Drollinger: What Does the Bible Say About the Label We Give Political Leaders?


Political leaders in the U.S. carry the label “The Honorable.” What does the Old Testament have to say regarding that label? Have you ever thought about what the Bible identifies as the characteristics of an honorable person?

The root word for honor in Hebrew is kabad, meaning “heavy” or “weight.” The form of this word that appears throughout the book of Proverbs is kabod, which means “abundance,” “glory,” “dignity” or “high position.” In Psalm 8:5, God has crowned man with dignity (kabod) and splendor as he was created in his image and given rule over his creation.

Taking our cue from God in Psalm 8:5 (and to quote one of the Boy Scout laws!), we should “give honor to whom honor is due.” To do so is to be God-like, godly or Christ-like. This Bible study, “What Does It Mean to Be Honorable?,” takes a good look at this biblical concept to aid you in developing some new convictions.

Honor is dignity and respect ascribed to man or God. It is exhibited in different ways throughout the OT.

One way is in the form of external splendor such as material pos­sessions (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:12, 28; 2 Chronicles 1:11-12; Esther 5:11; Prov­erbs 3:16). This honor is visibly expressed, as seen in our culture when we give a gift to someone.

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Another kind of honor is the respect afforded to one of high position (Gene­sis 45:13, Job 19:9). In this regard, we appropriately label our political leaders “The Honorable.” God’s leaders in every institution are to be esteemed, if for no other reason than the position they hold.

Last is the heavenly honor that awaits the faithful, as described in Psalm 73:24d: “With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.”

The Bible student can organize the idea of giving honor (in addition to giving honor to the Lord) into three additional categories: giving honor to (1) others, (2) fools and (3) institutional leaders. The Bible has much to say about each of these!

Many Scriptures address honor that should be given to the Lord. In no par­ticular order of importance, the first is through giving. “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce” (Proverbs 3:9). This verse is a reference to the OT con­cept of tithing. In Malachi 3:10, the Lord adds, “Test Me now in this … if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it over­flows.”

We are to honor God in a way that is proportional to what he gives us. I like to think of the concept of wealth as more than just material; it includes giving to the Lord from not only your treasure but also your time and talents. Do you give a portion of your time, tal­ent and treasure to the Lord? The degree to which you do so is the degree to which God pours out his blessings on you.

Other ways of honoring the Lord include taking care of the poor (Proverbs 14:31) and verbally praising him (Daniel 4:34). God is also honored by the use of our time, talent and treasure in support of his purpose to take the gospel throughout the world.

Scriptures show that fools, however, should not be given honor. Fools are defined as those who make thoughtless, insensitive remarks. They can be identified by their inability to reason cogently.

Proverbs identifies these characteristics of fools as evidenced when (interestingly!) they debate another person: “When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, the foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest” (29:9). Clearly, fools are a category of people whom God says you should exclude from honor: “Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool” (26:1).

Honor is an integral part of the believer’s life. Honoring the right things is not only an element of living for God’s glory (i.e., wisdom) but a means of placing ourselves in a position to be blessed. When we practice honoring others in humility, God will honor us as a result.

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Click here to read the full study.

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Ralph Drollinger, president and founder of Capitol Ministries, leads three Bible studies with political leaders every week. One on the Hill for U.S. senators and one for representatives, plus a weekly remote Bible study for state governors, former governors, and former White House Cabinet members and senior staff. Learn more at

Drollinger played basketball at UCLA under coach John Wooden and was the first player in NCAA history to go to the Final Four four times. Drollinger was taken in the NBA draft three times but chose to forgo the NBA to play with Athletes in Action, an evangelistic basketball team that toured the world and preached the gospel at halftime. Drollinger signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 1980 as a free agent, becoming the first Maverick in the history of the franchise.