How to live wisely
Proverbs 16-20

A couple of weeks ago we began to have a look together into the Book of Proverbs

-Written and compiled by King Solomon, specially gifted by God with wisdom
-The message of Proverbs is this: You/I/We can be wise. We are to choose the path of wisdom
-Wisdom begins with a relationship with God. Key verse of Proverbs is Proverbs 1:7 which says; "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction"
-Wisdom is something that we should be wanting and asking for on a daily basis- and God will give it to us
-Proverbs connects us to Jesus for Jesus was and is the embodiment of wisdom. Jesus is the wisdom of God. In Colossians 2:3 we are told that in Christ are 'hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". Everything that Jesus said and did exemplified God's perfect wisdom- to him we are to always look
-An interesting feature of Proverbs is that wisdom and righteousness are equated as is foolishness and wickedness. Such things go together. To truly be wise, one must seek the righteousness of God; conversely to be wicked is to be a fool

Last week, in thinking about how to live wisely, we considered

1. Those who are wise and have righteousness as their goal honor their father and mother.
2. Those who are wise and have righteousness as their goal work hard and honestly for their money. As stewards of all that God has given us, we are to be a generous people
3. Those are wise and have righteousness as their goal tell the truth and are careful with the words they use. We are to use our words to build others up.

As it regards wise living, this morning we are going to take a look at selected verses from Proverbs 16-20

1. Proverbs 16-20 contains a number of verses that touch on the subject of GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY


Proverbs 16:1-4,9,33

"To people belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. 2. All a person's ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. 4 The Lord works out everything to its proper end-even the wicked for a day of disaster."..... 9 In their hearts people plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps..... 33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord."

Proverbs 19:21 says; "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

Proverbs 20:24 says; "A person's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?"

A couple of points from our verses before we dive into the subject of God's sovereingty

-As it regards our thoughts, motives and ways- while we typically think we are doing good, the final arbiter and judge of the matter is God and His holy standards
-The casting of lots (like dice) were used to determine certain matters as it pertained to God's will. Biblically sanctioned and used prior to the reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost - Not about luck but about the letting God determine the answer. See

The SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IS A BIG SUBJECT that sometimes takes our mind for a spin

-In essence it means that God is in charge. God is in control of all things. He is the King of Kings and LORD of Lords. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Nothing gets past Him.

These verses that we just read illustrates these points. i.e He works out everything to its proper end. He establishes a persons steps, He determines the outcome of the casting of lots. While we make lots of plans, His perfect and holy purposes will come to pass. "He directs peoples steps." This is neat one for sometimes we say "Why am I here (wherever we might be- which sometimes we think is an accident) and then we discover that God has someone for us to help or has arranged for someone to help us, etc

-The sovereignty of God is sometimes problematic for us because we then say "Why did God allow....."
-The sovereignty of God is sometimes problematic for us because we sometimes make the mistake of saying "If God is in charge of all things, then He is responsible for the evil that happens" This is wrong for it is impossible for God to sin.
-The sovereignty of God also messes people up sometimes because they think that if God is sovereign over all then that must mean that we don't have free will- and so then some folks argue that they are not responsible for their actions. The point: God's sovereignty does not cancel out human responsibility

The Scriptures consistently show a wonderful interchange between free will and God's sovereignty. i.e of Jesus Peter in his great sermon of Acts 2:22-24 says to the crowd "Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,d put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."

There is a mystery to sovereignty of God and how He works things out that we must accept by faith- for as Isaiah 55:8-9 says "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

The Sovereignty of God is a beautiful thing- it should be a comfort to us! For it invites us to trust God who is holy, perfect, and good, even when we don't have the capacity to understand

The Sovereignty of God and a practical impact in our lives is this: We want to get on the same page as God. We want our will to align with His perfect will. Ultimately we want to be Spirit directed, Spirit empowered, Spirit controlled people.

