We don’t often think of the book of Proverbs as a unified work, more as loose sayings scattered about rather carelessly. But the book has more order than at first glance. There are several groupings on topics of wisdom. Here are a few notes on one of those groupings.
Proverbs 16:1-9 makes a strong statement about the sovereignty of God. He knows what he’s doing, and man has a limited, narrow view of where everything will lead. Man thinks God’s commandments about morals is hogwash, but such arrogance has its own end. “The Lord has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster” (v. 4).
Calvinists make the sovereignty of God overbearing, crushing the human will. But he is indeed sovereign, whether in our words (Pro 16:1) or actions (Pro 16:9). Our plans cannot supersede God’s. His will always overrules.
Proverbs 16:3, so abused by people who love doing their own will, is ironically placed in the middle of this passage on God’s sovereignty. Our will makes headway only insofar as we fit it into the will of God. In his commentary on Psalms, Waltke says that the “faithful must not fret or worry” about the effectiveness of one’s work, God will take care of that. A good reminder for the church sowing the seed of the Kingdom, is it not?
Proverbs 16:8 hints that we shouldn’t expect immediate economic prosperity as a reward for obedience. Before the Lord decides the right time for justice, the wicked may prosper and get away with murder, while the righteous suffer. The latter is still better, both in the present, as well as the future prospect.
In this section of 16:1-9 the “Lord” is in every verse but this verse 8. Interesting no? Just here, where justice is turned upside down. Walkte again: “he seems absent before he turns the morally upside-down world right-side up.”
The catchword today is freedom, though even politically we have less of it than we think. Spiritually, we mustn’t think we can snub our noses at God, live life as we wish, and still eat and keep our cake. Some like to claim he doesn’t exist, to maximize their freedom. Others impose their own will on God’s for a divine rubber-stamping. In the end we will discover that God will have his way, merciful and gracious, righteous and just.
Will we resist that will, to our eternal suffering, or embrace it, for everlasting joy?