For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
The point of the expression is, that the leaders of the nation are really misleaders. The persons referred to are described in ver. 15 as "the ancient and honorable, "and as "the prophet that teacheth lies, "evidently including those having influence by reason of their social status, and having influence by reason of their official positions. It is well for us to remember the responsibility of positions as well as of talents. Society is directly affected by the morality, the prevailing tone, the intelligence, and the religiousness of the upper and the learned classes. Leadership is also a talent or endowment, given by God to individual men and women, and so it is to be regarded as, and used as, a Divine trust. A man's power of leadership among his fellow-men is to be laid on God's altar, and used in God's service.
I. EVERYBODY HAS SOME INFLUENCE ON OTHERS; by virtue of:
1. Relationship, as masters, husbands, fathers, etc.
2. Position, one class of society becoming ideals to the class below them.
3. Character, natural and trained.
4. Education, involving superior knowledge and mental control.
II. SOME HAVE VERY SPECIAL POWERS OF LEADERSHIP. Illustrate by the first Napoleon. Some men seem to master our wills, and compel us to do what they wish. We find such persons in all spheres of life. The Power is one of the secrets of success in business. It is often the genius of secretaries, and of teachers. Illustrate from T. Moore's poem in 'Lalla Rookh,' "The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan."
III. SUCH INFLUENCE MAY BE MADE A CURSE. Leadership may cover and excuse wrong-doing. Personal relations may disturb moral distinctions.
IV. SUCH INFLUENCE MAY BE MADE A BLESSING. Leadership may present the example of righteousness and obedience. Personal relations with others may be Christ-like, and so a leading towards goodness and God. Special Divine judgments come on those who determinedly lead others astray. The enticer and seducer who wile into the ways that lead down to the pit, God surely hateth and watcheth. His hand will be heavy on them some day. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.