The Lord’s Established Purpose

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

- Proverbs 19:21

Sin is fundamentally irrational, and there are fewer occasions on which that is more evident than when people oppose the comprehensive sovereignty of God over all things. Many individuals find to be abhorrent the idea that the Lord has ordained whatsoever comes to pass—that, while our plans are not unimportant, everything that takes place in history occurs according to God’s sovereign decree. Men and women are often appalled to think that they cannot really change the Lord’s mind (Num. 23:19), wrongly inferring from this that prayer is pointless. In our fallenness, we want to believe we have the final say in events, and we will do everything we can to preserve it.

But as noted above, this is irrational. Knowing our own limitations, why would we want to believe that our will might actually have the final say? We do not know everything. We are often deceived, and sometimes the goals that we achieve end up bringing with them harmful consequences that we never anticipated. Given this reality, we should desire only for the will of a perfect Being to be accomplished in every circumstance.

Thus, divine sovereignty, when rightly understood and embraced, is both comforting and fundamentally rational. Understanding our frailties and finitude should motivate us to love the fact that only the purposes of One who is perfect in love, knowledge, and power are surely accomplished in every circumstance. To put it simply, we should find rest when we read texts such as Proverbs 19:21 and find confirmation that although we may make many and varied plans, these plans will only come to fruition if they reflect our Creator’s purpose.

Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage that God’s “counsel often breaks men’s measures and baffles their devices; but their devices cannot in the least alter his counsel, nor disturb the proceedings of it, nor put him upon new counsels.” Our Maker always acts in such a way that He accomplishes what He intends. Sometimes this is not evident to us immediately, or we find His work in history perplexing. Yet this is not a reflection on divine wisdom or benevolence. Instead, it is a consequence of the distinction between Creator and creature. Our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways (Isa. 55:8–9); thus, when we cannot comprehend the ways that the Lord is working things out in our lives, it is actually proof that He is on the move. And because we know that He is good and holy, we can find rest for our souls no matter what He does in our lives.

Coram Deo

Matthew Henry also writes, “What comfort does this speak to all God’s people, that all God’s purposes, which we are sure are right and good, shall be accomplished in due time!” The Lord will surely accomplish His will, and this will is always directed toward our final good (Rom. 8:28). Even when things seem their darkest, we can trust that our Creator is working out our lives for our ultimate benefit, and in that we can rest.

Passages for Further Study

Proverbs 16:9
Acts 27:13–28:10

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