A king’s heart is a water channel in Yahweh’s hand,
He directs it wherever He chooses.
All the ways of a man seem right to him,
but Yahweh evaluates the motives.
Doing what is righteous and just
is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice.
The lamp that guides the wicked–
haughty eyes and an arrogant heart–is sin. Proverbs 21:1-4 HCSB
The thought of any one person having complete control of all things terrifies us, and rightly so. Our only experience is that of seeing sinners usurp and abuse any tiny shred of power they can get their hands on. As Philip Smartt says, “We couldn’t stand sovereigns in England; we can’t stand them in Heaven, either.”
But the Bible presents God’s sovereignty as wonderful, beautiful, praiseworthy. It’s a source of comfort and hope that even though we are decidedly not in control, He is. We can pray with confidence because of it.
Proverbs 21 seems to have the silver thread of sovereignty running through it. The chapter opens with the clear assertion that even the wills of kings are subject to His holy will. Even the intentions and desires of the most powerful man in the country (in the case of Solomon, the world) is still turned this way and that by Yahweh’s almighty hand.
Such control over the depths of the human heart is a terrifying thing; the next verses elicit this terror and move us to the humility of trust in this sovereign God. Searching knowledge of the human heart only sounds like a good thing when it’s someone else’s heart. Not mine.
We are able to convince ourselves that we’re not sinning, or that we’re not sinning that much. The testimony of Proverbs and Jeremiah stare us in the eyes and force us to confront the truth.
Where Solomon teaches us that “Yahweh examines the motives,” Jeremiah preaches,
“The heart is more deceitful than anything else
and desperately sick–who can understand it?
I, Yahweh, examine the mind,
I test the heart
to give to each according to his way,
according to what his actions deserve…
A throne of glory
on high from the beginning
is the place of our sanctuary,
Yahweh, the hope of Israel,
all who abandon You
will be written in the dirt,
for they have abandoned
the fountain of living water,
Yahweh.” Jeremiah 17:9-13 HCSB
We don’t even understand ourselves. We can’t grasp the full extent of the evil within us. And yet it is Yahweh who examines the mind, who tests the heart, and gives to each one according to what He finds. He is the one who sees into the heart of wicked sinners, finding the haughtiness and arrogance of rebels that we camouflage in any number of ways.
How can anyone survive that kind of inspection? By being born again to a living faith by the Spirit, who is within us a fountain of living water springing up to eternal life (John 4:13).
The almighty God tested His own Son, Jesus; He found no wickedness there. He found no arrogance or haughtiness. He found none of the desperate sickness in sinners’ hearts. But instead of getting what He deserved as a result of His examination by the Father, he got the wrath our wretchedness deserved. We get the rewards of His obedience.
What’s more, the Spirit who is within us this fountain of living water, springs up within us to turn our hearts to God, just like He does with kings. If He can move a king’s heart, He can move yours, too.
“Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again” (John 3:7 HCSB).