The history of nations is that they come and go. They rise and enjoy a time of power. Then they crash and fade into oblivion, only to be read about in history books. Analysts have sought to understand what causes such things. They like to find out what creates a world superpower. What are the dynamics that cause one nation to boom and another to bust?
It tells us what many scholars have come to find out only after long hours of dissecting data. It all comes down to this: A nation will stand or fall based on its growth in population.
If a nation has a population that is growing, then it will be a nation that thrives in every way—economically, militarily, and culturally. If it there is a downturn in the number of its citizens, then it is going to be a nation in decline. Growing pains indicate that there is something systemically wrong with the country.
In sum, when it comes to the international scene and who will be the head among the nations, it comes down to sheer numbers. And this passage simply tells us that the future belongs to the fertile.
I. A King’s Honor
The passage starts out by saying that “In the multitude of people is the king’s honor.” Literally it says that the multitude is the king’s ornament. You know, a king is known for his crown. It is that regal piece of apparel—that ornament—that distinguishes him with the honor of his royalty.
This passage is saying that masses of people are the real distinguishing honor of a king. The more people the more glorious will be his reign. As these citizens multiply, his rule will become greater and greater. His kingdom will become stronger and more powerful.
Think about it this way: The more people you have in your kingdom, then the more resources you will be able to cultivate. It isn’t hard to understand that people are your greatest resources. They are economic producers and consumers. And when you get a whole bunch of them together in one place, then you have an economic boom. Prosperity is the natural outcome of productivity. And when you have a lot of people teeming together in one place, you are going to have a lot of productivity. Economic prosperity and a buzzing GDP is the natural consequence of swelling population density.
Of course, this puts those objections that people make about overpopulation to rest. From time to time you hear the scare that the world is becoming too crowded. A number of years ago there was one such man named Thomas Malthus. He said that the world has limited resources and that if we have too many people, then that won’t be a king’s glory. He said that would be a problem. All these people would use up all the resources and the nation would essentially dry up. And people have used that as a way of trying to limit population growth.
But here you see that such a notion is wrong. People are not a problem. They are not going to cause a nation to shrivel up. A growing population is going to cause it to thrive. They are going to produce and expand technology so that there are more resources at their disposal to make more things.
The future belongs to the fertile. And any nation that wants to get ahead should recognize that the key is simply size.
But the contrary is true too. The proverbs are great because they express the most simple syllogism. If a, then not a. If this is true, then this is not true.
If the basis of a nation’s power and greatness lies in a growing population, then it follows that a nation that has a birth dearth is going to have problems. That’s going to be a nation that is in decline.
II. A Prince’s Destruction
The proverb says, “In the want of a people is the destruction of a prince.” You will notice that this isn’t language that is restrained in any regard. It is the destruction of a nation. The prince is going to fall because his kingdom is going to implode.
If you study nations you will find that this is the rule. They normally collapse because of one main factor: they strangle themselves. They cut off their main supply of prosperity because they are not reproducing at the same levels. And as they go through this birth implosion, they eventually experience an implosion of their whole culture. Their economy implodes. Along side that their military force begins to dwindle. All the forms of power and strength begin to fade.
Since they are no longer producing babies, they are no longer able to produce a stable culture.
What essentially happens is that the nation loses the will to live. And it is only a matter of time before she fades into oblivion.
Let me give you a few examples. The ancient empire of Greece is a good one with which to begin. Now, it took a while, but eventually the ancient Grecian Empire dwindled down to nothing. It once was a mighty nation. Alexander the Great came by that name honestly. He conquered vast lands and his empire stretched from Europe all the way over to what is now India and China. And that empire was quite the thing in its heyday. But eventually it started to burn out.
Part of it was because they began to say that the population levels were too high. They went through an overpopulation scare. So they started to encourage people to have fewer children. They encouraged perversion and homosexuality, just so they wouldn’t have as many children. And it wasn’t long before the birthrates started to plummet. And then along came this little group that called themselves Romans, and they basically ran over the Greeks. The Grecian Empire couldn’t stand against them because their country had burned out.
Some of you might find it unbelievable, but there was a time when France was the greatest nation on earth. During the Medieval period, with the Carolingian Dynasty and the like, the Frankish nation really started growing. It was one of the most populous territories in Europe. As a result, they became the dominating power of the world. France was the leader of the world when it came to culture, power, wealth, technology, military advancement and so forth. But again, the lights eventually went out.
I think a lot of that is because France sided with Rome during the Protestant Reformation, and then they embraced the Enlightenment. I think that sent them into a downward spiral from which they have never recovered. Their population shrunk immensely.
At the time of the Reformation France was one of the most ardent persecutors of Calvinists. Thousands of French Huguenots were exterminated. Thousands more left the country. King Louis XIV was perhaps the single biggest persecutor. He alone is said to have killed almost a million French Huguenots. That is a serious ding to one’s country. That alone put the country at a serious decline.
Then, without much of a strong Christian base, France embraced the Enlightenment. That eventually led to the French Revolution. Some of you may know that the French revolution is renowned for the guillotine and the blood that seemed to flow in rivers.
