Proverbs 20:28

Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.

Play Audio:

The United States’ Secret Service has a small role to preserve presidents. Public opinion polls do even less. Presidents need and desire both and all too often overestimate both. Mercy and truth are their greatest allies and will preserve their influence much better.

God ordained civil rule, and He raises up the men that fill the offices in every nation, no matter what you think (Dan 2:20-22; 4:17; Rom 13:1-7). As the Supreme Ruler of the universe, He protects or punishes rulers, and this proverb clearly teaches on what basis.

Political science is taught in the Bible. Since the Bible reveals God’s will, it reveals His will about civil government. Since Solomon was a king writing in particular to his son, he also covered this subject by God’s direction for the lasting benefit of the nation of Israel.

Every ruler on earth, whether great or small, should humble himself before the divine wisdom of this proverb. Their personal survival, the length of their time in office, and the future of their nation or other political subdivision depends on their mercy and truth.

Truth is what is right, especially as defined by the true God in the Bible. Truth is the consistent application of honesty, integrity, justice, judgment, equity, righteousness, and virtue. Truth rejects all deception, dishonesty, lies, fraud, corruption, or compromise.

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness to those under a ruler’s authority who have no claim to receive kindness nor the power to defend themselves from the strict sentence of the law. Mercy is benevolence, gentleness, and graciousness to offenders or the powerless.

God is a God of truth, and He expects truth from all men, but especially from those in positions of rule (Deut 32:4; Ex 18:21; Is 16:5; 59:4,14-15; Jer 5:1; Zech 8:16). Any man that rules over others must be fully committed to truth defined by God (II Sam 23:3).

God is a God of mercy, and He expects mercy from all men, but especially from those in positions of rule (Mic 7:18; Ex 34:5-7; Ezek 33:11; Luke 15:7; Eph 2:4-7). Any man that rules over others must be fully committed to mercy for the oppressed (Pr 31:8-9).

God will preserve a ruler, a government, or a nation that exalts mercy and truth. He will destroy rulers, governments, or nations that compromise or corrupt either or both. The security of rulers and nations is right here, not in bodyguards, military strength, or polls.

David’s life and reign, recorded in great detail in the Bible, show many cases of mercy and truth, so you should not be surprised that God mercifully forgave him for sins in his own life, because he had been very merciful to others (Ps 18:25; Ps 41:1-4; 112:4-6).

David mercifully forgave Abner, King Saul’s military commander that had tried to kill him (II Sam 3:12-21). However, David’s nephew Joab killed Abner in jealous revenge (II Sam 3:22-27). So David in truth had Joab killed (II Sam 3:28-29; I Kgs 2:5-6).

At times mercy may seem to compromise truth, but truth rightly understood includes mercy. God punishes sinners, but it is His strange work (Is 28:21). God is merciful to sinners, and it is His delight (Mic 7:18). Mercy rejoices against strict judgment (Jas 2:13).

David with 600 men pursued Amalekites that had taken his family, but 200 had to stop because they were exhausted. The 400 did not think the 200 should get any spoil because they in truth did not recover it, but David mercifully included them (I Sam 30:9-25).

How did David eat the shewbread (I Sam 21:1-6)? As a matter of truth, the shewbread was to be eaten only by the priests (Lev 24:5-9). Yet David knew God’s mercy allowed him to eat the holy bread (Pr 21:3; Hos 6:6). Jesus totally exonerated him (Matt 12:3-4).

But consider Rehoboam, David’s grandson, and Solomon’s son. The nation asked for a little mercy in reduced taxes, but he exaggerated the truth of civil authority, threatened them foolishly, and lost ten of the nation’s twelve tribes to a competitor (I Kgs 12:1-20).

Consider Pilate, the Roman governor. He had neither mercy nor truth. When examining Jesus, he asked skeptically, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38). And when he found no crime in His life, he had Him killed anyway for political expediency (Is 53:7-9; John 19:12-16).

How merciful is America, killing 1.2 million unborn children a year? Choosing deficit spending and inflation to transfer wealth and confiscate savings from bondholders and widows? Enforcing penalties for cruelty to animals while sheltering human murderers?

How truthful is America, requiring evolution in its public schools to the exclusion of creation or intelligent design? Allowing the media to spin every event to promote secular humanism or social Darwinism? Calling two men or two women in bed a marriage?

What is America’s future? God will throw her down to hell (Ps 9:15-20), and He will laugh derisively while He does it (Ps 2:1-12). She has only survived this far in her present sorry condition for the sake of the praying righteous in her (Gen 18:23-33; Jer 29:4-7).

Reader, do you practice mercy and truth for the preservation of your life, family, business, and church? Every husband (I Pet 3:7), father (Eph 6:4), employer (Eph 6:9), and pastor (I Tim 5:21) had better practice both, for they preserve and uphold all rulers.

The truth is all men deserve an eternal hell for their sins, but God’s true justice punished Jesus Christ in place of His elect, so He might have mercy upon them, while righteously being both just and justifier (Rom 3:26). What a glorious combination of mercy and truth are found in Jesus Christ – they are met and kissed together in Him (Ps 85:10; 89:14).