Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 19:12
"The king's wrath is like a roaring lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass"
This proverb compares various actions in relation to an authority and what the reaction will be like. It is a reminder that staying within the boundary of acceptable behavior is a wonderful thing and crossing a God-given authority is a difficult road.
All of us have independent ideas and desires. Those independent ideas and actions should be thought through for their consequences. Too many people just launch into doing what they want to do without regard for what will happen if they do something.
Solomon is asking us to stop and think about the consequences of our actions before we plow ahead. Do you want someone roaring at you or do you want the gentleness of dew in the morning to mark your life?
This is the Hebrew word zaap which means angry, indignation, enraged. There is also the idea of strong anger to the place of outbursts.
This is the word melek which means king. Solomon is using this as authority or leadership. When someone is in position of leadership or authority, they have the characteristics of a king. They have authority over the conduct and direction of the people beneath them.
Solomon is trying to teach people how to be leaders and how to be followers. This lesson seems simple enough, but many in our culture do not understand it. The lesson is: do not needlessly upset those in authority over you for if you do, you will start a storm brewing that will not in any way be pleasant.
I watch as teens, employees, and citizens ignore this advice and gain a whole heap of trouble just because they wanted to do something that they knew would upset their authority. This is unwise. Then often they blame the authority for getting so upset.
the roaring of the lion
A lion roars when it is trying to scare its prey in a certain direction or after it has captured its prey and as it is feasting upon it. The roar is designed to bring fear. Solomon seems to be saying: Do you want to live in fear? If you don't, then think through what you are doing. This is one of the lost arts in our day and age – how to adapt oneself to an authority. It means finding out what it is that causes them to get upset and avoid that type of behavior. We all seem to want to do whatever we want and not have any authority be displeased with anything unless it is strongly illegal. But every authority that you live under has preferences and things that they dislike. It is these sub-legal things that will really make or break your relationship. Learn what they are and avoid the negative ones.
favor like dew on the grass
In the Middle East, one of the strongest ways of talking about blessing is dew on the grass. This, in Israel, was a symbol of God's favor upon the nation. Solomon borrows this culturally-laden symbol and says that the blessing of those in authority over you will come to you if you think through what they want you to do rather than what would get them upset.
Solomon is just pointing out a difference in environment that each individual gets to choose. You choose which set of behaviors you do. You choose whether you live with blessing and favor or anger, wrath, and fear. It may seem like this is just the way they are, but Solomon reminds us that you choose. Choose wisely. You are not a victim; you are a free moral agent. Choose with your actions the best environment to live in. Choose to adapt to your authority rather than the way of independence and anger.