At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
Excellent speech becometh not a fool: Much less do lying lips a prince.Proverbs 17:7
It is difficult to read this proverb about high flown speech in the mouth of a fool without thinking of Shakespeare’s Dogberry. “Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover, they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly; they have belied a lady; thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.”
The thing that strikes us as so funny about this kind of speech is the incongruity. The tone is so elevated, the words whistle clean past their targets, the sense of the thing taken as a whole teeters on the lip of nonsense.
And Solomon tells us that a much greater incongruity is found when princes lie. Thrones are established by righteousness (Prov. 16:12; 25:5; 29:14), and righteousness obviously must include a loyalty to truth.
If we remove the obvious exceptions (remembering that deception is a legitimate tool in a ruler’s war chest, as we see with Joshua at the second battle of Ai), then we realize that a ruler must speak the truth to his friends—to his counselors, to his cabinet, to his family, to his people. A prince must keep his word. A prince must not lie in order to keep himself out of trouble.
In our modern secular world, however, we find our rulers and princes are lying to us all the time. They call it “spin,” and they say they are doing it “for the kids,” and they plant stories in the media, and they accuse people falsely. They say that the Constitution means things that it manifestly does not mean.
The next time you see one of our important solons on the television being interviewed, and you know he is lying—his lips are moving—you need to remember that, according to Scripture, you are living in a unique form of government, one that we might call dogberry democracy.