28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
through love his throne is made secure.
29 The glory of young men is their strength,
gray hair the splendor of the old.
30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
and beatings purge the inmost being.
A leader’s safety is not ensured by raw power, by wealth or by violence. Rather it is through love and faithfulness that his authority is secured, through which the people are inspired to preserve him. The best leaders leverage their authority for the benefit of the people, thus earning their loyalty and admiration. As to the people, so to the leader. When the people are safe and secure, their leader will be protected. But the leader who cares only for himself, at the people’s expense, undermines his own authority.
“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.” While the young may be strong, they lack the experience of the old. “There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siege works against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.” Even circumstances like this, in which strength seems most needed, are better handled with wisdom. If you are young and strong, be sure to look to the wise for guidance. And if you are old and experienced, consider what you can do with your wisdom instead of what you can no longer do for lack of strength.
“Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.” There is nothing enjoyable about blows and wounds. But in the midst of them there is something to be grateful for: they force us to deal with the evil and deceit within. Suffering can lead to bitterness, or it can prod us to grow in maturity, but it will not leave us as we are. Whether its lessons are wasted is up to each us. “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”