Proverbs 19:1–3 ‘Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. 2 Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. 3 When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin, his heart rages against the Lord.’
Taken as a whole, Proverbs 19 functions as an extraordinary exposition of the nature of the Believer’s inward dialog when tempted by sin. Verses 1-8 demonstrate a vigorous back and forth within the heart and mind, while verses 9-29 list the way the righteous man argues back against the temptation of his own sinfulness until he “shouts it down”, for lack of a better term. The remnant of indwelling sin argues for ascendency and to re-establish the rulership the in the Believer it lost when Christ became Lord. And our need to recognize this form of inward argumentation, to grow in our skill in arguing for righteousness and against sin, and the need to arm ourselves with the Word of God richly so as to have a ready supply of counter-arguments to win the day – cannot be overemphasized. The renewing of the Spirit of the mind is central to our growth in grace, and to overthrowing the seemingly endless creativity with which our own souls seek to justify sin.
That said, we do not want to overlook some of the more independent concepts which also emerge from this rich portion of God’s Word.
The thought in verse 1 is simple – but so very often overlooked. In a society in which everything seems geared to encourage us that we can every wish or desire fulfilled some way, and that it is only right that it be so – indeed that it is our ‘right’ to have everything we desire – God’s Word counters with a resounding – NO! That’s not true!
When we believe we ‘deserve” everything we want, we cannot help but soon talk ourselves into every kind of vice, compromise and blatant sin we are capable of imagining. Thus verse 1 challenges the prevailing Western worldview – It is Better to be lacking whatever it is that makes me feel deprived – and do so trusting in the Lord – than to be scheming and manipulating both God and man to bring my desires about. And to be perfectly honest, how much of our prayer life reflects this very undercurrent of manipulating God into giving in to our schemes.
As a Pastor, many a person has come through the door of this Church with a great tale of how they had strayed from God, but now they are on fire, and oh, by the way, I’ve lost my job and my wife and pray with me for restoration. All of which is legitimate on the surface. But more often than I care to confess, when the job isn’t restored, the diagnosis not reversed, the spouse remains unreconciled – then it is not long before they are back out the door and serving self like before. The entire matter had been little more than thinking ‘if I just get my religious life in order – God will have to notice and fix everything.’ In other words – sorcery. Trying to manipulate God through vows, commitments and temporary lifestyle changes all tied to getting what they want. It is a sad and tragic reality. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.”
So it is verse 2 builds on that issue and directs us to gain insight into the true nature of our desires. For if we do not identify the true longings within as in fact a need for Christ and NOT the externals – we cannot help but miss the way, and live in dissoloution.
Aimlessly seeking to fill up inward desires we have not even properly identified will lead us into all kinds of wickedness. The lost person does not realize their deepest need is Christ. And often, even the Believer fails to recognize that deep, still unmet desires, must be brought to Him. He, wants to satisfy us fully. We, do not want to be satisfied in Him. We do not see that our desires unmet in Him, are desires for Him that are mis-labled, mis-understood or perverted from their rightful object. Heavenly Father – open our eyes!
Such driving desire, not knowing why God may have withheld what I want, will lead me to mistrust Him: It will kill faith. I will miss His path.
But then – in verse 3, when we see how empty our pursuits have been, amazingly, we blame God. He, who all the while waits to be our satisfaction, who loves us immeasurably and fully, who desires our best, gets blamed because WE did not stop to recognize it was Him we were meant to be satisfied in all the while, and not the externals of this life in this world.
How often it is when we at last find the bankruptcy of following after the misnamed, misidentified longings – we will blame the disaster on God rather than ourselves.
Wicked man that I am – I am ALWAYS looking for someone to blame for my miseries beyond myself.
What a glorious Savior then is Christ – who leads out of this consuming vortex, to seek our all in Him and Him alone. Where there is never a loss of what is true joy, true contentment, true glory. Oh that our souls might recognize and long only for ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ – and NOT, this world’s riches we vainly think He will bring us apart from Himself. That we might never love any of Christ’s gifts, above the Giver Himself.