Proverbs 16:14

The Wrath of a King

The wrath of a king is as messengers of death:

A. The Wrath of a King

1. It’s bad enough getting your average Joe angry at you.

a. Joe can cause you trouble if he really wanted to.

b. Joe could make life uncomfortable for you.

c. But what Joe can do to you is limited.
• If he hits you and harms you physically, he can be prosecuted.
• If he takes your goods away without permission, he can be prosecuted for stealing.
• If you keep your nose clean, there’s not a lot that Joe can really do against you.
• If you are an honest, law abiding citizen, the law is on YOUR side. (Rom. 13:3-4a)
• The law will protect you against Joe and others like him.
• If Joe DOES harm you, Joe will have to pay! He may have to pay you back financially, or he may pay by spending time in prison.
• For the most part, the threat of the government’s sword keeps all the Joes of the world in line… and protects us from them.
• So thank God for the government… because there are Joes out there who would steal your house, your property, and every last penny you own if they could!

d. If Joe gets angry at you, he is limited in what he can do against you because he doesn’t have much power or authority.
• As long as we are upright, the law is on our side.
• This is by God’s design. He is the Author of human government.

e. Rom. 12:18 – It’s better not to get Joe mad at you in the first place. Live peaceably with all the Joes of the world if you can.

2. As uncomfortable as it is to have an average Joe angry at you, it is far worse to have a KING angry at you!

a. And kings DO get angry!
• Dan. 3:13 – Nebuchadnezzar went into a rage, and Daniel’s 3 friends were cast into a fiery furnace.
• II Kings 6:31 – The king of Israel was angry at the famine (which he blamed on Elisha) and so determined to have him decapitated!
• I Sam. 20:30-33 – King Saul was angry at Jonathan… and threw a javelin at him! His own son!
• II Chron. 16:10 – King Asa was angry at Hanani the prophet, and had him cast into prison… and oppressed the people too!
• Matt. 2:16 – King Herod was angry when he realized that the wise men tricked him, and he had all the babies under 2 years old killed!

b. Prov. 19:12 – It can be like the roaring of a lion. (ready and able to devour!)

c. We have lots of examples in the Bible of angry kings.

B. The Messengers of Death

1. And WHEN kings get angry, they are UNRESTRAINED in unleashing their anger.

a. When Joe is angry at you, the law of the land RESTRAINS him in executing his wrath against you.

b. When the king is angry at you, he IS the law of the land!

c. Thus, he can do whatever he wants… and when people are in a rage, what they want to do is quite nasty and cruel!

d. Kings do some very bad things to people when they are angry… from casting them into prison to casting them alive into a fiery furnace! From decapitation to slaughtering babies! From oppressing the people to attempted murder on their own son!

e. Restrained wrath is bad enough. But unrestrained wrath—look out!

f. Unrestrained governmental power is often a messenger of DEATH… (messenger usually translated “angel”)

g. In other words, it is like sending out the Angel of Death that flew over Egypt before it was destroyed!

2. Think of some of the awful edicts from kings and dictators who hold absolute authority…

a. The leader of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas was angry at a segment of Cambodians and slaughtered between 1.5 and 2 million of them!

b. Saddam Hussein was angry at the Curds… and had thousands of them gassed.

c. This past century has had no shortage of angry dictators who have unleashed their wrath against others.

d. When kings or others holding power get angry, that wrath can be unleashed fiercely, brutally, and without the slightest bit of compassion for human suffering…

e. Fortunately, in this country, we have to explain what this proverb means.
==> But in many other lands around the world, it needs no explanation.
==> Iraqis know exactly what Solomon meant. So do those in Saudi Arabia… and Afghanistan… North Korea… Iran…

But a wise man will pacify it.

1. Solomon presents a fact in the first part of the proverb: an angry king means DEATH!

a. It is an undeniable fact… the Bible gives us many examples.

b. The rest of human history gives us countless other examples.

2. In the second part of the proverb Solomon states that wise men will take note of this truth and ADJUST their behavior.

a. Wise men will try to PACIFY the anger of a king.

b. Pacify defined: cover over; to atone; to make atonement for; to bring about reconciliation.

c. A wise man will do whatever he can to appease the king’s anger… to make atonement for the cause of the king’s anger… bring reconciliation…

d. A wise man will not stand up and defy the king; he is not to try to win a debate with the king; he is not to make demands of the king; he is not to poke holes in the king’s case; or discuss the flaws in his logic.

e. There may be many flaws in the king’s thinking; but when he is in a rage is not the best time to discuss them!

f. People with absolute power who are in a rage, are not thinking clearly to start off with.
• Perhaps on reason will prevail later…
• But when he is angry… the best route to take is acquiescence… compliance… submission to his authority… and seek reconciliation… recognizing his authority and yielding to it.
• A soft answer is best. A humble “Yes sir, whatever you say sir” is best.