By the 1860’s Germany’s population exceeded France’s. And Germany would have taken control of Europe and become the dominating power of the time. Except there was this rising power called America that they had to contend with.
America’s story is rather amazing. In 1790 the population of America was just under 4 million people. By 1900, the population was over 75 million. The population had been increasing by over 30% each decade since its inception. Not only were people flocking to America from every corner of the earth, but people were having babies. In 1800 the average family had seven children. (That’s your average family!)
So again, you can see what our passage is talking about. The nation with the most people wins. The future really does belong to the fertile.
You know, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. This proverb is only describing what happens when we obey God’s commands. In the very beginning God said, “be fruitful and multiply.” You know, this was the very first command—even before the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree. Our Lord gave us the mandate to have children and to be mass producers. And when we heed that command, we should only expect—as with all his other commands—that he will bless us and cause his face to shine upon us. Becoming a lead country is only the natural outgrowth of being a country that fears God and loves children.
But, of course, this is why we need to be aware of the state of things on this Sanctity of Life Sunday. The world is experiencing a great deal of turbulence. Every day we hear stories of economic upheaval and how certain nations are on the brink of complete collapse. The European Union is virtually in the toilet. Greece and Spain are in the throes of death and the rest of the European countries are not far behind. That’s because those nations have a birth rate that is tanking. Chief among their problems—and boy they have problems in excess—but chief among them is that their numbers are plummeting. They are shrinking and growing old because they are not reproducing.
Much of the western world is going through much the same thing. America too is not what she used to be. Our population continues to grow, but it is not in the same proportions that it used to be when our nation was on the rise and coming to dominate the world.
As a matter of fact, this past census raised a lot of eyebrows because it showed that the population growth in America has slowed significantly. It is now growing at a snail’s pace of 7%. And experts have noted that the growth that did occur in the last decade was mainly due to immigration. Analysts say that this should be a cause for warning because a nation cannot sustain itself by immigration only. I even came across one article that said that France has a higher birth rate than America now. In 2011 America’s birth rate dropped to 1.9, which is not even at replacement levels anymore.
Our nation is losing the will to live. With a birth rate of 1.9, you can’t survive. Our nation is on the decline. The lights are going out. And they will continue to do so if we do not begin to take a different view of children.
Today we grieve 40 years of legalized abortion in our country. We have now been killing our populous for a whole generation, and that in staggering proportions.
In all, surgical abortions number just over 1.2 million a year, a total population loss of 53 million since 1973. And we recognize that number only includes surgical abortions that we can count. There is no way to keep a tally on the vast numbers of children that are lost due to the abortifacient power of the birth control pill and the so called “morning after pill.” Some estimate that the total number of children that are lost each year could reach as high as 10 million (1.2 million surgically aborted, 5 million aborted through the morning after pill, 3 million through “the pill.”). When compared to the fact that America has only 4 million births per year, we see that our nation is putting a knife to its throat.
Accompanying this grievous day are two items of significant regret and sorrow. First is the announcement of Planned Parenthood in their annual report, which came out just a few days ago. In their latest statistics they boast having performed over 300,000 abortions— a number that turns out to be 1 abortion every 94 seconds. The second item of deep concern is that tomorrow the most aggressively pro-abortion president that America has ever had will be sworn into office for his second term.
We might also add that our own state has expressly rejected the desire to prosper. This congregation is familiar with the fact that our leaders in Columbus had the opportunity to almost put a complete end to abortion in our state. They have failed to do so. For this reason Ohio’s economy will continue to be one of the worst in America.
We recognize that there is little to no glory for our kings and princes. When it comes to the macro level, we will continue to go the route of all the kingdoms of man. We will, like Greece and France, gag ourselves and commit suicide as a nation.
But there is good news. Though the macro scene be bleak, there is hope for us here on the micro level. We can recognize that there is a kingdom that will never die out. There is a king who has honor and glory in excess because his dominion is ever increasing.
The kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is advancing and becoming the greatest of nations. It is true, we do not see its full power or glory. But we know that Christ continues to populate his kingdom every day. And one day it will stand as the chief among the nations. All the nations of the earth will come to nothing, and the kingdom of Christ will stand with a multitude so great that it cannot be counted.
We have the great privilege of being a part of that kingdom. And because we do, we operate according to its principles. Instead of living by the scalpel, we do our best to continue to love and heed the command to “be fruitful and multiply.”
We have heard it said that “They will know we are Christians by our love.” We might rightly sing, “They will know we are Christians by our family size.” They will know we are Christians by the way we continue to populate our communities and our church.
On this day, may we renew our commitment to Christ and continue to seek his glory. May we add honor to his name by our commitment to raising up godly seed.
 Swanson, Kevin. The Book of Proverbs: God’s book of wisdom.
 Lois Collins, Desert News. America’s Population now lower than France’s
 Ben Wattenburg, Rise and Fall of Nations.
 Penny Star. Planned Parenthood’s annual report:
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.