Proverbs 29:12

If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

Play Audio:

Leaders promote good or evil by their influence. Authority carries responsibility, for sin by one in power will lead many more to also sin due to the sway he holds over a nation. Like prince, like people. As a flock of cranes follows just one taking flight, so go nations.

When a civil ruler accepts or allows lies or other corruption, his cabinet and then his government and then his nation will follow. He who sinned once is now guilty for many sins. It hardly matters what is said officially or unofficially, citizens follow the example.

Solomon taught his son about political science. To provide a godly government in the future, he warned about the power of influence from top down. Two factors multiply a ruler’s sins – scandal and example – the news flies faster and farther, and many follow it.

Lying is the chosen sin, though the rule applies to any wickedness allowed by those in authority. Leaders should be men of truth (Pr 16:13; 17:7; 12:19). If they do not demand honesty and truth in their dealings, dishonesty will spread far and wide. Leaders are flattered constantly, but they must not give any heed to such lies lest it corrupt others.

Rulers extend wickedness by delegation. They choose and assign men to roles in their government that have similar morals and agendas, which greatly influences the character of that administration and thus the nation. A ruler that listens to lies will have no qualms to select men for posts that will flatter him with lies or be dishonest in other matters.

Rulers extend wickedness by invitation. Officers know their authority requires great care for accuracy and truthfulness in their dealings. But when a head ruler accepts dishonesty, then it invites less scrupulous men with corrupt ambitions to come forward. It encourages men with marginal or wicked agendas to promote their programs by deceit or fraud.

Rulers extend wickedness by imitation. As children learn by watching parents or older siblings, so subordinates learn the importance of honesty by their leader’s example. If he accepts or tells lies, then they will follow his lead. On this basis, King Ahasuerus of Persia divorced his queen Vashti to preserve marital order in his empire (Esther 1:10-20).

Rulers extend wickedness by ingratiation. If a ruler allows dishonesty, those seeking his favor will feel free to say anything to impress him. The desire to please a ruler corrupts by itself, but it is worse if the ruler is wicked (Pr 23:1-3). Since King Ahab lied, his prophets lied wildly to please him (I Kgs 22:2-12). Doeg won Saul’s favor also by evil.

Rulers extend wickedness by association. Birds of a feather flock together. Once lying is countenanced, liars will congregate toward the source of freedom and protection. As sure as buzzards gather around a dead carcass, so will liars gather near a corrupt official. Men of truth hate liars, and liars hate men of truth, so political division will quickly occur.

Rulers extend wickedness by elimination. When lies are accepted and/or used, such a move toward wickedness causes men of truth to hold back, hide, or leave office (Pr 28:12,28; 29:2). Thus, without an overt attack, honest men are removed from influence. Daniel’s obscurity in Belshazzar’s reign was due to the king’s sinful course (Da 5:10-16).

Rulers extend wickedness by dereliction. Subordinates must protect superiors from lies. Why might they not do this? They want to keep their jobs! It is easier to go with the flow than to swim upstream by saying that some well-presented ideas are lies. They are wicked counselors, assisting their king’s ruin, as advisors to rulers prove to this very day.

It is your duty to protect those in authority from lies. Employees must protect employers from lies from any source, even if a boss is enamored with a false idea. Children are not tattlers, when they inform a parent of a lying sibling. Due to human limitations, those in authority need the persons around them to protect them from efforts to deceive them.

Rather than hear or tell lies, leaders in high authority must be men of truth that diligently search out matters (Ex 18:21; Pr 25:2). They should never tolerate a lie (Pr 12:22). David was such a king, and he would not allow dishonest men near him (Ps 101:3-8). It is this scrupulous care for righteousness and truth that preserves rulers (Pr 16:12; 20:28).

David hated lies, even when used to flatter him about his rightful office of king. A foolish Amalekite lied to David that he had found King Saul wounded and had killed him. He told this lie in the hope to ingratiate himself to David and gain a position or reward. What did David do? He killed him for having touched God’s anointed king (II Sam 1:1-16).

Honesty and truth are only part of righteousness that will suffer under a compromising or wicked ruler. Solomon also taught that the foolishness of breaking down economic and professional distinctions is folly promoted from the top down (Ec 10:5-7). A look at most governments and nations should show how their leaders’ character is spread downward.

This rule of political wisdom is also true in reverse. A leader with wicked counselors will corrupt his own integrity and his administration (Pr 25:4-5; I Cor 15:33). Thus, a wicked first lady is dangerous, as Jezebel with Ahab (I Kgs 21:25). On this basis, Solomon wisely gave orders early in his reign to eliminate Abiathar, Joab, Shimei, and Adonijah.

This lesson is also for parents. Any compromise you allow will spread. Big hypocrites beget little hypocrites. If you honor or protect a child that sins, you will promote sin among your children, no matter what you say. Children learn more by emulation than education. It was a proverb in Israel, As is the mother, so is her daughter. Parent, beware.

To save the churches of God from this wise rule of corrupting influence, Paul charged Timothy to take heed to his personal life, lest failure to do so would corrupt those under his ministerial care (I Tim 4:16). And when he ordained men to the office of minister, he was to be very careful that he only ordained pure and spotless men (I Tim 5:22).

Jesus Christ is true and faithful; He is a King that hates liars and lies. He will cast them all into the lake of fire (Rev 21:8,27). Because He loved righteousness, God exalted the scepter and throne of His kingdom forever (Ps 45:6-7; Heb 1:8-9). Put all your trust in Him for time and eternity. He will overthrow all lying kings (Eccl 5:8; Rev 2:26-27).