September 19, 2017
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 19 September 2017
The book of Proverbs can be contrasted between the wisdom poems (chs. 1—9) and the discrete sayings (chs. 10—31). The wisdom poems are to be read as an introduction to the discrete sayings. The proverbs of 10:1—22:16 are primarily one-line sayings, which is in contrast to the lengthy poems that characterize chapters 1—9. The most prominent theme is the contrast between the just (wise) and the wicked (fool) with regard to their conduct and reward.
Proverbs 21 reveals how God can turn hearts (v. 1) to accomplish his purposes. A king may appear to enforce decisions independent of anyone, yet the first proverb is a reminder that God is sovereign over all (cf. 20:24). God controls history for his purposes, and He uses those in positions of authority to accomplish his plans. Just as a farmer controls the flow of a stream and directs the waters into the field of his choice, so God “turns” the heart of a leader (cf. Esth 6:1-10; Isa 45:1-7; Nah 1:3). God is sovereign, and even determines the “steps” of those who are less prominent (Prov 16:1, 9).
Most people believe their “way is right,” yet it is God who “weighs” (tests) our inmost being. God judges motivations, that is, not just what we do but why. Similarly, the Lord told Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). God beholds the heart of those who fool others, and also those who fool themselves (Prov 16:2; 1 Cor 4:4). God prefers obedience to sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22; Hos 6:6) because we cannot receive his favor through offerings. Certainly, worship ceremonies are legitimate, yet they are no substitute for the obedient heart that chooses “to do righteousness and justice.”
An arrogant person may justify their pride by asserting its necessity to be successful in life. According to God’s Word, “haughty eyes and a proud heart” are treacherous because such a life “is sin.” The metaphor of the “lamp” indicates what gives direction or guidance in life. What the “wicked” regard as life, God says “is sin” (Prov 21:4-8).
Throughout the book of Proverbs, “wisdom” almost always includes reverence for God. There is no wisdom without first submitting to God, and recognizing that any attempts to live contrary to his Word are futile. All preparatory knowledge is foolishness without consideration for the will of God. Foolishness is laboring against God, and it is also foolish to labor without Him. No human wisdom can thwart the purpose and will of God. Not even practical skills (e.g. horsemanship in v. 31) guarantee victory without Him.
The one who trusts in the Lord will never be defeated. “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident” (Ps 27:3; cf. 2 Chron 14:11-13). Will you rely upon the same omnipotent Lord God and Savior, and the provision of his Word, in every time of apparently overwhelming trouble? If you will, God will prove to you that “victory belongs to the Lord.”
Your Missionary to Georgia's Leaders,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.