What Human Governments Do For Man

Civil Government (David Lipscomb)

In this description given by Samuel of what this human government would be and do to the Jews, God clearly describes what it does and is to all people. Every human government uses the substance, the time, the service of the subjects to enrich, gratify the appetites and lusts, and to promote the grandeur and glory of the rulers. And it is not true that in democratic or any other kind of governments the people themselves are rulers. They choose the rulers, at the instigation of a few interested leaders, then these rulers rule for their own selfish good and glory as other rulers do. The picture here drawn is not that of the worst and most despotic forms of governments, among the ignorant and degraded, but as it would and did exist among the Jewish people, with the best rulers that could be found. The substance of the people is, under forms of law taken now for the personal gratification and the display of our rulers just as Samuel told it would be in the Jewish nation. The licentiousness, the lewdness, the wars growing out of rivalry of different aspirants to rule, and of the desolation and bloodshed growing out of national rivalries are not mentioned by Samuel. He gave a picture of the mildest and best human governments as contrasted with the Divine. The rulers of the human oppress the subjects for their own benefit. The ministers of the Divine government deny themselves for the good of the subjects.

Jesus declares this:

Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them (their subjects) and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give himself a ransom for many” (Mat. 20:25).

Here the inherent distinction between the two governments is marked and emphasized. Man in setting aside the government of God and forming one of his own, cut himself off from the blessing, the service, the strength, the help that God bestows on the subjects of His government, and took on himself the burdens and oppressions and oppressors imposed by the human governments. But it is a decree of the Almighty that when man chooses his own way he shall eat of the fruit of that way.

Because I called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all of my reproof. Therefore shall they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Prov. 1:24).

So long as men refuse the rule of God, God ordains they shall be ruled by their own governments and eat the fruit of their own ways and be filled with their own devices. Showing clearly that when men turn from the government of God to their own inventions and governments, then God ordains these governments as means of punishing them for their rebellion, and while this punishing them, they are God’s ordinances for this work and none should resist them. In doing so they are resisting the ordinance of God.

But it is not in man to form government in which the selfish element will not prevail, and which will not be used to tax and oppress the ruled for the glory and aggrandizement of the rulers.

The above post is an excerpt from the book, Civil Government by David Lipscomb. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

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