Proverbs 21: Never Underestimate the Power . . .

Working through Proverbs has produced a growing passion to live rightly in the teaching and execution of God’s Word. I see anew where I didn’t have victory in the past and what I long to achieve in the future. But there is also an agonizing aspect to the years that are lost and what wasn’t accomplished. Remorse can fill my being, thus, holding me prisoner to the past. This is when Satan’s crafty carriage swoops me up and drives like mad down the bumpy path far from the upper heights I so eagerly scaled. Even at the moment of a successful feat while uttering scripture from my lips, that shrewd adversary, the devil, knows how to trip me up taking my focus off God and putting it on myself. Don’t allow it!  

I have a good friend who reminded me God is a STRONG God! “He is STRONG, Scarlett, don’t you forget it!” Words I needed to hear. A reminder I was needing! God is a strong God and my failures do not prohibit God from doing what He has determined to do.

Proverbs 21:1 – To help us realize afresh who really holds the reins of power, Solomon pointed us to the throne above all thrones—the throne of the King of all kings.[1]

Human wisdom is no match against God’s wisdom (21:30). No wisdom or plans of any person can ultimately thwart the Lord’s plans, for He is sovereign (cf. vv. 1–2; Job 42:2) and all-wise.

Human effort, like human wisdom (21:30), has its limitations. It is useless to fight against God (v. 30), or without Him (v. 31). Soldiers may use horses in battle, but the superiority of a cavalry unit against foot soldiers is no guarantee of victory. That comes only from the Lord, who can turn battles His way despite man’s efforts (cf. Ps. 20:7; 33:17).[2]

Power (21:30–31)

Nobody—be it a man or a nation—who sets out to defy the Lord can ever win. History is strewn with the corpses of men and the wreckage of nations that flaunted their puny might in the face of the almighty God.

Consider the case of Tyre, the ancient Phoenician city on the coast of Canaan. Tyre grew in importance until it ruled the sea as powerfully as Babylon ruled the land. The great commercial center of the ancient world, Tyre was beautiful, rich, and learned. Carthage, Rome’s rival, was a mere colony of Tyre. Ships from around the world dropped anchor in Tyre’s harbor. Merchants from east and west met to do business in its streets.

When Tyre was at the height of its glory and power, the rising sun would shine on the city until its streets seemed to gleam with gold. But that sun also shone on graven images, altars, and temples dedicated to Baal, Ashtoreth, and Moloch. These gods insulted the Majesty of Heaven.

Moloch, for instance, was a huge, hideous brass idol. His hands, discolored by fire, held a curved tray, one edge of which rested on an opening in his belly. Inside the idol was a cavity where wood and fuel for a fire were placed.

From time to time Tyre staged sacrifices to propitiate this demon god. Thousands of people would throng the courtyard of Moloch, and priests would ignite the fuel inside him. Soon the image would be wreathed in smoke and its brazen belly would glow with fierce heat. White-robed priests would offer prayers, go through rituals, bow before the red-hot image, gash themselves with knives, then catch their blood and cast it into the fire. Wild-eyed seers would utter prophecies and bands of nearly naked women would dance with sensual abandon.

Then silence would fall. A mother would lead a three- or four-year-old child dressed in white and garlanded with flowers toward the grotesque image. The child, suddenly frightened, would cling to his mother’s robes, but a priest would snatch him away and drag the struggling youngster to the foot of a little iron ladder, the top of which rested against the outstretched hands of the image. The priest (shielded by protective armor) would hold the terrified child aloft, climb the ladder, and with a yell of triumph throw the screaming child onto Moloch’s glowing tray. From there the tortured child would slowly roll down into the red abyss as instruments played, priests sang, and the savage multitude shrieked with delight.

Such was Moloch. Such was Tyre. All its wealth and wisdom were “against the Lord.” No wonder Ezekiel proclaimed Tyre’s doom (Ezekiel 26).

In time Nebuchadnezzar’s armies appeared and after thirteen years of effort, took the city and destroyed it. They wreaked vengeance on buildings and people alike, but many of Tyre’s citizens escaped to a small island a mile and a half off the coast. There they built a new city, one that soon rivaled the old one. Determined not to be caught again, the people of the new Tyre developed a powerful fleet of warships to patrol their territorial waters. They had a large commercial fleet as well, so they were able to continue to live in luxury, “against the Lord.”

When Alexander the Great came to power, Tyre defied him as it had defied all other conquerors. The efficient Tyrian navy and a clever system of underwater obstacles prevented a successful Greek attack by sea. But God had not forgotten His prophecy, and the time had come to fulfill His Word. Tyre’s date with doom had arrived. Alexander took what remained of the ruined walls, towers, timbers, and houses of ancient Tyre and used this salvaged material to build a solid causeway to the island city. By the time the causeway was completed, he had scraped up the dust from the ruins and thrown it into the sea—just as Ezekiel had prophesied. Then the all-conquering Alexander captured the new city and killed or enslaved its people.

No matter how astute the advisers of a nation’s rulers are, if they set themselves against God and insult Him by their lifestyle, in time God will avenge Himself upon that nation and its people.[3]

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

Yes, we have a STRONG God! Don’t you forget it!


               [1] John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs 19–31: An Expository Commentary, vol. 2, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Pr 21:1–2.

               [2] Sid S. Buzzell, “Proverbs,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 952.

               [3] John Phillips, Exploring Proverbs 19–31: An Expository Commentary, vol. 2, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Pr 21:30–31.

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