Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
Is your speech compatible with your character, conduct, and position? You do yourself a disservice when speaking well, if your life does not back up your words. And you do much worse to yourself, if you have a leadership role and are not scrupulously honest. The lesson is simple: make both your words and works good, so as to be compatible.
Excellent speech is only attractive when spoken by a wise man (Eccl 10:12). When fools, known by their general folly, try to sound noble or wise, they only irritate others by their conceit and hypocrisy. But far worse, as indicated by the comparative “much less,” is a person in authority who does not have the highest regard for honesty and truth (Pr 16:12).
Speech is usually a good measure of a person, which makes incompatible speech so bad. But character and conduct generally say more. The worst of men can sound noble and virtuous for a minute, and the most reputable by word or rank can reveal an evil heart by fraud or lying. Even a child’s character is known by his doing, not his talking (Pr 20:11).
Good words or fair speeches from ignorant or wicked men are revolting to the senses, for the two things are entirely incompatible. Fools and evil men do not have the heart or conduct to justify counsel or leadership, so they should be ignored and rejected (Pr 17:16; 26:1-9). Their efforts to join in discussion with wise and prudent men are profanely rude.
How much more repulsive are lies from a person in authority! A leader or ruler is in office for the comfort, guidance, prosperity, and security of those under his authority. But dishonesty destroys confidence in those in power, leaves men vulnerable, and perverts justice. The assignment of authority from heaven brings with it a high call for integrity.
Noble men and rulers must never lie, because it is an ugly blot on their character, reputation, and office, which should be known by all for faithful and sober honesty. Deceit or lying of any sort is very unbecoming to any person in a position of power or influence. The privilege of authority and leadership brings the responsibility of truth.
A wise man of the world, Plato, taught that princes have a right to lie due to privilege of office, the opposite of Solomon’s warning. From whom do you want to learn? A pagan philosopher or an inspired Preacher (Eccl 12:9-11; I Cor 1:19-20)! Some governments have said or implied, Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare – he who knows not how to dissemble knows not how to reign. But they are the blind leading the blind, and they and their followers shall fall into the ditch of trouble and destruction (Matt 15:12-14).
Thankfully, there have been wise rulers who knew the value of truth in office. Louis IX of France (1214-1270) said, “If truth be banished from all the rest of the world, it ought to be found in the breast of princes.” King Alphonsus of Arragon, who read the Bible through fourteen times, declared, “One word of a prince should be a greater security than a private man’s oath.” A king’s divine sentence should not contain lies (Pr 16:10).
Faithfulness, honesty, and truth uphold leaders, for those under authority find comfort, peace, and security in the certainty of their ruler’s words. Great kings delight in righteousness and right speaking that flows from a pure heart (Pr 16:13; 22:11). They know truth will preserve their reign (Pr 12:19) and lies will corrupt their court (Pr 29:12).
It is a shame when politicians use spin to alter public perception of events or legislation when not necessary or right. Political honesty and integrity are too often sacrificed. Wise rulers will keep certain things concealed and divert attention, for they more than ordinary men have the need to keep classified or other information from the public (Pr 29:11).
There has been only one king whose lips never came close to lying – Jesus Christ – the Faithful and True Witness (Rev 1:5; 3:14; 19:11). He is the Truth (John 14:6). He is the Word of Truth (Jas 1:18). He brought grace and truth, and He bore witness to the truth (John 1:14,17; 18:37; Rom 15:8). David and sons paled in comparison (II Sam 23:1-5).
Let every one that claims the name of Jesus Christ despise and reject all exaggeration, dishonesty, and lying, especially if they have any position of authority from parent to president. Let them go out of their way to make things openly and visibly honest to all men. Parents must be impeccably honest to keep the hearts and minds of their children. Pastors must be so to keep their hearers (II Cor 8:20-21; Titus 2:8).
Let every one that claims the name of Jesus Christ depart from folly and sin, lest he pollute and stain the Christian religion with his hypocrisy. Why should the precious truth of the gospel of Christ be polluted through the lips of a fool (Ezek 20:39; II Tim 2:19)? Hypocrisy is the greatest blight on the only true religion by those who profess with their lips and yet deny with their lives (Isaiah 29:13; Ezek 33:31; Matt 15:7-9; Titus 1:16).