God’s Sovereignty – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Proverbs 19:21 (printed below) contrast the plans of man and the purpose of Jehovah?

There are many plans in a man’s heart, but the purpose of Jehovah, that will be accomplished. (Proverbs 19:21)

“There are many plans in a man’s heart.” That is to say, a man may conceive a great number of plans, purposes, or ambitions. But how many of those plans is he able to accomplish? How many times are the plans of his heart able to be realized as accomplishments? How many times are man’s plans and ambitions not hindered by a lack of opportunity to fulfill them, or a lack of ability to fulfill them, or a lack of resources to fulfill them? The proverb goes on to say, “but the purpose of Jehovah, that will be accomplished.” The Lord, as the sovereign God, as the all-powerful God, brings all His plans and purposes to fulfillment; the obstacles He encounters exist by His permission, they serve His all-wise purposes, and they can never withstand the final accomplishment of His will.

2. What does Proverbs 15:3 (printed below) tell us about the Lord’s knowledge?

The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, watching the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3)

This proverb informs us and reminds us of the Lord’s divine attributes of being both everywhere present and all-knowing. Consider Jeremiah 23:24, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? asks Jehovah. Do not I fill heaven and earth? declares Jehovah.”

3. What does Proverbs 20:27 (printed below) say about “the spirit of man” and how it is employed by Jehovah?

The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah, searching all his innermost parts. (Proverbs 20:27)

The “spirit of a man” is his innermost soul; the very core of his being where thoughts are conceived and secrets are hidden. This very spirit that is hidden from men is fully known by God. Indeed, our very spirit is employed by God as a lamp that searches out our mind and heart. This proverb poetically portrays our spirit as a flashlight that the Lord uses to probe the dark cavernous terrain of our mind and heart.

4. What does Proverbs 16:33 (printed below) tell us about God’s sovereignty?

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from Jehovah. (Proverbs 16:33)

Men cast lots to make decisions and to determine what course to take, but the very outcome of the lot (“its every decision”) is in the Lord’s hand, it is under His sovereign control. This proverb confronts us with the fact of our Lord’s divine and sovereign control over all things. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question #11, asks, “What are God’s works of providence?” It answers as follows: “God’s works of providence are, His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.”

5. According to Proverbs 16:4 (printed below), is anything beyond God’s sovereign control or outside the scope of His divine purpose?

Jehovah has made everything for his own purpose; indeed, even the wicked for the day of destruction. (Proverbs 16:4)

The Lord God is not only the Maker of all things, He has also made all things for His purpose, to fulfill His will (note Romans 11:36). Nothing, absolutely nothing, is outside the sphere of God’s sovereign control or alien to His divine purpose. Nothing, not even the presence of evil and evil men, can ultimately frustrate or nullify God’s divine purpose. On the contrary, those very men themselves are under God’s sovereign control and fit into His divine plan, having been made for the day of judgment.