The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD. Proverbs 21:31
May 1940 was a defining moment for the western world. These were the days that opened the 2nd World War. Hitler's Blitzkrieg had destoyed the French lines and were quickly encircling the English army for the purpose of anihilating it. That is why His Majesty King George IV requested that May 26th should be observed as a day of prayer as they committed their cause to God. The scene that Sunday was breath-taking. Churches were full beyond measure - and lines ran outside their buildings and into the streets. Their cries went up to God - and God acted in His power to grant victory to those who honored Him.
Today's proverb has to do with victory in battle. God is sovereign - even over the battles and wars that are fought on this planet. And the evacuation from Dunkirk is an example of God working miraculously to determine just who would win WW2. If the Germans had destroyed the English Expeditionary Force in those days - the battle for Europe would have effectively been over. But God engineered several miracles to determine who would win the battle that day.
Three major miraculous events took place because of the prayer offered that day. First was Hitler's halt of the Panzer divisions that could have crushed the British. They were less than 10 miles from overrunning them and destroying them when Hitler, who had been ruthless in his pursuit and quick "Blitzkrieg" tactics, suddenly had them stop. He would rely on air power to finish the job. The second miracle was that a storm came up over Flanders that was so severe that it effectively grounded the entire German air-force. The Luftwaffe could not opeate in this area - and stayed on the air fields. The third miracle was that an unnatural calm came over the English Channel between England and France - in spite of the storms raging on the French side. This calm enabled the English to bring every boat conceivable to Dunkirk to ferry the Elglish Expeditionary force back to England. These boats along with the rest of the English Navy took British soldiers over the channel for three days - as they were covered in a dense fog that prevented the German Luftwaffe from flying and destroying them as they crossed.
There were other miracles in those days. Some beaches were attacked in thsoe days - yet it was evident to miraculous proportions that the troops were being protected by the providential hand of God. When about 400 men were being machine-gunned and bombed, systematically, by about sixty enemy aircraft, one man who flung himself down with the rest reported that, after the strafing was over, he was amazed to find that there was not a single casualty. Another man, a chaplain, was likewise machine-gunned and bombed as he lay on the beach. After what seemed an eternity, he realized he had not been hit, and rose to his feet to find that the sand all around where he had been lying was pitted with bullet holes, and that his figure was outlined on the ground. Truly astounding things wre happening on every hand - and it was very apparent that God's intervening power was responsible for it. In the writings of Officers and men alike there were a myriad of statements that they were seeing the hand of God, powerful to save, delivering them from an enemy that should have destroyed them.
All England declared June 9th a day of Thanksgiving for God's mercies. On that day the people of England read and sang Psalm 124 which is a Psalm that speaks of God's deliverance. It was thought that it would be amazing if England could save 30,000 to 35,000 soldiers in their retreat. Yet God, by His sovereign power, allowed them to save over 335,000. No one doubted that God had worked miraculously on England's behalf.
This is what God is trying to say to us in Proverbs 21:31. The horse may be prepared for the day of battle, but Jehovah is the One Who will determine who will be victorious. Old Testament law forbid Israel from relying on horses in battle. So, when horses are mentioned here, it can be easily assumed that the armies of the wicked are using them - not Israel. These horses may be prepared for the day of battle - but they do not assure victory. Who is victorious is determined by God Himself. Hitler surely had the superior force - both in army and in air-force. But the British had God - Who answered their prayers when they humbled themselves before Him. Truly it was a Ninavesque day of repentance and prayer on May 26th, and God answered in like fashion to their prayers.
Victory was determined by God in the month of May 1940 - and God is still determining who will win in the end. God has not changed - nor will He - when it comes to the outcome of any and every event. The question is not whether God will work on our behalf. The question is whether we will turn to Him - believing that victory is not determined by how big the army or how awesome the supposed cause. Victory belongs to God - and He will give it to whomever He wishes. May we be wise to always seek His favor in everything we do.
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1
Who controls world history? That is a question that makes some people squrim in their seats. The reason it does is because it seems easier to say that history is at times in Satan's hands - or at least it is in no one's hands than it does to say that God is sovereign over all history. If God is sovereign over all history - then the questions about evil and about suffering become far more complicated to us. God is sovereign over all human history - and at all times the hearts of all kings and rulers of this world are like channels of water in his hands. This proverb is true - He turns the hearts of these kings wherever He wishes. If then this is true, what are we to do with the Hitlers and others like him in this world - and in the course of history?
