For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
Honor the president! Salute policemen! Thank God for them, and pray for them. Get away from anyone that disrespects government authority, either high or low. Your future safety and success depends on it, for this proverb warns about sudden calamity and ruin.
A spirit of rebellion has infected the earth, and this spirit is not from heaven. America is at the forefront, where citizens mock and ridicule the highest offices without conscience. You can call this warning old fashioned, but it is the timeless will of God about authority.
True wisdom includes submission to civil government. God promises calamities and ruin on those who promote civil rebellion and on those who listen to them or read them. To avoid God’s judgment and instead secure His blessing, avoid all disrespect of rulers.
Part of an orderly society is submission to authority. If you think civil rulers do not deserve your appreciation, honor, obedience, and support, then you obey the same spirit that creates rebellious children, odious wives, striking employees, and obstinate churches.
This verse is the second half of the proverb, so you need the first half’s description of those who deserve sudden calamities and ruin. Here it is: “My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change” (Pr 24:21). If you are serious about wisdom and knowledge, then read the commentary on that verse as well.
It is God’s command for you and all men to fear Him and your nation’s top rulers. They are linked together, for God gave authority to your nation’s leaders (I Pet 2:17). He even refers to them as gods in the Bible, so that you will get the right idea of how high they are (Ex 22:28; Ps 82:1,6; John 10:34-35). Get away from anyone that speaks lightly of them.
Humble yourself, submit to your government, and pray for them. Even when they make decisions you do not like. Even when they make decisions that are wrong. These are the orders of the high God of heaven for you (Rom 13:1-7; I Tim 2:1-2; I Pet 2:13-17). What are the consequences, if you do not? You will soon be terrified and destroyed. God gave this proverb through Solomon to warn you. Beware, or your last hours may be numbered.
Jehovah hates those who evilly criticize or resist authority, especially civil government. He condemns even associating with such people (Pr 24:21). Here He promises sudden calamity and ruin on them both – the leaders and followers of rebellion and sedition. The fear of God and respect of civil government go together – it is impossible to rightly fear God and be critical of His appointed authority (Pr 24:21).
Solomon warned his son to fear God and the king (Pr 24:21). You fear God first; but you fear the king as well, because his authority is from God. To resist the king – or any civil authority – is to resist God and His ordinance (Rom 13:1-2). You obey the government for two reasons – fear of punishment from both God and the ruler (Rom 13:3-7). Those wanting to change government have two potent and terrible enemies – God and the king.
Submission to civil authority is true Christianity. Peter taught the same – fearing God and honoring the king go together. He wrote that you are bound by duty to God and man to submit yourself to every ordinance of civil government (I Pet 2:13-17). He condemned speaking evil of government officials as presumptuous traits of ignorant reprobates and brute beasts that do not understand civil authority (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10).
There is a God in heaven. Though men accuse, criticize, despise, ridicule, or undermine civil rulers in private, He hears and sees it all. The dreadful God will repay. He does not care if you promote disrespectful thoughts and speech, or if you are a mere follower and willing listener of such men. Calamity and horrific ruin of both parties will occur soon. He will honor and protect His civil representatives by punishing their enemies.
Why are some men in such trouble in their lives, families, and businesses? One certain reason is their wicked attitude and speech toward government. God is not mocked. It hardly matters what they try to do; nothing is going to work. God is against them. They cannot disrespect His appointed authority and get away with it. Why are some men so blessed in their lives, families, and businesses? One certain reason can be their peaceful and reverent submission to government. God blesses and rewards the righteous.
Hate civil disrespect or rebellion even in your heart or your bedroom. Solomon wrote, “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter” (Eccl 10:20). Rebellious words travel far. And the great God also sees the very thoughts and intents of the heart – He will punish those who criticize matters far too high for them.
Is the warning overdone? Satan will be tormented forever in the lake of fire for his proud rebellion against authority – the rule of Almighty God (I Tim 3:6). Miriam, the dear sister of Moses, spoke only once against his authority, and God made her white with dreaded leprosy (Num 12:1-15). Korah, and even the wives and children of the rebel princes, were buried alive by the earth for merely speaking against Moses (Num 16:1-34).
Absalom rebelled against David, so God caught him by his head in a tree for Joab’s darts (II Sam 18:9-18). Adonijah did not give enough respect to the new king, so Solomon had his own brother killed (I Kgs 2:12-25). Joab murdered competitors for his office, so Solomon killed his first cousin (I Kgs 2:28-34). Shimei cursed David; and though David forgave him, Solomon eventually had him killed (I Kgs 2:35-46). Forty-two children teased Elisha about his bald head, and God sent two bears to maul them (II Kgs 2:23-24).
King Zedekiah ignored Jeremiah’s warnings and rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar; for that offence he had to watch his sons killed before him, and then his eyes were put out (II Kgs 25:1-7). The rebellious Jews revolted against Rome, which sent Titus to destroy their city and temple and bring upon them greater tribulation than the world has ever seen or will see. These examples of rebellion include the low, the high, and whole nations.
Is the lesson overdone? Angels, far greater in wisdom and might than men, do not bring railing accusations or mocking ridicule against rulers on earth (II Pet 2:11). Truly! Why should a foolish man, who knows nothing of the weighty decisions of his leaders? But the angels do check hair length on women, to see if they show public submission to their husbands by wearing it long (I Cor 11:10). This warning is not overdone. Get serious!
Speaking lightly about parents was worthy of death under Moses’ Law (Deut 27:16). Solomon wrote that those who cursed their parents should die (Pr 20:20). Solomon also judged that a mocking face toward parents to be worthy of punishment (Pr 30:17). The blessed God defends His appointed authorities and punishes the disrespectful. Is the warning overdone? It is not overdone, because the spirit of rebellion has infected many.
How do you speak of the President? With reverence, or disdain? Do you joke about him or other officials? What do you read about the government – supportive, neutral, or critical? Do you pay taxes respectfully? Do you wickedly imagine a conspiracy or cover-up in every decision they make or action they take? Do you criticize new laws? With what kind of people do you discuss government? Do you pray and thank God for rulers?
If a parent, do you want your children criticizing your decisions, ridiculing your faults, mocking you, and sowing unrest in your other children? If a husband, do you want your wife ridiculing you to others and talking back? If an employer, do you want your employees organizing a union to attack and undermine your position and business? Can you not see that unless you give honor and respect, you do not deserve them from others?
The root cause of disrespect to authority is pride and rebellion – the devil’s sins (Pr 13:10; I Tim 3:6). It is not principle; it is pride and rebellion. Men do not evade taxes for principle, but for covetousness and greed. There are lawful and peaceful means for principle, but their tactics prove wickedness. God will crush proud and rebellious men.
Christians pray for rulers and do all they can to live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty, regardless of how pagan or wicked rulers are (Jer 29:4-7; I Tim 2:1-4). They do not despise authority. They know God or the king will come in vengeance on such rebels. They know God’s blessing is on those who revere authority. They know God is higher than the highest and will soon rectify every wrong (Eccl 5:8).
If you are a baptized follower of Jesus Christ, you are a citizen of an eternal monarchy, the kingdom of God, where Jesus rules with absolute power and perfect righteousness as David’s Son. He does not miss a single aspect of every government decision. What is the word of God to them? “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps 2:12).
Faithful ministers like Paul preach the whole counsel of God and everything for your profit that is found in the Bible (Acts 20:17-27). You have just heard God’s will for this part of your life. What will you do with the information? You should repent of any past wrongdoing toward civil rulers or other authority, and you should commit before God to never disrespect or rebel against any of the five spheres of authority God has ordained.