Prolonged Days

For Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Proverbs 28:16

A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.

The contrast here is between lacking understanding and hating unjust gain. It seems that what the ruler lacks understanding about is the privilege of rule. He regards power primarily as a means to advance his interests. And so he uses his position to gain more wealth and power by oppressing those unable to stand up against him. The righteous rules understands that the position of ruler is one of privilege, granted to him to advance the interests of his people. He is measured by how well he protects and promotes the welfare of those under his rule.

It is such righteous rule that is blessed by the Lord who rules over life and death, and thus possesses to power to prolong or shorten our days. From human experience, such rule often does result in a prolonged reign, because the ruler wins the support of his people who in turn protect him and willingly serve him, thus promoting his welfare.

Perhaps this is the fundamental misunderstanding of the wicked ruler. He believes the key to staying in power is to ruthlessly grab more and just as ruthlessly protect it. Thus, he is always creating enemies and forfeits the support of his people. There is a reason why it is common for ruthless rulers is to be violently removed from their position.

The same holds true in the workplace. We may not conduct violent coups, but it is common for leader who flexes his muscle to find himself being pushed out by the muscles of others and often to the support of those working under him. To seek any position for the sake of wielding power and grabbing more wealth is likely to lead to a shortening of days. But to use one's position to promote the good of the company and the welfare of the employees is likely to lead to a prolonging of days.