I can’t remember a time in my life, with the possible exception of the Nixon vs. Kennedy election, when there has been such an interest in who will win the presidential election about a month from now. Back then, the country was in an uproar – trying to decide whether Eisenhower’s vice-president, Richard M. Nixon, woud be a better commander-in-chief than Senator John F. Kennedy. A major part of the campaigns centered around whether the country would elect its first Catholic president, because, until that time, there had never been an Irish Catholic in the White House.
Most historical scholars believe that Kennedy won the debate based on anyone who saw it on television, while Nixon is generally considered to have won by those who tuned in on the radio. Nixon was sweating and seemed to be less at ease than his opponent which was, of course, not visible to those who listened rather than watched.
What brings this all to mind is the fact the the first debate of the O’Bama-Romney rivalry is set for later this week, and the country is once again faced with a choice for president. It is beyond the scope of this blog to openly endorse one candidate over the other, and in fact, pastors are ethically forbidden from stating their personal political views from the “pulpit.” In fact, it puts the non-profit status of chuches and other religious organizations at risk.
But the point of tonight’s post is to look at the roots of government. Most theologians agree that the initial establishment of government started back in Genesis 9:5-6, when God said to Noah, “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Scholars would also submit that the last part of this verse is the beginning of capital punishment.
In Romans 13:1-2, Paul also refers to government when he tells us, “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. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” So Paul confirms that God created a mandate of obedience to follow our elected leaders.
However, these verses do not speak to what specific qualities our leaders should have. Perhaps those are best described by King David when he examined his own leadership in Psalm 101. The Psalm is really in three parts – the preamble in verse 1, which affirms David’s dedication to God, David’s own commitment to sound leadership in verses 2-5; and the way he will interact with those he leads in the final 3 verses of the Psalm.
Although tonight’s post is a little different than the form that you have come to expect from me, I thought that including the entire Psalm will provide each of us with an opportunity to see what God centered leadership is supposed to be like. So, rather than teach each verse, I think it best to just let the words of David wash over you this evening. Please note that I have used the King James Version, as it is the original and conveys the message of David with more authority than any other text.
Psa. 101:1, “I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
Psa. 101:2-5 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Psa. 101:6-8 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.”
My encouragement this evening is that you have a chance to pray for the country and to participate in the election of our next president. My prayer is that God will speak to your heart in the process and that you may use David’s psalm as a way to consider the traits of each candidate and which of them will best serve our country for the next four years. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…