Even the king’s heart is in God’s hands, says Proverbs 21:1. The Prime Minister and heads of all functions in life are simply actors for God; how must it be for us? If we think we’re not controlled by God, take another careful look. And if we’re against God, Proverbs tells us not to bother... no wisdom, insight or plans get the better of him (v. 30); it’s no good waking early against a Being who never sleeps or slumbers!
God sees to it that the diligent and lazy get their just deserts. The diligent get more for their generosity (v. 26), whilst the lazy are condemned for a time in their lack of care (“haste” v. 5), lying (v. 6) and pleasure-seeking (v. 17) i.e. selfishness. They crave and are never satisfied, until they get a grip over diligence.
A key theological truth is expounded in verse 3. The concept of doing what is “right and just” over mere visual sacrifice reflects a heart for truth and virtue; a heart after God. God tests our hearts (v. 2) and an approach to do that which is right and just is what he’s eternally looking for.
And, in verse 21, whoever pursues this life will gain “life, prosperity and honour,” calling us back to Proverbs 3:16. But the evil intended sacrificing of those not with a heart for the things of God will backfire; God’s wrath will be stirred (v. 27).
We get to choose in this life what sort of witness we’ll be. God wants us to choose the right way, though we invariably ignore his weighing on our consciences. The “careful listener... who gives thought to their ways,” however, has at last, the capacity to please God (vs. 28-29). They don’t need to put up a “bold front,” as they simply do as they are without pretence.
We couldn’t satisfy a review of Proverbs 21 without tackling the “quarrelsome wife” proverbs in verses 9 and 19. As a husband I’m loath to get this wrong! Hasten to say that it would be better to live on the corner of the roof or live in a desert if anyone was married to this wife (or husband) as I believe this principle is gender inclusive. No one likes to be nagged.
The Just Judge sits in consideration over all of us. He takes note. If we’re found guilty of crimes of the heart, he will inevitably bring us to ruin (v. 12). Yet, there is always enough to live for in the positive sense; God’s blessings for obedience are radically persuasive.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.