A Divine Sentence
1. Solomon is speaking here as the King of Israel – a theocracy.
a. We hear much about Islamic theocracies in the Middle East today.
b. Theocracies have NEVER worked… even the theocracy of Israel, which God instituted, had to be torn down as a failure.
c. They failed because of one reason: the king who reigned in the theocracy was a fallen human being with a sin nature!
d. The church is not a theocracy…
• This is one of the errors of the Roman church. They see themselves as a theocracy… a government of God… and their stated goal is to rule the world.
• And not just Rome, but Calvin’s Geneva was a sort of theocracy as well… which did not treat nonconformists very kindly.
• There was a movement a while ago in the Protestant world which attempted to make the church a theocracy by incorporating Mosaic Law… the 10 commandments as the law of the land in the USA… and they became quite vocal in US politics.
e. No theocracy will ever work on earth as long as the one in charge is a fallen human being with a sin nature.
f. Ultimately, a theocracy WILL govern on earth… but the leader will not be a FALLEN human being, but a perfectly sinless and glorified human being: the God-Man, Jesus Christ!
g. He will rule and reign in righteousness… as a king and Judge who just happens to be omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly fair and just… not a respecter of persons…
h. But until Christ returns, theocracies will never work.
i. In fact, they always prove to be cruel, brutal, intolerant, oppressive tyrannies!
j. When a fallen human being believes he has divine authority—look out!
k. Ultimately, the anti-Christ will establish a theocracy with the whole world worshipping him and he will rule as king over the world. Only he not only claims to be God’s exclusive spokesman. He claims to be god!
l. That’s where theocracies apart from Christ are headed.
2. But in this proverb, Solomon is speaking as a human king over a true theocracy God established in Israel.
a. And even though it was not a perfect government (because of ungodly kings, wicked priests, and false prophets)… it WAS God’s means of reigning on the earth in those days.
b. God did REIGN through the nation Israel…
• God was approachable only through their priests…
• God spoke to the people through the prophets…
• God governed the land through the kings…
• God gave them the laws.
• God was King (executive branch); God was Judge (judicial branch) and God was Legislator (Lawgiver).
• It was a true (though not perfect) theocracy through the Davidic line.
3. A divine sentence is in the lips of the king.
a. Of course in this sense, Solomon meant the king in ISRAEL (Not Egypt or in Assyria).
b. The point of this proverb is that when the king of Israel speaks, he speaks with DIVINE authority.
c. Thus, the king is to be OBEYED… in the same way one would obey God… for the king was a divine spokesman.
d. What comes out of the mouth of the king is as if it came out of the mouth of God.
e. This doesn’t mean that kings were infallible, but that they were God’s spokesmen.
f. Deut. 17:18-20 – the king of Israel was EXPECTED to know God’s Word, to speak it, and obey it!
g. When that was the case (as it SHOULD have been always but rarely was)… then a divine sentence was in the lips of the king.
h. The proverb speaks of the way things SHOULD BE… but unfortunately, things were not always this way.
i. I Kings 3:28 – This was true of Solomon.
j. As king in the Davidic line, Solomon’s sons were in line to be king one day. Perhaps he wrote this proverb for them… a perpetual reminder of their position… power… and shepherd for God to use to reign on earth.
4. Solomon uses an unusual term for “divine sentence.”
→ Strong’s: divination, witchcraft. 1a of the nations, Balaam. 1b of false prophets.
→ Dict. of Biblical Languages: four broad classes of divination is 1. The position of stars 2. Speaking with dead spirits 3. Examining animal parts 4. Cast lots for a yes or no answer.
→ Zodhiates: This word described the cultic practice of foreign nations that was prohibited in Israel.
→ Deut. 18:9-11 – in the context of the abomination of the nations. It is strictly forbidden!
→ I Sam. 15:23 – translated witchcraft.
→ Jer. 14:14 – the false prophets used false divination to deceive.
→ I Sam. 28:8 – Saul consulted the witch of Endor to “divine” for him…
→ Ezek. 21:21 – the king of Babylon used this type of divination to determine which way to go… (looking into a liver!)
→ Isa. 3:2-3 – Apart from the proverb, this is the only other passage where the term might be considered used in a good sense… because it is listed with other noble positions.
c. Various translations of it:
→ Divine sentence; divine authority; an oracle; inspired judgments; decision; divination.
→ NKJV has “divination” which is most consistent with its usage elsewhere… but it seems misleading if connected with its other usages.
→ Why Solomon chose to use a word that virtually always appears in such a bad context we don’t know…
→ But it is clear that it appears in a GOOD context in Prov. 16:10.
→ It seems best to me to understand the concept of divination as neutral… neither good nor bad.
→ False prophets and witches used to attempt to contact deities in an evil sense—forbidden by the law.
→ But evidently, the term can also be used of speaking TO God and speaking FOR God in a good sense too.
→ Some have associated this with the casting of lots or the use of Urim and Thummim in the Old Testament.
→ Just as the false prophets and witches sought to contact their deities and be spokesmen for their pagan gods, the King in Israel was to be a spokesman for the true and living God.
5. In Medieval times, this concept was twisted and stretched beyond its original meaning.
a. Read words of King James (1609) – “The Divine Right of Kings.”
b. There was an element of truth to what he said, but he went WAY beyond what God intended…
c. He USED the Bible to support his form of government: hereditary monarchy… and keep himself in power.
1. Again, Solomon is speaking as the King of Israel… and speaking of the way things SHOULD BE in the theocracy.
a. Since the king of Israel is to be a spokesman for the true and living God, it is important that he sin not with his mouth!
b. It is vital for a king and judge NOT to transgress in his judgments…
c. They were to be fair; equitable; just; righteous; execute blind justice; for ALL the people…
d. When they did so, they WERE spokesmen for God… and a divine sentence would be decreed.
e. When a king or one in authority was acting as a JUDGE, they were not to sin or transgress. They were to execute JUSTICE. (Deut. 25:1)
2. Prov. 16:13 – he was not to sin in his judgments, but his lips were to speak forth righteousness… justice…
3. Of course, there is no theocracy today… and kings and presidents do not use divination today.
a. But we CAN make application to today.
b. I Tim. 2:1-2 – we should PRAY for those in power in this land that their sentences and decrees would be in harmony with God and His Word.
c. Rom. 13:1, 4 – we should also remember that in a sense, kings and rulers ARE ordained of God and are ministers of God used of the Lord to execute a sense of justice in the world today.
d. There is a sense in which rulers today DO speak as oracles of God… because it is the law of the land… and believers are to OBEY the law of the land.
e. This holds true for ALL kings: the president of the US; the Saudi family; the Prime Minister of Egypt and Israel; and even Saddam Hussein when he was in power!
f. This is not to equate any of this with a legitimate theocracy, but there is a sense in which ALL human governments are an extension of God’s control over the earth today.
g. Therefore, we are to show respect for all that are in authority… whether we voted for them or not! Whether we agree with their policies or not…
h. Respect and submission to those in authority are to be hallmarks of believers today.
i. When the king speaks or the legislators enact a law, we are to respect it and obey it as if it came from God Himself…
j. Acts 5:29 – of course, there is an exception! We ought to obey God rather than man… where man’s law violates God’s law.
k. But otherwise, we are to obey the laws of the land… whether we like the law or not; whether it is a wise law or a foolish law…
l. We may not respect the character of the person in the position of authority, but we should show respect for the office that he holds: a minister of God!
m. God uses even those ministers to accomplish His purposes.
4. Solomon wrote this as a reminder for generations of kings to follow in his line, on the importance of them ruling in wisdom… and righteousness… as spokesmen for God.