What does a good and wise political leader look like? There are many qualities revealed throughout Scripture, in both precept and example, but let me simply draw your attention to a forgotten passage, Proverbs 31:1-9. Proverbs 31 is almost exclusively remembered as the “Virtuous Woman Psalm,” but its introduction reveals a godly mother’s counsel to her son, the king. There is much to be mined from here, but just a quick glance reveals at least three qualities of a good politician, which came to the mind of this king as he remembered his mother’s teaching, and what we may call bare bone essentials. How good it would be for the nations of the world if even just these qualities were considered important!
The words of King Lemuel, an oracle that his mother taught him:
2 What should I say, my son?
What, son of my womb?
What, son of my vows?
A Good and Wise Politician Is Not an Adulterer
3 Don’t spend your energy on women
or your efforts on those who destroy kings.
A Good and Wise Politician Does Not Get Intoxicated
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine
or for rulers to desire beer.
5 Otherwise, they will drink,
forget what is decreed,
and pervert justice for all the oppressed.
6 Give beer to one who is dying
and wine to one whose life is bitter.
7 Let him drink so that he can forget his poverty
and remember his trouble no more.
A Good and Wise Politician Believes in Justice and Defends the Poor and Helpless
8 Speak up for those who have no voice,
for the justice of all who are dispossessed.
9 Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.
As we look at the political scene of our day, surely one of the things that stands out more than others is the absence of strong, God-fearing leaders who possess wisdom and integrity. At the very least, this should drive us to become people of prayer who obey the admonition:
First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
The pathetic state of human government is meant to remind us that this world is not our home and spur us on to look with anticipation for the return of King Jesus.