What do we do with the Pharaoh's who oppressed and enslaved Israel for hundreds of years? What do we do with the kings who conquered Israel and Judah - and leveled the temple to the ground? If you have a God Who functions according to the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel, these things become very difficult to deal with in terms of the sovereignty of God. God is more than just a cosmic sugar daddy who has come to give us everything we want if we just claim it. He is a God Who is working toward His own purposes and plans. He is a God who is concerned with the manifestation of His grace - yet Who does it while maintaining justice and righteousness. These are deep issues that find their only final answer in the end when we gaze at God's beauty, glory, wisdom, and majesty for all eternity. Yet - there are whispers of His workings for us in Scripture while we live here on earth.
The way God moves kings is always in accordance with His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. It always has been and it always will be. There are times when God moves the hearts of kings to deliver His people - much like He did with Esther and Mordecai. These are glorious times when we see God protecting His covenant people and showing that He is the One with the last word. There are other times when the king acts - and even in the king's wrath God delivers - as with Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. In situations like these God does not move the king's heart until after that king has seen God's power and might. But there are other cases like that of Nebuchadnezzar destroying and carrying away God's people. These are times when a king is used for the purpose of disciplining and correcting God's people. Kings are used for a myriad of purposes by God for His ultimate plan and purpose. Even the ultimate worldly king, the antichrist, will serve God's ultimate purposes of bringing judgment on the earth and saving His covenant people, Israel.
Kings serve God's purposes and plans - even when they themselves do not know it. They serve God even though they may even deny His existance and rebel against Him. We must remember that even the New Testament tells us in Romans 13 that there is no authority except from God. Paul goes on to remind us that all authorities are established by God. Our problems come when we think that these authorities are here for our blessing alone - misonstruing Paul's admonition to Timothy which says, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity." (1 Timothy 2:1-2) Some mistakenly think this admonition is a carte blanche to us to always have kings and rulers who bless us. Yet Paul's own life was taken by an ungodly ruler when he died. Persecution came upon the church again and again in the early days of its existance. We are to pray for such things - and ask God to move the king's heart. But ultimately God's plans and purposes will prevail. Remember here we are told He moves the king's heart - wherever HE wants it to go. That will mean for both blessing and for discipline - for good and for bad - for times of peace and also times of conflict and yes, even persecution and great difficulty.
The one constant for us is not that everything goes well all the time. This is a recipe for spiritual disaster and a severely stunted spiritual growth rate. Our one constant is that God is working all things after the counsel of His will - His good purposes - and His glory. This is a constant becasue we know that He is good and in Him is no darkness, no sin, no evil, and no wrong. Therefore regardless of our current situation - and in light of today's proverb - regardless of our current leader here on earth - God is still sovereign. He is in control and all things are working toward His ultimate end of summing all things up in Christ Jesus. He WILL work whatever we think is good, bad, or anywhere in between toward His ultimate purpose for us as well. That purpose is not for us to be rich or live in perfect health - and to never have problems. His ultimate purpose for us? It is that we are conformed to the image of His Son. It is that our character and lifestyle look more and more like that of Jesus every day we live! To that end He will move kings and rulers, despots and even maniacal dictators to work with Him so that we, and all other believers in all ages and all places, will be to the praise of the glory of His grace!
Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, How then can man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24
Wisdom acknowledges the sovereignty of God. God is omniscient - which means He knows all things past, present, and future. God also is working all things together to bring about His will that all things work together for good - and also work together for His own greatest glory. These are basic truths hat we learn from the Scriptures. Passages like Romans 8:38 and Romans 11:34-36 make these things very clear.
We read here in Proverbs that a man's steps are ordained by the Lord. I wish I could write a pithy little article that would once and for all solve the problem that seems to exist between our seeming ability to make choices - and God's ultimate soveriegnty over all things. But if such an article could be written it would already have been by men far more educated and godly than I am. But let me lay before you a few facts. First - you are going to have to make a whole series of choices today. It would be better if you made them in concert with God's will. Second - God is working in your life even if you choose today to be a rebellious little toot. Third - God will ultimately get everything that He desires and is working toward. And finally fourth - there is nothing you can do to thwart God's ultimate plans for His own glory and for the gospel of Jesus Christ. These are things that are true - will continue to be true - and are even true if you choose to think they are not.
