Proverbs 20:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:2, NIV: A king's wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.

Proverbs 20:2, ESV: The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life.

Proverbs 20:2, KJV: The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.

Proverbs 20:2, NASB: The terror of a king is like the roaring of a lion; One who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life.

Proverbs 20:2, NLT: The king's fury is like a lion's roar; to rouse his anger is to risk your life.

Proverbs 20:2, CSB: A king's terrible wrath is like the roaring of a lion; anyone who provokes him endangers himself.

What does Proverbs 20:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Common sense involves the idea of prudence: knowing how to gauge a situation and act accordingly. Not all authority figures are good, and not all they do is right. And yet, a wise person avoids antagonizing them unless it's necessary (Acts 5:29). Solomon compares provoking a king's anger to disturbing a lion. A ruler's anger, or "terror," is a warning much as is the lion's growl or roar. Especially in the ancient world, kings had the power to execute those who made them unhappy (Genesis 40:20–22). In modern contexts, a person can be subject to all sorts of trouble at the hands of angered governments, employers, or other authority figures.

Romans 13:1–5 explains that everyone should be subject to governing authorities, in general, since God established them for a reason. Corruption and abuse can happen, of course, but in general government serves to restrain evil and protect the innocent. While political authorities pass civil laws that should be obeyed, there are also other authority figures to whom we are subject. A father is an authority figure and has the power to punish a disobedient child. A teacher has the authority to instruct his or her students and to give failing grades to those who refuse to learn. A policeman has the authority to arrest lawbreakers. A wise person will not provoke an authority figure to anger unless it's unavoidable.