Scripture reading – Proverbs 16; Proverbs 17
Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Proverbs with today’s assignment, Proverbs 16 and 17. For the sake of brevity, I will limit our Bible study to two great, life-changing spiritual truths: The Sovereignty of God(Proverbs 16:1) and “The Providence of God: The LORD’s Purpose for Trials and Troubles” (Proverbs 17:3).
God is Sovereign (Proverbs 16:1)
The Sovereignty of God is one of the great truths of the Scriptures and has been a spiritual anchor for believers who have found themselves amid trials and troubles. We understand the Word of God reveals the LORD is Creator and is, therefore, the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, all nations and people. Knowing his son would one day be king and men’s lives and the nation’s future would rest in his hands, Solomon stressed the importance of planning and trusting God. Solomon wrote:
Proverbs 16:1 – “The preparations [plans; blueprints; i.e., battle plan] of the heart [mind; thoughts; emotions] in man [belong to or are the responsibility of man], and the answer [reply] of the tongue, is from the LORD.”
What is the essence of Proverbs 16:1?
It is that man bears the responsibility for planning and preparing for each day and the future. Nevertheless, the final answer to man’s preparations is from the Lord, the Sovereign of all. Whether it is a king who plans for battle or a humble farmer who plants his crops, success depends on the LORD’s blessings. Therefore, wise men plan, but the wisest of men acknowledge and accept the sovereignty of God.
In the words of Solomon, “the answer” (whether the outcome is favorable or unfavorable) is from the Lord. Those who lack faith and are unwilling to accept that God is sovereign risk being paralyzed by anxieties, overtaken by racing thoughts, and having fears erode their faith and strength.
Remember: A wise man plans and will “trust in the LORD with all [his] heart” (Proverbs 3:5a).
The Providence of God: Look Past the Flames! (17:3)
Fire is one of nature’s most valuable yet destructive elements.
The fire of a BBQ grill can stir a hungry appetite with the aroma of flame-broiled meats. Fire in a boiler can power a mighty steam engine and turn massive electric turbines. Nevertheless, when a fire is unleashed, it will make a trail of devastation and destroy everything in its path, rendering pain and sorrow.
Solomon, capitalizing on the theme of fire, compared the flames of a smelting furnace that purified silver and gold to the fiery trials God employs to test the hearts of His spiritual sons and daughters. Solomon taught his son:
Proverbs 17:3 – “The fining pot [refining] is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD [Jehovah; Self-existent God] trieth [proves; examines] the hearts.”
The process of purifying precious metals requires intense heat. A smelter will take a refining pot of raw silver or gold and sit the pot amid an intense fire. He will then melt the raw material, which will cause the dross of impurities to boil to the top, where a skimmer removes the impurities, leaving pure silver or gold.
Comparing times of trial and trouble to a refining pot and furnace (17:3b), Solomon taught his son to anticipate the LORD would prove, test, and purify His people’s hearts with “fiery” trials. Trials and troubles not only test the soul but purify the motives and humble the spirit of a man.
Nearly a thousand years later, James exhorted believers: “My brethren, count [consider] it all joy when ye fall into [encounter] divers temptations [trials; adversity]; 3 Knowing this, that the trying [testing; proving] of your faith worketh patience [strength; perseverance]” (James 1:2-3).
Closing thoughts –
The singe of trials can hurt and humiliate if not received with a humble, broken spirit. However, troubles can also benefit believers by burning away our crutches of self-will and heady independence. Whatever the trials, they can benefit us when we trust the way of the LORD is perfect, good, and right (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30; Romans 8:29-29).
Job, the Old Testament patriarch, confessed the spirit of Proverbs 17:3 when he wrote, “He [the LORD]knoweth the way that I take: when he [the LORD] hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Someone reading today’s devotional may feel the heat of fiery trials and troubles. I know they hurt, and you long to flee the flames of pain and disappointment. I understand the temptation to focus on the circumstances and personalities that hurt and disappoint you. However, I invite you to look past the flames of trials and troubles and trust the LORD to take you through the pain! The apostle Paul encouraged believers of Corinth, writing:
“There hath no temptation [trouble; trial] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape [to pass through the trial], that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Trust that God’s grace is sufficient for your trial, and turn your hurts and sorrows to Him.
An invitation: I welcome hearing how the Sovereignty and Providence of the LORD have moved your heart to let go of your pain, fears, and anxieties and consciously trust the LORD. I invite you to email your confidential testimony to: PastorTravisSmith@HeartofAShepherd.com.
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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