An example of making decisions in a way that pleases God. James 4:13-15 says; "Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Proverbs 3:5-6 says; "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

2. Some important verses from Proverbs 16-20 about how to get along with others


Getting along with other people is a tough thing to do at times- whether it be at school, church, the work place, at home, in random encounters with people.

Some people are argumentative. Such folks are natural debaters. They like to mix it up. They like to play "the devil's advocate" While there is room for healthy debate and conversation- arguments, contention, strife are to be avoided by us.

Proverbs 17:9 "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."

Proverbs 17:14 "Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out."

Proverbs 17:19 "Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin; whoever builds a high gate invites destruction."

Proverbs18:1 "An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels."

Proverbs 19:11 "A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."

Proverbs 20:3 "It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel."

We are to be peacemakers (not at the cost of truth of course)

When we go somewhere we need to make an effort not to leave tension, arguments, division- in our wake). We all know of such people-- there appearance and presence is often accompanied by tension, conflict, hurt feelings. When they are around, trouble comes with them. The strange thing is: Many times they are unaware that this is there effect- this is its why it is important when we go somewhere that we are intentional as to what we want are attitude and effect to be.

Another thing these verses teach us about how to get along with others is the importance of being forgiving.

Note once again Proverbs 17:9 ""Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends."

To cover an offense is to forgive. To cover an offense entails not bringing the matter up again. To cover an offense is to practice love. Not how this verse connects to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 wherein it tells us what love is " Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

3. Verses from Proverbs 16-20 that lead and take us to Jesus

I'd like to read for you a number of verses from Proverbs 16-20 that lead us to Jesus and our need for Christ

a. The verse I mentioned a moment ago is one of those verses "Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9

In love Jesus came down from Heaven and then, in dying on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for our sin, took the punishment we deserve that our offenses against God and others might be covered, might be washed away and forgiven

b. Proverbs 16:6 "Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided."

Hebrew word for "atoned" =purged, atonement, atone, forgive, pacify, cleansed, pardoned

It's not through our love and faithfulness that our sins are atoned for- it's by love, faithfulness, and shed blood of Christ that our sins have been atoned and paid for.

c. Proverbs 16:25 "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death"

Left to ourselves and apart from Christ is the mistaken belief that we are alright, that doing our best is good enough to get to Heaven, that trying to be a "good person" will somehow please God. All such thinking leads to death- eternal death, separation from God. In Christ is eternal life. As Jesus says in John 17:3; "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent"

d. Proverbs 18:24 "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

In John 15:12-15 Jesus says; "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

e. Proverbs 20:6 "Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
The most faithful person of all is Jesus. The one who has unfailing love is Christ. As the followers of Christ, we who are in fellowship with Christ will be kept firm to the end, that we may be found blameless on the Day Christ returns. (see I Corinthians 1:8-9)

f. Proverbs 20:9 "Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"?

While some people say this- and actually think it is true of themselves- the fact is all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are all guilty of rebellion against God. We are all guilty of harming our fellow man. This why we need Jesus. Jesus was perfect. Jesus was sinless. His great work is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us- He who knew no sin became sin for us- taking upon himself the punishment for our sins, the punishment we deserve, that we- by faith in Christ- might come to have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.


This morning we have done a little survey of some of the verses of Proverbs 16-20

In touching on the big subject of the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD we have learned afresh that to live wisely we must put God into all of our plans. We must also trust Him- He's got the whole world in His hands. He never makes a mistake. All things work together for the good of those who love him- even though this is a tough thing to accept at times.

Proverbs 16-20 also has a bunch to say about getting along with others. Not being argumentative and staying away from argumentative people is a good first step. When things do go wrong, learning to forgive- as we have been forgiven in Christ, is really important for us to practice

Proverbs, like all of the Bible as a whole, takes us to Jesus. To whom else should we go? No other than Christ who loves us and who died for us. What a beautiful thing to contemplate.