Babes Shall Rule Over Them

Written By
William O. Einwechter

And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them (Isa. 3:4).

The context of Isaiah chapter 3 is the judgment of God upon Judah for its many sins. Because they have broken the covenant God is pouring out His wrath upon them (cf. Isa. 2:6-22). One of the means whereby God visits His sanctions upon a disobedient people is the subject of Isa. 3:1-15: He removes from the leadership of the nation all wise, courageous, honorable, and prudent men, and in their place He raises to positions of power “children” and “babes.”

What kind of rulers are in view here? First, note that they are the opposite of the men described in Isa. 2:2-3. The rulers that God has given to Judah are dishonorable, cowardly fools who are without the fear of God and the wisdom that accompanies it. 

Second, Isa. 3:12 indicates that Judah’s magistrates are oppressing the people, and by their leadership, legislation, and judicial conduct they are causing the nation to err, i.e., they mislead the people both in their thinking and in their morals. 

Third, it is said in Isa. 3:12 that the rulers of Judah destroy the paths of truth and righteousness which God had commanded for the nation in His covenant law. They have brought confusion and ruin to the nation because of their rejection of God’s law and Israel’s covenant with God. They have cut Israel off from her historical roots and have left her to wander in paths that lead to destruction.

Fourth, Isa. 3:14-15 indicates that they seize the wealth of the people for their own purposes. Because they covet power and wealth they have no qualms about crushing the people by oppressive taxation and the unjust seizure of the hard earned fruits of their labors. These rulers plunder the people of Judah and oppress even the poor by their greed.

By this description of Judah’s rulers we are able to see in context what the Lord means when He says, “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.” These words are not to be taken literally as if God will give two and three-year-olds to rule Judah. Rather, the text indicates that God will give rulers who have the maturity and conduct of “babes,” i.e., they behave as children who have not yet been trained to act responsibly. As very young children, by nature, are selfish, rebellious, foolish, and fearful, so are the rulers that God gives to Judah! Though they be grown men in body they are as immature as little toddlers in character.

God’s sanctions on a disobedient and idolatrous people are not limited to Israel. The Bible records numerous instances of God acting in history to judge Gentile nations for their sins. The sanctions that God threatens against Israel for breaking His covenant and law in Deuteronomy 28 are the very sanctions that God visits on other nations for their sins. This is confirmed in the Bible and in history. So it is with the sanction of giving to a rebellious nation rulers who are mere children in maturity, wisdom, and courage. Throughout history the nations of the world have been ruled by men who are “babes.” The rulers of the nations may have been grown men, but morally and emotionally they were children. The kings of the earth may have had physical courage in battle (though many did not), but were moral cowards when it came to obeying God. The princes of the world may have been wise to do evil, but were devoid of the fear of God and thus fools in regard to truth and justice. History stands as a testimony to the fact that God gives ungodly, idolatrous nations “children to be their princes.” Tyrants are “babes” in the sense of Isa. 2:4, and in His wrath God has given nations over to the rule of tyrants throughout history.

The only time  when men have not been ruled by “babes” is when a nation sought to do the will of God and their rulers were Christian men who ruled in the fear of God. The Lord blesses a nation that seeks Him by giving them wise, courageous, and God-fearing men to be their rulers.

What does Isa. 2:4 say to us today in America? When one considers the kind of rulers we have in our local, state, and national governments the implication is obvious: we are under the judgment of God for rejecting His Son and His law, and He has given “babes to rule over” us! From the president down to our township supervisors, we are largely governed by men (and women; cf. Isa. 3:12) who are the moral and spiritual equivalent of children. They are selfish, foolish, moral cowards who are leading this nation to destruction. They have rejected the wisdom of the Lord and follow the wisdom of their own depraved imaginations. They oppress us with their myriad of regulations and seize the fruits of our labors by excessive taxation. They are cowards who go with the flow of public opinion, and not with the laws of God. 

As a nation we have gotten what we deserve. We have denied the crown rights of Jesus Christ and established man as king in our constitutions. We have rejected the written law of God for “natural law” and human reason. We have decided that there should be no religious test for officeholders and have opened the seats of power to idolators, atheists, and moral perverts. So God has given (by the means of our own votes!) “babes to rule over” us.

Thankfully, there are yet a few God-fearing men in office; and there are some Christian men are seeking office. Perhaps this is an indication that God has not yet cast us off completely. Perhaps there is yet time for repentance for America.

Is America under the judgment of God? Look at Isa. 3:4, look at our rulers, and then draw your own conclusion.


This article was originally published in The Christian Statesman, vol. 141, no. 2, March-April 1998