When preaching topical sermons in Proverbs, sometimes one has to make a choice about what themes should be used to construct the outline and flow of a sermon. The first thing to do when preaching topically from Proverbs (or anywhere, really) is to gather the data on that topic. For this sermon, I focused on Proverbs that spoke about the king or had some direct application to leadership. I pulled together over 30 verses and then began to analyze some of the common themes that I was seeing in the text. This ultimately made up my outline.
I found verses that A) spoke about the need for the right leadership, B) spoke about the characteristics of a godly leader, and C) spoke about the characteristics of a godly follower. This became the outline for my sermon.
However, for this particular sermon, I also saw another theme that I almost made use of as part of the outline. I ultimately used all the verses, but just subsumed them under different areas. The theme was: Long live the king! Or more specifically, what kinds of things lead to longevity in leadership?
Here are the relevant proverbs (all in ESV). Notice how each speaks to some degree about the length of a king’s reign:
20:28 Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,
and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.
28:2 When a land transgresses, it has many rulers,
but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.
28:16 A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor,
but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.
29:14 If a king faithfully judges the poor,
his throne will be established forever.
We can add to this list Proverbs 16:12 and 25:5—both of which speak to a king’s throne being “established in righteousness—as well as 29:4, which speaks of the king building up the land or tearing it down by his actions.
Taking all these proverbs together, we see a nice list of characteristics that prove to extend the length of a king’s reign: steadfast love, faithfulness, understanding and knowledge, lack of transgression, upholding justice, faithful judging, and righteousness. Clearly, the main qualities God looks for in leaders is not the right degree, the right experience, a type-A personality or anything like that. God seeks godly men to lead His people who exhibit holy character and integrity.