God ordains our steps - He guides our way. For some this is relatively easy because they see God's will portrayed in the Scriptures and quickly submit - receive His power to do them - and enjoy bringing glory to God. Others are not so muh this way. For them the process of God working in their lives involves more than a fair share of rebellion, self-will, and self-seeking. Thus for them the will of God is a process of guidance through the Word - and guidance through discipline. In the end God receives what He desires both ways - one just takes longer - and often involves more pain and hard-learned lessons. Regardless of how you come to His desired ends - they will be accomplished.
The second half of this verse asks us a question, "How then can man understand his way?" This question is meant to be answered two ways. First of all, there is no real way for us to understand our way - at least in our own thinking. Consider for a moment Job. He walked with God - was considered blameless - yet he faced incredible suffering for God's ultimate purposes. The entire book of Job deals with him and his friends trying to "understand God's way." It consists of his friends telling him he was ungodly - that was why he had to suffer. It also consists of Job wrestling with the reasonf for his suffering Himself. There is little light of day in all these wranglings until 30 plus chapters into the book. Then God, first through Elihu, and then through His direct revelation asks Job a serious of questions. In all honesty these questions do not really answer the burning inquiry that Job - and those of us who read this historical account - have within our hearts. In the end, we come to the conclusion that God is God, God is good, and therefore no matter what happens in our lives - God ultimately purposes it for our good and His glory. We are left with the explanation of Proverbs - how can a man understand his way?
There is an encouragement in all this though. That is the second answer to this question. How can a man understand His way? The answer is that he can only understand his way in relation to God. People spend their entire lives living for things that are worthless. Their lives are summed up as a cautionary tale for us to learn from in life. Consider the rich farmer who thought only of himself all his life. Some 30-50 years were spent allowing this man to accumulate a fortune. At the end of his life he had a bumper crop unlike any he ever had, and wondered what to do with it. His ungodly, ill-informed reply was to tear down his existing barns and build bigger ones. Then he could keep everything for himself - and retire rich and full. God then broke in on the scene informing him that he would die that night - and that all his wealth would mean nothing - except as a warning to all others who did not choose to be "rich toward God." What we would consider a total waste - God used to warn any generations about greed and self-serving living.
A man understands his way in relationship with God. That is the only way to do this. A man understands his way by studying and understanding the Scriptures - which reveal to us the mind and heart of God. A man understands his way by turning to God and seeking to live for His ultimate purposes and plans. Philosophers may spend a lifetime trying to grasp a life of meaning and purpose - yet - if they only use their own understanding are like the blind leading the blind. As the Word of God itself tells us, if a man does not see according to God's light and revelation as given by the Holy Spirit in the Word - that man does not have the light of day. The truth is that God has been and still is working in this world to accomplish His desire and work toward His end. Life will be so much better for us if we acknowledge this - submit to it - and seek to walk surrendered to His sovereignty and His eternal plans.
The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD. Proverbs 16:33
Today's Proverb is not so much about using a system of drawing straws to make a decision, as it is about the sovereignty of God over those decisions. A universal fact of life is that God ultimately has sovereignty over everything that happens. There is nothing that is not under His rule or reign. He takes all things that happen and uses them for His ultimate purposes.
The lot speaks of a system of drawing straws or pieces of wood, with one piece either shorter - or marked in some way to make it distinct from the others. This was one way that difficult decisions were made. It was also a way that God proved to His people that He indeed was sovereign. Take for example the sin of a man named, Achan, in the time of Joshua. Achan chose to take some of the things that were under the ban when they attacked and conquered the city of Jericho. When he did this - he hid what he took in his tent. But his act of disobedience and unfaithfulness caused the Lord to withhold His victory from their next opponent. As Israel wept thinking that God had left them - God said that their real problem was that there was sin in their midst.
God said that He would give a perfect lot to expose who did this. Think for a moment what this meant. There were well over a million to choose from in this lot. It would be impossible for God to show them one man out of a million - by drawing straws. Yet - that is exactly what God did. He did this by breaking Israel down by tribe, group, family, and individual - until God put His divinely sovereign finger directly upon Achan. No less than three different times did God choose one man out of an entire nation - by lot. Oh, and by the way, He was absolutely correct every time. This is no mere game of drawing straws.
