Proverbs 16 is a gold mine of wisdom from a father. Verses 10-15 are intended by Solomon as a discourse on respect for authority and expectations for rulers. Solomon provides characteristics of a good king and advice on how his children should relate to authorities.
In this portion of scripture, the word “king” can be replaced with “the Lord.” Like the Lord, the righteous king is just (v10-11), shuns evil (v12), and loves righteousness (v13). Like the Lord, when the king’s face is set against a citizen, wrath and death are sure to follow (v14); but when the king’s face shines upon a citizen, “there is life” (v15).
Solomon wants his sons to be responsible members of society. A major aspect of their citizenship is their submission to authority, particularly the king. The father’s concern has both practical and spiritual value. Practically, this passage relates a father’s joyful hope that his sons will find themselves in the king’s good graces, live in a society governed by a just ruler, and avoid the troubles that befall lawbreakers. Spiritually, however, these six verses continue a rich stream of theology that Solomon proclaims as truth upon which his children can base their moral decisions. The righteous king is seen as God’s representative, a mediator between God and man, carrying out a God-given authority and exercising justice on earth. He protects the people with which he is entrusted, provides order, and he holds the keys of death and life.
What a beautiful foreshadow of the Great Mediatorial King, Jesus Christ! Jesus is just, and rules perfectly! The same King who will perfectly execute wrath on the day of judgment has caused his face to shine upon us!