Proverbs 29:2

ESV When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
NIV When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.
NASB When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked person rules, people groan.
CSB When the righteous flourish, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, people groan.
NLT When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
KJV When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.

What does Proverbs 29:2 mean?

Earlier proverbs in this collection (Proverbs 25:1) noted a similar idea (Proverbs 28: 12, 15, 28). Godly leadership in a nation generally leads to good outcomes (Proverbs 11:10; 14:34; 20:26; 25:5). Oppressive rulers who ignore godly wisdom (Proverbs 8:12–17; 28:16) make their subjects miserable. Paul encouraged Timothy to instruct believers to pray for all government authorities. The goal of that prayer was "that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:2). Prayer can influence whether a government contributes to believers' ability to worship, serve God effectively, and evangelize freely.

The Old Testament contains biographies of rulers over the kingdoms which came from Israel's split into north and south. Northern Israel's kings almost exclusively rejected God, disobeyed Him, and did not worship Him. Consequently, their reigns placed their subjects in jeopardy. Moral decay swept Israel, and foreign powers threatened the nation. Eventually, Israel fell to the Assyrians. In contrast, southern Judah's kings had a better record of righteousness and led the nation in several revivals. God blessed Judah and kept her from destruction and defeat for a long period of time. Ultimately, though, because of her neglect of the Sabbaths and her excursion into idolatry, Judah fell to the Babylonians more than a century after Israel's fall.
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