The Application of Wisdom: Plans for the Future

Notes on Proverbs

Some Christians spend little time thinking about and planning for the future because, in their minds, God is in control so the future is of no concern to them. Certainly, God is in control. Yet this does not mean that we have no responsibility to plan for the future. The book of Proverbs contains instructions that admonish us to prepare for the future, yet still acknowledge God in all things.

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (16:1).

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (16:9).

We are responsible for decisions and plans we have to make in life. Yet we are not to forget our responsibility before God. Though in our minds we may plan our way, we must allow the Lord, through His word, to direct our steps. The wise man said in this same chapter: “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” (16:3). Our primary obligation is to faithfully obey God. Therefore, any plans we make must revolve around that responsibility.

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord” (21:31).

There is a tendency for man to place a great deal of faith in himself and his resources, especially in the realm of military affairs. The prophet Isaiah warned about this: “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1). Solomon says, “Victory belongs to the Lord,” implying that without God, victory would not be possible. However, this does not mean that our plans and preparations are futile. The horse that is “prepared for the day of battle” must still be prepared, or else defeat would be certain. The point is that we must do what we are able to do (make whatever preparations we can make for the future) and put our trust in God for all those things which are out of our control.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (27:1).

James wrote something very similar to this in his epistle, warning those who were making plans for the future not to “boast” because they did “not know what [their lives] will be like tomorrow.” He added: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that’” (James 4:13-16). The making of plans for the future is not condemned by Solomon, nor was it condemned by James. Instead, this is a warning against the arrogant mindset in which one believes that the uncertainties of the future will have no effect on him.

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off” (23:18).

While many things in the future are uncertain and out of our control, we should not despair. The people of God have something to which they can look forward, even if it is not necessarily in this life. Though the book of Proverbs emphasizes the fact that there are often temporal blessings of life that come when we follow after wisdom, these are general and not absolute statements. Regardless of what blessings come or do not come in this life as a result of our following the wisdom that comes from above, God offers to the faithful “a future” and “hope” beyond this life. So the apostle Paul encouraged the brethren in Colossae: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). To the brethren in Corinth he wrote: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Peter wrote of our “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Though the book of Proverbs focuses much on this life, we must not lose sight of the eternal hope that the people of God have through Christ.


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