Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
Wise rulers have counselors to assist in decisions. They cannot know all the details of every part of the kingdom or nation, so they rely on counselors for help. But if these advisors are wicked, a good ruler will be corrupted by evil influence and deceit. These evil men must be removed, so the kingdom or nation can prosper in righteousness.
The context adds further weight to this proverb (Pr 25:4). A good ruler is silver, and wicked advisors are the dross. If the dross is taken away, the purified ruler will be able to lead his kingdom to wonderful prosperity. Righteousness exalts a nation, therefore wickedness must be publicly crushed to obtain God’s blessing (Pr 14:34; 20:26). Dross is a good term for the scum that gathers in high places to siphon a living from legitimate rulers. But a great leader will drive them away as with a refiner’s fire (Pr 20:8).
Wise and faithful counselors are crucial for successful government. The longevity of a ruler is dependent on righteousness (Pr 16:12; 29:14). The grave concern facing every leader is to find wise and faithful counselors. King David rejected evil men from his service and company (Ps 101:3-8; 119:63). David also gave deathbed instructions for Solomon to kill two officials, even though one was David’s nephew and had served as general of the army his entire reign (I Kgs 2:5-10). Asa removed his mother from being queen in a national revival of righteousness (I Kgs 15:13).
Jethro told Moses, “Thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them” (Ex 18:21). And King Jehoshaphat charged the judges in his day, “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts” (II Chron 19:6-7).
What glorious wisdom! Dear reader, give God the glory! In addition to making you wise unto salvation, the Bible is also a political manual of no mean proportions. Read the following examples of bad and good counselors, and then consider your nation’s plight.
Rehoboam followed his father, Solomon, as king of Israel. Because Solomon had heavily taxed the nation, the people offered to serve Rehoboam forever, if he would ease their burden a little. Instead of listening to the wise advice of his father’s counselors and reducing taxes, he followed the advice of his young friends and harshly threatened the nation with higher taxes. Ten tribes revolted and left Rehoboam only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (I Kings 12:1-19). Rehoboam never ruled his father’s expansive nation a single day, for wicked counselors, his boyhood friends, cost him most of the nation.
Haman was a wicked counselor of King Ahasuerus of the Persian Empire. Hating the Jews, because of Mordecai’s lack of public worship, he slandered them to the king and enticed the King to authorize their extermination. It was only by the intervention of Esther the queen that she, Mordecai, and the rest of her people were saved. Haman was justly hanged with his sons at Esther’s request. A whole book of the Bible is written to describe this wicked intrigue and God’s protection of His people, in spite of a wicked counselor who had the ear of the king.
Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was tetrarch of Galilee from 4 BC – AD 39. He married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, for which John the Baptist rebuked him. Herod feared John, knew he was just and holy, and heard him gladly. But Herodias used a subtle ploy to trap Herod into beheading him against his will, for she hated John for his criticism of her adultery (Mark 6:17-29). Herodias should have been cooking supper instead of plotting to destroy John. After assisting in the punishment and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, both Herod and Herodias were exiled to Spain by the emperor Caligula.
But there are examples of the opposite sort. When Pharaoh needed a man to oversee the largest food storage and distribution plan in world history, where embezzlement and fraud could have been rife, he chose Joseph. He said to his servants regarding him, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” And he made him the highest ruler in Egypt because “there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.”
Daniel, a Jewish captive, served Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, Cyrus the Persian, and other kings over a period of seventy-five years. As it was often customary to kill previous counselors for concerns of loyalty when an empire changed hands, this tenure is phenomenal. How and why did it occur? Daniel was a glorious and righteous counselor by faithfulness and God’s great blessings (Dan 1:19-21; 2:48-49; 5:11; 6:25-28). When Daniel was intensely scrutinized and investigated by jealous peers, “they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him” (Dan 6:4).
The lesson is simple. Paul taught it as well. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor 15:33). False information and wicked influence destroys truth and justice. Men of evil character must be avoided or removed. The consequences of breaking this rule are much greater for a king than just a single citizen. A whole nation can suffer greatly, if wicked men corrupt a ruler with sinful or criminal advice and deceit.
Nations today are cursed with a Legion of men and women not fit to counsel a daycare, and yet high rulers are often subject to their subtle and dangerous influence. They include lobbyists, news analysts, public relations specialists, speechwriters, pollsters, interns, special interest groups, party donors, aides, and other sycophants who prey on the legitimate work of qualified men. Christians must pray for God to deliver elected and appointed rulers and administrators from such advisors or influence (I Tim 2:1-2).
Every man must keep his rule as husband, father, employer, or pastor pure from corruption. The only perfect counsel for these offices is found in the Word of God, which is superior to the opinions of all men and able to make the man of God perfect (Ps 119:98-100; II Tim 3:16-17). Let every man beware of false teachers who creep into houses and lead captive silly women through family radio and seminar DVDs (II Tim 3:6-7). You soon may have your own Herodias to control! Let every employer examine the character of his assistants; let every pastor carefully measure any elders or deacons.
There is one King about Whom you need not worry. There are no evil advisors in His presence. The wicked shall not stand in His sight – He hates all workers of iniquity (Ps 5:5). No one without perfectly sanctified character shall ever enter His kingdom (Rev 21:27). There are no angels, princes, popes, priests, or pastors to reign with him, for He reigns alone without assistance (Is 59:16-21; 63:1-6; I Tim 6:15; Rev 12:5-9).
God has ordained His throne forever, and of the increase of his government there shall be no end (Ps 45:6; 89:4,29,36; Is 9:7; Heb 1:8). It is established in perfect righteousness (Ps 45:6-7; Heb 1:8-9). This is the throne and kingdom of the glorious Lord Jesus Christ. You may trust His reign absolutely. Believe on Him today. Trust and serve Him today.