Proverbs 16:15

ESV In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
NIV When a king's face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.
NASB In the light of a king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.
CSB When a king's face lights up, there is life; his favor is like a cloud with spring rain.
NLT When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain.
KJV In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.

What does Proverbs 16:15 mean?

The previous proverb (Proverbs 16:14) noted that the anger of a king could bring death; a wise person consciously seeks to keep clear of such wrath. Here, the inverse is stated: there are tremendous benefits in gaining the favor of a king. While a king's rage can bring destruction, his approval can bring life. References to a shining face—much like English expressions about someone "beaming"—are indications of happiness (Psalm 31:16) and approval (Numbers 6:25).

Likewise, rain that brings life to crops is considered a blessing (Psalm 72:6). Psalm 126:6 declares, "He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him."

As a general statement, this proverb implies there is good wisdom in "staying on the good side" of those in authority, when it's reasonably possible. This is not a call for believers to be insincere. Nor does it imply believers should compromise their faith for the sake of political influence. Scripture notes that when any earthly power calls on a believer to sin, that authority should be disobeyed (Acts 5:29). The Bible also condemns things like bribery (Proverbs 15:27; 17:23), insincere flattery (Romans 16:18), and other manipulative tactics.

A better way to please authority is through honesty (Proverbs 16:13) and a faithful life. In 1 Timothy 2:1–2 Paul encourages believers to pray for kings and other high-ranking officials. Doing so, he says, enables believers to lead a peaceful, quiet, godly, and dignified life (1 Timothy 2:2).
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