Proverbs 20:8

The King Scatters Evil


A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.

A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment

1. Here Solomon pictures the king’s role as Judge.

a. Solomon himself was familiar with this role.

b. There were judges in the land, but when a case was too difficult, they would bring it to the King.

c. Standing before the king for judgment was like standing before the Supreme Court.

d. The king was the last resort for a matter to be resolved; his word was final.

e. It was therefore, a fearful thing to stand before the King.

2. The king is seen on his throne.

a. As such, he is seen as an august, royal, authority and with unlimited power.

b. In this proverb, the king is seen sitting upon his royal throne; and he sits on his throne in his royal robes.

c. As such, it is a fearful thing to stand before the king’s throne of judgment.

d. On his throne he is high and lifted up… and looms large to those standing below.

e. It was a fearful thing to stand before him… especially in that setting.

f. This is especially so since he has the power of life and death.

3. A king sitting upon his throne of judgment was intended to be extremely intimidating to anyone standing before him.

a. I Kings 3:28 – And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

b. After Solomon’s first recorded judgment on his throne, it was said that all Israel FEARED him.

c. After that, people would think twice about trying to fool the king.

The King scattereth away all evil with his eyes

1. The key to understanding this proverb is to know what is meant by the verb “scattereth.”

a. The term can mean scatter, cast away, disperse, spread.

b. The term can also mean to winnow.

c. Winnow, i.e., to use a process to remove husk and chaff from the fruit of cereal grain,

d. Figuratively, used of harming an object as related to the violent action on the husks and grain.

2. The meaning of this proverb hinges on the meaning of the word “scatter”… and each meaning would lead you to a different interpretation.

3. If scatter means to scatter or DISPERSE… cast away, then it seems that Solomon is saying that a king has the power to scare away evil men with one look of his eyes.

a. The king is able to LOOK at criminals and send them running.
• Perhaps you might liken this to a man shining a light into a room full of cockroaches. The light causes them to scatter.
• So a king’s countenance… one piercing look from his eyes can cause evil to scatter.
• Prov. 16:14-15 – The way a king looked at you (his countenance) could mean life or death. (Prov. 19:12)
• This fear in the hearts of men (the fear of facing the king) would often be enough to prevent them from doing evil.
• The awe of his majesty would restrain evil.

b. We might liken this to a parent with several children—each one with a different temperament.
• One child (the bold and fearless one) needs to be spanked five times before it sinks in and he finally repents.
• Another child, (the shy and fearful one) all it takes is one long, piercing, penetrating, severe look, and she melts, cries, and repents. No spanking is needed there.

c. A severe look from an authoritarian figure can be intimidating. It can even scatter evil.
• This can be a helpful technique for parents, teachers, instructors, and government officials.
• It only works when the one standing before the authority figure genuinely FEARS punishment.
• If a parent constantly threatens but never follows through, this technique will not work.
• If a teacher has no control over her class, this will not work. But if she DOES keep her class under control, and the kids know that she means business, and they know that they could be in big trouble, THEN just a severe look will often bring about the desired action: scattering bad behavior… getting rid of it.

d. The king in the proverb was seen in his throne of authority—an intimidating picture.
• There is a clear line of distinction between the king and the subject before his throne of judgment.
• They are not equals. One is the figure of authority, the other is subject UNDER that authority—and they both know it.
• This distinction is necessary in other settings for this principle to work too (parents; teachers; etc.)
• A teacher in a classroom has to FIRST establish his authority before he is able to keep control. If he presents himself on day one as one of the kids—they will walk all over him!
• In that case, an authoritative look will not cause the kids to behave either.
• But where and when that authority IS established, it can often REDUCE the amount of discipline he must actually apply in the classroom.
• The kids will respond to a LOOK and change.
• Often that look can replace a rod.

e. This may be the phenomenon that Solomon is describing in Proverbs 20:8… only not with a parent, but before the King.

4. If scatter means to “WINNOW”, (as I’m inclined to believe) then the proverb takes on a slightly different emphasis.

a. Prov. 20:26 causes me to lean towards that interpretation.
• This proverb is very similar.
• It uses the same word for scatter.
• It also speaks of bringing a “wheel” over them.
• This refers to a threshing wheel… which was used to crush grains in order to separate the husk from the grain.
• Then the grains were winnowed—beaten again with a fan, and thrown into the air, so that the wind would blow away the chaff, and leave only the fruit of the grain on the ground.

b. In light of Prov. 20:26, it seems best to understand the “scattering” of verse 8 to refer to winnowing too.

5. Thus, the meaning would be that the king is not scattering the wicked away, but rather, with his eyes is separating chaff from the wheat.

a. As the psalmist wrote, “the ungodly are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” (Psalm 1:4)

b. Often a king can tell who is telling the truth and who is lying by their demeanor.

c. In other words, the wise king sizes up a situation with his eyes.

d. Of course, it’s not an infallible method, but it is one that judges have used since Biblical times, and still use in court today.

e. Isa. 11:3 – When Messiah comes, He will judge, but NOT like earthly judges. He states that earthly judges judge with their ears (what they hear) and their eyes (what they see).

f. They not only listen to what a suspect says, but they observe his demeanor. Is he believable? Is he acting? Are those tears real? Does he grimace as he sees the picture of the victim? Was that a smirk on his face?

g. A good judge can tell a lot by observing demeanor and body language with his eyes.

h. He can DISCERN not only from what the man says, but by HOW he says it.

i. The judge “winnows” with his eyes… separates the chaff from the wheat… he separates the liar from the one telling the truth.

6. One day we will all stand before the King of Kings.

a. He doesn’t need to judge us by His eyes. He knows our hearts. He knows all things.

b. His eyes are too pure to look upon iniquity.

c. In the last image of the risen Christ in the Bible He is seen with eyes as a flame of fire… (Rev. 1:13-14)

d. He knows all about us… our thoughts, words, deeds, motives, intentions of the heart… and He judges us on that basis.

e. With His eyes He winnows us too…

f. He will separate the chaff from the wheat in or lives too. He will separate all those works were done for self… works done in the flesh… works done for vainglory… works done to be seen of men…

g. He will separate all our works, and burn up the chaff… and we will receive a WELL DONE for those done in the power of Spirit for the glory of God.

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