God is in control, and God wants us to trust in Him with our whole hearts. Those two ideas run throughout today’s challenge from Proverbs 16:1-9. We are encouraged to remember that while we constantly make plans for our lives, the Lord is the one who has the last say on what happens to us (Proverbs 16:1,9). Even the downfall of the wicked, though they deserve the consequences of their sin, is still in some way under God’s authority (this is not something we can totally grasp, but it is what the Bible is teaching in places like Proverbs 16:4). Therefore, we must commit our hopes to God and let Him guide us as we make and pursue plans (v. 3). A big part of that daily submission to God involves letting Him purify our motives and intentions. We cannot stay proud and just do whatever we think is best for us (vv. 2, 5). Instead, we must seek to know God’s will as it is revealed to us in Scripture and then do it. When we walk with Jesus with a humble, unselfish mindset, then we enjoy the blessing of His peace and presence, even finding protection from those who attack us (v. 7). We experience in practice now the righteousness of Christ that has already been credited to our accounts in heaven. And this is better than having great money or power but a guilty, sin-burdened conscience (v. 8).
Spread throughout this passage is the call for Christians to live in the fear of the Lord. This means repenting or turning away from sin and turning to God in faith (v. 6b). This is the fruit of the salvation we have experienced through faith in Jesus Christ. When you were saved, you put your trust in the blood of Jesus for the atonement or payment for your sins. Then you received and experienced God’s forgiveness. The Bible says this about what Jesus did for us: “And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is the New Testament fulfillment of what Proverbs 16:6a is describing in today’s passage. Hundreds of years before Jesus came to this earth in the flesh, Solomon was explaining here in the Old Testament that salvation comes only by the grace of God through faith in His work for us. Holy objects like the Ark of the Covenant (pictured above) and rituals like animal sacrifices were symbols pointing forward to Jesus’s death on the cross. The fact that God sent His own perfect Son to die for us should forever lead us to at once tremble and rejoice before Him and be willing to do whatever He commands. That’s the fear of the Lord, and it’s where we need to live each day.
The Text (Proverbs 16:1-9)
16:1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.
3 Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.
4 The Lord has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
5 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.
7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8 Better is a little with righteousness, Than vast revenues without justice.
9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
Questions to Think About
- Can you think of some of your plans from the past year that did not work out as you expected? What happened? As you look back now, can you see how God was in control?
- Do you live in “the fear of the Lord”? How can you tell?