When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.
Political polls and surveys lie. They have a severe bias. Their results are distorted. They understate the righteous, when wicked men are ruling. Only when the wicked are gone, do the righteous appear. This is more than merely a statistical margin of error. When the wicked come to power, righteous men hide; when the wicked are removed, the righteous speak up. Promoting the righteous or rejecting the wicked will accelerate national revival.
Analyze the proverb. It has a parallel construction, as do many proverbs. Its two clauses are contrasted by the disjunctive conjunction, “but.” You must compare and contrast the terms of the two clauses to define either one of them correctly. Proverbs are dark sayings that take a little patience and work, but they can be interpreted and understood (Pr 1:6).
How do the wicked rise? They are promoted into public power or popularity, which is the opposite of “perish” in the second clause. What men hide themselves? Righteous men, as indicated by “the righteous” of the second clause. What does hide mean? It means to avoid publicity, which is known by comparing and contrasting “hide” and “increase.” When wicked men are in authority, righteous men disappear from view; but when those wicked men are removed from power, righteous men come out of hiding and are visible.
The lesson is easy. The wicked hate the righteous and want to destroy them; the righteous hate and fear the wicked (Pr 29:27; Ps 139:21-22). Much of Proverbs is political advice from King Solomon to his son. Here he taught the importance of putting righteous men in positions of power. If done, it would greatly increase the public contribution of noble and wise men. If he chose otherwise, the good men would disappear (Pr 11:10; 28:12; 29:2). When sin and sinners are widespread and honored, the love of truth dries up (Mat 24:12).
Political pundits in the US have called hidden conservatives the “silent majority.” They have been surprised election after election by a powerful voting bloc that showed poorly in polls and surveys. The nation was more conservative than they could measure! Conservatives were hiding during liberal leadership and trends. Without knowing the Bible, these pundits and the election results they forecast confirmed the proverb’s lesson.
Though the liberal enemies of righteousness and truth are vocal – and though they spend much to promote their profane agendas, they overlook many voters that are still somewhat conservative and that are sick of the foolish changes and leaders being pushed at them. Though loud liberals laud their adorable candidate, he loses to his conservative opponent that seemed to have no chance – until the time came for real people to stand up.
Of course, there are several compromised definitions in this modern day example of a “silent majority.” First, no political pundit knows God’s definition of truly righteous men. True Biblical righteousness and wisdom are not options at the polls. Second, truly righteous men have never been and never will be anything close to a majority!
Why would godly men and women in the U.S. expose themselves today? They have no Bible mandate to go public. They know the government, the educational system, the mass media, public opinion, and the entertainment combine are all against them. The best among these cannot discern between creation and evolution, Jehovah and Allah, Jesus and Mohammed. Why argue with dumb? Why subject the truth to ridicule? Why risk retaliation? Read Proverbs 23:9; Matthew 7:6; and II Thess 3:1-2. The true saints of God remain hidden today, just as the 7,000 in the days of Ahab and Jezebel (I Kgs 19:1-18).
Personal revival by a leader will foster revival. When King Asa followed the Lord fully, many strangers from other nations joined him (II Chr 15:8-9). It also occurred under King Hezekiah (II Chron 30:17,25-26). When Haman was killed in Persia, many converted to Judaism (Esther 8:17). When God killed an enemy of the early church, Herod Agrippa I, the gospel spread (Acts 12:23-24). And when “Bloody Mary,” Queen Mary I Tudor, died in 1558 by the grace of God, the hidden righteous in England came into fuller view.
The wisdom is easy to follow. In any society, good leaders cause virtuous persons to come forth. Put a wicked person in power, and these valuable people will disappear, out of contempt for evil men and/or fear of persecution and/or discouragement. To the degree wise men are promoted in a business, wise employees will increase. To the degree a pastor is holy and righteous, his church will grow in holy and righteous members. To the degree a father is noble and virtuous, his family will grow in nobility and virtue.
The churches of Jesus Christ have been hidden from the world for most of their existence, just as Daniel and John prophesied (Dan 7:19-28; Rev 12:12-17). A great empire beast in two forms – pagan and papal Rome – tried successively to destroy them (Rev 12:3; 13:1). But God preserved them by His gracious care in hidden places, from Rome’s catacombs to Wales’ mountains. Under converted or tolerant rulers, these churches and saints prospered until the next reign of terror or epidemic of carnality. True saints are seldom seen today, as they hide from two enemies – pagan public policy and carnal Christianity.