Today: [Proverbs 16] What it Means to Rest in God. In Proverbs 16 Solomon speaks at length about the sovereignty of God and the works of men. There is a depth of understanding of God’s sovereignty that is very daunting the natural mind. As men and women we tend to have an illusion of independence and autonomy in thought and deed even from God Himself. Solomon declares in this chapter that whatever our choices may be it is in God’s sovereignty that the script of our life is played out on the stage or our presumed independence. God is always first. We seek Him because He draws us. We see the light go out in the heart of wicked men because God has said “enough is enough…”
[Pro 16:1-33 KJV] 1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, [is] from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man [are] clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. 4 The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. 5 Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD: [though] hand [join] in hand, he shall not be unpunished. 6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD [men] depart from evil. 7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better [is] a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. 9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. 10 A divine sentence [is] in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
In this chapter we see various statements relating to the affairs of men in the light of God’s sovereignty. A man can prepare and plan for what happens next but the outcome of every endeavor is ultimately in the hands of God. When you are facing difficult choices you will seldom if ever purposely choose a wrong or immoral path. This does not mean you won’t make a mistake or make a choice that is not displeasing to God. The ways of a man are always right in his own eyes but as verse 2 tells us the Lord weighs the heart of the matter. When it comes to decision making the wisdom of the world says “just do your best – that is all God expects of you”. This is not compatible with scriptural teaching. John 5:19 tells us to do what we see the Father do and make our judgments based upon His voice speaking in our lives. What you think the correct choice might be in any situation is merely based on your own limited perceptions. We have the voice of God and the mind of God at our disposal. He may ask you to make a choice that doesn’t make sense to your natural mind or agree with what others around you are pressuring you to do. It isn’t important that you please men or do what men suggest is right.
When your ways please the Lord even your enemies will be at peace with you. Whatever your choices are God is sovereign and ultimately will direct your steps. We have the perception of free will and man’s will is free – within the limits of God’s sovereignty. You can devise your way but it is the Lord that directs your steps. Pharaoh when confronted by Moses chose not to release the people of God from bondage but Ex. 7:13-14 tells us it was God that hardened his heart. This is an aspect of the attributes of God that is very difficult for man with his obstinate heart and determinist thinking to accept yet it is a consistent theme throughout scripture. The affairs of man do not operate independent of the purposes of God. God is not an observer to the choices that men make – but is in fact the prime mover behind all of the affairs of men ultimately bringing about His purposes.
11 A just weight and balance [are] the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag [are] his work. 12 [It is] an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips [are] the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. 14 The wrath of a king [is as] messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. 15 In the light of the king’s countenance [is] life; and his favour [is] as a cloud of the latter rain. 16 How much better [is it] to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! 17 The highway of the upright [is] to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. 18 Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better [it is to be] of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy [is] he. 21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. 22 Understanding [is] a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools [is] folly.
Verse 11 speaks of just weights and balances. All the weights of the bag (Solomon says) are the work of the Lord. How often do we ask questions that impugn the fairness of God? Life is not fair but God is. We ask “why do little babies die if God is God?” This is the heart of the accuser that Adam voiced in the fall. God asked Adam “where are you” and Adam retorted “I was afraid and hid myself…” In that moment it was starkly apparent that the spirit of Satan had entered Adam just as he entered Judas at the last supper. The betrayal of this remark revealed the infection of sin that had already spread in a few short hours to consume Adam and Eve’s thinking. When Adam hid himself his answer to God was in effect: “If you weren’t so scarey I wouldn’t be cowering back her sewing fig leaves together…” When we think we have God figured out and are trying to please him as Adam with the works of our hands it is from a heart of accusation toward God that assumes He is demanding something we can’t produce in order to be in right relationship with Him. There is nothing we can do or be or think to be in right relationship with God. Abraham, the friend of God knew this when asked to sacrifice Isaac his thinking was “God will provide Himself a ram…” When you fail and falter God is not interested in acts of contrition motivated from a heart of deep misunderstanding of His nature. He wants us to run to Him like little children and throw ourselves on His clemency and mercy to find grace to help in the time of our need.
23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words [are as] an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. 25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof [are] the ways of death. 26 He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him. 27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips [there is] as a burning fire. 28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. 29 A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way [that is] not good. 30 He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass. 31 The hoary head [is] a crown of glory, [if] it be found in the way of righteousness. 32 [He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. 33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof [is] of the LORD.
Verse 25 says that there is way that seems right to man but the end thereof is death. When Adam and Eve sinned it seemed right to sew fig leaves together to cover their nakedness but death was already working in them. Everything that they did from the moment they took of the fruit of the forbidden tree demonstrates death working in them. Likewise when you and I are under pressure and our first resort is to consult our own limited thinking or turning to any other resource than God Himself, this is death, failure and devastation working in us to produce its poisonous fruit. We may protest that what we do we do for God but verse 26 says “he that laboreth, laboreth for himself…” We often hear people in great frustration complain that they have attended church, paid their tithes, etc., and they don’t understand why God isn’t moving in their lives. This is the fig leaf mentality. What we do we ultimately do for ourselves. The mandate of heaven is found in Hebrews:
[Heb 4:1, 3 KJV] 1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. … 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Our trust is not in ourselves. Our trust is in the Lord. It is true that the rest of God is not inactivity but rather an obedience flowing out of a trust in the Father that is already established not a trust we are earning by our own flawed acts of obedience.
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