posted on May, 10 2019 @ 05:00 PM
“In a multitude of people is the glory of a king, but without people a prince is ruined” (Proverbs ch14 v28).
The collector of the Old Testament Proverbs makes his purpose clear from the beginning.
“That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight” (ch1 v2).
Then he further defines this wisdom as “fear of the Lord” (v7). This phrase, when used in the Bible, means respect and willingness to obey.
I’m studying the different characters of Proverbs, as one way of organising and understanding the teaching.
The King’s office does not make him either righteous or wicked, in itself, and everything depends on the nature of the individual.
The power which belongs to the king is comparable with the power that belongs to God, so that it’s equally dangerous to displease them;
“My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not disobey either of them; for disaster from them will arise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that will
come from them both” (ch24 vv21-22)
It is also said that “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it” (ch16 v14), and the wrath of a king is “like the
growling of a lion; he who provokes him to anger forfeits his life” (ch20 v2).
But if the king is good; “In the light of the king’s face there is life, and his favour is like the clouds that bring the spring rain” (ch16
Therefore it’s appropriate to be very cautious in dealing with a king, even if he’s not angry;
“As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, so the mind of kings is unsearchable…
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great; for it is better to be told ‘Come up here’ than to be put
lower in the presence of the prince” (ch25 vv3-7).
This is a saying which Jesus appears to have adapted.
Companionship with a king is a dangerous exercise even when he appears to be friendly;
“When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Do
not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food”- (ch23 vv1-3).
The worst kind of ruler is a wicked one;
“Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people” (ch28 v15).
This is because he does not respect the need for justice;
“When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases; but the righteous will look upon their downfall” (ch29 v16).
“It is not for kings to drink wine…lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted” (ch31
But the righteous king will be dispensing true justice;
“Inspired decisions are on the lips of the king; his mouth does not sin in judgement” (ch16 v10).
There’s a close relation between the righteousness or otherwise of the kings and the righteousness or otherwise of their servants.
A bad king will make his servants equally bad;
“If a ruler listens to falseness, all his officials will be wicked” (ch29 v12), a conclusion which highlights the connection between
untruthfulness and unrighteousness.
“Fine speech is not becoming to a fool; still less is false speech to a prince” (ch17 v7).
Conversely, bad servants will have a bad effect on the king, and a wise ruler will get rid of them;
“Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel.
Take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness” (ch25 vv4-5).
On the other hand, a just ruler will be pleased to see justice in his servants;
“Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right” (ch16 v13).
“A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favour, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully” (ch14 v35).
The righteous ruler will drive away wickedness from the land;
“A king who sits on the throne of judgement winnows all evil with his eyes” (ch20 v8).
“A wise king winnows the wicked and drives the wheel over them” (ch20 v26).
He follows the advice which Lemuel received from his mother;
“Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, maintain the rights of the poor and needy” (ch31 vv8-9)(
So the people can feel the difference between a righteous ruler and a wicked ruler;
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule the people groan…
By justice a king gives stability to the land, but one who exacts gifts [bribes] ruins it” (ch29 vv2-4).
The just king will also be ensuring his own prosperity;
“A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days” (ch28 v16).
“Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king, and his throne is upheld by righteousness” (ch20 v28).