The King’s Heart... - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
June 1, 2017

The King’s Heart...

Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.”

In ancient times, nations often called their kings gods. None could call them to account. If they chose war, the country gave up its men. If they imposed heavy taxes, the country paid. If they were wise and just, the country prospered in safety.

In our day, kings don’t rule, but American presidents have immense power, so the character and ability of a president matter hugely. When God chooses to bless a country, He gives it a good, strong, wise king. When He judges a land, He says, “I will make boys their rulers, and infants shall rule over them (Isaiah 3:4).”

But God’s power goes further than giving a good or bad ruler. He turns a king’s heart in whatever direction He wishes. Solomon uses an illustration from ancient irrigation methods, where farmers opened or closed gates leading to irrigation channels, sending water this way or that. As easily as a gate could be opened to give water, or closed, so God holds the king’s heart in His hand, to turn it right or left. When God chose to judge Israel, He sent a lying spirit into the mouths of His prophets to encourage King Ahab to go to war with Syria. Then, as God’s true prophet Micaiah foretold, Ahab was killed in battle, and all Israel was scattered (I Kings 22).

Therefore, God’s people, even with rulers as bad as Caesar Nero, should never despair, but rather pray. A king’s calling is onerous, and the temptation to pride and abuse is huge. So God tells His people, wherever they live, to pray for their rulers. To Jews in Babylon, Jeremiah wrote:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

Since the king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand, Paul also instructs the Christian diaspora in Ephesus to pray for kings.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way (I Timothy 2:1-2).

The reality behind our prayers for kings brings great comfort. The Lord reigns. Assyria is a mere rod in God’s hand (Isaiah 10:5), and the nations are but a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15).

- Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member and Former President