July 19, 2021

God's Counsel Shall Prevail


"My children, I wish to talk to you. During my early and middle life I was, perhaps, rather skeptical with regard to some of the truths of Christianity. Not that I did not have the utmost respect for religion and always read my Bible, but the doctrine of the atonement was one I never could understand, and I felt inclined to consider as impossible to be received in the way Divines taught it. I believe I was rather inclined to Unitarianism; but of late years my views have altered. I believe in the doctrines of the prayer books as I understand them, and hope to be saved through the merits of Jesus Christ. . . . My object in telling you this is that if anything happens to me, you might know, and perhaps it would console you to remember, that on this point my mind is clear: I rest my hopes of salvation on the Lord Jesus Christ."

Daily Reading : PROVERBS 19 - 21

TEXT : PROVERBS 19:3 The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD.  19:11 The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.  19:21 There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.  19:23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.  21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.  21:16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.  21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
It is a wonder indeed. A man or woman does wrong, and blames God. Perhaps there is not a more glaring illustration of the darkness of the mind of an unregenerate person than this verse in Proverbs 19:3 How dull can anyone's intellect be that it cannot reason correctly enough to understand an error in judgment or willful disobedience to the LORD is the result of an individual's own desire and has nothing to do with Almighty God? Truly, verse three illumines the mind of the Christian in understanding how the wicked stumble in the darkness of their own sin, and are willing to blame someone else for their own decision - including God Himself!
Proverbs 19:3
"We have here two instances of men's folly: - 1. That they bring themselves into straits and troubles, and run themselves a-ground, and embarrass themselves: The foolishness of man perverts his way. Men meet with crosses and disappointments in their affairs, and things do not succeed as they expected and wished, and it is owing to themselves and their own folly; it is their own iniquity that corrects them. 2. That when they have done so they lay the blame upon God, and their hearts fret against him, as if he had done them wrong, whereas really they wrong themselves. In fretting, we are enemies to our own peace, and become self-tormentors; in fretting against the Lord we affront him, his justice, goodness, and sovereignty; and it is very absurd to take occasion from the trouble which we pull upon our own heads by our wilfulness, or neglect, to quarrel with him, when we ought to blame ourselves, for it is our own doing. See Isa_50:1." [Matthew Henry]
To defer anger when possible is to a man or woman's credit. How many needless arguments would never have taken place if one party would have taken the high road and refused to argue? There are times for anger. Specifically, when sin is egregious, or an offense deep and deadly, anger may be necessary and appropriate. Righteous anger has its place. However, in the main course of daily events, anger is often an unnecessary reaction or an inappropriate response. Anger is often misplaced, misguided, and pointless.
Proverbs 19:11
"The discretion of a man deferreth his anger,.... That he does not show it immediately; but takes time to consider of the offence given him, and makes use of a proper time to resent what is fit should be resented; he is a wise and discreet man that is slow to anger, Pro_14:29. He is most like to God, who is "longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth", Exo_34:6; and it is to the honour of his "name" that he "defers his anger", and "refrains from" cutting off those that offend him, Isa_48:9;
and it is his glory to pass over a transgression; to forgive an offence committed; it is the duty and interest of a man to do so, and it is to his honour; as the contrary greatly reflects dishonour on him, and tends to his disgrace and reproach, if not to his ruin; see Mat_18:32." {John Gill]
Humanity, because of sin, is whimsical and capricious. People want something, even pray to the LORD for it, then in the course of time forget what they asked for. Sin has tainted the desires of the heart. Further, there are many things desired in this life, yet the ultimate decision is left with God. If it were not, how many undesirable situations would we have in the world? That is, in addition to the multitude of disturbing circumstances and conditions the LORD has already ordained or permitted, countless more would be the evils of our present world if the final decision was not left with the LORD.
Proverbs 19:21
"There are many devices in a man's heart,.... Some about civil things; to get wealth and riches: to obtain honour and glory among men; to attain to a long life, and to perpetuate their memories after death: some about sinful things; to gratify their carnal lusts and sensual appetites; and to do mischief to others, particularly the people of God, and the cause and interest of Christ: some about religious things; coming new doctrines, devising new ordinances and modes of worship; contriving other methods of salvation than by Christ; as by the light of nature; by the law of Moses; by mere morality, civility, and external justice between man and man; by keeping to the religion they were born and brought up in; and by a mere outward profession of religion, and submission to ordinances, and performance of duties, and a multitude more of the like kind;
nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand; and can never be frustrated by the devices of man's heart, though there are many, and that but one; see Psa_33:10. This may be applied to the Gospel, and the scheme of salvation in it, called the whole counsel of God, Act_20:27; it being the fruit of infinite wisdom, and the effect of a divine council between the eternal Three, and full of the best advice and instructions to the sons of men; and which has stood, and shall stand, notwithstanding the persecutions of wicked men, the craft of false teachers, and the ridicule of a profane world; it will continue till all the elect are gathered in, even, to the end of the world; and so will the ordinances of it, which are also called the counsel of God, Luk_7:30; and which will continue till the second coming of Christ. Moreover, the purposes of God, his counsels of old, or his eternal decrees, may be here meant; which are wisely formed in his own breast, and are not frustrable; and according to which counsel of his will all things are done in nature, providence, and grace; all things in this world are ordered as he pleases, and all things are done as he has ordered them; all his purposes are or will be fulfilled; his designs will be accomplished in the world and in his church, in spite of all the schemes, contrivances, and opposition of men and devils." [John Gill]
Proverbs 19:23
