Proverbs 16:9 - Is God in control and sovereign?
Prov 16:9 (NIV): Is God in control and sovereign?
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his
steps. Prov 16:9 (NIV)
The topic of these verses is God and His ultimate control over
human activity. [Ryrie SB]
This is a magnificent expression of the sovereignty of God,
whereby Yahweh inevitably and without exception accomplishes His will
and purpose through free-willed agents acting freely but
responsibly. Man must be a free agent to be in the image of God, and God must
be immutable, i.e., unchanging, in order to be God (Mal. 3:6).
Permitting or overruling the acts of man without infringing upon his
freedom or interrupting his responsibility (e.g., the brothers of Joseph
in Gen. 37:26-28; 45:5) is an awesome expression of God's
providence. [Believer's SB]
Everything that we do is done by the life that God lends us and
therefore by His permission. Man devises but does not know whether he will
live to carry out his plans. Obviously, in recognition of this truth
some Christian people adopted the custom of saying, "God willing,"
when they announced their future plans (see James 4:13-15). [SDA
As a reasonable creature, that has the faculty of contriving for
himself: His heart devises his way, designs an end, and projects ways and
means leading to that end, which the inferior creatures, who are
governed by sense and natural instinct, cannot do. The more shame for him
if he do not devise the way how to please God and provide for his
everlasting state. But as a depending creature, that is subject to the
direction and dominion of his Maker. If men devise their way, so as to
make God's glory their end and his will their rule, they may expect
that he will direct their steps by his Spirit and grace, so that they
shall not miss their way nor come short of their end. ( Matthew
That God has an "eternal purpose" for all things is both
scriptural and logical. If God is God at all, He is sovereign. He cannot
work independently of His own nature, for then He would cease to be
God, something that is impossible. He is a wise God; therefore, His
eternal purpose is a wise one. He is a powerful God; therefore, He is
able to accomplish what He purposes. He is a loving God; therefore,
what He purposes will manifest His love. He is an unchanging God;
therefore, His purpose is unchanging. . . . .
Words like "predestination" and "election" frighten some people
and are greatly misunderstood by others. "If God has an eternal
purpose, then why bother to do anything?" some people ask. "Why pray? Why
send out missionaries? After all, God will certainly achieve His
But not without us! God has ordained (and this is amazing) that
His purposes shall be fulfilled in and through His church. Why pray?
Because prayer is one of God's ordained ways to accomplish His will in
us and through us. Why send out missionaries? Because He has
commanded us to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth, and our
obedience is a part of His ordained plan. God's eternal purpose,
established "before the world was," is not an excuse for carelessness and
disobedience. It is one of our greatest encouragements to obedience and
God's eternal purpose is not fatalism. Rather, it is the perfect
plan of a loving Father, and our Father loves us too much to harm us.
He is too wise to make mistakes. "The counsel of the Lord stands
forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation" (Psalm
33:11). Note that important phrase: "the plans of His heart...."
Please keep in mind that a part of God's eternal plan is the
fact that man shall have moral freedom. Divine sovereignty and human
responsibility do not conflict or contradict each other; they are friends, not
enemies. . . .
"But why did God plan it this way?" some may ask. Because His
plan is the best. God cannot ordain less than the very best. There
are some things about God's plan that we may not understand, but we
agree with our Lord's affirmation of faith in Matthew 11:26, "Yes,
Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight." And if any of us
gets the idea that God needed our help as consultants, we had better
listen again to Paul: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who
became His counselor?" (Romans 11:34). God did not need our help in
framing His great plan, nor does He need our criticism of it. But He
does want to share with us the privilege of working out His plan in
this world. . . . . . .
These truths were not given so that we might debate, but that we
might surrender and worship. It is not a big head, but a burning
heart, that proves we have grasped something of the meaning of God's
eternal plan. [Prayer: Basic Training.by Warren W. Wiersbe]