The Christian’s Obligation to Society – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. According to Proverbs 14:34 (printed below,) what affects do righteousness and sin have upon a society?

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)

Proverbs 14:34a testifies that “righteousness exalts a nation.” But Proverbs 14:34b goes on to say, “sin is a disgrace to any people.” The nation that violates and rejects the Creator’s holy law becomes subject to His holy judgment. The proverb is true and must be taken seriously because of the character of God: “Jehovah is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face” (Psalm 11:7). We must also bear in mind Psalm 7:11, “God is a righteous judge, a God who has indignation every day.”

2. According to Proverbs 28:4 (printed below,) what is one way in which the righteous can combat the wicked?

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law contend against them. (Proverbs 28:4)

Those who reject the law of God turn their back on the divine and absolute standard of right and wrong; having done so, they inevitably end up “praising the wicked” by accepting their immoral and man-centered lifestyle as a viable and legitimate alternative. “But those who keep the law contend against them.” By honoring the law of God and adhering to it, we are bearing witness to that divine standard and bearing witness against those who ignore or willfully violate that standard.

3. What should be our attitude toward the civil authorities and why should we have such an attitude? See Proverbs 24:21-22 (printed below)

My son, fear Jehovah and the king, do not associate with those who seek revolution, (22) for they—Jehovah and the king—will send sudden calamity upon them, and who knows what destruction they can bring? (Proverbs 24:21-22)

These verses remind us that we are to respect the legitimate authority of the civil government because it possesses a God-given authority. In Romans 13:1-2 the apostle Paul exhorts us as follows: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (2)Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

4. Bearing in mind the warning and counsel of Proverbs 24:21-22 (printed above under question #3), is there ever a time when political protest is legitimate for the Christian?

When is political protest legitimate? When is such protest required? We must protest when the civil government oversteps its bounds and “deifies” itself—i.e.; declaring that it is not accountable to God and assuming the position of God as law maker (note Romans 13:4a). We must protest when the civil government requires us to obey its dictates at the expense of God’s commandments (note Acts 5:27b-29). We must protest when the civil government violates the moral law of God (note Daniel 4:27).

5. According to Proverbs 29:2 (printed below,) what is the affect of righteous and wicked rulers upon their subjects?

When the righteous are in power the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people sigh. (Proverbs 29:2)

When the righteous are in the majority and in positions of authority, the people rejoice. A righteous rule based upon the moral law of God and recognizing its accountability to God promotes peace and stability and respects and safeguards the citizens’ God-given rights (note Isaiah 32:1-2 which speaks of the righteous reign of godly king Hezekiah). Conversely, “when a wicked man rules, the people sigh.” Refusing to recognize their position under God as “legislators” of His moral law, wicked rulers become a law unto themselves, with the following dreadful consequences. Their decisions become final; they recognize no appeal to the higher law of God for justice. Their power becomes absolute; they know no bounds, extending their control over every area of the citizen’s lives. Their toleration for any legitimate protest becomes non-existent; they meet protest with severe measures of repression.