At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16: 11)
Many seek the ruler’s favour; But every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord.Proverbs 29:26
The word we are looking for here is curry, as in curry favor. Not as in chicken curry.
The scenario described envisions life at court, and the game that is being played by various courtiers is that of trying to flatter, cajole, manipulate, or otherwise beseech the ruler. He is the source of blessing, or so it is thought, and so it makes sense to go to him for favor. It is natural, but still wrong-headed.
What matters in the course of every man’s life is the blessing of God. What does it matter if you have the king’s ear if God has determined not to bless your going out and coming in? And what does it matter if the king is your enemy if God has determined to shower you with His favor? Haman had the king’s ear, and he had almost right up to the moment of his destruction. David had the king’s hostility, and he had right up to the moment when he became the king.
Now it is true that when God blesses, that blessing will often be mediated through lesser authorities (e.g. the ruler). So the proverb is not teaching us to be rude to these lesser authorities, but rather not to set our heart on them. They are in the hand of God, and what matters is what He has determined to do.
There is one other point to be made, and that is the fact that the principle applies beyond life at court in a monarchy. Many seek the principal’s favor, many seek the award committee’s favor, many seek the sponsor’s favor, many seek the patron’s favor, many seek the cool kids’ favor, many seek the branch manager’s favor, and many seek the favor of that phantom “the right side of history.” There can be idols in every direction we look.
And of course we deal with all of these people, and we are to love them, but we are not to place any of our contentment in their hands. We are to live this way because we imitate the Lord Jesus.
“But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24–25).