Proverbs 16:15

The King’s Favor


This next section is ROYAL… Solomon begins to speak about kings… their power and responsibility.
1. vs. 10 – the sentence of a king
2. vs. 12 – the wickedness or righteousness of kings
3. vs. 13 – the delight of kings
4. vs. 14 – the wrath of a king
5. vs. 15 – the favor of a king

15a In the light of the king’s countenance is life;

A. The Power of a Sovereign Monarch

1. This part of the proverb tells us of the absolute power that the monarchy had in ancient times.

a. The word of the King was law.

b. He had the power to execute anyone he wanted.

c. The king had no fear of being taken to court for breaking the law. He WAS the law.

d. He had no fear of an investigation into his actions.

e. There were no watchdog groups overseeing his power.

f. He was the law. If he said, “off with your head,” your head came off.

g. There were no checks and balances in a monarchy.

2. A monarchy is the BEST form of human government the world has ever seen… the absolute power of a monarch.

a. This is the form of government God will use to rule the world in the Messianic Kingdom… absolute monarchy.

b. The problem with a monarchy (or any form of government today) is the fact that those running the government are sinners!
• Sometimes kings were wicked and vile men—like Ahab.
• Sometimes kings were godly men—like David.
• The best of kings… the best of men are still sinners!
• Ps. 39:5 – “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”
• That’s why man will NEVER bring in the kingdom through our own efforts.

c. But in the kingdom, the King will be the Lord Jesus Christ!
• He will rule and reign in righteousness! The first king ever who was at the same time both human and sinless!
• Isa. 11:1-5 – Isaiah describes the perfect reign of Christ…
→ He will be an omniscient, omnipotent, infinitely holy, righteous king who knows the hearts of all men.
→ He doesn’t judge by His natural eyes or ears. He doesn’t need to see evidence or hear witnesses testify. He KNOWS all things!
→ He knows the wicked and has the power to slay or execute every criminal in the land.
→ He is righteous—just—fair to everyone… and faithful… consistent… never wavering.
→ The very BEST form of human government is a monarchy with a benevolent king like that!
→ And we are going to SHARE in Christ’s reign over the earth!

3. But we don’t live in the Messianic Kingdom with Christ reigning, and neither did Solomon.

a. Solomon and his readers lived in a cursed earth.

b. Even the very BEST of kings were still sinners by nature.

c. David, the best king Israel ever had, did not always execute justice in the land.

d. II Sam. 11:15 – He used his absolute power to have Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, murdered to cover up his sin of adultery. His men carried out his orders, no questions asked.

e. The best of earthly kings have abused their powers on occasion.

f. And as you go down the scale from benevolent to wicked (from a David to an Ahab)… the abuse of power gets worse and worse.

B. The Power of Life and Death

1. Prov.16:14 – When a king was ANGRY, it meant death!

a. We saw other examples of the power of kings to execute at will last week.
→ 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!
→ 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!
→ Pharaoh changed his mind and his butler’s position changed from death to life!
→ Esther 3:8-13 – The king wrote a document and mandated genocide against the Jews… They fell out of his favor, and he had an edict for them all to be slaughtered throughout the Persian Empire.
→ Esther 4:11 – The golden scepter was held out to Esther when she entered the king’s presence. Without his favor, she would have been executed.
→ Later, the Jews came into his favor, and instead of being killed, they were protected… all because a king changed his mind.
→ Esther 7:8-10 – King Ahasuerus turned against Haman and he was hung.

b. Life and death were in the hands of the king.

C. The Countenance of the King

1. If the king had a favorable countenance towards you, it meant life.

2. If a king had an unfavorable countenance towards you, it often meant death!

3. Nehemiah 2:1-3 – Nehemiah was the king’s cupbearer. He spent much time in the king’s presence.

a. When Nehemiah was sad before King Artaxerxes, and the king noticed, he was afraid.

b. A servant was never to appear sad or upset before the king.

c. Esther 4:2 – for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.

d. In doing so, he might convey to the king that he was unhappy in his service for the king… or unhappy with reign of the king… or with the king himself!

e. This kind of action (even one’s facial expressions!) could put his position in jeopardy, or even his life! Kings were fickle… suspicious… and extremely insecure…

f. Therefore, those in royal courts did whatever they could to keep the king HAPPY. Nobody wanted to be the source of discomfort or unhappiness in the king… for that could spell disaster for them.

