A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
I remember reading the testimony of Chuck Colson, the political aide of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandals in the 1970’s. Colson described his intense desire to be accepted by Nixon as a “lust for power.” Colson described how the more power he had (usually getting closer to Nixon), the more power he wanted. How dangerous covetousness is in!
Proverbs 28:16 speaks of two aspects of corrupt rulers. Such rulers often love money and seek “unjust gain by their actions.” We’re reminded that “the love of money is the root of all evil,” and how true this is in wicked rulers’ lives. As one begins to place his heart on money, there is an inner craving for more money. To order to gain more wealth, wicked rulers often use oppression of the poor and innocent through taxation, threats, and aggression. In some societies, some peoples have even been sold into servitude because of a rulers' evil desires.
Corrupt rulers often “lack understanding.” In short, because of their evil desires, they are blind to who they are and what they do to others. Such rulers, ultimately before God, are utter fools, for as the Psalmist says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” They fail to heed others’ counsel and seek their own ease and comfort.
May the Lord give us rulers who have understanding and good judgment.