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God in Proverbs


A.            God: the Creator


1.             the cosmos (3:19-20; 8:22-31)


2.             mankind (14:31; 20:12; 22:2; 29:13)


3.             history (8:22)


B.            God: his Self-Revelation


1.             in creation (3:19-20; 8:22ff.)


2.             by his Word (30:5-6)


He is therefore accessible (2:1-5), yet incomprehensible (30:1-4)


C.            God: Judge of all


1.             His judgments are accurate because he tests the hearts of men (17:3; 21:2; 24:12). As McKane explains,


"He is a judge who misses nothing, . . . and who submits men to a process of testing which reveals all that is in them. Two images are constructed as similitudes of the activity of Yahweh in trying or ascertaining the quality of men. As silver and gold are tried for genuineness and purity in a furnace, so Yahweh is the Assayer who tries human motives, separating the spurious from the genuine and ascertaining what a man is as opposed to what he professes to be" (511).


2.             His judgments are certain (11:5; 12:14; 16:4; 24:12). Note the common refrain "will not go unpunished" in 11:21; 16:5; 17:5; 19:5; 28:20. God's justice is infallible and immutable (it will never be overturned by a higher court based on some technicality!).


D.            God: Providential Lord


1.             over all our actions and words (16:1-3,9)


For all its emphasis on common sense, Proverbs exalts faith above wisdom; and for all its emphasis on prudence, man's ways are determined by divine providence.


Note esp. vv. 2,9. "God holds an even balance and critically tests the genuineness of the impulses which motivated the deed. Accordingly, man should not be guided by his own judgment but apply the criterion, how will it be judged by God?" (Cohen, 103).


In v. 3, "works" refers not to those already performed, but "projected actions" or "plans", as in vv. 1-2. See 19:21. "To confide one's projects to Yahweh implies an element of resignation to Yahweh's will, a willingness to give up anything which clashes with Yahweh's resolve and so a quest for attunement and harmony. This is the way for man to proceed if he wishes to ensure that his plans will not be nullified by Yahweh's veto and so fail of implementation" (McKane, 497).


As for v. 9, "a man may plan his road to the last detail, but he cannot implement his planning unless it coincides with Yahweh's plan for him. He is deluded if he supposes that he has unfettered control and can impose his will on every situation without limitation in order to make his plan a reality, for it is Yahweh who orders his steps" (McKane, 495-96).


2.             over the destiny of the wicked (16:4)


There are no loose ends in God's providential rule of the world: even the wicked are under his oversight. Note well: there is a difference between making a person to condemn him/her, and appointing a person to condemnation for his/her wickedness. God has appointed all things and all people to their proper end that he might receive all the glory.


3.             over the casting of the lot (16:33)


The casting of lots was often used in the OT to determine God's will. See Lev. 16:7-10,21,22; Joshua 7:14 (cf. 1 Sam. 14:42); 14:2; 18:6; 1 Chron. 6:54ff.; 25:7,8; 26:13ff; Neh. 10:34ff. See also Matt. 27:35; Acts 1:26. Although the decision is reached by a seemingly arbitrary process, God is in absolute control. As someone said, "Man throws the dice, but God makes the spots turn up!"


4.             over the heart of the king (21:1)


In much the same way that an irrigator might cut a watercourse in any direction he desires, so God sways the heart of a king, even an unbelieving one. See Gen.. 20:6; Exod. 4:21; 7:3; 9:16; 10:1-2; 14:4-5; Isaiah 10:5-19; 45:1-13; Ezra 1:1,5 (Cyrus, king of Persia); Jer. 25:3-14; Hab. 1:5-11; Acts 4:25-28; Rev. 17:16-17.


5.             over the battle and its outcome (21:30-31)


See also Ps. 20:7; 33:13-17; Isa. 31:1-3.


6.             over our souls (24:12c; 18:10; 30:5b)


E.             God: Omniscient Lord


See 15:3,11; 20:24


F.             God: Irresistible One


See 21:30.


G.            God: Inscrutable One


See 20:24; 30:2-4