IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: MAN’S DEVISINGS AND GOD’S DECREES
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”
As we consider this verse, let us do a quick word study to make sure we know what it is saying to us. “A man’s heart…” The word “heart” refers to a man’s feelings, will, and intellect. It is the center of one’s being, the central part. The word “deviseth” is very illuminating. It means to fabricate, to plot or to contrive. The root has to do with the act of plaiting or weaving, or combining two things into one. To devise is to think deeply and consider all options; it intimates a high degree of knowledge or wisdom. Then we come to the phrase, “his way.” The Hebrew word here denotes a road, a course of life or a mode of action. So thus far we see that humans plan the course of their lives according to their own wisdom and knowledge. Likewise, political and cultural leaders make their plans and contrive their strategies to achieve their own purposes. The unbeliever, also, devise his life’s path according to his own designs.
Now we examine the second half of the verse: “…but the Lord directeth his steps.” “The Lord” is Jehovah, the self-existent one. His name stands in direct contrast to the devisings of finite man’s heart. Then we come to the word “directeth.” This means to be erect, to set up, to establish, to fix in place. It is a building term, used describe the erecting of a structure or house. It is also a term of creation, to make provision or to make preparation for a thing. Man’s devisings stand in complete contrast to God’s direction. Lastly, we have the word, “steps.” This is speaking of man’s steps and not God’s. It speaks of his “pace.” So, the verse is saying, “Man can devise a path for himself, but God establishes his pace.”
What a blessing to be thankful for! Man is a free moral agent. He acts from choice, and not by constraint. His heart devises his own way. This is his freedom, which every man possesses. But likewise, it is also true that God governs the world and all that is in it! Not only does God work His own purpose through human beings, but He does it without ever overruling or infringing on their freedom to choose. How can this be? We are not called to explain or understand it, we are to be thankful for it!
“A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” Man devises; the Lord directs. Man proposes;
God exposes. Man thinks, consults, plans, acts, and all freely; God controls, limits, orders, overrules, according to
the good pleasure of His own holy will, and for the advancement of His own declarative glory. Or, in the language of
Prov. 21:30, “There are many devices in a man’s heart: nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Man’s agency, and God’s overruling sovereignty; man’s heart devising his way, and the Lord directing his steps; or, in other words, Man’s schemes, and God’s issues. Man’s projects, and God’s results.
As an example, think with me of the first great project of human ambition in the pages of God’s Word. Genesis 11 tells us that the whole world was “of one speech.” Humankind devised a grand scheme: “Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto Heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Their aim was to centralize power, to consolidate a government that would control the world. Their scheme would establish a universal authority that would control all aspects of life: religion, commerce, speech, economics, law. It seemed such a good idea to the leaders of the day, and they spared no expense to accomplish their purpose. No doubt, those Babel-builders felt strong in the beginning of their enterprise; they were also united in their purpose; perhaps they were honest men who thought they were doing a great thing for the cause of humanity and good government. They may have been confident of success—but there was one consideration which stamped their scheme with folly as well as wickedness, and made its defeat as certain as destiny itself. It was antagonistic to the plan and purpose of God. And how sudden and overwhelming was their defeat! And why? Because God’s purpose was different than that of man! Man proposed—but God disposed!
Later in the Genesis record is the story of Joseph. God had earmarked Joseph for leadership and service to Him. A jealous set of brothers set out to thwart God’s plan for their young brother. They set out to kill him but decide instead to sell him into slavery. This was their device and their work, and an awfully wicked device and work it was. But what was God’s design? The latter chapters of Genesis weave the story of Joseph to a place of rule and leadership. In fact, Joseph becomes ruler over his father and brothers in spite of the bothers’ terrible sin against him. The brothers devised a path to achieve their desires, but God had a master plan for Joseph to, not only save his family, but to preserve a seed to Himself that would become the nation of Israel! Joseph’s brethren simply designed to gratify their wicked passions, to put Joseph out of the way—that was their devising. But what was God’s decree? To raise up a people for his own glory, and train them in the school of affliction, and lead them through the sea and through the wilderness with signs and wonders never to be forgotten. In time, this race would bring forth the Messiah,
Who would bring salvation to the world! The brothers were working evil, but God meant it for good. The brothers were acting out of hate and malice, God was acting out of a heart of love for the whole world!
Lastly, look at the crucifixion of Christ. A Jewish mob, scribes, and chief priests, and elders of the people, filled with prejudice and rage, are determined to take the life and thereby crush the cause of the despised Nazarine. In Judas, one of His own disciples, they find an instrument suited to their purpose. For thirty pieces of silver he betrays Him into their hands. They hurry Him through a mock trial and pronounce Him worthy of death. They clamor for his crucifixion, and when the Roman Governor finally yields, they lead Him to a place called Gethsemane. And “there they crucified Him.” As He hangs on the cross, His enemies have seemingly accomplished their purpose. Their hatred and malice has reached it’s fruition. He is dead and his disciples come to anoint His body. He is placed in the tomb and the door is sealed. Evil humans have accomplished their aim, but God Almighty is working out a plan that they know nothing about! Man has devised! god has decreed.
It’s our human nature to come up with plans, thoughts, and goals for the future. But we need to realize God is the only one who truly knows what’s best for us. When you have plans you would like to make, or actions you need to take about a particular decision, make sure that you go to God first.
Dear God, I commit all my plans, dreams, and aspirations into your hands. These are only products of my thoughts; what I truly want is what you want for me because I know that that is what will truly be best for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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