7It sounds strange for a fool
to talk sensibly,
but it's even worse
for a ruler to tell lies.
8A bribe works miracles
like a magic charm
that brings good luck.
10A sensible person
but you can't beat sense
into a fool.
To us a “fool” is a silly person; in the Old Testament a fool was someone who turned away from God, rejected his wisdom and chose not to follow him. You wouldn’t expect godly talk from a person like that. But still less would you expect a ruler to lie.
Come again. I think we would be really surprised to hear a ruler speak the truth! If by “ruler” you mean a politician. Aren’t we used to “spin,” half-truths and sheer evasion of the truth? Only recently a Canadian politician was put forward to answer questions in Question Time, and every time the opposition asked him a question about Iran he answered with a statement about Israel. That really was too much, and the incident was followed by abject apologies. But it was simply what we have come to expect of our “leaders”, taken to an absurd extreme.
I hope we have higher standards for Christian leaders, and that we can look to them for honesty. Even when the truth is uncomfortable. And if you aspire to leadership you’d better practise being open and honest. Lying is a habit that is hard to break.
There have been a couple of times in my own life when a mature Christian has confronted me with the realities of my own behaviour. I have conveniently forgotten the details, but I do remember two things: one, the pain of hearing a home truth, and two, the enormous value of wise correction. These situations have meant facing the truth about myself and not leaping to my own defence. They can be milestones in our Christian growth.
It goes without saying that confrontation of this sort needs to be done with great wisdom and much love. It needs a great deal of discernment. There are plenty of people who aren’t ready to listen. But let’s pray for friends who can see what we can’t see in ourselves, and, rather than gossiping to others, have the courage to tell us directly. And may we have the wisdom to listen!
Dear God, Like the psalmist I pray that you will look deep into my heart. Don’t let me follow evil ways (Psalm 139:23-4). And if you choose to bring something to my attention through the wise words of a trusted friend, please make me ready to hear the truth and, with grace, accept correction.