Proverbs 21:1

Still in Charge

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1

When I was young, a heavy rainstorm could turn our neighborhood streets into shallow streams. My friends and I sometimes used large leafs as boats and raced them down the curbside. Occasionally, we’d gather sticks and create dams as obstacles.

The writer of Proverbs 21:1 says that it’s as easy for God to change a king’s mind as it was for me to change the direction of my leaf boat. That truth brings me an enormous amount of peace when I reflect on the topsy-turvy world in which we live.

The United States is still ranked as the world’s most powerful country, with Russia and China in the top five.[1] No matter how we evaluate another country’s power, the Bible assures us that every nation, ethnic group, and individual leader is under the authority of God.

Proverbs 21:2 reminds me of another powerful truth: “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.” World leaders, celebrities, and anybody with a Twitter account can spout what “seems right to him.” But this verse assures me that God sees the motives and intent behind those words. He ensures that truth rises to the top and that error is eventually exposed: “The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin” (21:12).

We don’t need to obsess over what we see on TV, view on social media, or hear on the radio. The Righteous One is still in charge. He’s always been in charge. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan, that can succeed against the Lord” (21:30). He sits on the throne of the universe and rules over all.

The next time world events increase your stress or worry, recite one of these verses from Proverbs. Allow the Word of God to calm your soul, and allow your heavenly Father do what he does best: direct the course of history.

Dig Deeper

Read Nehemiah 1:1–2:8. How did Nehemiah prepare for his meeting with the king? How did the king respond to Nehemiah’s requests? Do you think Nehemiah’s experience is an example of Proverbs 21:1?

Read 1 Timothy 2:1–3. What is Paul’s counsel regarding “kings and all those in authority?” What can you pray on behalf of those in authority over you?

Read Psalm 37. What is David’s attitude about “evil men” and “those who do wrong”? What truths about God comfort and encourage him? Which of those truths encourage you?

Denise K. Loock


This devotion is part of a series on the Book of Proverbs.

[1] “World’s Most Powerful Countries from US to Egypt,” The Independent, July 9, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/world-most-powerful-countries-ranking-change-a8438711.html. Rankings are based on a nation’s global influence as well as political, economic, and military power.

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