Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 16 ESV”]
The plans 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 spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away 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 great revenues with injustice.
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
10 An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
26 A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
27 A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
28 A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
29 A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
Solomon: God’s Sovereignty
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Such is our sinful self-deception, that our own motives are often hidden from us. Especially when we contemplate sin. Our capacity to justify it seems endlessly creative.
But we must not imagine our ignorance is God’s – He DOES know our motivations. And our ignorance will not excuse us in the end – for our true motivations are known – and they are, our own.
This is both jarring – in that our wickedness cannot be hidden, and comforting, in that even the slightest hint of righteous desires are known and noted by a gracious God.
Proverbs 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Bad eyes? Constant struggle with weight? Abandoned? Hurt? Poor? Wealthy? Too short? Bald? Too attractive to be taken seriously? No pedigree? Wrong ethnicity? Birth defect? Challenged? Poor hearing? Diabetic? Lack ambition? Lonely? Only liked for your money or influence? Dumped at the altar? Bullied? Abused? Betrayed? Uneducated? Handicapped?
God has graciously & wisely given us each and every circumstance – from our physical strengths and weaknesses, to our positive and negative circumstantial environments – that we might be brought face to face with the conditions best suited to maximize the exposure of the sin within us that needs dealt with, as it hinders Christ’s likeness within us.
Does this mean we simply look at everything and declare it good? No! May it never be! Some of these things considered in and of themselves are in fact bad. Very bad. But their being bad is no hindrance to God’s gracious purposes toward His own through them. Evil exists. But God’s goodness redeems even the most heinous of all things that touch us on behalf of His loved ones – so that we need not live as perpetual victims, but rather as prized trophies of grace.
On one side, it takes very penetrating hurts to go deep enough to uncover and expose the most buried and protected sins. On the other side, it takes very great privileges and pleasures to expose other of the deepest sins buried in our hearts. These are means He uses in sanctification – no matter how the Enemy may have designed it, or the evil in any other perpetrator’s heart may have meant it.
How then, will we respond? Will we use His “gifts” to grow? Or will they serve as our chief excuses to remain as we are? Praise God for His great redeeming grace!
His redemptive glory transcends anything we’ve begun to uncover yet. Oh how eternity alone will be able to declare it to us! Though we cannot see it now, the day will come when we will. His righteousness will be fully vindicated; evil and sin will be fully revealed and judged – and we will stand in awe of how He blessed us through the worst machinations the Enemy of our souls was able to concoct and execute through the agency of his fallen minions and fallen men. What a great God we serve.
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.