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Proverbs 21:1 (New International Version)

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD;

he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

I used to think this verse meant that God can influence the heart of the “king” to do good things. So the life application fell along the lines of asking God to move in any given situation on my or someone else’s behalf according to what I or that person desired to have happen. For example, a company that employs a friend is laying people off. My friend wants to keep her job. So, believing that God can direct the “king’s heart,” (i.e. her boss), we ask God to either allow my friend to keep her job, or to provide another channel through which to get the financial resources to her. Above all, we pray that God’s will be done, whatever that may be, but we express our desire for what we would like to happen. God encourages this type of prayer.

Overall this is a very normal request. There is nothing untoward about it. However, in studying this verse over the weekend, I was reminded that God’s directing a heart is not limited only to what we perceive as positive. In the example given above, he would have also influenced the heart of those who decided to lay off employees in the first place. In the biblical account of Caesar Augustus’ ordering a census near the time of Jesus’ birth, God lined up many events to fulfill his own prophecy. First, he caused Mary, a virgin at the time, to conceive. That all by itself is a Selah moment. Second, he caused Caesar to order the census, an event which affected the entire Roman world. Third, he caused Joseph, who was of the house of David (as was Mary, by the way) to become engaged to Mary in the first place, and to keep her as his wife (instead of divorcing her quietly, as he had initially planned to do). Matthew 1:19 This last event would line up with the first two events to ensure that Joseph would take a pregnant Mary to Bethelem just in time for Jesus to be born there as the prophet Micah had predicted centuries earlier.

Amazing! What a picture of an omniscient, omnipresent God working together in all things! Nothing is beyond his grasp. I’m sure Caesar was convinced that it was his own idea to initiate a census. And certainly it was his choice as every creature possesses free will. But look at how God will not be denied. He will accomplish his perfect will with your cooperation or in spite of your resistance. That humbles me, because I can’t begin to understand that kind of power – let alone how free will works in conjunction with God’s ability to bring his divine will into being. It is enough for me to get this much. God is in charge, even when it does not seem like he is. Nothing – not even catastrophe or tragedy – can happen without his permission. For those of us who love him and are called according to his purpose, he promises that whatever he allows is always for our benefit. Again, I don’t get exactly how it works, but you know what? My lack of comprehension does not stop me from accepting that it is so, receiving it for myself, and counting on it to be true. This is the essence of faith.

Praise Jehovah! He is so good.

Be blessed Family!

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