This is part sixteen in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of the study is to learn wisdom and discernment from this portion of God’s Word. Yesterday I learned of God’s omniscience, that He sees and knows everything, and I saw what a comfort this is to those who love Him. This passage also reinforced the value of having a humble spirit so I can learn to accept rebuke and correction from both men and God.
A predominant theme in the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs is God’s omnipotence. Where in the previous chapter the author stressed the fact that God sees and knows everything, in this chapter he stresses the fact that God also controls everything. The first verse says “The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” Though I may make preparations for the future and even diligently pray about it, ultimately it is God who is going to control what happens. Whatever He speaks is going to come to pass. This is reinforced in the ninth verse which reads “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” The obvious application of this knowledge is to submit my life to God, giving Him control over it. I need to seek His will so I can prepare my way for His purposes.
The fourth verse continues this theme. “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” Though wicked men are ultimately responsible for their own sin and destruction, the fact remains that they are part of God’s plans just as much as believers are. God will and must use them to accomplish His purposes since He has ultimate control over this world and everything in it.
The final verse in the chapter reads “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.” As God has control over both believers and unbelievers, so He controls everything else. The lot, when used as God willed, was a means of obtaining an answer from Him and was not mere chance. This shows that God controls every aspect of His Creation. Everything must bow to His will.
“How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”
Another popular theme in Proverbs, this verse shows again that wisdom is to be valued above everything else. It does not downplay the importance of material possessions, but shows that they are to be obtained and understood only through wisdom. When I am wise I will be able to obtain money through honest means and use it wisely. I will realize that this money is a blessing from God and not merely a means to enjoy what the world has to offer.
“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
One of the themes of the last chapter was the value of humility in a life of wisdom as it allows me to open my heart to reproof and correction. This chapter shows that there are grave consequences to forsaking humility, for pride and a haughty spirit will lead me to my destruction. If I will not humble myself to teaching and correction, I am guaranteed to follow my pride to my own death. It is far better to be humble and considered lowly in society than to be proud and considered great. A teachable spirit is far superior to any amount of wealth or social prestige, for it is a key to attaining wisdom.
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Wisdom without application in a life is meaningless. The pursuit of wisdom should teach me to control my emotions, and most notably my temper. The author attaches great importance to being slow to anger for when I am in control of my spirit I will be able to calmly and rationally apply wisdom to whatever situation may arise. The alternative, of course, is to lose my temper and immediately lose the respect of those around me.
“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.”
Before my wife and I moved to Oakville we were members of a church that placed great value on the elderly in the congregation. They were regarded with respect and sources of godly wisdom. In a society where the elderly are continually mocked and made objects of derision, it was refreshing to see them valued. Their grey hair really was considered a mark of honor. Many times my wife and I, young and newly married, turned to them for guidance and advice. So often they were able to relate the godly wisdom that they had accumulated through their years. These elderly people remain an inspiration to me and will always allow me to appreciate the value of those who have far greater experience in life than I do. Rather than being a burden these people can and should be a wonderful blessing.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- God is omnipotent. He has full, unlimited control over this world and everything in it. How much better it is, then, to submit to His control rather than fight against it!
- Humility is of great value, for an inevitable result of pride is destruction. I need to have a teachable spirit so God can continue to instill wisdom in me.
- I need to apply wisdom to my life so I control my emotions.
- Honor the elderly! Wisdom contradicts what our society believes about the elderly. We need to treasure them and value their wisdom and experience.