Proverbs 19:12

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

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Respect and submission to rulers is a rule of wisdom. They can hurt you badly or help you greatly (Pr 16:14-15). A lion’s roar, audible at over five miles in the African night, causes terror in men’s hearts like an angry king can cause in his enemies. As the dew nourishes grass to grow and prosper, so a king’s favor can bring success. The lesson is a reminder to honor and obey civil rulers and all in authority for the obvious advantages.

If you rebel against a ruler, you are begging for pain and trouble, because he has power and strength (Pr 16:14). Rebellion is as wise as taking on a lion in the night without weapons (Pr 20:2)! Of course, some fools are so arrogant, ignorant, and rebellious that they resist or slander most authority they meet. But their end is as certain as the native caught by a man-eater in the dark! God and men will chew and devour them (Pr 17:11).

If you obey and serve a state or ruler, you secure the peace, protection, and provision that can assist and promote you and your endeavors (Pr 16:15). He can help and nurture you as much as moisture supplies grass with the sustenance necessary for life and growth. Friends in high places are one of the simplest rules of wisdom for your success. It is only pride and stupidity that causes men to squander this opportunity by offending authority.

Honoring and obeying civil government is practically wise. But it is also a law of God. He chose the word gods for civil rulers, and He demands men respect them and submit to them (Ex 22:28; I Sam 24:6; 26:9; Eccl 10:20; Acts 23:5; Rom 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; I Pet 2:13-17). Speaking against political rulers marks a reprobate, and the best cure for such perverts is to put them down like rabid dogs (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10).

What should you do when a ruler is angry at you? Humbly submit with soft answers and correct your errors. Solomon wrote, “The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it” (Pr 20:2). And, “If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences” (Eccl 10:4). And further, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone” (Pr 25:15).

Reader, are you wise in this matter of authority? Beginning with civil government, are you impeccably clear of tax fraud, disrespectful language, or violating any ordinances? Do you also honor and obey your employer, because God expects that as well (I Tim 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; I Pet 2:18-22)? Wife, do you reverence your husband (Eph 5:33; I Pet 3:6)? Church member, do you esteem your pastor (I Thess 5:12-13; Heb 13:7,17)? Child, do you honor your parents, even in your facial expressions (Pr 20:20; 30:17; Eph 6:1-3)?

The rule of wisdom in the proverb applies to all these spheres of authority. If you rebel against the authority, you will be eaten alive! If you humble yourself to respect and obey the authority, you will find favor and blessing from God and men. You do not protect yourself by rebelling against authority: you protect yourself by submitting to authority and securing both the ruler’s favor and God’s blessing. This is wisdom. Learn it!

Authority originated with God. All other spheres of authority are by His appointment and ordinance (Rom 13:1-7). The devil through pride would not submit to God, and he will spend eternity in hell for his rebellion. From the authority of a king down to the authority of a pastor and every office in between, God will defend the offices of authority and the persons in those offices. You are crawling naked through a lion-infested jungle when you oppose God’s appointed authorities. You will be eaten alive! And you will miss the blessing, pleasure, and prosperity of submitting to them by faith and trust in God.

There is also an indirect lesson here. If you are a ruler, you should remember the terror your disapproval causes and the joy your approval brings. Kings must practice mercy (Pr 20:28). Employers must be fair and equitable (Pr 29:21; Col 4:1). Pastors must be true and impartial (Ezek 13:22; I Tim 5:21). A husband should not beat down a wife through bitterness (Col 3:19). Fathers and mothers should avoid destroying a child by critical and overbearing parenting (Eph 6:4; Col 3:21). Consider these reminders well.

Reader, you have a king, even if your nation does not! Nebuchadnezzar, by God’s providence, was the most glorious and fearful king in world history. He changed the religion of his empire and enforced total compliance with the penalty of being burned alive (Dan 3:1-7). He could take dishonest cabinet members or rebellious citizens and chop them into pieces and turn their houses into piles of dung (Dan 2:5; 3:29). But he was nothing compared to the soon arrival of Jesus Christ, the King of kings! Reader, kiss the Son today or perish (Ps 2:1-12; II Thess 1:7-10; I Tim 6:13-16; Rev 19:11-21)!