g. Nehemiah was afraid that his own unhappy countenance might result in an unhappy countenance on the king… and that would mean trouble for Nehemiah… perhaps even his life.

h. In the royal court, you wanted the king to have a cheerful, happy countenance at all times…

4. Prov. 20:28 – A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

a. In other words, the countenance of a king SCARED people!

b. If evil men thought that the king was frowning at them -that would be enough for them to either change their evil ways or get out of town! They knew what a frown from the king meant!

c. All the king had to do was scowl at people… and they got the message!

d. The countenance of the king was carefully read by all.

e. They were all afraid to get on his bad side…

5. Prov. 16:13 – Here Solomon gives advice to folks as to HOW to keep the king happy… something that will cause their countenance to lighten up: righteous lips.

a. Kings delighted in those who spoke that which was right… whose word could be trusted.

b. Kings had many people out to trick them… lie to them… cheat them… deceive them… get something from them…

c. When they came upon someone they could trust, they delighted in that.

15b And his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

1. Deut. 11:14 – the latter rain was beneficial and valuable because it meant that the crops would survive… it meant health, prosperity, a good harvest.

a. Throughout the year, rains were usually quite light.

b. But the latter rain, near the end of the harvest time, the rains were heavy.

c. Those heavy rains filled the fruits and brought them to maturity.

d. They were necessary for growth, for life, and a productive harvest… health and prosperity… growth and life.

e. Without the latter rains, the crops would wither and die. That’s how needful they were.

2. A king’s favor is like the cloud of the latter rain.

a. When you saw the rain cloud, you knew that rain was on its way! Soon your dry fields would be blessed!

b. When you saw the smile on a king’s face, you knew that he would favor your request: you were about to be blessed… as opposed to being executed—which is far better!

c. Prov.19:12 – the king’s favor is like dew upon the grass. So very beneficial and needful, especially in a dry and thirsty land. This is a similar thought. Refreshing!

3. Solomon wrote these words as a warning to his servants and to his subjects.

a. Solomon KNEW how fickle and erratic kings could be; and how unfair and unjust their actions towards subjects often were.
• Solomon observed monarchs. He was familiar with kings from around the region. He grew up in royal circles.
• Solomon was wise enough to know that since thrones were inherited; men who sat on them were not always wise… and were not always fair… or kind.
• Those who inherited the throne were often spoiled brats who were used to getting whatever they wanted… and if someone rubbed them the wrong way, they would pay for it!

b. It is likely that Solomon observed monarchs… and the way they treated people.

c. Solomon knew of the fickle ways of kings… the mood swings of kings… and this was written to give WISDOM to subjects in their dealings with such men.

d. He wanted to warn the people against incurring the wrath of a king… for the good of the people!

e. Thus, Solomon wanted his subjects and subjects of future generations to know the VALUE of staying in the good favor of the king… BECAUSE they were not always wise, kind, or fair… and often behaved poorly.

f. This would be for the personal benefit of subjects wise enough to take his advice.

4. Since kings (and others in positions of authority) have such power over us, we would do well today to do what we can to stay in their favor.

a. Thankfully we don’t live in a land with an evil monarch reigning with absolute power.

b. But we are STILL affected by the favor of those in authority, so we should PRAY.

c. Christians may not REMAIN in the favor of the government forever. Things could change rapidly.

d. We are favored presently with the freedom to meet; freedom to evangelize; freedom to print and distribute Christian literature; and we are favored with a tax free status as an organization… and no property taxes.

e. We truly ARE in the favor of our government today… but that could change.
• The king (Congress and President) have the power to change that in a hurry.
• The Supreme Court could change all that with one decision!
• Pray for the lady being nominated to be the next Justice.

f. Prov. 21:1 – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”
• Therefore PRAY! Pray to stay in their favor.
• And if we fall OUT OF favor, God can change the mind and heart of political leaders…
• Give GOD the glory for the favor we enjoy!

5. And if Solomon was concerned for his subjects to experience the favor of the earthly king’s countenance shining brightly upon them, how much MORE care and concern should we have for the countenance of the King of kings?

a. Num. 6:22-26 – This was part of Israel’s blessing… they understood the countenance of God as an expression of His favor and blessing towards them.

b. Ps. 42:5 – I shall praise Him for the HELP of His countenance… especially when discouraged. His countenance lifts up our souls.

c. Ps. 4:6 – There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.

d. Ps. 30:5 – For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

e. Ps. 89:15 – Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.