Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 28:15
"Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people"
The thing that is true of a roaring lion and a rushing bear is that they are trying to intimidate and get their prey moving in the direction that they want them to go. This direction always has a payoff for the lion and the bear but not for the prey. A lion who is hunting tries to creep up towards you and is very quiet, but a lion that roars knows that you will head away from the sound of the roar. That is just simple instinct. Usually the other lions will be waiting in the direction that you will run to get away from the roar. The same is true of the bear. There is some danger in the direction that you are being driven towards, but you feel that you have no choice.
This is the nature of a wicked ruler – a person who has authority, the power to act, and yet is thoroughly selfish. This is the person who under cover of the common good gets people to move in a direction that is largely or solely for his gain. Often the movement of the people causes them to lose so that others can profit. We have seen this in stock scams by CEO's of major corporations. We have seen this in politicians who hype a scare or problem so that their constituency will be in favor of the fix that gives them more power or kickbacks or the like. We have seen this with managers or bosses who intimidate their subordinates into sexual favors to keep their jobs. We have seen this with coaches and boyfriends who intimidate children and young people to take advantage of them.
The idea of poor here is the people without real ability to fight back. They do not have any leverage. They were looking for support and protection from authority; and they got used, abused, driven, oppressed, and sucked dry of something valuable the wicked authority wanted.
Solomon points this problem out 3,000 years ago. It is one of the problems of leadership, authority, and power. It can be abused by the wicked person. Remember that wickedness is the person who exalts their selfishness above most other things. Wickedness does not necessarily mean that one is viscerally or emotionally repulsed by their actions. To be wicked means to pursue selfishness beyond the boundaries of the Ten Commandments. We see this kind of leader all the time – who uses their authority to get what they want.
These kinds of leaders must be removed by the honest, righteous people who do have leverage against them because the people they are used to using can't stand up to them. They just have to put up with the situation. There is an implicit call to action to stop a wicked leader.
There is an implicit understanding that if a person is wicked in one area, they will be wicked in other areas as well. If they are selfish, as they use people to get what they want in one part of the Ten Commandments, then they will be selfish in other areas. One can be confident that oppression of the defenseless is taking place. It may be subtle or accepted in the culture, but it is happening.
One does not want to move in the direction that a wicked ruler wants them to move. If you are caught under the roar of a wicked ruler, go in the opposite direction that they want you to go. Refuse to be driven by their threats, their power, their anger. Realize that they are trying to intimidate you to do something that will only profit them. They do not have your best interest at heart. If you can remove yourself from under their authority, then do it.