“In the light of the king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.” (Proverbs 16:15 ESV)
Proverbs 16 continues to serve as a gold mine of wisdom from a father to his sons. Verses 10-15 are likely intended by Solomon as a discourse on respect for authority and what expectations his children should set for rulers. Inspired by the Spirit, Solomon provides a list of characteristics of a good king as well as advice on how his children should relate to authorities in their lives.
A striking note about this portion of scripture is that the word “king” can be replaced with “the Lord” each time. Like the Lord, the righteous king is just (v10-11), shuns evil (v12), and loves righteousness (v13). Like the Lord, when the king’s face is set against a citizen, wrath and death are sure to follow (v14); but when the king’s face shines upon a citizen, “there is life” (v15).
Solomon wants his sons to be productive and responsible members of society. A major aspect of their citizenship is their submission to and respect for authority, particularly the king. The father’s concern has both practical and spiritual value. Practically, this passage relates a father’s joyful hope that his sons will find themselves in the king’s good graces, live in a society governed by a just ruler, and avoid the troubles that befall lawbreakers. Spiritually, however, these six verses continue a rich stream of theology that Solomon proclaims as truth upon which his children can base their moral decisions. Here, the righteous king is seen as God’s representative. He is a mediator between God and man, carrying out a God-given authority and exercising justice on earth. He protects the people with which he is entrusted. He provides order and discipline. He holds the keys of death and life.
What a beautiful foreshadowing of the Great Mediatorial King, the King of Kings, Jesus Christ! Every aspect of this king’s being applies to our Lord. Jesus is just, is sinless, and rules perfectly! Just as Solomon hoped that his sons received favor from the king, our heavenly Father speaks to us through this passage, reminding his children that we have received, undeservedly, the King’s favor! The same King who will perfectly execute wrath on the day of judgment has caused his face to shine upon us. What a blessing it is to know the light of our King’s face.