One of the main reasons I love the book of Proverbs is the scattered nature of its organization. For much of the book, one line does not bleed into the next. Each proverb stands on its own. This organization is helpful, for nearly every chapter covers a multitude of subjects. Each time I sit down to read the book, massive and varied parts of my life are addressed.
But, occasionally, there is a section. Proverbs 16:10-15 is one such section, a series of proverbs about kings. Surely, David is in the mind of the author. The ideal king is described, so the ideal leader is described, giving modern leaders quite a bit to consider.
Good leaders recognize the weight of their words.
"An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment." (Proverbs 16:10, ESV).
A leaders’ words are like an oracle, weighty to those they are responsible for. A good leader understands how giving unfair judgments corrupts the strength of their words, discouraging those they lead. This understanding helps a leader speak (and type and record and post) cautiously.
Good leaders are God’s instruments.
"A just balance and scales are the LORD’s; all the weights in the bag are his work." (Proverbs 16:11).
Usually, a king would set the weights for the kingdom, so the proverb shows us it is really God who established the weights and measures of the kingdom. The king sets them, but God actually sets them, for a good leader is merely an instrument in God’s hands. This understanding preserves the leader from pride.
Good leaders serve as examples for their charges.
"It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness." (Proverbs 16:12).
Kings are publicly known entities. In ancient Israel, they were citizen number one. For good or bad, their walk with God impacted the entire nation. Consider it “trickle down” morality. Good leaders understand their lives are an example for their followers. This understanding helps a leader pursue righteousness.
Good leaders love the truth (and hate lies).
"Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right." (Proverbs 16:13).
Honesty is valuable to a government, but also to a nation. When ancient Israel had a liar on the throne, the people were more comfortable with lying. When ancient Israel had a truth teller on the throne, they loved the truth. Good leaders hate lies and love the truth. They realize their love for the truth, and love for those who speak it, will positively impact the group they lead. This understanding puts the leader in a constant quest for truth and fidelity.
Good leaders are under control.
"A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it." (Proverbs 16:14).
Kings are people, and people rage. But the king’s rage was noteworthy because it could do real damage. Wise people could calm them down. Good leaders see how their mood, their spirit, their anger, impact everything they are responsible for. Good leaders realize they must be self-controlled, lest their wrath cause unnecessary hurt. This understanding helps a leader slow down and speak softly.
Good leaders understand their influence upon those around them.
"In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain." (Proverbs 16:15).
This proverb reminds us of the Aaronic blessing: “The LORD make His face to shine upon you” (Numbers 6:25). Here, though, it is not the face of the Lord, but the face of the king, which brings blessing. Good leaders understand the influence they have upon those around them. Paul saw this, which is why he pressed the masters, fathers, and husbands so hard when he wrote Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-6:9). This understanding helps a leader think more intentionally about every interaction they have with others.
If you are a leader of any kind, may God's word lift your vision and heart. May you find His grace and strength for the enormous task in front of you. You are important to someone, so allow Christ to use you for His glory.