16 ¶ The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.
To lack understanding is to lack wisdom.
Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
Just a note, things connected by “and” usually have like meanings or are in the same class but sometimes can be opposites based on the context. Notice how Paul uses “abound” in his letters if you have a computer version of the Bible that lets you search words and verses.
Covetousness is idolatry, worshipping things other than God. For instance, placing something in front of you that is more important to you than your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Here, in contrast, it is not being satisfied with what you have.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
To covet is to lust after something that you don’t have.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
The ruler, which is what a prince is, who is possessed by a spirit of covetousness is oppressive. He’s never satisfied and always wants more; whether it be wealth for himself or territory and power. We have seen this many times in history, even over the last century. Leaders like Hitler were never content with any territory they had but always wanted more, living space, as he called it in German.
Let this be a lesson for the average Christian. Be content with what you have if YOU wish to prolong your days. A life of always hungering for that which you don’t have is not the life God has willed for any of us. It is sin.
1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.