’Tis election season (actually, it seems like it’s been election season for two years. Just sayin’ . . .) Is there anything in the Bible that can help us sort our way through the chaos of the choices we will have to make?
Well, not much. Election of government officials by popular vote was pretty much unknown in Bible times. Leadership and authority in those days came either from your family and clan or from the king. Kings aren’t elected. They attain their power and rank either by birth or by massive display of armed violence.
But that doesn’t mean God is silent on what he expects of public officials. After all, they exercise their authority with his permission and direction (see Romans 13:1-7). The mother of a mysterious king named Lemuel gave him some wonderful advice on how people in high office should behave: “Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings” (Proverbs 31:3). Nothing good ever came from King David having a harem.
“It is not for kings, Lemuel—it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. . . . Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:4-9).
As you ponder your voting choices, it seems to me that Lemuel’s priorities still matter.