation by choosing the opposite course to his own destruction (I Kgs 12:1-19).
Consider Judah in the days of King Asa. When he took courage from a prophet’s message and instituted a reformation and revival, the kingdom grew quickly with God-fearing immigrants from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon. Why did they move to settle in Judah? Because they saw that the LORD God was with the king (II Chron 15:9). Asa was honored by a growing kingdom for his righteous rule, and this principle is still valid.
America grew in less than 300 years from a poor, weak nation of godly settlers in a wilderness to the economic and military giant of the world. How? It came the closest to offering citizens a truly righteous nation. Well does the Statue of Liberty declare, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”” Lady Liberty once closely resembled Lady Wisdom of Solomon’s own proverbs (Pr 8:1-21). Today it is different. God save America.
David confessed on his deathbed that he had a miserable ruling family, but he saw by prophecy the rise of a glorious son, Jesus of Nazareth (II Sam 23:1-7). What can we say of His government? It is glorious and without end (Is 9:6-7). What is the count of his people? More than any man can number (Rev 7:9-10). He takes every man He desires from the kingdom of Satan, which is doomed to destruction (Luke 11:20-23; Col 1:13; Heb 2:14-15; Rev 11:15). How much honor does He have? He is the Blessed and Only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim 6:13-16). Hallelujah! Amen!