Thursday, July 21, 2016

Proverbs 21:30 --- The Utter Sovereignty of the Lord


Proverbs 21:30 --- The Utter Sovereignty of the Lord
No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
    can avail against the Lord.

Verses 30 and 31 deal with the sovereignty of the Lord, which no person ought dare forget.  Along with verses 1-2, which also deal with the Lord's sovereignty and judgment, they form an inclusio[1] that frames this chapter, which has told us about the wicked and what they are like. 

The basic problem with the fallen human race is that we no longer fear the Lord.  And when we lose his fear, then wickedness follows.  O how we need to recover the fear of the Lord in our lives!  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the constant heart attitude that will keep us from wickedness.  As Psalm 19 puts it, "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever."

A. W. Tozer begins his classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy, this way:

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. . . . The most portentous fact about any man is . . . what he in his deep heart conceives  God to like. . . . Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, 'What comes into your mind when you think about God' we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. . . . A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well."[2]

This inclusio or frame of God's sovereignty and judgment around this chapter teaches us the key to learning the fear of the Lord.  We must learn who the Lord is and let that truth sink deeply into our souls.  Our God is utterly sovereign.  We cannot outmaneuver the Lord!  We cannot follow our own wisdom, our own understanding, or our own counsel without ending up in utter ruin!  If we oppose the Lord in our thinking or in our lifestyle we will not escape eternal judgment.  His sovereignty is inescapable. 

We are so syncretistic!  Syncretism is gathering wisdom from whatever source we happen upon.  We glean a little wisdom from Oprah, a little wisdom from the latest self-help book, a little wisdom from the Dahli Lama, a little wisdom from the Bible, a little wisdom from this source or that.  But what we fail to see is that the Lord Jesus Christ alone is the source of wisdom!  What we fail to see is that any wisdom or understanding or counsel that opposes him is false and will not avail!  What we fail to see that there is a so-called "wisdom" that is "earthly, unspiritual, and demonic" (James 3:14-17), because it opposes the Lord.  Our syncretism dishonors Jesus Christ our only Lord and teacher.

We have to discern the voices that speak to us in this world.  The world is a noisy place with many voices.  But voices that do not begin, continue, and end with the fear of the Lord can never rightly analyze the true problem of the human race, nor prescribe the true solution.  The philosophers of this world, who are actually theologians, but false ones, always go wrong because they have rejected the fear of the Lord.  And so all their wisdom, understanding and counsel is unspiritual and false because they didn't build on the foundation of the Lord and his words (see Matthew 7:24-27).  One of the more infamous of these false theologians was Friedrich Nietzsche, who is known for declaring that God is dead.  But after Nietzshe's death, someone wrote this:

                "God is dead."  --Nietzsche
                "Nietzsche is dead." --God

The sovereign Lord will have the final word.  "No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord."
               















[1] An inclusio, sometimes called an inclusion, is a literary device that is used to frame a passage, showing where it begins and ends.  Psalm 8 is an example as it begins and ends with the words, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth."  This device gives us a clue as to what the author wants us to see.  In Proverbs 21, I believe the point is that the fear of the Lord, which the wicked lack, is gained by coming to a right understanding of who the Lord, with whom we have to do, truly is.
[2] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 9-10.

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