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13 The delight of a king[a] is righteous counsel,[b]
and he will love the one who speaks[c] uprightly.[d]
14 A king’s wrath[e] is like[f] a messenger of death,[g]
but a wise person appeases it.[h]
15 In the light of the king’s face[i] there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds[j] of the spring rain.[k]

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  1. Proverbs 16:13 tc The MT has the plural. Two Hebrew mss, the LXX, Syriac, and Targum read “a king.”
  2. Proverbs 16:13 tn Heb “lips of righteousness”; cf. NAB, NIV “honest lips.” The genitive “righteousness” functions as an attributive adjective. The term “lips” is a metonymy of cause for what is said: “righteous speech” or “righteous counsel.”
  3. Proverbs 16:13 tn The MT has the singular participle followed by the plural adjective (which is here a substantive). The editors of BHS wish to follow the ancient versions in making the participle plural, “those who speak uprightly.”
  4. Proverbs 16:13 sn The verse is talking about righteous kings, of course—they love righteousness and not flattery. In this proverb “righteous” and “upright” referring to what is said means “what is right and straight,” i.e., the truth (cf. NCV).
  5. Proverbs 16:14 sn This proverb introduces the danger of becoming a victim of the king’s wrath (cf. CEV “if the king becomes angry, someone may die”). A wise person knows how to pacify the unexpected and irrational behavior of a king. The proverb makes the statement, and then gives the response to the subject.
  6. Proverbs 16:14 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
  7. Proverbs 16:14 tn The expression uses an implied comparison, comparing “wrath” to a messenger because it will send a message. The qualification is “death,” an objective genitive, meaning the messenger will bring death, or the message will be about death. E.g., 1 Kgs 2:25, 29-34 and 46. Some have suggested a comparison with the two messengers of Baal to the god Mot (“Death”) in the Ugaritic tablets (H. L. Ginsberg, “Baal’s Two Messengers,” BASOR 95 [1944]: 25-30). If there is an allusion, it is a very slight one. The verse simply says that the king’s wrath threatens death.
  8. Proverbs 16:14 tn The verb is כָּפַר (kafar), which means “to pacify; to appease” and “to atone; to expiate” in Levitical passages. It would take a wise person to know how to calm or pacify the wrath of a king—especially in the ancient Near East.
  9. Proverbs 16:15 tn Heb “the light of the face of the king.” This expression is a way of describing the king’s brightened face, his delight in what is taking place. This would mean life for those around The proverb is the antithesis of 16:14.
  10. Proverbs 16:15 tn Heb “cloud.”
  11. Proverbs 16:15 tn Heb “latter rain” (so KJV, ASV). The favor that this expression represents is now compared to the cloud of rain that comes with the “latter” rain or harvest rain. The point is that the rain cloud was necessary for the successful harvest; likewise the king’s pleasure will ensure the success and the productivity of the people under him. E.g., also Psalm 72:15-17; the prosperity of the land is portrayed as a blessing on account of the ideal king.

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