One of my favorite Books of the Bible is Proverbs, written by King Solomon in the height of his reign. It is one of my favorites because it tells us how to order our values and establish our character. Proverbs 16:9 speaks of wisdom and the direction we should follow, juxtaposing wickedness and obedience (following the Word of God).
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 NKJV
Who directs your steps? Are you led by God’s sovereignty, or do you take responsibility for your own affairs as acts of free will? This scripture describes the actions of two types of people, the wicked, self-determined person, and the good, righteous person. A wicked person directs his own steps, and is in lockstep with the world, coming to his own ends. He does not look for guidance or direction from the Lord. The end justifies the means. The wicked continually sow discord which seems to be common practice in today’s society.
“with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;”
Proverbs 6:14 ESV
While is true that we are not all wicked, we are all sinners. Many of us are saved by grace, but even those of us who have received salvation tend to walk a worldly path. We aspire to greatness in our careers and our relationships. We are comfortable cutting corners, aligning ourselves with questionable associates and engage in company practices that in our hearts know are wrong. We direct our own steps, we listen to the evil one that paves our road with gold overlay. We reenact the days of Rome in our daily lives. And, to many, the question becomes, if we have free will, why would we want God to direct our steps when we have the freedom to discover and conquer at will? The wicked man, the sinner, charts his own path and when disaster strikes, calls upon the Lord. How many find that our own actions, intentions, and plans cannot stand the test of time and eventually cry to the Lord for help, promising to change our wicked ways only to head down our own path once He has placed us on solid ground?
“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.”
Proverbs 20:24-25 NLT
The second half of the scripture focuses on the godly person. The saved person who seeks after the Lord, the person who applies the Fruit of the Spirit in their daily lives. The good person who is a righteous person. The person who is influenced by the Spirit and grace of God to think and act in a Christ-like manner. He does not order his own steps, the Lord directs his steps, he does not veer to the right or the left but walks safely through difficulties, challenges and day-to-day activities, all the while listening to the voice behind him directing his steps and avoiding the landmines of life.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.””
Isaiah 30:21 NIV
PONDER THIS – Who do you listen to? Who directs your steps? To quote Shakespeare’s Word in Hamlet, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-new them how we will.” Septuagint, “Let the heart of man consider what is just, that his steps may be by God’s directed might.” (Pulpit Commentary)
I am providing a summary of the Book of Proverbs to provide the scope of this discussion and offer a blueprint to acquire wisdom, direction, and obedience to the Word.
Nelsons’ Quick Reference, Proverbs 16 Summary
A prepared heart(1-3, 23) is a heart that receives God’s truth and submits to God’s will. Since the mouth speaks what the heart has treasured up, the Lord can guide your words when your heart is prepared (Matt. 10:19-20).
A proud heart (5, 18-19). Pride is one sin that God especially hates. It leads to all kinds of trouble and robs you of the blessings of the Lord.
A purposeful heart (7, 9, 25). If your heart is not devoted to God’s purposes, then it will lead you astray. Take time to think and pray, meditate on the Word, and make your plans; and then trust the Lord to guide you.
A prudent heart(20-24). When wisdom is your food and drink, then you will be able to make prudent decisions. A prudent heart is revealed by lips that speak sweet words of wisdom.
A perverse heart (27-30). What is in the heart eventually comes out in the life, and the life described here is anything but beautiful or useful. No wonder Proverbs 4:23 is in God’s Word! Are you heeding it?
“O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.”
Jeremiah 10:23 NKJV
“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.”
Proverbs 16:1 NLT
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Proverbs 16:3 NIV
BibleHub.com. Commentary Proverbs 16:9, Benson Commentary, Gill’s Expositions, Pulpit Commentary
Hayford’s Bible Handbook. Proverbs.
Wiersbe. Nelson’s Quick Reference. Proverbs 16
Scriptures – Bible.com
Images – Google Images. LAB’s photo collection
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