13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right. 14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it. 15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favour is like a rain cloud in spring. 16 How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver! 17 The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives. 18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:13-18 NIV)
13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
they value the one who speaks what is right.
What the king values in himself he also values in others, and it is that they speak the truth. As a ruler should deal truthfully, he can only do this when those who help him administrate also deal truthfully. A ruler’s period of office can only be as successful as the honesty of those who work for his government. That is why a ruler values the people who speak the truth.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
but the wise will appease it.
This proverb is linked with the previous one. When a king’s advisor is found to be not telling the truth they incur the wrath of the king and this can lead to a death sentence. It is possible that the king could be mistaken in accusing an advisor. The wise advisor will know how to respond to the king’s anger and appease the king.
15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
his favour is like a rain cloud in spring.
With a wise answer the mood of the king can be changed to cause his face to brighten rather than have an expression of rage. This change of heart can mean life to the one who was previously wrongly accused. The king’s favour is treated like the sign of rain during a hot spring.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!
Wisdom and insight are more precious than gold or silver. The proverb is not teaching that to have gold and silver is wrong. The fact that gold and silver are valued helps make the point that wisdom is worth having. If a choice has to be made it is better to choose wisdom rather than gold. This aspiration is seen in the NT:
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col. 2:2-3 NIV)
17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
We can easily become preoccupied with trying to get through life without having to face problems or difficulties. This proverb shows us that the goal of the Christian life is to get through life without resorting to sin and avoiding evil entering our lives. By avoiding evil, our way is guarded and so our lives are preserved from evil and harm.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
This proverb warns us against pride. Why might destruction follow pride? When we are feeling proud of ourselves, we feel self-confident. When we rely more on ourselves than on God, we will soon go wrong. The same idea is repeated in the second line.
You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. (Ps. 18:27 NIV)
Lord help us to apply ourselves to gain wisdom and insight. Teach us to value wisdom more than earning money. Help us to see how we should apply to our lives what we learn in Your word because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.