“He pours contempt upon princes, and causes them to wander in the wilderness, [where there is] no way. Yet sets he the poor on high from affliction, and makes [him] families like a flock. The righteous shall see [it], and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso [is] wise, and will observe these [things], even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”
Psalm 107:40-43 KJV
In our politically polarized culture the terms liberal and conservative have come to have some very narrow definitions. We have been taught that the rich are always greedy and there must be a ‘Robin Hood’ character that is willing to stand up to the rich, evil tyrants and break their law by stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
I grew up in a home that taught liberal values and looked with suspicion on those who were in a higher economic class. We had the idea that if we ever attained a higher economic class that we were obligated to use our wealth to help those who could not help themselves.
Imagine my parents horror when I appeared to have abandoned these liberal values.
The verse quoted above caught me eye in my morning reading of God’s Word.
Why this judgment on princes? Who are these princes that they should be judged in this way?
In this meditation, I learned that the Hebrew word for princes is defined as a person of nobility, a generous person, a liberal person and a person that ministers liberally. However, sometimes this word is used to speak of a tyrant.
Isaiah 32 illustrates this when Isaiah foretells the coming King that will rule in righteousness.
“Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, And princes will rule with justice.”
Isaiah 32:1 NKJV
These princes are then contrasted with one who is called a foolish prince:
“The foolish person will no longer be called generous (i.e. a prince or noble), Nor the miser said [to be] bountiful;”
Isa 32:5 NKJV
Isaiah goes on to speak of those nobles who are churlish or miserly and those who are scoundrels planning wicked things to deprive and deceive the poor, ( I presume to enrich themselves with money and power).
However he concludes by speaking of the liberal in the day when the King shall reign in righteousness, in the following way:
“But the liberal devises liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.”
Isaiah 32:8 KJV
What I learn from this is that our narrow definitions of liberal and conservative do not serve us well. A person who is given authority, either by birth or by popular selection is essentially like nobility with the power to minister to the needs of others. Such a one has the power of the purse at his or her disposal to use for good purposes or for evil purposes.
In today’s world, we understand the maxim that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The American system of government was designed to set up a system of checks and balances so that absolute political power was not concentrated in the hands of a ruling class but rather dispersed among the people through political representation. While it is a brilliant system, it has been cleverly corrupted to effectively silence the people’s voice.
When I became more politically conservative, it was not because I had abandoned my ‘liberal values’ but because being a political liberal had come to mean a more miserly attitude toward individual liberty and responsibility.
What we are shown in Isaiah’s prophecy is that there is a day coming when this maxim concerning absolute power will no longer be true. When the Lord Jesus returns to reign as the sovereign King of Righteousness, only those who stand on truly liberal things for the benefit of others will be given the duties of nobility.
When the Lord Jesus spoke of His coming Kingdom, He stated:
“Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. … Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Matthew 5:3, 6 KJV
Until the Kingdom of God comes to earth, believers are heirs to the Kingdom (Romans 8:17). Since we are heirs, we are enrolled in a process of training for reigning. The Lord uses the circumstances in our lives to stir up a longing for that Kingdom (Romans 8:18). To the degree that we hunger and thirst to know the mind and heart of God, we will be given the power in His Coming Kingdom to become truly liberal princes of our beloved King of righteousness.
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