Proverbs 16:12

Righteousness and the Throne


1. There are two possible ways to understand the words of Solomon in this verse.

2. The proverb states that the committing of wickedness is an abomination to kings. The wording is such that it is unclear concerning WHO is committing the wickedness: the king himself or his subjects.

a. The KJV translation implicates the king.

b. Other translations implicate the subjects as the guilty parties.

3. Of course, it is possible to understand the words in a general sense too: that regardless of WHO the guilty party is, it is an abomination to kings… to commit it or to tolerate it.

4. The two thoughts are certainly both true and both fit the context. But obviously, Solomon meant only one thing when he wrote.

12a It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness:

A. It is an abomination for kings to COMMIT wickedness (themselves)

1. Wickedness Defined:

a. Strong’s: wrong; unrighteousness; (as violence and crime against civil law).

b. Dict. of Bib. Lang. – evil, injustice, i.e., a state or condition of evil, with a focus on the violation of moral or civil law by evil deeds.

2. Usage of the Term Wickedness:

a. Psalm 10:2 – Treasures of wickedness profit nothing.
• Here it speaks of money gained through illegal activity… breaking the laws of the land.
• You might accumulate a great treasure of stolen goods, but in the long run, there is no real gain…
• There is no gain in this life, especially if you get caught!
• There is certainly no gain when you stand before God and give an account.

b. Psalm 5:4 – For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
• Here the term speaks of that which is contrary to God’s nature. God is a Lawgiver… a righteous God.
• God has no pleasure with those who commit this kind of wickedness. The Lawgiver has no pleasure with lawbreakers!
• Unrighteous behavior and criminal activity brings no pleasure to God. It is contrary to His nature… It will not dwell with Him.

c. Psalm 45:7 – God hates wickedness…
• This only follows, since it is so contrary to His nature.
• It is a good idea for US to hate wickedness… lawlessness… those who violate the civil laws of the land. They are in place for a reason!

d. Psalm 141:4 – Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
• A king or one with such great power would have many temptations in this area.
• Here the psalmist PRAYS that his heart would NOT be inclined to or attracted to such wicked works… unrighteous and illegal behavior… and the “dainties” associated with it.
• Note that the psalmist may not have been concerned that he would actually COMMIT such wickedness. But he wanted his HEART to be pure… clean… and not even be attracted to such things.
• Those who keep their hearts with all diligence (like the psalmist) will also keep themselves from committing such wickedness.
• God hates it. The psalmist also hated it… but he did not trust his fallen heart and knew that his heart could be attracted towards such things. Hence, the prayer!
• Young drug dealers drive around in fancy cars and wear $300.00 dungarees and $200.00 sneakers… (their dainties). This can be quite appealing to young people today. It might look COOL.
• PRAY that your heart would not be inclined in that direction. Pray that you too would HATE wickedness in all of its ugly forms.
• There IS a pleasure and an attraction to sin… especially since it offers short term dividends (dainties).
• Don’t look at the dainties of sin. Keep your eyes upon the Lord who hates it… and pray for that kind of hatred.
• Wickedness is an abomination!

e. This is the kind of wickedness of which Solomon writes: evil, illegal, unrighteous, criminal behavior.

3. Abomination:

a. Defined: detestable thing; repulsion, i.e., an object which is loathsome and abhorrent.

b. Injustice and crime in the land were to be considered an abomination…

c. It was loathsome to God and should be loathsome to the people too.

d. Deut. 7:26 – abominations (context = idols) were NOT to be brought home; they were to be utterly detested by God’s people.

e. Hollywood seems to glamorize unrighteous behavior, immorality, and even crime.

f. Wickedness should be detestable to the believer.

