September 11, 2021
Tennessee Valley District
The Ways of the World
Proverbs 21:1-17 (NKJV)
The Lord Considers the Heart
21 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the [a]rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts.
3 To do righteousness and justice
Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
4 A haughty look, a proud heart,
And the [b]plowing of the wicked are sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue
[c]Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
7 The violence of the wicked will [d]destroy them,
Because they refuse to do justice.
8 The way of [e]a guilty man is perverse;
But as for the pure, his work is right.
9 Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;
His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.
11 When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise;
But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.
12 The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked,
Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.
13 Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be heard.
14 A gift in secret pacifies anger,
And a bribe [f]behind the back, strong wrath.
15 It is a joy for the just to do justice,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.
16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
DevotionThis section of Proverbs is both a lesson and a reminder. It’s a lesson in living a righteous and just life —some believe, by no less than Solomon himself. And it is a reminder that man’s belief that he is in control is a folly that, through his own arrogance, leads to pain and destruction. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,” the passage tells us, but the Lord weights the hearts.”
The Bible is full of passages like this one that show us exactly what is required if we want to live a good and righteous life. So why doesn’t everyone just do it? I recently saw a man wearing a T-shirt that said, “It’s not that I’m smarter than you. It’s just that I’m always right.” Or in Proverbs 21’s words, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes …” (2a).
We humans are a haughty group, quick to claim dominance but slow to righteousness, quick to judge but slow to forgive, quick to seek treasures but slow to seek humility. The examples of man’s false confidence are rampant throughout the Bible. How many times did the Israelites divert from Moses’ leadership and God’s own list of rules because they thought they had a “better” idea? Endless examples of how our bad works lead to pain and destruction exist, but still we persist in our arrogance.
One has to wonder why God values man at all. Yet the Israelites did make it to the promised land. Many of the Bible’s greatest leaders were first its biggest losers. And somehow, even though our selfishness seems to know no bounds, God never turns His back on us. Even though “The Lord weighs the hearts” (v. 2b) of all, we are constantly given one more chance to be who God desires us to be.