July 14th 2018 – Proverbs 16:10-15

An oracle is on the lips of a king;
    his mouth does not sin in judgement.
A just balance and scales are the Lord's;
    all the weights in the bag are his work.
It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
    for the throne is established by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
    and he loves him who speaks what is right.
A king's wrath is a messenger of death,
    and a wise man will appease it.
In the light of a king's face there is life,
    and his favour is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.

Proverbs 16:10-15

These verses have reference to kingship and power, and throughout the idea of authority bestowed by God upon rulers is in view. We begin with an ideal for rulers (10). The RSV gives 'Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king', and this underlines the point that is being made, namely that in his official capacity the king speaks as one ordained by God (cf Romans 13:1). In this respect, his word is to be regarded as having authority. But, by implication, the words must also mean that this is what God requires him to be: in giving sentence, his mouth must not be unfaithful. Since the king is the ultimate court of appeal, he must see to it that that ultimate court of appeal is a just one, not unjust. People must be sure that when they get through to the top, they will find an impartial judgment (for a similar emphasis see 2 Samuel 23:3ff). The theme of law and justice is next applied to trade (11). When justice is held sacred at the top, it will insist that its sanctity will reach right down to grass roots level. Justice is God's, and therefore to violate it with false balances is to violate Him and sin against Him. The reason why doing evil is so serious for a ruler is that evil in them does something to the very structure of society itself. Given a righteous king (13), this will be his desire, to have right people around him. What a challenge for all who are in authority. In 14 and 15 we again have the idea of final authority: the king is the final court of appeal, and if that court is against us, it is all up with us; if it is for us, all will be well. And if this is true with respect to earthly rulers, how much more is it true with respect to the King of kings. Let us keep in with Him, this is our highest wisdom!