4. Solomon states that for KINGS to COMMIT wickedness is an abomination.

a. A king is expected to behave properly… to obey the laws of the land.

b. He is to UPHOLD the law… it is especially abominable if he is secretly VIOLATING the law with criminal behavior.

c. It is an abomination for presidents to commit wickedness!
• During the 1960’s and 70’s, there was much distrust of government, especially over the war in Vietnam. When it was later discovered Richard Nixon, the president was involved in illegal activity and lying to the public… it further undermined the confidence of many people in the government. It took a long time to restore that trust. (a decade later Ronald Reagan got the country waving the flag again…)
• In the 1990’s the scandalous behavior of President Clinton was another kind of abomination to our nation… It eroded even further the moral underpinnings of our country.

d. Wickedness on the part of leaders does much more damage than wickedness committed by an average citizen.

e. The same is true in the local church.
• It’s bad enough when a church member steals money, gets drunk, or commits adultery.
• But let it be the pastor and it will be all over the newspapers…
• In addition, it undermines the faith of some…

f. Wickedness and crime are always abominations, but never more so when committed by leaders.

g. In the theocracy, character, integrity, and morality in a king were much more important than being photogenic, having a Harvard education, media savvy, or a magnetic personality.

5. This warning was especially poignant for monarchies, because they wielded so much power in one man!

a. Prov. 16:11 – Their word was a divine sentence… they spoke with the authority of God!

b. Ecc. 8:4 – Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?

c. When a man had THAT much power, look out!

d. It was doubly important that such power be accompanied by righteousness… integrity… or a monarchy turns into tyranny!

e. Solomon was passing on this important truth to his sons… in line for royal power.

f. Raw power unmitigated by righteousness and justice could ruin a nation… an abomination for kings!

B. It is an abomination for kings to TOLERATE wickedness (in their kingdom)

1. Prov. 25:5 – Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.

a. Cf. vs.26 – He will not tolerate evil in his royal court!

b. It is an abomination if he does tolerate evil!

2. Prov. 17:15 – A king who justifies wickedness is an abomination.

a. Whether he justifies wicked practices OR justifies having wicked men rule with him… God hates it.

b. Hence, the second interpretation of this Proverb has Biblical Support.

12b For the throne is established by righteousness.

1. Throne: seat; used figuratively of his right and authority to reign.

2. Established: to be firm, be stable, steadfast, fixed, supported, secure.

3. The king who operates on the principle of honesty and justice will discover that honesty and justice will ESTABLISH his throne and secure his rule.

a. Righteousness and justice are the BASIS for the FOUNDATION for any government.

b. When people feel they are being treated fairly, they normally respond well and support the government.

c. When they are not being treated fairly, the government is not supported… not established… weakened…

4. Prov. 20:26 – A wise king will not tolerate wickedness in the land, but will bring swift justice. This will establish his throne.

5. In other words, it makes good political sense for a king to be honest and just in all his dealings.

a. The people will respond well to that. (Prov. 29:14)

b. He is less likely to be overthrown… for him to be hated and assassinated… for the people to rebel against him.

c. People usually respond well when treated fairly, equally, and justly. (Prov. 24:23–26)

6. And in the theocracy, God blessed such reigns.

7. Those who surround the king (appointed to official positions) are also to be just and fair.

a. II Chron. 19:6-7 – officials were to be God-fearing men.

b. They were to be:
• God fearing men.
• Not to be men pleasers in decision-making, but to do what was RIGHT, regardless of what was popular… not moved by opinion polls but by truth.
• Honest and pure: for there is no iniquity with God.
• No respecters of persons (no cronies; no bias; no prejudice).
• No taking of bribes (no kickbacks; not influenced by personal greed).
• Prov. 29:4 – The king by judgment establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it.
• Leaders who surround themselves with unrighteous men damage their own government.

c. To apply this to today, leaders are not to be influenced by popular opinions, by powerful people, uninfluenced by money, and were to be color blind, class blind, non partisan, and to do what is right and just… regardless of how hard it is or how popular it is.

d. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? PRAY for those in positions of power in our country!

8. Psalm 101:2-8 – David was such a king who surrounded himself with honest, just, and righteous men.

a. David determined to have only upright men serve with him in the royal court.

b. He knew that the throne was established by righteousness.

c. Therefore, he determined that he himself would be righteous; and he determined that only the righteous would he call to serve with him.

d. People have no respect for a corrupt government. They will not support it… and given the opportunity, they would overthrow it… or take power to themselves.

e. Hence, it is wise for a king to be fair, just, equitable, honest, and sincere with his people.

f. That strengthens the throne… and the nation.

g. Pray for our country!