Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence
or stand in the place of the great,
for it is better to be told, “Come up here,”
than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Summary— A king cannot be approached by just anybody at just any time. A king’s audience is valuable, and having it is a great honor not to be presumed upon. Here, Solomon is helping young men—possibly young men who worked around the palace—understand how to be successful in court: You don’t just rush into the king’s presence irreverently, or assume a place among the courtiers. Assume that you have no such honor coming to you; and, if you hang back and serve faithfully in a humble role, cultivating your character there, you may be noticed, eventually.
Insight— Jesus probably had this proverb in mind when He taught us how to choose a seat at a wedding (Lk. 14:8-10): do not presume upon a seat of honor, because you will be humiliated if you are asked to change seats; rather, choose the least honorable seat, and you will be honored if you are asked to move forward a bit. In today’s world, Jesus might say, don’t sit down in the first few pews reserved for relatives just because you’re a good friend—you may be asked to move back; instead, hang back in the foyer until you’re ushered to a seat.
Q: If adults are having a conversation, should you just assume that you may interrupt?
A: No, I should wait for them to indicate that I may speak.
Discussion— It is arrogant to assume that your thoughts are so worthy of the king’s consideration that you may just offer them without invitation. What are some other ways that we display the same sort of arrogance, today? Maybe criticizing leaders as peers rather than entreating them as fathers?
Prayer— O God, deliver us from an evil sense of self-importance, and cultivate in us a joyful contentment in our respective places, that we may be exalted in due season to the glory of Your grace alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Contributed by Scott Cline]