Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upheld by mercy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Mercy and truth preserve the king.—See above on Proverbs 3:3. The love and faithfulness he shows to his subjects draw out the same qualities in them, and these are the safeguard of his throne. So (Psalm 130:4) the mercy shown by God inspires man with a reverent fear of Him, while harshness might have made him a slave, or driven him through despair into rebellion. (Comp. Jeremiah 33:9.)Proverbs 20:28. Mercy — Clemency to offenders, and bounty to worthy indigent persons; and truth — Faithfulness in keeping his word and promises inviolably; preserve the king — Because they engage God to guard him, and gain him the reverence and affections of his people, which is, under God, a king’s greatest safety and happiness. And his throne is upheld by mercy — Which is again mentioned, to show that although to exercise mercy be an act of grace, and therefore, in some sort, free, yet princes are obliged to it both by their duty and by their interest, because it is a singular means of their preservation.Genesis 2:7, the higher life, above that which he has in common with lower animals, coming to him direct from God. Such a life, with all its powers of insight, consciousness, reflection, is as a lamp which God has lighted, throwing its rays into the darkest recesses of the heart. A still higher truth is proclaimed in the Prologue of John's Gospel. The candle, or lamp of Yahweh, derives its light from "the Light that lighteth every man," even the Eternal Word. Mercy; clemency to offenders, and bounty to worthy and to indigent persons; and truth; faithfulness in keeping his word and promises inviolably; preserve the king, because they engage God to guard him, and gain him the reverence and affections of his people, which is a king’s greatest safety and happiness.
Mercy is again mentioned, to show that although it be an act of grace, and therefore in some sort free, yet princes are obliged to it, both by their duty and by their interest, because it is a singular means of their preservation. Psalm 40:11;
and his throne is upholden by mercy; this explains what is meant by the preservation of him, and what is the security of his throne and kingdom, which is clemency and goodness to his subjects.Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 28. - Mercy and truth preserve the king. (For "mercy and truth," see note on Proverbs 3:3.) The love and faithfulness which the king displays in dealing with his subjects elicits the like virtues in them, and these are the safeguard of his throne. His throne is upholden by mercy; or, love. So the king is well called the father of his people, and in modern times the epithet "gracious" is applied to the sovereign as being the fountain of mercy and condescension. Sallust, 'Jugurtha,' 10, "Non exercitus neque thesauri praesidia regni sunt, verum amici, quos neque armis cogere neque auro parare queas; officio et fide pariuntur." Septuagint, "Mercy (ἐλεημοσύνη) and truth are a guard to a king, and will surround his throne with righteousness." "The subject's love," says our English maxim, "is the king's lifeguard."
Hope in Jahve, so will He help thee.
Men ought always to act toward their neighbours according to the law of love, and not according to the jus talionis, Proverbs 24:29; they ought not only, by requiting good with evil (Proverbs 16:13; Psalm 7:5, Psalm 35:12), not to transgress this law of requital, but they ought to surpass it, by also recompensing not evil with evil (vid., regarding שׁלּם, and synon. to Proverbs 17:13); and that is what the proverb means, for 22b supposes injustice suffered, which might stir up a spirit of revenge. It does not, however, say that men ought to commit the taking of vengeance to God; but, in the sense of Romans 12:17-19; 1 Peter 3:9, that, renouncing all dependence on self, they ought to commit their deliverance out of the distress into which they have fallen, and their vindication, into the hands of God; for the promise is not that He will avenge them, but that He will help them. The jussive וישׁע (write וישׁע, according to Metheg-setzung, 42, with Gaja as העמדה, with the ע to secure distinct utterance to the final guttural) states as a consequence, like, e.g., 2 Kings 5:10, what will then happen (Jerome, Luther, Hitzig) if one lets God rule (Gesen. 128, 2c); equally possible, syntactically, is the rendering: that He may help thee (lxx, Ewald); but, regarded as a promise, the words are more in accordance with the spirit of the proverb, and they round it off more expressively.
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