At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.Proverbs 29:12
In this short proverb, we have a pretty shrewd summary of a great deal of modern politics. Ancient politics too, for that matter.
When sellers flood the market with something, this is usually because there are buyers around. When the fish are biting, the fishermen are usually baiting.
You will get more of what you subsidize, and less of what you penalize. The reason the ruler is important here in this proverb is because a ruler is one who is in a position to subsidize things. There is largesse somewhere around here that he can pass out. And if he rewards mendacity, then no one should be surprised when his cabinet fills up with mendacious men. And because lies are the front men for even greater evils, it is not long before the ruler is surrounded by all kinds of wickedness.
And so this principle applies anywhere any person has favors to bestow—financial, inheritance, sexual, honors, etc.
A corollary to this is the fact that it is not just a sin to lie—it is also frequently a sin to believe lies. Adam and Eve fell into sin through listening to a lie (“you shall not surely die”), and the ruler in this proverb is clearly under God’s judgment, and he is the one listening to lies, not the one telling them.
Think about it for a minute. When someone lies to you, and you catch them dead to rights, and the fact that they are a liar is now indisputable, what light does this shed on prior incidents? What are the odds that this lie that you caught them in was the very first lie they ever told you? The odds are slim, right? Unless you are dealing with your toddler who is venturing into deceit for the very first time, the chances are good that you were being lied to prior to this time in ways that catered to things that you wanted to hear. You were being lied to in ways that you ought to have seen. And then, when everything comes crashing down, you reflect on those earlier incidents and kick yourself. How was possible not to have “seen that”? You see it all now.