What we learn from this is that God is truly sovereign over all things - and from what we read in this particular proverb - all decisions. If we will look to Him in the midst of every decision that we make - we can know He will be the one who guides us. This gives us so much more peace than to think we are at the whims of others - or just in a random world that will only exhibit randomness in every decision. We live in the world guided and directed by the hand of the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Sovereign God, Who knows exactly what He is doing - and where He is going.
Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not destroy his resting place; For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of
calamity. Proverbs 24:15-1
There are times when you wonder about the providence of God. These are times when you look at the wicked - how they strut about on the earth - and how they attack the righteous and seek to destroy them. Asaph had one of these times in Psalm 73
. He struggled mightily with the prosperity of the wicked and the difficulties and trials of the godly. Yet in the end, when he considered eternity and the end of the ungodly, David returned to his sanity and found himself worshipping God - and pitying the wicked.
Here we have a warning given to the wicked - or at least the wicked man who thinks he can destroy the godly. He is warned not to lie in wait against the dwelling of the righteous. Here we have someone who is planning to do something destructive. The word used for "lie in wait" is a single Hebrew word that means to ambush, to lurk, or to lie in ambush as a military tactic. In the military context it always has the meaning of also doing this for the purpose of killing another.
I don't want to make you stay awake at night worrying, but there are very sinister forces today that are lying in wait against the righteous. Radical Islam is one of them. For years the 9/11 terrorists were waiting and training for their one day of evil. It was spooky to say the least to learn just how long they were among us - acting like nothing was going on - and all the while they were planning the worst terrorist attack in history against us. It was even scarier to read an article that listed the top 10 ways that Muslim terrorists were planning to attack us. The article was written by someone from the homeland security department. This list blew my mind because the attack that they are planning currently makes the 9/11 attacks look timid in comparison. In addition to the threat from radical Islamic terrorists, there are also threats from the far left. The radical homosexual movement wants to destroy conservative Christianity, making it illegal to hold views that are consistent with Scripture. There are those among the religious and academic elites who think that Christianity should be relegated to the ash heap of ideas - with laws enacted and enforced to make sure this happens. Like I said, this is disturbing to know - that there are those who are plotting and planning our demise.
God warns such people that this is not a wise thing to do. Remember saints, that God considers us the apple of His eye - and warns against those who would seek to harm us. He warns that such things are very unwise and will elicit his judgment. God warns specificially against seeking to destroy the "resting place" of the righteous. It is true that some want to destroy our "physical" dwelling places - but there is also the fact that those who oppose us among academia and the marketplace of ideas - want to destroy the Biblical Christian worldview and the philosophy that goes along with it. They fight us on the front of creation and science - saying that only their view is acceptable and that creation science is no science at all. They fight us on the moral front, saying that our views on morality from a biblical standpoint are outdated and should be cast aside for more modern (read immoral here) standards, which wind up being no standards at all. They fight us in the arena of human value - as they push abortion, euthanasia, and population control. They fight us in the arena of God's purpose as they exalt the earth with their environmentalism - even saying that humans are a blight upon the planet and should be culled back from our current 7 billion to no more than 300 to 500 million people. All these things are attacks on our "dwelling place" and "resting place" in the Lord God and in His Word as the ultimate source of truth.
One could get the to the point of living in fear if he or she did not read the rest of this proverb. The relentless attacks have not been just in this generation. They have existed all throughout history. Whether it has been the emperors like Nero, Diocletian, and Galerius or the attacks of the currently worldly educated like Darwin, Nietzsche, Hitchens, Harris and Freud, Christianity is amazing just for the fact that it is still around and still considered even a marginally valid worldview. But it is far more that that. The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ continues to transform millions every year - and provide for them a resting place for their faith and their lives.
We should take heart though, because this proverb gives us great hope - even though we are beset on all sides by those who seek to destroy us. God tells the wicked that even though a righteous man falls seven times - he will rise again. We have the peace of knowing that He Who began this good work in us, will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. He will not allow us to be destroyed and decimated. Even in death His martyrs speak - and the blood of the martyrs becomes the seed of His church. We may fall seven times - but He will pick us up and make us to stand because of His grace and work in us.
