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What is meant by a "divine sentence" in this verse?


Proverbs 16:10

ESV - 10 An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 22 2014 Mini Anonymous

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Dscf1720 Myron Robertson Seeking God's heart
Because the version provided by this website does not use that terminology I at first thought you had mistyped the verse, but I checked several versions first. 

You will find some help in understanding this simply by checking other translations that use other terminology, and you will gain an adequate understanding of what this means. You will gain a much better understanding by checking the Hebrew for this and also studying the laws of God which are being referenced by this verse. However, unless you already have some understanding of the law it is not real obvious what laws are being referenced. 

This phrase is rendered with a single Hebrew word, qeçem. This word is used eleven times in scripture; it is rendered divination nine times, witchcraft once and divine sentence once in the KJV. 

Divination is one of the sins of the Canaanites listed in Deuteronomy 18:10, yet we frequently find God's prophets and leaders of the people using divination (usually the casting of lots), even at God's command, to determine God's will. Indeed, the urim and thummim on the breastplate of the high priest is a form of divination. Because a very shallow level of study is so common among Christians, even in our pulpits and seminaries few Christians understand that with most of these things there is a good side and a bad side, a proper way to use them and a sinful way to use them. So when God condemns Israel or anyone else for using these things improperly we throw out the baby with the bath water, to use the common idiom.

Ezekiel 13 speaks of both kinds of divination. Because the people preferred the lying divination of the prophets who claimed to be speaking in God's name (vs 6) God says he will not give the divine divination to them (vs 23). When Saul was rejected as king by God Samuel told him, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft," (1 Samuel 15:23). Twenty-two years later when Saul consulted the witch of Endor it was because God no longer spoke to him by any means, neither prophets, dreams or urim and thummim (1 Samuel 28:6).

The main law that applies here is the law of kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) but also the law of judges (Deuteronomy 17:8-13). The king was supposed to have a personal copy of the book of the law which he copied by his own hand and which he studied daily. All his judgments were to be determined from this book of the law. 

The law is not simply a list of does and don'ts. Most importantly it lays out the proper means of restoring both the victim of any sin and the sinner. Therefore all laws dealing with redemption and restoration are also referenced here and they are too numerous to list, but start with Exodus 21-23 and Leviticus 25. In most cases the victim was to receive 200% restitution; some situations required only 120% and some required 400% or 500%. If the sinner did not have enough property to sell and pay for his restitution a bond was created by the court, and the sinner was sold as a servant to a redeemer who paid the debt to the victim. Once the victim received the full restitution he was required by the same law to grant full forgiveness to the sinner and never hold the sin against him again.

If the king did not require the full restitution demanded by law, or if he required more restitution than required by law he perverted justice. If he fined the sinner and put the money in his own treasury instead of paying it to the victims (as our government does) he perverted justice. Only the victim (or the redeemer) has the right to show mercy and reduce the amount of restitution the sinner must pay, and they are the only ones with the right to the restitution. The court and king have no rights in either matter. 

If the king follows the law of God exactly in these matters he rules by a divine sentence. If he varies his judgments in any way from the law of God he is divining his own laws in rebellion against God and is sinning. This is really what those two words mean in this verse.

August 23 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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