In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.
Winning approval and favor of rulers is wise. Solomon was a great king, and he prepared the nation for his son to be king, so he used a monarch with absolute authority to teach the lesson (Eccl 12:9). If such a king is angry, you are dead (Pr 16:14; 20:8). If such a king is pleased with you, it is a great blessing, as the proverb here describes (Pr 19:12).
A king’s countenance is his appearance, demeanor, or spirit. A countenance with light is favorable bearing or conduct, as the second clause shows. A king’s wrath can bring a quick death sentence (Pr 16:14). But his approval brings life instead and blessing like the latter rain, which comes just before harvest and finishes a crop with growth and moisture.
Unless stated otherwise, when Solomon wrote about kings, he described a righteous king properly using his power (Pr 20:26; 25:5). Absolute authority is strange or intimidating today, because you have never seen such power, nor have you often seen civil power used righteously. A king with great authority is truly a beautiful sight (Pr 30:29-31).
Wise men pacify angry rulers (Pr 16:14). How? They are tolerant and patient and use gentle speech (Pr 15:1; 25:15). They submit rather than confront (Eccl 8:2-4; 10:4). They win approval and favor of rulers by diligence, faithfulness, submission, and wisdom (Pr 14:35; 17:2; 22:11). Joseph, David, Esther, and Daniel were promoted this way.
The lesson applies to all authority, starting with the first relationship. Children must obey and honor parents (Eph 6:1-3; Lev 19:3; Deut 27:16). Wives are to reverence husbands (Eph 5:33; I Pet 3:1-6). Employees are to honor employers (I Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10). Church members are to esteem pastors (I Thess 5:12-13; I Cor 4:1; Heb 13:7,17).
God ordained authority by infinite wisdom, so disrespect of any sphere of it is rebellion against God Himself (Rom 13:1-2; I Pet 2:13-17; I Sam 8:7). He reserved some of the harshest language of the Bible for rebels (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10). He reserved some of the harshest judgments for those rebels (Num 5:11-31; 16:28-35; II Kings 2:23-24).
There is another King whose wrath or favor means much more. He is the King of kings, even Jesus Christ the Lord. David said, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps 2:12). You shall soon stand before His terrible throne to give an account of your life (Rom 14:10-12; II Cor 5:9-11; Rev 20:11-15). Beg His mercy today! If you please Him, eternal pleasures far better than a latter rain are waiting for you (I Cor 2:9).