The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as dew on the grass.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Proverbs 19:12. The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion — The words of a king in anger are as much to be feared as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass — Any token of his favour and kindness is as comfortable as the dew which refreshes the grass and herbs, parched by the hot beams of the sun.Jeremiah 4:17; and Nero by the Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 4:7; and the rage of such is very dreadful, as Ahasuerus's was to Haman. Jarchi interprets the king, of the holy blessed God. It may be applied to Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah; who is said to cry with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth; and whose wrath is terrible to wicked men, and even to the kings of the earth, Revelation 5:5;
but his favour is as dew upon the grass; which refreshes and revives it, and causes it to grow and flourish: and so the favour and good will of a king to his subjects delights them, and causes joy and cheerfulness in them; and such an effect has the love of God and Christ on the children of men, Hosea 14:6.The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. as dew upon the grass] Comp. Proverbs 16:15; Psalm 72:6.Verse 12. - The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion, which inspires terror, as preluding danger and death. The same idea occurs in Proverbs 20:2 (comp. Amos 3:4, 8). The Assyrian monuments have made us familiar with the lion as a type of royalty; and the famous throne of Solomon was ornamented with figures of lions on each of its six steps (1 Kings 10:19, etc.). Thus St. Paul. alluding to the Roman emperor, says (2 Timothy 4:17), "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." "The lion is dead," announced Marsyas to Agrippa, on the decease of Tiberius (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 18:06, 10). The mondist here gives a monition to kings to repress their wrath and not to let it rage uncontrolled, and a warning to subjects not to offend their ruler, lest he tear them to pieces like a savage beast, which an Eastern despot had full power to do. But his favour is as dew upon the grass. In Proverbs 16:15 the king's favour was compared to a cloud of the latter rain; here it is likened to the dew (comp. Psalm 72:6). We hardly understand in England the real bearing of this comparison. "The secret of the luxuriant fertility of many parts of Palestine," says Dr. Geikie ('Holy Land and Bible,' 1:72, etc.), "lies in the rich supply of moisture afforded by the seawinds which blow inland each night, and water the face of the whole land. There is no dew, properly so called in Palestine, for there is no moisture in the hot summer air to be chilled into dewdrops by the coolness of the night, as in a climate like ours. From May till October rain is unknown, the sun shining with unclouded brightness day after day. The heat becomes intense, the ground hard; and vegetation would perish but for the moist west winds that come each night from the sea. The bright skies cause the heat of the day to radiate very quickly into space, so that the nights are as cold as the day is the reverse.... To this coldness of the night air the indispensable watering of all plant life is due. The winds, loaded with moisture, are robbed of it as they pass over the land, the cold air condensing it into drops of water, which fall in a gracious rain of mist on every thirsty blade. In the morning the fog thus created rests like a sea over the plains, and far up the sides of the hills, which raise their heads above it like so many islands The amount of moisture thus poured on the thirsty vegetation during the night is very great. Dew seemed to the Israelites a mysterious gift of Heaven, as indeed it is. That the skies should be stayed from yielding it was a special sign of Divine wrath, and there could be no more gracious conception of a loving farewell address to his people than where Moses tells them that his speech should distil as the dew. The favour of an Oriental monarch could not be more boneficially conceived than by saying that, while his wrath is like the roaring of a lion, his favour is as the dew upon the grass." רצון (ration), "favour," is translated by the Septuagint, τὸ ἱλαρόν, and by the Vulgate, hilaritas, "cheerfulness" (as in Proverbs 18:22), which gives the notion of a smiling, serene, benevolent countenance as contrasted with the angry, lowering look of displeased monarch.
And the mass of friends belongeth to him who gives.
The phrase 'חלּות פּני פל signifies to stroke the face of any one, from the fundamental meaning of the verb חלה, to rub, to stroke, Arab. khala, with which the Heb., meaning to be sick, weak (viribus attritum esse), and the Arabic: to be sweet (properly laevem et politum, glabrum esse, or palatum demulcere, leniter stringere, contrast asperum esse ad gustum), are connected (Fl.). The object of such insinuating, humble suing for favour is the נדיב (from נדב, instigare), the noble, he who is easily incited to noble actions, particularly to noble-mindedness in bestowing gifts and in doing good, or who feels himself naturally impelled thereto, and spontaneously practises those things; cf. the Arab. krym, nobilis and liberalis (Fl.), and at Job 21:28; parall. אישׁ מתּן, a man who gives willingly, as אישׁ חמה, Proverbs 15:18, one who is easily kindled into anger. Many (רבּים, as Job 11:19) stroke the face of the liberal (Lat. caput mulcent or demulcent); and to him who gives willingly and richly belongs כל־הרע, the mass (the totality) of good friends, cf. Proverbs 15:17; there the art. of הרע, according to the manner of expression of the Arab. grammarians, stood for "the exhaustion of the characteristic properties of the genus": the friend who corresponds to the nature (the idea) of such an one; here it stands for "the comprehension of the individuals of the genus;" all that is only always friend. It lies near with Ewald and Hitzig to read וכלּה רע (and every one is friend...) (כלּה equals כלּו, as Jeremiah 8:10, etc.); but why could not כל־הרע be used as well as כל־האדם, perhaps with the sarcastic appearance which the above translation seeks to express? The lxx also had וכל הרע in view, which it incorrectly translates πᾶς δὲ ὁ κακός, whereby the Syr. and the Targ. are led into error; but מתּן is not one and the same with שׂחד, vid., Proverbs 18:6. On the contrary, there certainly lies before us in Proverbs 19:7 a mutilated text. The tristich is, as we have shown, vol. i, p. 15, open to suspicion; and the violence which its interpretation needs in order to comprehend it, as a formal part of 7ab, places it beyond a doubt, and the lxx confirms it that 7c is the remainder of a distich, the half of which is lost.
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