Scripture reading – Proverbs 21; Proverbs 22

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* Please note that today’s Bible study will be published in two parts. The first devotional will consider Proverbs 21, and the second Proverbs 22.


Proverbs 21


The Lord is Sovereign of His Creation (Proverbs 21:1-3)

Today’s Bible study reminds us that God is Sovereign! He is the Ruler of His creation and has all power and authority. He is involved in the affairs of humanity and is working all things together according to His divine purpose and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29). 


Though the LORD disapproves of humanity’s sinful actions and decisions, He is nevertheless sovereign. He can direct men’s choices that are contrary to His will to accomplish His eternal purpose (an example was Joseph’s affirmation of the LORD’s sovereignty when he said to his brothers, “20But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

Consider with me a brief exposition of the Sovereignty of God and the authority and free will of man in Proverbs 21:1-3.

Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart [his mind; thoughts; will] is in the hand of the LORD [under His authority and dominion], as the rivers [channels; streams] of water: he turneth [bends and turns] it whithersoever he will [pleasure; desire; favor].”

Proverbs 21:1 declares that all human authority (even that of a king) is subservient to the power of God. We understand that men are not robots. However, not even a king can act independently of the LORD. Like all humanity, a king is a free-will agent; however, God uses the bent and penchant of men to accomplish His plan and purpose. Therefore, like a farmer directs water through irrigation channels to his crops, the LORD directs and channels the heart of a king where He wills (21:1b).  [Example of Pharoah in Exodus 10:1-2.]

Proverbs 21:2 – Every way [road; path; course of life] of a man is right in his own eyes [opinion]: but the LORD pondereth [weighs; measures] the hearts [mind; understanding].”

We are reminded in Proverbs 21:2 that the LORD knows man’s heart, motives, and purpose. Yet, it is the bent of human nature to perceive we are better than we are. God, however, ponders, weighs, and considers what lies within the hearts of men. There are no secrets with the LORD, for He is omniscient and “looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Finally, we are reminded that God focuses on man’s heart, not his outward form or ritual (21:3).


Proverbs 21:3  “To do justice [right; honest] and judgment [conform to God’s divine moral standard] is more acceptable [preferred] to the LORD than sacrifice [offerings].


Solomon was no doubt familiar with when the prophet Samuel admonished King Saul and asked, “Hath theLord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).


The principle is this: Outward ritual, without inward devotion, is hypocrisy. Hypocrites offer sacrifices of money and service and even conform to visible standards (1 Samuel 16:7). However, it is the heart of the righteous to obey the Lord.


Closing thoughts


The hand of the LORD rests upon every human authority in our lives. We are wise when we consciously look past the personalities, flaws, and failures of authorities and place our faith and confidence in the LORD. After all, God can turn the hearts of men to accomplish His will, which is His best for us. Let us trust the Lord and pray for those in authority! (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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