But this proverb comes also with a warning. The wicked are warned that they will stumble in times of calamity. When difficult times come - when evil befalls because of their wickedness or because of God's judgment in their lives - they will stumble in it. The word for "stumble" here means to stagger, to totter, to be brought down or cast down. The word is used in the Old Testament to describe not just the fall of individuals, but the fall of cities and nations who fall because of the evil and wickedness that they've committed. So we come full circle on this proverb to what I began saying in this article. Asaph almost stumbled when he considered the prosperity of the wicked in Psalm 73
. But in the end, he remembered the judgment and the sovereignty of God. He considered their end - and how they were consumed all at once in their wickedness and iniquity. This moved him to two things. First it moved him to worship God, who is truly sovereign over all things. He worshipped God because he knew there was more to this life than - well, just this life here on earth. In light of the fear and terror of God in judgment, he worshipped with trembling as he considered the end of the wicked. Second, he was moved to pity and mercy towards the wicked. Seeing their latter end, he pitied them and grieved over their destruction. Finally, he was thankful for God's grace and love for him.
Here is wisdom . . . God is sovereign, even when it seems that the wicked are being destructive towards His people. We should not stumble over this reality - but rather realize that God is working, even in the moments when it seems like the world is out of control - or even worse - under the control of the wicked. Know this - God is working for His own glory. If He used a moment as horrific as the cross of Christ to redeem the world - believe me when I say that He can also use anything to eventually bring about His will in this life.
A divine decision is in the lips of the king; His mouth should not err in judgment. Proverbs 16:10
Here is a verse that was greatly misused by kings and rulers throughout the middle or dark ages. They would slightly misquote this passage and state that they had what is called, "the divine right of kings." This they then used to rule over people in a way that was totally contrary to what Scripture stated. Let's look at this issue - but also look at a balanced view of rulers and how God uses them in a nation to accomplish His purposes.
The misquote here was due to how the King James version rendered this verse. The KJV reads, "A divine sentence is in the lips of the king; his mouth transgresseth not in judgment." This was taken as meaning that the king cannot make an error in judgment - and that since a divine decision was in his mouth - he could not make mistakes. This bad doctrinal view was then used to state that no matter how wicked or ungodly a king was - his was a divine rite from God. The king was not to be questioned in any decision he made therefore, because it was God's decision when he said it. One can see how this bad exigesis led to horrific abuses by leaders. One can also see why so much resentment brewed toward the Roman Catholic Church because they supported this view. Part of their reasoning behind this was because if the king's decisions were divine, then that gave them the right to say that the church then would have to approve every king - and could depose them if excommunicated. Oh the power that was enjoyed unscripturally by so many who purported to be God's messenger. It was not until the reformation that this began to be corrected - and the divine rite of kings was reigned in by the proper understanding of this verse - as well as the whole counsel of the Word of God.
In order to understand this verse, we first need to grasp that Solomon is writing to kings here. The Word of God clearly states that no authority exists except that which is from God. Yet, this does not guarantee that all rulers will be godly or Christian. If that were the case we would have to wonder why God couldn't even get that to happen in Israel and Judah. God is not interested in an earthly kingdom (Jesus said as much in the gospels) but in saving a people for Himself - and for His coming kingdom in heaven. Thus the natural flow of sin and rebellion will even affect the social institutions of this world and the governments that rule over the affairs of men.
When Israel rejected God from being king over them - and cried out for a king, "like all the other nations," God warned them what this would bring. He warned them of the excesses and the danger of having one "man" over them. As a man, this king was just as affected by sin as anyone else. This is why God also instructed the king to write out a copy of the Law by hand - so that he would be reminded to obey the Lord and do according to everything that was written in God's Law. We read about all this in 1 Samuel 8 and Deuteronomy 17
. The reason this is important for us to understand is that God knew they would ask for a king - and therefore he gave command before it ever happened how the king was to live - what was allowed and what was forbidden. When you read through Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, you see clearly where the kings veered off God's course and subsequently turned evil. At this point the king was still in authority - but his actions were clearly outside of God's will. Thus for someone to quote this proverb and say that a king could never err in judgment or in what he says is patently outside the scope of Scripture.
What is actually said here is that a divine decision is in the lips of the king and that he SHOULD NOT ERR in judgment. Solomon knew that great power came with the title of king. That power had tremendous consequences for individuals - but much more than that - for the future of an entire nation.
