Author: Randy Sheets
Proverbs 21 has a number of interesting thoughts to reflect on. Of course there are the usual proverbs stating that the righteous will prosper and the wicked will not. Those that practice justice and work hard will be rewarded while the lazy, corrupt and evil will suffer in the end. We know these are not always absolute, at least in this lifetime, but God has always ultimately rewarded those that do good and punish those who do evil. He will again.
There are even a couple of “better to be…” verses (9 and 19) pointing out that living with a quarrelsome and complaining wife is a miserable experience. Having no personal experience with that situation and having nothing to gain by discussing these verses I will defer any comment!
The last two verses in the chapter discuss the concept that man’s best wisdom or strategy cannot prevail against the Lord and that any victory obtained belongs to Him. This illustrates the power of God that may be unseen but nevertheless prevails. Man’s wisdom is foolishness compared to God’s (I Corinthians 1:18-20). It leads us back to the first verse that tells us that even though a king may feel he is the most powerful man in his kingdom his heart is turned by God to do His will like a stream may be diverted in its course. If we learned anything from our study of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther it is that God can manipulate an earthly king’s heart to do His will!
But the verses I need to focus on are the second and third verses. We too often try to justify our actions in our own sight but need to remember that God is the ultimate judge and His standard will be used to judge us. This is never more evident than in our worship. Saul found out when he disobeyed God that even if his intent was to use the spoils of war to worship God that obedience was a higher priority than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). Likewise David, after his sin with Bathsheba, stated in Psalms 51:16 and 17 that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” True worship is grounded in the right attitude towards God and our service to others. As Jesus said:
And to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33, ESV)