For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
The history of Israel and Judah points up a truth taught clearly enough by all history—that the masses are or soon will be what their leaders are. The kings set the moral pace for the people.
Israel sometimes rebelled against her leaders, it is true, but the rebellions were not spontaneous. The people merely switched to a new leader and followed him. The point is, they always had to have a leader.
Whatever sort of man the king turned out to be the people were soon following his leadership. They followed David in the worship of Jehovah, Solomon in the building of the Temple, Jeroboam in the making of a calf and Hezekiah in the restoration of the temple worship.
It is not complimentary to the masses that they are so easily led, but we are not interested in praising or blaming; we are concerned for truth, and the truth is that for better or for worse, religious people follow leaders. A good man may change the moral complexion of a whole nation; or a corrupt and worldly clergy may lead a nation into bondage. The transposed proverb, “Like priest, like people,” sums up in four words a truth taught plainly in the Scriptures and demonstrated again and again in religious history.
The rewards of godly leadership are so great and the responsibilities of the leader so heavy that no one can afford to take the matter lightly.