but a wise person appeases it. 4
so is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 10
1 sn This proverb introduces the danger of becoming a victim of the king’s wrath (cf. CEV “if the king becomes angry, someone may die”). A wise person knows how to pacify the unexpected and irrational behavior of a king. The proverb makes the statement, and then gives the response to the subject.
2 tn The comparative “like” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is implied by the metaphor; it is supplied for the sake of clarity.
3 tn The expression uses an implied comparison, comparing “wrath” to a messenger because it will send a message. The qualification is “death,” an objective genitive, meaning the messenger will bring death, or the message will be about death. E.g., 1 Kgs 2:25, 29-34 and 46. Some have suggested a comparison with the two messengers of Baal to the god Mot (“Death”) in the Ugaritic tablets (H. L. Ginsberg, “Baal’s Two Messengers,” BASOR 95 : 25-30). If there is an allusion, it is a very slight one. The verse simply says that the king’s wrath threatens death.
4 tn The verb is כָּפַּר (kapar), which means “to pacify; to appease” and “to atone; to expiate” in Levitical passages. It would take a wise person to know how to calm or pacify the wrath of a king – especially in the ancient Near East.
5 tn Heb “the light of the face of the king.” This expression is a way of describing the king’s brightened face, his delight in what is taking place. This would mean life for those around him.
sn The proverb is the antithesis of 16:14.
6 tn Heb “cloud.”
7 tn Heb “latter rain” (so KJV, ASV). The favor that this expression represents is now compared to the cloud of rain that comes with the “latter” rain or harvest rain. The point is that the rain cloud was necessary for the successful harvest; likewise the king’s pleasure will ensure the success and the productivity of the people under him. E.g., also Psalm 72:15-17; the prosperity of the land is portrayed as a blessing on account of the ideal king.
8 tn The term “like” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.
9 sn The comparison uses animals that are powerful, terrifying, insensitive, and in search of prey. Because political tyrants are like this, animal imagery of this sort is also used in Dan 7:1-8 for the series of ruthless world powers.
10 sn A poor nation under the control of political tyrants who are dangerous and destructive is helpless. The people of that nation will crumble under them because they cannot meet their demands and are of no use to them.