Proverbs: Wisdom for LivingSeptember 12-16
God Is In Control
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. – Proverbs 21:1 (ESV)
The author of Proverbs reminds us that God is in control of everything, even the heart of a pagan king. Nebuchadnezzar, the ruthless pagan ruler of Babylon conquered the world. He probably thought he was just adding to his collection of countries when he rolled over the little nation of Judah and conquered it, yet he only did it with God’s permission. In fact, he was actually fulfilling God’s role for him, a “servant” of God, bringing God’s judgment on the tiny but rebellious people of Judah. We tend to think that only a godly, Christian man is someone that God can use. Yet even the most pagan, ungodly men can be used by God to bring about His purposes.
Madame Guyon says that there are three classes of souls that may be compared to rivers flowing towards God as their ocean. 1. Some move on sluggishly and feebly. These are often discouraged, dwell much in the outer and emotional, and fail to seek God with their whole strength. 2. Some proceed decidedly and rapidly. These have large hearts and are quick in their responses to God’s Spirit. 3. Some press on in headlong impetuosity. (Meyer, F. B. Our Daily Homily)
How can you see God at work in our nation, even through people who are resisting Him? Which type of river is your heart for God? Do you allow God to easily flow through your life or are you stubborn and sluggish?
Praise God for His perfect plan and complete control of the world. Ask God to help you have a heart that easily flows in God’s direction.
His Way is Right
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. – Proverbs 21:2 (ESV)
In an experiment years ago, researchers fitted people with special prismatic glasses that made things appear upside down, straight lines appear curved, and sharp outlines seem fringed with color. Even though the subjects continued to wear the glasses, within just a few days the unnatural shapes, tinted edges, and inverted landscapes gradually disappeared, and the world began to appear normal again. Their brains had overcome false data coming through the lenses. (M. R. De Haan II)
Proverbs suggest that we don’t always see spiritual things clearly. In fact, we are sinners whose deepest imaginations are evil, and our thought-life produces a world of illusions. We think of ourselves as pure, when in reality we are guilty before God. That is why, for example, many people shift the responsibility for their behavior to environmental factors or to faulty upbringing. We justify thoughts, feelings, and actions that are obviously sinful. Our way is right in their own eyes.
Salvation gives spiritual vision to sin-blinded eyes. As Christians, we should be aware of the deceptive nature of our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to correct our vision through a knowledge of God’s Word. When has God’s Word said something different than what you felt was right in your own eyes?
Praise God for always leading you down the best paths. Ask God to help you surrender your way to His way when you don’t see things the way He does.
Stay in Line
The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright. – Proverbs 21:8 (ESV)
Judge Horace Gray of Boston who would later go on to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court once said to the man who escaped conviction on a technicality: “I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law.”
Man’s justice is always subject to errors, but God’s justice is perfect. No sin escapes His gaze, and though punishment is sometimes delayed as God grants room to repent, it is certain. No one escapes God’s justice on a technicality. (Clarence Edward Noble Macartney)
God is in control because He is perfect and His justice is perfect. The nature of the man of God is pure. It is a grand thing to be clean in character. The word “pure” implies that there is no wrong mixture in the composition of the righteous man. The pure man is one who acts according to God’s rule.
What situations come to mind when you think of someone guilty getting away without being caught or punished? We may be tempted to think God is not in control when it appears the guilty get away without punishment but God is still in control. How do you think God views those situations?
Praise God for being perfectly just. Thank Him for offering you mercy. Ask God to help you walk in line with His Kingdom.
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. – Proverbs 21:30 (ESV)
Charlie Brown was complaining because his team always lost their games. Lucy attempted to console him with, “Remember, Charlie Brown, you learn more from your defeats than from your victories.” Charlie Brown responded, “Then I must be the smartest person in the world!”
God is the smartest One in the world and He has never been defeated. The writer of Proverbs reminds us that attacking God’s wisdom is always a losing battle. There is no wisdom, understanding, or counsel that can prevail against God. Opposing God is always a losing cause in the end. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The best winning strategy is to start by respecting the supremacy of God in every way.
If you want your plans to succeed, don’t be found fighting against the Lord. Why do you think the lost world often portrays Christians as closed-minded and ignorant? How do you know when you aren’t seeking God’s wisdom?
Praise God for being undefeated in the history of the world. Ask God to show you any areas of your life where you are foolishly working against His wisdom.
Victory is the Lord’s
The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. – Proverbs 21:31 (ESV)
A man was coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed the man by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” The man replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.” Pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.”
God expects us to do all the preparation that is necessary to be victorious in our endeavors. Just as the soldier in Proverbs 21 had to train his horse and provide nourishment to the animal so we need to provide mental and spiritual food for our minds and souls if we are expected to be prepared for the battles of life. However, only God can guarantee victory. A strong army doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to win. Abraham Lincoln said, “Without God, I cannot succeed. With God, I cannot fail.”
We often give the credit of a victory to man, when they who consider the circumstances see that it came from God. List some victories that you know without a doubt was God at work in your life this week.
Praise God for some of the battles He has won in your life. Ask God to show you what preparation He would like for you to do.