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.