He may have remembered the case of the two harlots who came before him. They argued over which of their babies had died, and which was alive. God gave Solomon great wisdom as he commanded that the living baby should be cut in half and a half given to each women. One agreed, while the other who was the real mother, had compassion on her child and said to give it to the other woman rather than killing it. Solomon, filled with the wisdom of God, knew that the compassion of the one woman showed that it was her child. He then gave the command to give it to her - for it was her child. Everyone was amazed at this decision and knew God's wisdom was in him. In many ways this strengthened his power and authority among the people. They knew God was with him - and that he ruled with great caution to make the right decisions.
But Solomon also knew of his sins - how his heart was drawn away by foreign women. God commanded that His people not do this - because these women would turn them away from God to their false gods. Solomon ignored this command and did his own thing. He erred in judgment. The end of this was the eventual destruction of Israel. The more they turned from God the greater the judgment fell upon the nation. Truly as king he should not have erred in judgment.
Every leader on this earth should have this verse etched into his psyche. We have those today who say that there should be a separation of church and state. I agree with them if they mean that Congress should not establish a national denomination - or a national church run according to the dictates of the government. But what they have done is enforce the establishment clause of the first ammendment, but have completely ignored the fact that there is also a protection clause. They are never to prohibit the free exercise of religion - and our founders meant the Christian religion in particular. They said that a man was not fit to run for office if he was not a Christian. Our founders said that this nation was predicated on our ability to obey the 10 commandments. They knew that if God's Law reigned in our hearts (realizing it needed to rein in our hearts) that a plethora of human laws would not be necessary. We've rejected such things - and as a result - our leaders have rejected God's ways and Word. It really should be no great shock to us that the nation has and is declining. The worst aspect of this is that our president and Congress no longer look to God's Word for leadership. They think that they know what to do from their own thoughts and ways. This can lead no where except to disaster in the end.
Our President and Congress need to recapture what is said in this proverb. They have great power - and God tells His people to honor the power of their governing officials. But that power is not absolute. They are under the same Word of God as we are. They should not err in judgment as they rule over the people. When they do, they need to realize that their power is NOT absolute. God, who said we should obey them, is also the One who said that He raises up kings and overthrows them as well. In his divine providence He has seen nations rise up - and others destroyed and humbled. In the end we all will answer to Him. For some He may not do it as quickly as they want, but the fact remains that He ultimately rules over all the affairs of men. If only our current rulers would recognize this - our nation would turn around to a place of blessing under their leadership. But as long as they think they cannot err in their own judgment - we are probably not going anywhere good in our future as a nation.
The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Who controls the events of this world? Ever wonder that in an ultimate way? Solomon had great wisdom in this regard because he had a good grasp on reality. He understood that though a man may think he determines his own way by planning and by careful thought - that ultimately God is the One who directs his steps. To some this is a very disturbing reality.
James wrote about this same thing when he said, "
Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.'
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just
a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought
to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. "
What an interesting thing we have before our eyes here. God wants us to consider His will and plans ultimate in our lives. We are not to think that we can plan to do whatever we want and thus think our way is made plain. We are to say, "Lord, if it is Your will, I will do this - and may it be for Your glory and to adance Your agenda and purposes on earth." James then warns us that we cannot move our lives in any direction unless God is pleased with that choice. The fact that we have another day to live is a gift from Him - and we should never take that for granted. The truth is that when we take our days for granted - we are guilty of arrogant boasting before God.
Men plan their way. That is a simple fact of life. God is not against planning - just against those who think that they determine their lives by their planning alone. Plans can be good things when they are submitted to the Lord. They become bad things when they are contrary to what God desires in your life. He still may allow you to plan your way and work your plan. Yet, He will direct your steps. You are not a free agent to do whatever you want or please. Your way will ultimately be directed by Almighty God - and whether you serve Him or not - He will even take your rebellion and clothe Himself in it - to prove to you and everyone else that His purposes are the ones that will stand in the end. Anyone who thinks otherwise will no longer think that way when they face the ultimate judgment at His throne.
History is littered with examples of men who thought they could conquer and change the world. In the end their lives were brought to their end - and God even used their arrogance in His ultimate plans and purposes to bring Jesus Christ to this world to die for sin and be raised to life. The Pharisees and Saducees thought that they would control things - and planned to kill Him by having the Romans crucify Him. Even that supposed plan of men was used by our sovereign God to accomplish salvation for His people. No man ultimately controls his steps. They are directed by God to achieve what He desires in this world. What a wise man would do when faced with this self-disturbing truth is humble himself and turn to the Lord. He would learn to live by the will of God. This way his works will be profitable - as He does the will of God. He can enjoy being God's workmanship, created for good works that the Lord has planned beforehand - so that he may walk in them. This way no aspect of life is wasted on the lie that a man controls his own destiny.
