Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Leadership of the Wise (Ecclesiastes 10)

"Woe to you, O land whose king is a servant" (Eccl. 10:16).

Charles Bridges lived in days filled with excitement as pioneers set out from England in droves to explore the new world. Ministers, like Bridges, who remained home in England, supported the exodus to the Americas, but soberly warned pilgrims of the dangers that awaited them.

One danger that particularly concerned the English ministers was not the unknown terrors of the wilderness, or the threats of the natives, or the hardships of the seas, but the quality of leadership and the testimony of the pilgrims who traveled to America. Bridges and others knew how devastating a tarnished testimony could be for a new colony. If the pioneers did not wisely consider those they put in charge of colonial affairs and if they did not maintain a sterling testimony, by living according to the dictates of Scripture, they would establish an unsettled foundation for a society and harden others against Christianity.

Bridges had seen the devastating repercussions of ungodliness among the royal family and nobles in his own country—civil wars erupted, Christians were persecuted, taxes increased, moral corruption spread like wildfire—much of it because of the folly of those in authority as well as those in the common ranks.

In chapter 10, the Preacher laments the loss of worthy and righteous leadership. He saw fools exalted to positions that should have been held by the wise. He bore witness to princes being reduced to the position of slaves, and slaves ascending to positions of authority. Of such circumstances, he said, “Woe to you, O land whose king is a servant,” but “blessed are you, O land whose king is of noble birth.”

Bridges urged the colonists to maintain the nobility of a pure and undefiled spirit, to put into high positions those who served God and governed with integrity. Unfortunately, this did not always happen, and as a result, Christianity has been reviled by many throughout the history of our country because of the despicable testimony of many who professed Christianity in the days of colonization.

Learn from your own history and from the teaching of Ecclesiastes of the need to exalt wise, faithful, and righteous men to positions of leadership, and for each of us to maintain a godly testimony.

Read Jeremiah 3:14–15 and 23:1–4. What does God promise His people if they repent of their ways and return to Him? How are good leaders a blessing to a people? Using the examples of Moses, David, and Solomon in the verses below, make a list of characteristics that make up a good leader.