Thus said the Lord GOD; If the prince give a gift to any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons'…
Great temptations surround kings, inducing them to tyranny. Their own will is enveloped within military force. Obsequious flatterers pander to royal power. For self-interest, soldiers usually take sides with the prince. Hence a first lesson for princes to learn is that right is superior to might. The voice of justice is the voice of God.
I. THE PRINCE IS A SUBJECT OF A HIGHER MONARCH. No earthly king holds absolute sway over his subjects. In truth, the mightiest monarch is only a vassal-king. He rules in the place of God. He has to listen to the summons, "Thus saith the Lord." He is appointed to administer the laws of God. He is amenable to a superior authority, and must render an account of his rule at the judgment-bar of heaven. To no king has God transferred the right of absolute rule. The term of a tyrant's rule is entirely at the disposal of God. At any moment the King of kings can terminate a prince's rule, and require a report of his doings. At the very height of a boastful tyranny he has often suffered an humiliating fall. A prince is simply a superior servant.
II. THE PRINCE IS UNDER OBLIGATION TO HIS SONS. As he is not absolute master of his subjects, neither is he absolute master of his possessions. Even a king has no freehold in his property. It is held under lease. He has only a life-enjoyment in it. Death dissolves all earthly covenants. If he has sons, they are his heirs. By the indisputable law of God they have a right in reversion. As the prince had full enjoyment of his estates during his mortal life, so his sons shall have undiminished enjoyment of the estates during their life. By no principle of law or justice can a prince claim to extract from the ancestral estates more than a life-enjoyment, nor encumber his estates for successors. He must learn to identify himself with his children, to treat them as part and parcel of himself. Checks on selfishness God everywhere imposes. In the household of God sonship carries with it complete heirship.
III. THE PRINCE IS UNDER OBLIGATION TO HIS SUBJECTS. Obligations among men are mutual. Kingship has duties as well as rights. If subjects are under obligation to serve and support their 'prince, so too princes are under obligation to protect the lives and property of their subjects. Rightly understood, the prosperity of the people is identical with the prosperity of the king. The throne cannot be strong if the people are impoverished. The king and his people are united by a common bond of interest. The invasion of his subjects' rights is suicide to his authority - suicide to kingship. "No man liveth unto himself." A selfish and avaricious policy is moral madness. No other principle is so favorable to prosperity and joy as wise benevolence.
IV. THE PRINCE IS UNDER OBLIGATION TO HIS SERVANTS. No man is more dependent upon the service of others, no man so dependent, as a prince. His time and strength are as limited as any other man's, yet the demands of duty are enormous. For his personal needs he requires servants; for his family wants he requires servants; and for every department of public government he requires servants. In proportion to the value of the services, remuneration must be made. If the prince be accounted mean or parsimonious, he will lose dignity, reputation, and influence. Yet his generous impulses must never be allowed to violate principles of justice. He must never trench on others' possessions to discharge a personal debt. Yet, alas! this has often beer, done! Kings stand among the greatest criminals. Secret service to the king has been paid in stolen coin. Yet restitution must some day be made, for God is always on the side of righteousness. And to every prince he says, "Be just before you are generous." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD; If the prince give a gift unto any of his sons, the inheritance thereof shall be his sons'; it shall be their possession by inheritance.