Around 1000 BC, the nation of Israel was the “superpower” of the world. Under the leadership of King David, the land that God had promised to Abraham’s descendants had been settled and the surrounding nations knew from experience, that to attack Israel was futile. Life for the Jewish people could not have been better. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last too long. Although able leaders would succeed David, and even though the country’s “constitution” (the Mosaic Law) would provide a righteous basis for the living of life, the nation would inevitably race toward disaster due to one significant problem: its people and their desire to live contrary to the will of God. David’s successor, Solomon, would sound the warning to the people when he wrote in Proverbs 14:34 that, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, would be a terrible ruler, but the nation would survive because the experiential depravity of the people had not yet declined to a point where God would judge the nation. But the decline was in motion. Several able rulers would follow and a partial return to righteousness would follow with them, but only because they legislated it. The heart of the people was still not devoted to the accomplishment of the will of God. Certainly godly leaders are beneficial to a nation and ungodly ones are detrimental. But Israel had both and neither was able to preserve the nation or ruin it by themselves. The destiny of the nation resided in the moral ethic of the people.
Regardless of who occupies the Oval Office or is elected to Congress, the fate of the United States of America lies in the resolve of its citizens to live by godly principles. Sin is a reproach! But Solomon’s statement necessitates a definition of sin. What may be our nation’s biggest problem today is that we no longer have an authoritative standard to define sin. Just as it was in the end of the time of the judges in Israel, everyone today does that which is “right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). A generation or two ago, most Americans believed that the Bible was that authoritative standard. We may not have agreed concerning everything that the Bible declares, but it was recognized as the authority by which life is defined. No longer is that the case. For many, the Bible has no place at all in determining the “righteous” standards that characterize how we should live. For many more, the plain teaching of Scripture has been twisted to make it mean whatever one wants it to mean. Whether denied or corrupted, the authority of the Word of God to define life has been rejected by most.
Certainly, men and women who would seek godly, righteous standards while in administrative and legislative positions would greatly benefit the prosperity of our land. But as it was in ancient Israel, so too today, our prosperity will not be generated or forfeited by who is in office, but by who will be the governed. God does not have a covenant with the United States as He does with the nation of Israel, and therefore, there is no certainty to our perpetuity. But Solomon’s proverb is universal in its application. President Trump’s mantra of, “Make America Great” is the desire of all in this land regardless of political persuasion. No one in their right mind wants anything else. But in order for that saying to be accomplished, it is necessary that we, the people, make America godly again by seeking to be obedient to God’s Word.