Proverbs 20:2– “The fear [terror; dread] of a king is as the roaring [growl] of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger [alienate; pass beyond God’s Law] sinneth [offends; harms; forfeits] against his own soul.”
Proverbs 20:2 is a Common Sense lesson in Prudence: Don’t provoke a roaring lion [i.e. king] unless you are ready to face the consequences. In Solomon’s day, human authority was embodied in the person of the king.
The character of the king might be such that he garners no respect; however, his position as an earthly sovereign is providentially entrusted to him by God and to be feared and revered (Romans 13:1-4). The prophet Daniel observed, “[God] removeth kings, and setteth up kings…” (Daniel 2:21). A wise man fears and respects the authorities God has providentially placed in his life (Romans 13:1b, 5). To unnecessarily provoke the wrath of an authority and become victim of his rage is foolish [as foolish as provoking a roaring lion].
Solomon continues instructing his son in the judicial exercise of authority in Proverbs 20:28. Notice that a people’s respect for authority rests upon two pillars: Mercy and Truth.
Proverbs 20:28 – “Mercy [loving kindness; favor; goodness] and truth [firmness; certainty] preserve [keep; guard; protect] the king: and his throne [seat of judgment] is upholden [established; strengthened; sustained] by mercy [loving kindness; favor; goodness].”
A righteous king dispenses justice that weighs Truth [the letter of the law and its demand] balanced with Mercy [judgment tempered with compassion]. One might think a harsh, impassioned judgment by an authority figure reflects strength and garners respect; however, Solomon taught his son that judicial restraint that imparts judgment with mercy endears the king to his people.
I close with a brief challenge: Whether a parent, boss, or an employer—make sure when you pass judgment you are both just and right!
Copyright 2015 – Travis D. Smith