Proverbs 24-26 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great

From Proverbs 24-26

20 21 Solomon Proverbs Ecclesiastes thumbToday’s passage speaks about how people behave in the presence of the king. Some seek out his heart. Some seek to undermine his rule and authority. Some put themselves forward in his presence. Others are raised up. How would you present yourself in the presence of the king?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Today’s passage distinguishes itself from other portions of Proverbs.

25 These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied. (Prov 25.1)

The introductory note of 25:1 defines the collection which follows as “proverbs of Solomon which the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah copied.” It marks the ensuing verses as an appendix to the sayings that have preceded them. It seems likely that the group of sayings in 25:2–27 once constituted a self-contained, independent collection. This is comprised of an introduction in vv. 1–5, two main sections in vv. 6–15; 16–26, and a conclusion in v. 27. (Clements, R.E., 2003. Proverbs. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 458.)

2 It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.

3 As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.

4 Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; (Prov 25.2-4)

The sayings are about searching out wisdom. Seeking, learning and applying wisdom to everyday life.

How do you search for concealed wisdom?

‘The heart of kings is unsearchable’. The expression applies to the LORD. Only the LORD’s heart spans from the heavens in height to the earth in depth. The search to understand the LORD’s heart is a noble one because what one learns may be applied to serving and pleasing him. But its impossible to fully understand the LORD.

‘Take away the dross from the silver’. Wisdom and understanding of true value must be distinguished from that of no value.

5 take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.

6 Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great,

7a for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble. (Prov 25.5-7a)

The three verses concern being in the presence of the king.

‘Take away the wicked from the presence of the king’. The verse suggests the wicked have an unhelpful influence on the king and his rule. Take away the wicked and the kings rule will be established. The saying applies to everyday people as well.

‘Do not put yourself forward’. Many try and seek the favour of the king by bragging about themselves and putting others down.

The saying instructs its listeners to be humble. To wait for the king to raise them up to a better position.

7b What your eyes have seen 8 do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?

9 Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret,

10 lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. (Prov 25.7b-10)

These last verses of our passage relate to the law court and disputes among people.

‘Do not hastily bring into court’. In the heat of the moment it is sometimes difficult to see what justice really is. Better to think things through and try and resolve the issue peacefully with your opponent before going to others who may rule against you.

The saying encourages people to try and work through their differences first, hoping to keep a positive relationship.

The saying highlights what may happen if a dispute is brought before others hastily. In the event it works against the accuser, they will not only have the ruling against them, but they will be maligned publicly for doing so.

Story of Jesus

‘Do not put yourself forward in the presence of the king.’ (Prov 25.5) ‘It is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower.’ (Prov 25.7) Jesus draws upon the wisdom of old in the gospel.

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,

8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.

11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 14.7-11)

How would you present yourself in the presence of the king?

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