Proverbs 3:31-32

Proverbs 3:31-32 "Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.  For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous."
Christian Church Western New York
In an ongoing attempt to help his son become a good man and a good king, Solomon warns Rehoboam of envying an oppressor.  An oppressor is cruel.  An oppressor is unjust and unkind.  An oppressor overpowers and overwhelms.  No one likes an oppressor.  No one likes living under an oppressor.  No one likes working for an oppressor.  No one likes being married to an oppressor.  No one likes being the child of an oppressor.

If no one likes an oppressor, who would ENVY such a person?
The person who ENVIES the power of an oppressor ENVIES an oppressor.

Solomon knew the natural tendency his young son would have for a thirst for power.  Our world has been plagued by conflict.  Human history has been and will continue to be a fight over power.  Nations fight for power in the world.  Races fight for power in society.  Politicians fight for power in a community.  Couples fight for power in a home.  Employees fight for power in a company.  In this thirst for power, there are rarely any rules followed.  People will do whatever it takes to get power.  For the power-hungry person, oppression seems like a sure path to power.  After all, history shows us that some of the most powerful people our world has ever seen have been ruthless dictators.  It’s easy for an employee to see oppressive tactics as the way to power when they work under an oppressive boss.  It’s easy for a child to see oppressive behavior as the path to power when they grow up under an oppressive parent.  It’s easy for a citizen to see oppressive policies as the road to power when they live under an oppressive leader.

Solomon didn’t want his son or his readers to envy the power of an oppressive community member or an oppressive neighboring king.  He warned his readers first of envying oppressors to ultimately warn them of becoming oppressors themselves.  Envy leads to Copy.  We envy someone when they have something or someone we want.  By envying someone, we’re acknowledging that they’re something we aren’t.  By envying someone, we’re acknowledging that they have something we don’t.  Envy is an emotion that naturally leads us to imitate or copy the person at the center of our envy.  Imitating the person we envy is often done unknowingly but it is almost always done willingly.  Solomon warned his son of envying the oppressor so that he would ultimately “choose NONE of his ways.”  He didn’t want his son to become oppressive in ANY WAY.

Solomon was following his father’s example in providing the necessary instruction his family’s future third generation ruler.  In 2 Samuel 23:3, Solomon’s father rehearsed the words that God told him directly – “he that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”  Although the power of an oppressor may look appealing to a young man, Rehoboam needed to guard his heart from envying and ultimately, imitating an oppressor because such leadership is froward, or perverse power.  Oppression is unjust and it is certainly not God-fearing.  This is why Solomon followed his counsel with the statement, “for the froward is abomination to the LORD.”  Choosing oppressive ways may gain power over men but it gains the extreme displeasure of God.  On the contrary, the secret to real power is with the righteous.
Oppression may be the quick path to power but that path is the one that leads to ultimate judgment from an Almighty God, to Whom belongs power (Ps. 62:11).  Righteousness is the true path to power, as was the case with Solomon.  By choosing righteousness, he found the secret to true power when God came to him in Gibeon – wisdom!  It is a severe mistake to seize power through oppression when the secret to true power is found in an intimate relationship with God.  The wise-hearted always make a better leader than the heavy-handed.  Parents, take note - when it comes to power in a home, the secret to maintaining authority is possessing wisdom, not an iron fist.

No matter our age or place in life, we must guard our hearts from envying the power and choosing the way of the oppressor - it is an abomination to God.  God will punish the cruel and judge the heavy-handed, as evidenced in Christ’s parable in Matthew 18.  In the parable, a king’s servant owed him ten thousand talents, which he could not pay.  The servant begged for mercy when the king justly commanded him and his possessions to be detained.  The king however, had compassion on his servant and forgave his debt.  The same servant then went to one of his debtors and demanded payment.  The servant “took him by the throat” and cast him in prison when he couldn’t pay.  The king, who represented God, found out about the servant’s oppressive tactics and “delivered him to the tormentors.”  God hates oppression and so should we.

Tragically, Rehoboam didn’t heed his father’s wise instruction.  His thirst for power would be his political demise.  When he inherited the crown, the weary nation came to him and asked for a lighter work load since they spent decades building the Temple and more.  The young king was advised by the older men to be a servant to the people, assuring him that they would serve him forever.  Unfortunately, Rehoboam forsook their wise counsel and chose the counsel of the power-hungry fools in his age group.  The king answered the nation roughly saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”  The nation rebelled that day against the young oppressor and the kingdom his father and grandfather built split in two.
Whether in the government or in the church, cruel and heavy-handed authority is an abomination to God.  Oppression in a Christian home is as abominable to God as it is in a pagan home.  If it’s power you seek, focus on righteousness because the secret to long-lasting power is with the righteous.  

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