The righteous is delivered from trouble, But the wicked takes his place. Proverbs 11:8
God's ability to deliver out of trouble is nothing short of amazing. If we only knew all the times that God has delivered us from situations and problems - we would fall and worship at His feet. As it is we will have to wait for that day when we see Him and know as fully as we are known. But thankfully the Lord has put some of His glorious history in the Bible from which we can glean the wonders of His power to arrange providence according to His will.
We read here that the righteous is delivered from trouble, but that the wicked takes his place. The first thing we need to state here is that God does not promise to deliver the righteous from ALL trouble. There are times when God's purpose is served by the death of His martyrs. But for every martyr it seems that there are also those times when God does glorious deliverances among His people. There are two that are amazing because they mirror exactly what is said here in this passage - that the wicked take the place of the one who was delivered.
We read of Mordecai who would not give worship to the wicked Haman. Haman decided to do more than just kill Mordecai. He got authorization from the king to kill the entire people of Mordecai - going after the entire Jewish nation. As the Jews prayed earnestly for deliverance, God was engineering a wonderful array of providence to provide deliverance for them. Esther was queen so she had access to the king - and was willing to go even though she was not requested - thus risking her own life. As Haman proceeded to build a gallows like none other upon which to hang Mordecai - God was having the king experience a sleepless night in which he had court records read to him. He learned of Mordecai speaking of a plot to kill him - and desired to honor him. That event led to a glorious change of circumstances - in which Mordecai was delivered from the gallows - yet Haman was hung on them instead. Instead of Mordecai's family being killed - the family of Haman was hung along with him upon the gallows he built for Mordecai. Ah, the glories of my God and King - Who can work miracles of providence to accomplish His own will in history.
The second piece of Bible history involves Daniel and a lion's den. A group of wicked advisors to the king were jealous of Daniel - and thus sought a reason to accuse him before the king. Darius the King was a vain man so he fell for the trap laid for Daniel. The advisors had him sign a law that no man could pray to anyone except him for a day - with the penalty being death by lion's den if they disobeyed. Once signed - these wicked advisors awaited Daniel's godly choice to pray to God three times a day. When he bowed to pray to Jehovah, they were ready to pounce. They dragged him before the king and had him pass sentence even though he was loathe to do so. Thus Daniel found himself being lowered into a den of ravenous lions - a trouble that seemed destined to have him consumed as soon as he reached the floor of the den in which the lions awaited his arrival with salivating mouths. But God shut those mouths and delivered Daniel until morning. As he was raised out of the den - the lions did not have to worry about going hungry. The king, furious with their deceitfulness, had the wicked advisors thrown into the pit with the lions who more than obliged his offer of a second meal - crushing them as soon as they hit the ground.
God is able to deliver to the uttermost. We need to know that and trust Him to deliver us when we face trouble because we confess His name. We also need to know that He is also able to bring the wicked to a most horrific end as well - even having them take our place as He delivers us. Trust Him at all times, dear saints of God. He is good and will do what is good in our lives. Whether He offers an earthly deliverance or not - remember this one thing. The most glorious deliverance that He offers is that which is bought and paid for with the blood of His own Son at Calvary's cross. There He delivered us from His own wrath and judgment - not at the cost of the wicked - but at the cost of His own beloved Son. May that ultimate deliverance from trouble drop us to our knees daily in worship, adoration, and praise!
The LORD has made everything for His own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. Proverbs 16:4Well, here is a proverb that many would rather leave alone. But the good thing about disciplining yourself to walk through the Scriptures is that you have to deal with verses like this one. So . . . let's take a few moments to consider this little bit of wisdom.
The first thing we run into is the fact that God made all things. The simplest sense of the Hebrew word "made" is that God is the maker of all things. This comes as a shock to those who hold to evolutionary theory. Yet even their theory does not explain where all things came from - because their theory never explains why matter itself existed. Their theory, whether they realize it or not, has far more to do with their own pride and unwillingness to submit to a god - any god, than it has to do with valid science. The proverb gives the reason why this is so.
