Solomon’s exceptional, God-given wisdom is described in 1 Kings 3 and 4. Such was his reputation that ″from all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom″ (1 Kings 4:34). It is not strange, therefore, that Solomon should speak of kings and rulers in the proverbs he penned.
Proverbs 21:1 is one such example. In Solomon’s day, kings possessed absolute authority and believed that they had the power to make decisions on their own. But this proverb is a clear reminder that the Lord is sovereign and rules over all things-the Lord is the King of kings!
All kings are God’s servants (see Romans 13:1-2)-even those who do not acknowledge Him. They are all under His rule and control (see what Isaiah 41:2-4 and 45:13 say about God’s use of Cyrus the Persian king).
Proverbs 21 ends with yet another reminder (vv. 30-31) that no-one can frustrate the purposes of God. No plan or wisdom can succeed if it goes against God or His will (v. 30), and no military campaign, however well planned, can be victorious unless the Lord allows it (v. 31).
Like Proverbs 1:7 (″The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge″), 21:30 (″There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord″) is a key verse in the book of Proverbs. Both point to the same truth-God is sovereign and is to be revered. This truth should drive all our thought, actions, words, and attitudes, and it lies behind the teachings found in the rest of Proverbs 21:
- The Lord searches even hidden motives (vv. 2-4). He cannot be deceived, for He knows men’s hearts. He looks for true integrity, and can see any sign of arrogance within.
- There is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, but it must not be gained at the expense of integrity (v. 6). In everything you do, remember that the end does not justify the means; reject the ″whatever it takes″ approach.
- Do not forsake the path of wisdom and godly living, or you will end up suffering the punishment for sin-death (v. 16).
- Plan for the future and live wisely, don’t live just for the present (v. 20). This proverb compares the wise person who stores up food with the fool who eats up everything he has and has nothing to spare.
- Pursue righteousness and love (v. 21), for they will bring their own rewards of life, prosperity, and honour. This means leading a life that is pleasing to God and a blessing to others.
- Beware the ever-present temptation of overweening pride (v. 24). To reject rebuke, to turn a deaf ear to good advice, and to mock those who rebuke and advise you is to give in to pride.
How does knowing God’s absolute sovereignty over everything we do affect how you live every day? How will it affect the plans you make in your life?
Reflect on what Proverbs 21:2-4 says about how God knows and sees all. What would He see in your heart and your motivations? Would they please Him?