3. Consider the example of Daniel.

a. The king was angry because the wise men would not tell him his dream.

b. He was about to kill all the wise men in Babylon. (Dan. 2:12)

c. Of course, the king’s expectations were completely unrealistic and unreasonable; his decision to kill all the wise men was extremely foolish (what a brain drain!); he was not thinking rationally.

d. How did Daniel deal with this angry king? (Dan. 2:15-16)
• Daniel told the king to just give him a little time and he would do whatever he wanted… I will show you the dream.
• Daniel did not tell the king that his expectations were unreasonable; he did not tell the king that his decision to kill the wise men was foolish.
• Though I’m sure Daniel THOUGHT those things… he was wise enough not to speak his mind. Silence is often wise.
• Dan. 2:48 – instead of experiencing the king’s wrath, Daniel was greatly rewarded and promoted.
• Daniel pacified the foolish king… and instead of being decapitated, was exalted!

4. And this is good advice not just for those who report directly to a king… but to all of us as we deal with those in authority over us… (bosses; teachers; policeman; city planning boards; dog catcher; etc…)

a. People with ANY amount of authority can make life miserable for us if they get angry.

b. When they are angry, pacify them! That is not the best time to question their authority… or question their wisdom… or question their plans…

c. Let the anger pass, if it will.

d. Don’t grab a tiger by the tail! You will only exacerbate the problem and make them MORE angry… and perhaps more unreasonable… and perhaps more brutal!

5. This is especially good advice as a CHURCH.

a. As a church, we are under the authority of the government of the USA, the state of NH, and the town of Salem.

b. I have heard of Christian groups that have stirred up trouble with the government… and they give us all a bad name.

c. Some have defied the tax laws; environmental regulations; city codes, etc… and have seen themselves ABOVE the law. (“We are under God’s law not man’s!” is their foolish cry!)

d. As believers, we are to obey ALL man-made ordinances “for the Lord’s sake!”

e. The town of Salem has been very gracious with us… and quite reasonable thus far… because we have always done what they told us to do.

f. But if we ever decide to get a little huffy over their rules and regulations, and start questioning them or their authority… they could get angry at us.

g. And if they get angry at us, they could make life miserable for us… they could force us to put up a fence; take the steeple down; make us put in a sprinkler system; widen Ermer Road, restrict what we can do here…

h. When the local authorities speak… and especially if they are angry, we should say, Yes sir, whatever you say sir.”

i. The best thing is to not GET them angry in the first place. But if for some reason they DO get angry, PACIFY it pronto!

6. Prov. 20:2 – Provoking a king to anger is a sin against oneself! Suicide!

a. Solomon speaks of the FOLLY of provoking a king to anger. It is suicide.

b. Provoking ANY authority to anger is foolish.

c. If you are a student, and you have been assigned a teacher, it is foolish to get the teacher angry at you. You have to LIVE with that teacher the rest of the year or the rest of the semester. Even if the teacher is unfair or unreasonable… pacify their anger. Don’t fight against it. It is a losing battle.

d. If you are a worker, it is foolish to get the boss angry at you. You too have to live with that boss for a long time. Reconciliation is always the best.

e. When a person in a position of authority shows a lack of wisdom… or is unreasonable… don’t provoke them to anger by POINTING OUT their folly!

f. That results in bad news for you! It may not be an angel of death, but you may be marked more severely in the class… you may not get a promotion you otherwise would…

g. Is it fair? Of course not… but there are a lot of things in life that are not fair.

h. Solomon’s advice: Get used to it… and adjust to those in authority. Don’t give them any cause to get angry at you!

i. They may not be fair; they may not be just; they may not be reasonable; they may not be honest; they may not be wise; but they DO have authority…

j. Solomon’s inspired advice is: learn to live with them. Don’t buck their authority… pacify them.

k. We have a similar American proverb: You can’t fight city hall!

l. Therefore, don’t fight; you will only get them more angry… and even more unreasonable.
• Learn to get along.
• Be tactful… be courteous… be respectful… be diplomatic… acknowledge their authority…
• A wise man will pacify the wrath of one who is in authority…

Back to Top

Back to Proverbs Ch. 16 Index

Back to Main Proverbs Index