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Wisdom for Just and Righteous Leadership
Proverbs 8:14-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 I have counsel and sound wisdom;
I have insight; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me princes rule,
and nobles, all who govern justly.
I have counsel and sound wisdom: The Hebrew rendered counsel (etsah) is referring to someone (wisdom) who provides advice, guidance or planning as to a decision or a course of action. This is wisdom telling us what we should do based on her insights. Sound Wisdom; Judgment: (Heb. tushiyyah) is a particular kind of wisdom that has an emphasis on being complete and thorough or efficient, possessing awareness and perception that gives one the ability to understand fully.
I have insight; I have strength: The Hebrew rendered insight (binah) is the ability to see into a situation. One who possesses insight acts with wisdom, caution, and discretion. Insight is closely related to understanding, but there is a fine distinction between the two terms. Says the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament: “While bin [understanding] indicates ‘distinguishing between,’ [sa·khal′] relates to an intelligent knowledge of the reason. There is the process of thinking through a complex arrangement of thoughts resulting in wise dealings and the use of good practical common sense. Another end result is the emphasis upon being successful.” – Psa. 14:12; (Edited by R. L. Harris, 1980, Vol. 2, p. 877) Here strength (Heb. geburah) is being mentally strong. Geburah has the primary meaning of power, strength, might, which is in comparison to others, with emphasis on the deep respect for the one who holds the power.
By me kings reign: Here by me means “by means of me.” In other words, it is through or by wisdom that kings are able or allowed to reign.
And rulers decree what is just: The Hebrew rendered rulers (razan) is a general reference to leaders of all sorts, with a focus on their primacy of authority. Decree (Heb. chaqaq) is an official decision given that is backed by the authority of the ruler.
By me princes rule: This line is a restatement of the first line of verse 15. Generally, the Hebrew word (sar) rendered princes mean a male member of the royal family, especially the sons. However, here, it is a general reference to rulers, leaders, officials, or authorities.
And nobles, all who govern justly: Nobles (nadib) is a reference to a class of people who possessed some measure of authority. Of course, regardless of their level of nobility, in their sphere of influence, they have primacy of authority. It can be rendered leader, ruler, official, or prince depending on the context. The same word (nadib) is used in Job 12:21 but it is rendered prince there by the ASV, RSV, and ESV, while the NASB has noble, and the LEB has nobleman.
Wisdom gives its owner sound judgment, understanding, and strength, qualities that one would need to head a family, or a Christian congregation. Wisdom is essential to those who take the lead, be it in the home, or the Christian congregation, because they will undoubtedly have to counsel others in their role of leadership. Wisdom is able to provide us with direction because she has sound wisdom or judgment. Because of her insight and strength, she can provide us with the strength to deal with the difficulties of life. Regardless of the leadership one may have (kings, princes, nobles, rulers, fathers, mothers, husbands, pastors, employers, and so on), there will be no just and righteous rulership if there is no wisdom. Remember too, the beginning of wisdom is that we have a reverential fear of displeasing God.