Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 24:21
"My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change"
This is the Hebrew word yare, which means fear, reverence, afraid. It is the standard word for the idea of reverencing the Lord or the fear of the Lord. There is clearly, in this word, the idea that one is afraid of the power, majesty, and wonder of the Lord. It becomes reverence when directed to the Lord.
There is not enough understanding that God is to be reverenced and feared. He is not a tame servant who is waiting to do what we want. He is the Almighty who created the universe in which we dwell -- from an idea in his eternal mind. He dwells outside of our universe, peering into it. He is the creator of at least four different levels of angelic spirit beings: Cherubim, Seraphim, Archangels, Angels. He has created myriad forms of life on this planet from human to animal to insect to plant to bacterial. He chose to set His love upon us. He gave our species of life a choice to serve Him voluntarily. Many rebelled and have chosen to experience His terror and wrath.
To reverence God is to be aware at all times of what He wants you to act like. To reverence Him is to be aware of His ideas, His plans, His boundaries, His presence, His goals. One of the great acts of disrespect to God is to live without any thought about Him -- to act, plan, strategize without giving any thought to God. The tragedy is that the vast majority of the people on this planet live their whole lives this way -- in rebellion with God by their complete disregard of Him. They are selfish and self-centered to the core.
This is the Hebrew word Yahweh. It is the unutterable name of God that God gave Moses as His personal name. This word is a form of the word to be.The Hebrews -- in order to not violate the third commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain -- decided to never say His name. So every time they see the word YHWH in the text of Scripture, they say the word Adonai which means Lord.
This word means existence. That is why it is translated I AM. God is. He does not progress or change or grow or move through time. He is. He has always been and will always be.
This is the Hebrew word melek, which means king, ruler. It is also the word for leader in a broader view of the leadership principles of this inspired book.
In order to live within a civilized and safe society, there has to be a governmental structure with authority and positions to direct, organize, and protect the people. If the people in a system of government no longer reverence or fear that system, then it falls apart. If the people in a system do not give a certain level of respect, value, and reverence to the system, it will not function. Authority depends upon respect and reverence. Some of that respect and reverence is because of what the system can do to you if you do not obey or follow the system’s rules. But if there is no fear, respect, or reverence for the system of government, then it will cease to function.
In any society there will be between 1-10% of the people who will not reverence the governmental system. They will be willful lawbreakers who live in rebellion to the system. If the number starts going higher, then there will be governmental collapse. We have seen around the world where governments collapse because the people no longer give any fear or respect to the leader. It could be because of corruption or it could be because of higher loyalty to a different leader or a different system.
Solomon is rightly pointing out that in order to live in an ordered society there must be government and leadership. That leadership -- unless it is in outright rebellion to God's higher laws -- should be given respect, reverence, and compliance. Any other way of living is anarchy and it only sounds like freedom. It always ends up with “he has the might is right.” Bullying is the order of the day. What the strong man wants is what is done.
This is the Hebrew word arab, which means to pledge and is the word that is commonly used for going surety or pledging. In this verse it is used in the hithpael stem and adjusts the meaning to intermingle or make a wager with. The translators choose to use the word associatewith,but the meaning is much stronger than that. There is some type of bargain or business contract or legal or social connection between parties here.
Solomon is saying to be careful who you are doing business with. You don't want to offend God or your governmental system by your commitments, partners, or customers. In other words, there are things that trump whether you will make a lot of money.
Let me give you a couple of practical examples:
I remember watching young ladies who went to work in order to help out the family and began hanging out with other ladies who had had a number of husbands and affairs. It wasn't long until this time spent with these other ladies who were given to change began changing the ladies who had been faithful and loving to their husbands.
Your relationships will determine the choices that you make.
I have watched the same process take place with teens. When a teenager begins to hang around a person who is into rebellion or fornication or stealing or not studying, they will move in this direction. This association must stop. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived, bad company corrupts good morals.
I have watched as some men have made new friends at work or in the neighborhood and their new friends are into shady deals or illegal activities or cheating on their wives. The stronger the association or connection, the more that the new person moves to doing those same things.
This is the Hebrew word sana, which means change. That change can be in one's character or way of life. The idea seems to be that a person who is not consistent cannot be trusted and relied upon.
Solomon is giving us a huge insight into who to have as business associates and close friends. If one never knows what they will be into next and they go from one thing to the other, then it is time to steer a wide berth around them. If you can't count on them to be consistent, it is a problem. If their change is that they lie and what they say they will do, then it is also a problem.
Solomon is trying to keep us from making mistakes with whom we hang around and with whom we make long-term deals. If any of our associations require that we move away from reverence for God or respect for the government, don't do it.