"See what those that get by it that live in the fear of God, and always make conscience of their duty to him. 1. Safety: They shall not be visited with evil; they may be visited with sickness or other afflictions, but there shall be no evil in them, nothing to hurt them, because nothing to separate them from the love of God, or hurt to the soul. 2. Satisfaction: They shall abide satisfied; they shall have those comforts which are satisfying, and shall have a constant contentment and complacency in them. It is a satisfaction which will abide, whereas all the satisfactions of sense are transient and soon gone. Satur pernoctabit, non cubabit incoenatus - He shall not go supperless to bed; he shall have that which will make him easy and be an entertainment to him in his silent and solitary hours, Psa_16:6, Psa_16:7. 3. True and complete happiness. Serious godliness has a direct tendency to life; to all good, to eternal life; it is the sure and ready way to it; there is something in the nature of it fitting men for heaven and so leading them to it." [Matthew Henry]
Everyone at one time or another can convince himself or herself their choices in life are best even when the evidence is clear that it is not wise. Strangely, men and women have the capacity to either convince themselves this is "right," when they know it is not, or lose sight and perspective of other factors that should be considered and entered into the equation that make the "right way" clearly wrong. Still, the LORD knows the thoughts of men and He judges. In His sovereignty, He exercises His prerogative to change the course of action or way of thinking by intervening in the lives of human beings. Those who believe God wound up the universe like a clock then walked away from it letting it tick away on its own need to understand this verse of Proverbs.  The LORD has revealed Himself in the Bible as a God who is actively involved in directing the world to His desired end. That is, He will save whom He will, destroy whom He will, and create New Heavens and  New earth.
Proverbs 21:2
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,.... This is repeated, from Pro_16:2; for the confirmation of it; and that it might be observed and taken notice of, and men be brought under a conviction of it; which is not easily done, it being what affects all men: every man is conceited of himself and his own way, and is not easily persuaded off of it; his sinful ways are agreeable to him promising him pleasure, profit, or honour; and his self-righteous ways suit with the vain opinion he has of himself, whereby he promises himself eternal life and happiness. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it to this sense,
"every man seems righteous to himself;''
but the Lord pondereth the hearts: weighs them in the balance of righteousness and truth; considers them, having a perfect knowledge of them, and all the springs of action in them; and knows that every way of man is not right, though they may seem so to him." [John Gill]
What an unspeakable tragedy to know the right way and depart from it! The Scriptures declare it would be better never to have known the truth. [2Pe 2:20  For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 2Pe 2:21  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 2Pe 2:22  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.]
To go to the "congregation of the dead" is frightening enough. To go there with the Holy Scriptures in your hand, and the memory of them revolving around the mind - a tormenting reminder that you once were on the path leading to eternal life and the Kingdom of God, is an inexplicable terror! With the grace of God, never let that happen to you! In our times we are witnessing multitudes who are wandering out of the Church of the Living God into the congregation of the dead. Resolve it will not be you, that you will not be one of them. Then, you can rest in Christ that He will keep you - always, from the terrors of leaving the path of righteousness.
Proverbs 21:16
"The man once enlightened, that wandereth out of the way of understanding, in which he had walked, shall remain - have a permanent residence - in the congregation of the dead; רפאים  rephaim, the lost; either separate spirits in general, or rather the assembly of separate spirits, which had fallen from primitive rectitude; and shall not be restored to the Divine favor; particularly those sinners who were destroyed by the deluge. This passage intimates that those called rephaim are in a state of conscious existence. It is difficult to assign the true meaning of the word in several places where it occurs: but it seems to mean the state of separate spirits, i.e., of those separated from their bodies, and awaiting the judgment of the great day: but the congregation may also include the fallen angels. My old MS. Bible translates, The man that errith fro the wei of doctrine, in the felowschip of geantis schal wonnen." [Adam Clarke]
Who knows more than God does? The answer is self-evident. The question itself is juvenile, made for the abecedarian or the little child. Of course, God knows everything. Thus, if you understand He rules the universe and all that is in it, you will rest in the truth that He is leading you like a Shepherd leads His sheep. No one can stop His will. No one can withstand His counsel when He does what is best according to His own Mind. Therefore, safety - with its intellectual grasp on the intellect and its soothing of the emotions and feelings, is dependent on trusting that all tranquility and protection is in the Hands of God. If it were not for this truth, who or what would you put your trust in? The human being is an undependable source of comfort, guidance, and protection. Man is  limited. God knows no limitations. There is no measuring His power. It is without boundaries and without end. Men will prepare their horses for battle. However, the armies of the LORD will conquer - always! God's counsel shall prevail!
Proverbs 21:30-31
"The designing busy part of mankind are directed, in all their counsels and undertakings, to have their eye to God, and to believe, 1. That there can be no success against God, and therefore they must never act in opposition to him, in contempt of his commands, or in contradiction to his counsels. Though they think they have wisdom, and understanding, and counsel, the best politics and politicians, on their side, yet, if it be against the Lord, it cannot prosper long; it shall not prevail at last. He that sits in heaven laughs at men's projects against him and his anointed, and will carry his point in spite of them, Psa_2:1-6. Those that fight against God are preparing shame and ruin for themselves; whoever make war with the Lamb, he will certainly overcome them, Rev_17:14. 2. That there can be no success without God, and therefore they must never act but in dependence on him. Be the cause ever so good, and the patrons of it ever so strong, and wise, and faithful, and the means of carrying it on, and gaining the point, ever so probable, still they must acknowledge God and take him along with them. Means indeed are to be used; the horse must be prepared against the day of battle, and the foot too; they must be armed and disciplined. In Solomon's time even Israel's kings used horses in war, though they were forbidden to multiply them. But, after all, safety and salvation are of the Lord; he can save without armies, but armies cannot save without him; and therefore he must be sought to and trusted in for success, and when success is obtained he must have all the glory. When we are preparing for the day of battle our great concern must be to make God our friend and secure his favour." [Matthew Henry]
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