Proverbs 16:14-15

from
An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs
by
Charles Bridges

"As messengers of death is the king's wrath,
but a wise man will appease it.
In the light of the king's face is life,
and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain."

The vast power of a king is here developed in a graphic picture of Eastern despotism. Life and death are in his hands. His will is law. Every sign of his wrath--even the frown of his face or the word out of his mouth--is a messenger of death. The despot issues his order, and the executioner performs his warrant without delay or resistance. No common wisdom was needed to pacify his wrath. Jonathan appeased his father's wrath. Daniel pacified the outrageous autocrat of Babylon. What a blessing, in contrast with this tyranny, is our own constitution! Such an admirable counterpoise between the power of the people and the caprice of the sovereign! The just authority of the crown is preserved without invading the due liberty of the subject.

The king's favor marks the same absolute power. The restoration of Pharaoh's butler to his place was as "life from the dead." The captive monarch, Jehoiachin, found renewed life in the light of Evil-Merodach's countenance. Nehemiah's depression was cheered by Artaxerxes' kind manners and still kinder indulgence. And was not the golden sceptre held out to Esther as the reviving cloud of the latter rain, the security of the joy of harvest?"

But think of the King of kings, before whom the mightiest monarch is as dust. How much more is his wrath to be dreaded as a messenger of death! The kings themselves will fly to the rocks in vain for a shelter from its fury. Wise indeed is the man who pacifies it. What owe we to that blood which speaks our peace? Sinner, before it is too late, listen to the pleading call: "Be ye reconciled unto God." And then whose wrath need he fear who knows that God is propitious to him?

For truly, if in the light of the earthly king's countenance, much more in his favor, is life (Ps. 30:5). One smile scatters the thickest cloud and brings gladness infinitely more than all the treasures of earth, refreshing as the latter rain. "Christ lives," said the noble Luther, "else I would not desire to live one moment."

Bitter and deep as your sorrow may be, dear Christian, above all your troubles dread the clouding of your Lord's countenance. Watch every moment to obtain a glimpse of it. Seize every leisure to exchange a word or a look. Count every moment of separation irksome to yourself. Above all, look and hasten to that time when you shall walk up and down in the unclouded light. "Let the splendor of that day irradiate my soul," writes Bishop Patrick, "even at this distance from it, and leave no space void of its light and comfort. Yes, let it eclipse all other joys, and by its glistening beauty cause the small contentment of this world to be as so many glowworms, which shine only in the night. Impress on my heart such a lively sense of thee, and of thy glory, that I may sooner forget myself than thee and thine appearing."

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