God is in control. The theological words for this concept are the “sovereignty” or “providence” of God. We make plans, but God is the one who ultimately directs our steps (Proverbs 20:24). Our job is to love God and to try to live according to His revealed commands in the Bible (like the Ten Commandments). God is especially concerned that we live honestly and are just and fair in how we deal with other people (20:23; 21:3). The Lord sees into our hearts, so He wants us to be pure in our motives and desires and not just in our outward behaviors and words (20:27,30; 21:2).
But as private Christian citizens, it is not out place to execute justice or vengeance against others when they wrong us (20:22). Instead, God has appointed governing authorities to punish law and rule breakers (20:26,28). This meant kings in ancient times, but for us today it would mean police in our society at large and on the small scale of our school, teachers and principals. In your homes, God has given your parents this job of correcting your and your siblings’ disobedience. While we and even they may not always realize it, God is behind the scenes directing governing authorities as they administer justice (21:1). This is His orderly blueprint for human societies.
All of these truths from today’s passage should humble us to trust in God’s just and good plans for our lives. We should press forward in loving and obeying God, but be careful about what we promise and plan to do because we don’t know everything that God is doing (20:25). As young people (myself included!), we dream big and think we are very strong to do many great things, even for God, but older people have gained the wisdom of trusting more in God’s power than their own (20:29). This means we ought to talk less about what we are going to do and pray more to see what God wants to do. May we all trust in the Lord and do good in His name today.
The Text (Proverbs 20:22-21:3)
20:22 Do not say, “I will recompense [pay back] evil”; Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.
23 Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord, And dishonest scales are not good.
24 A man’s steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?
25 It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, And afterward to reconsider his vows.
26 A wise king sifts out the wicked, And brings the threshing wheel over them.
27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, Searching all the inner depths of his heart.
28 Mercy and truth preserve the king, And by lovingkindness he upholds his throne.
29 The glory of young men is their strength, And the splendor of old men is their gray head.
30 Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.
3 To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Questions to Think About
- How are you doing with trusting in God’s plans for your life right now? What are you struggling the most to trust God about?
- Do you have trouble trusting and obeying the authorities in your life (like your parents and teachers)? Why or why not?
- Do you tend to focus more on outward or inward (heartfelt) obedience to God and His commands? Explain.