What does Proverbs 16:12 mean?
ESV: It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.
NIV: Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.
NASB: It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, Because a throne is established on righteousness.
CSB: Wicked behavior is detestable to kings, since a throne is established through righteousness.
NLT: A king detests wrongdoing, for his rule is built on justice.
KJV: It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
Verse Commentary:
This passage depicts the proper attitude of rulers and kings. As with earlier verses (Proverbs 16:10), this proverb phrases an obligation as a statement of fact. Just as a modern contract might say, "the buyer will provide payment," this is not a prophecy about what the person will do. This is a declaration of what the person is expected to do. Kings, in this case, should abhor evil actions and make godly conduct a cornerstone of their rule (Proverbs 8:12–15; 29:14).

Commitment to good and distaste for evil should influence a king's rule over his kingdom. Evildoers are a threat to a peaceful and prosperous reign (Proverbs 14:34). Honesty in kings and their subjects contributes to the success of their kingdoms. Psalm 72 cites a prayer in which the psalmist begins by asking, "Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!" (Psalm 72:1–2).

Although the kingdom of Judah enjoyed some reigns by righteous kings, all the kings had their faults. Only Jesus is perfect. He never sinned, and someday He will rule the earth in righteousness. Isaiah 9:7 predicts the righteous rule of Jesus, Israel's Messiah, by stating: "…on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 16:10–15 continues Solomon's wise observations. This group of proverbs includes several touching on "kings;" these principles can be applied to other government leaders or authorities, as well. The passage describes ideals regarding leadership and discusses the relationship between rulers and their subjects.
Chapter Summary:
This part of Solomon's proverbs emphasizes human motives, self-control, and common sense. Many of these proverbs are arranged in a two-part style. The first and second half of these statements make the same basic point, but from opposite perspectives. Notable verses are verses 9 and 33, speaking of God's sovereignty, and verse 18, a famous warning about arrogance. Also often cited is verse 25, which repeats Proverbs 14:12 and encourages self-reflection.
Chapter Context:
A lengthy list of Solomon's wise sayings began in chapter 10. Chapter 16 begins a section mostly composed of comparisons and completions. It extends to Proverbs 22:16. Man's thoughts, speech, motives, and conduct are examined in this chapter. The chapter also addresses pride, evil, and injustice.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:51:45 AM
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