God has made everything for His purpose! The evolutionist and the atheist chaffe at this statement. They reject God so it is only consistent with their beliefs that they also reject His purposes. Yet, God HAS made everything for His purpose. This world - even as it rebels against God - is fulfilling His ultimate purpose. Oh how angry this makes them. Yet we see at the close of this proverb the most brazen statement yet. Even the wicked are fulfilling God's ultimate purposes when the day of evil comes. This presents to some a very real problem with God.
God makes the wicked for the day of evil? That is what this passage says. So the question arises, "Does God make wicked people - is He responsible for wickedness?" The answer to this question is a resounding NO. God is incapable of doing wickedness or evil. He will not - in fact, He cannot sin. Thus this speaks of those who have descended from Adam - who were made after his image and likeness. It refers to God working in spite of the fall of man to accomplish His eternal counsel and plans. He does so in spite of man's wickedness. He is not responsible for it - but He will indeed judge it. Thus even the wicked God works into His purposes.
But what is His purpose for them? That is a sobering reality as we see it revealed in Scripture. God's ultimate purposes for those who sin - and then who reject His grace in Jesus Christ - is that they are reserved for the day of evil. This "day of evil" could be just an ordinary day when the just desserts of wickedness are served. But when we consider this view we run into problems because even with the righteous there are days when "bad" things happen to them. This day of evil I believe refers ultimately to the day when God's judgment falls upon them. They rejected God all their lives. They rejected Him with their sinful choices and desires. When God offers forgiveness and grace they reject Him again. They continue rejecting Christ until the day of their death - thus culminating a lifelong wickedness. What remains for them is the day of evil. The day when God brings the ultimate punishment and "bad day" that will last forever.
This my dear friend is wisdom. Wisdom is acknowledging God as Creator of all that there is. Wisdom is then realizing that everything He made - though originally made good - is truly messed up due to sin. Wisdom is seeing that sin is not just some ethereal concept - it is a choice. Wisdom is seeing that sin is personal - you've committed it every day of your life by disobeying God's laws and commandments. Wisdom is then realizing God's ultimate purpose by embracing Jesus Christ as His way of paying for sin and providing salvation. Wisdom is receiving the conviction of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing when you are granted repentance and faith! Wisdom is then turning from your sins and trusting Jesus Christ to pay for them with His work on the cross and resurrection! Wisdom is then living for God's purposes all the remaining days of your life - embracing His glory as your ultimate pursuit!
Interesting isn't it - how a proverb that seems like a can of worms can wind up being a gracious gift from God? If we will only learn the wisdom of seeing God as the Ultimate - then living for His ultimate purpose and plan. That will be the day when we truly embrace what is wise!
The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1Do kings and rulers make their decisions and run their kings totally independent from the Lord? Some would think so, but the truth is that God is ultimately sovereign over the king. What is interesting about this particular proverb is that we see the king as an instrument of the Lord - and the Lord can direct this king's actions in whatever way He chooses. Can this be true? Can God honestly direct a king's heart like a channel of water?
We turn again to the pages of Scripture. We see again and again that God controls the heart of the king. For those who struggle with authority and think they constantly have to take things into their own hands, this passage is a reminder that God can work in any person's heart to accomplish His purpose. To see this, we only need to turn to the book of Esther and watch how God works in the heart of king Ahasuerus. The nation of Israel was on the brink of extinction within the kingdom, due to the wicked influence of Haman on the king. Esther has been praying for three days before entering the presence of the king - fearing that if he is displeased with her entrance - she could face death. Haman has his plot in place - ready to not just punish Mordecai, but to destroy his people as well. All seems to be moving to this horrific end for Israel - until God moves on the king's heart. Providentially, the king cannot sleep and asks for the anals of the kingdom to be read to him. Coming across an oversight on his part - he learns that Mordecai had rescued him from a plot to overthrown his rule and reign. As the king hears of this kindness we see the hand of the Lord turning the water course wherever He desires. Soon, we watch a complete reversal and now Mordecai is the spiritual leader - and Esther is honorred as Queen
There are those who fear that their lives are just being used as a pawn in a large chess game need to be encouraged as to the outcome. But we are not just cosmic pawns put in a game where higher powers move us to and fro. We are ultimately a part of what God is doing in bringing His own purpose and plan about each and every day. What is best for us is to search out and know God's purpose for our lives. If that purpose seems to be thwarted -even by royalty - we need to remember that our God directs kings and guides them like a husbandman directs a vine which he grows. Never lose heart - because God is ultimately in control - even over the highest office imaginable.