Proverbs 17:26

Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity.

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Wisdom knows right and wrong. Here are two political errors of civil government that should be known by men of understanding. Though the world corrupts right and wrong, it is your duty and privilege to know the difference and never compromise true justice.

Child rebellion is terrible, ruining the parent-child relationship, as the previous proverb declared (Pr 17:25). But there are two related evils involving civil government that are also terrible. It is an error when a nation’s rulers punish just and righteous citizens. And it is wrong for citizens to rise up against leaders for doing their rightful job of enforcing justice and righteousness – equity. Both rulers and ruled are obligated to God.

The opening adverb “also” indicates a comparison to the preceding proverb (Pr 17:25). As disobedient children disrupt the home and destroy parents, so a breakdown in civil authority disrupts and destroys cities and nations. The adverb teaches wisdom. The first authority met in life is that of parents. If they are disregarded or their God-given power is not enforced, children enter into life with perverted values and rebellion in their hearts.

It is not good to punish the just. When a government legislates or executes laws that hurt upright citizens, it is not good. The expression “not good” is the figure of speech meiosis, a deliberate understatement that is clearly understood by the context and/or the nature of the matter (Pr 16:29; 18:5; 20:23; Ps 51:17; Ezek 36:31). Rulers punishing just citizens is far worse than merely “not good”; it is an abomination to the LORD (Pr 17:15).

What is equity? It is fair, just, and righteous judgment (Pr 1:3; 2:9; Ps 98:9; 99:4). When rulers make equitable judgments, one party to a controversy is commended and the other is condemned. It is an abomination for those under authority to strike back at their rulers for doing the job God gave them to do. The proverb condemns two perversions of authority – rulers punishing good citizens, and the ruled rebelling against good rulers.

God made rulers a terror to evil men, not good men (Rom 13:1-6; I Pet 2:13-17). Abraham appealed to this virtue of God (Gen 18:25). Rulers abuse their authority and will be punished by God, when they are a terror to good men (Pr 17:15; 24:23-26; Ex 23:7; Deut 27:25). He took Egypt’s wealth, for their violent abuse of the Israelites. He sent dogs to eat Queen Jezebel, because she had Naboth killed for his vineyard. What will He do to America for murdering unborn children for the convenience of whore mothers?

God ordained civil government. It has nothing to do with any conspiracy anywhere. If you speak or fight against political rulers without a divine mandate, you are opposing God Himself (Rom 13:1-6; I Pet 2:13-17; Job 34:16-19). The Lord considers you a brute beast needing to be destroyed (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10). If you even associate with such men, your calamitous ruin is coming soon (Pr 24:21-22). Jesus and Paul showed honor to rulers abusing their authority (Matt 26:62-64; John 18:22-23; Acts 23:1-5).

Every ruler and government had better examine their laws and practices as to how they affect the righteous, because the blessed God of heaven will not countenance any unjust treatment of them. He will aggressively defend the poor, helpless, and godly (Eccl 5:8; Ps 2:10-12; 12:5; 68:5; 82:1; 105:13-15; Is 10:5-19). Though others may tremble before their presence and power, there is a God in heaven that is not moved in the slightest by any king. Just ask Sennacherib, Belshazzar, Alexander, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or others.

Every citizen in every nation should humble himself under the authorities God has appointed. No matter how much you may dislike them, God put them in their office over you. You expect your children to obey and honor you, even when you are a bad example or do a poor job of parenting; and God expects you to obey your princes, even if they are privately wicked or enact and enforce laws that make little sense and cost you. God even condemns the cursing of a king in your private and personal thoughts (Eccl 10:20).

Disobedience to parents is a mark of a reprobate society and of carnal Christianity (Rom 1:30; II Tim 3:2). Ben Spock and Jim Dobson helped corrupt child training in America, but godly parents still follow the only inspired child training manual (Ps 119:128; Is 8:20; I Tim 6:3-5,20-21). Parents must vigorously enforce the authority God has given them, lest their children rise up in rebellion against God’s other appointed spheres of authority and overthrow the foundations of society (Pr 22:15; 29:15; Ps 82:1-8).

There is no perfect authority among men. But imperfect authority in the five spheres God ordained can lead to happy and prosperous homes, marriages, businesses, churches, and nations. The only perfect authority is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Blessed and Only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming soon to destroy with flaming fire all those who have rebelled against Him (II Thess 1:7-11; I Tim 6:13-16).