Proverbs 16:10

A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.

Political science in the Bible? Indeed! Written by a king for a king – Solomon to his son! Will you mine the gold from this vein? It will take work. Learn what most politicians have not. Here is wise advice for civil rulers and indirectly for any person in authority.

Before explaining and applying the inspired lesson here, it is necessary to rule out what Solomon did not intend. The right sense of each verse of scripture must be found (Neh 8:8), and it is best found by rightly dividing statements such as this (II Tim 2:15).

The bare terminology here is absolute – not allowing exceptions – but rather declaring a universal rule. The proverb says: the king speaks for God by declaring perfect judgment. The reader must determine what king is considered and how he achieves such perfection.

First, the proverb is not an observation of life or historical fact about civil rulers in general, for earthly kings have not fulfilled its description. Even David and Solomon, the wisest of kings, violated this standard, though at times they spoke with inspired wisdom.

Second, the proverb does not teach God’s sovereign use of civil rulers. When a king sins, God’s secret will is fulfilled (Pr 21:1; Deut 29:29; Dan 4:17; Is 10:5-15); but that is not implied here, for it removes practical value and conflicts with other monarchial proverbs.

Third, the proverb is not an obscure reminder to honor civil rulers as God’s ambassadors, though that is a rule of wisdom (Rom 13:1-7; I Pet 2:13-17), for the strong language says too much for such a limited explanation with many exceptions (Dan 3:16-18; Acts 4:19).

Fourth, the proverb is not a prophecy of Jesus Christ, though He is a King that perfectly fulfills this description of perfect godliness. While convenient, if this were the case, Solomon forsook his stated goal in writing and included a proverb lacking useful value.

So what is the sense and lesson? This proverb is not political history of what is, but rather political wisdom for what should be, making it an instructive charge for politicians. The proverb is here in a chapter and book with rules for monarchial success to exhort kings to their sacred duty – to represent God without compromise or error in their office.

What king is considered here? Not any specific king by name, but rather a good and godly king, a noble and righteous king, which Solomon desired his son to be. How does the king achieve the description? By great purpose of heart and preparation in reigning!

The proverb has an ellipsis hiding its sense (Pr 1:6). It only describes righteous kings, intending to be understood as, “A divine sentence is in the lips of a good king.” A similar ellipsis of good is seen elsewhere (Pr 18:22; 15:10,23; Eccl 7:28). Other proverbs about kings confirm this explanation (Pr 14:35; 16:12-13,15; 20:8,26,28; 22:11; 25:5; 29:4,14).

David and Solomon were two great kings, with glorious reputations (II Sam 14:17; I Kgs 3:28). Yet their lips spoke profane things, and they perverted judgment (II Sam 11:14-17; 23:3-5; I Kgs 11:1-11). Solomon’s proverbs, many dealing with politics, were to instruct his son to be a faithful and wise ruler of Israel. You may also take lessons from this king.

Here is political duty. Here is what a king should purpose to do, by God’s help. And to this end God’s people will pray for rulers (Ezra 6:10; Jer 29:7; I Tim 2:1-3). Imagine if the politicians of the world were to even taste of this approach to their jobs – their nations would greatly increase in justice, prosperity, and peace – but alas, they have been fed the immoral drivel and twaddle of modern humanistic educators totally void of real wisdom.

Wisdom depends on the fear of God (Pr 1:7; 9:10; 15:33), and it is instructed by the word of God (Ps 19:7-11; 119:130). A wise king, trembling before God’s word, would have a divine sentence in his lips, for his judgments would reflect God’s will (Deut 4:5-8; Pr 8:6-21). Therefore, God ordered the kings of Israel to have the scriptures always before them (Deut 17:18-20). And civil rulers today would benefit from the same requirement!

All authority is from God, Who ordained five spheres of human rule – parents, master or employer, husband, civil ruler, and pastor or spiritual ruler. Every ruler’s highest goal should be to represent God in his judgments (Rom 13:1-7; I Cor 4:1-4; Eph 6:4; Jas 3:1). And every subject’s constant thought should be to submit to God’s ordained authority, for in so doing they honor God, further an orderly society, and obtain peace themselves.

Instead of criticizing or condemning civil rulers ignoring this wisdom, or grieving because they do, what are you doing in your authoritative roles? Every man (or woman) in a position of authority should also commit to perfect justice, as representing God Himself in their sphere of authority, whether as parent or pastor. God will be glorified, those under your care will benefit and prosper, and you will enjoy its fruits (Pr 16:20).

The only way this high standard of judgment can be upheld is by careful study of the Bible, which has the final answers for all matters (Pr 22:17-21; Ps 119:128; Is 8:20; II Tim 3:16-17). Prepared with God’s word, a man may speak as the oracles of God (Rom 3:1-2; Heb 5:12-14; I Pet 4:11). If a man puts total trust in God, He will give him this proverb’s wisdom (Pr 3:5-6; 16:3; I Sam 10:9; I Kgs 3:5-14; Ps 119:98-100; Jas 1:5).

There is only one truly righteous king (II Sam 23:1-5; Ps 45:6-7; 89:19-37; Jer 23:5-6). A divine sentence is in His lips, and He never transgresses in judgment. He rules the universe, and He is coming soon to judge the world. He is the Blessed and Only Potentate. He will declare: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41). Kiss the Son, lest He be angry! (Ps 2:10-12.)