Proverbs 16:1

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

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Men think and speak freely; they are not forced. But God rules their thoughts and words for His glory and purposes. Man proposes; God disposes. No man can think and speak wisely without God’s grace. No man’s evil thoughts or speech surprise or frustrate God.

Men think and speak freely, without being forced. Some foolishly call this free will, forgetting that they think and speak according to their depraved hearts, which are corrupt, ignorant, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Rom 3:10-18; I Cor 2:14; Jer 17:9; Ps 10:4). Man’s thoughts and words are slaves to sin and the devil (Eph 2:1-3).

Humble yourself before this glorious and sovereign God. His unique and incredible name is Jehovah, meaning I AM THAT I AM (Ex 3:14; 6:3). Put your trust in Him, call upon Him, obey Him, and thank Him for any preparation in your heart toward Him. If He has convicted you to seek Him and serve Him, it is His loving kindness drawing you to Him.

No man has ever made a choice in his heart or uttered a word with his lips that was not directed and ruled altogether by the Most High. Man thinks and speaks freely, for he feels no pressure but his own desires and motives, but God nevertheless controls every part of the process and uses both the thoughts and the words to accomplish His own purposes. If there is any evil that will not praise Him, He restrains it; He uses all the rest to accomplish His own praise, regardless of what the person thinks (Ps 76:10; Is 10:5-15).

The LORD does not put evil in a man’s heart, for there is enough there already. Scripture is very plain that God does not tempt any man by putting evil in his heart (Jas 1:13-16). But Scripture is just as plain that God uses the evil that is there for His own designs. In fact, if He were not restraining the evil hearts of men, the world would be far worse.

Of course, this glorious doctrine of God’s sovereign government of the world is no longer taught, though it was well understood in prior generations. Most men have rejected a Creator God, and those allowing one do not want Him ruling in their good and evil actions and determining their purpose in life and eternity. They must have free will and free determination of their eternal destiny, or they will reject the doctrine and its God.

Consider the heart. Men think it is their sacred possession that God cannot touch, but the Bible declares otherwise. Solomon, a king himself, wrote, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Pr 21:1). See the comments on 21:1. God hardened Pharaoh’s and other kings’ hearts to do foolish things to their own destruction for His glory and praise over them (Ex 9:16; Rom 9:17).

God ruled the evil hearts of Joseph’s brothers (Gen 45:8; 50:20), Pharaoh (Ex 4:21; 14:4), Sihon (Deut 2:30), the Canaanites (Josh 11:19-20), Eli’s sons (I Sam 2:25), Hadad (I Kgs 11:14), Rehoboam (I Kgs 12:15), Ahab’s prophets (I Kgs 22:22), the kings of Assyria (I Chron 5:26), the Philistines and Arabians (II Chr 21:16), Amaziah (II Chr 25:20), Israel (Is 63:17), the Man of Sin’s dupes (II Thes 2:11-12), and the kings of Europe (Re 17:17).

God can and will judge men for evil thoughts and deeds He used for His own glory, as the Assyrians (Is 10:5-15) and the Jews that crucified His Son Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:28; Matt 22:1-7). They chose their sinful deeds willingly, so He is righteous to judge them, even though He always uses man’s wrath for His own praise (Rom 9:18-20; Ps 76:10).

He can restrain any man’s heart from doing evil, when He chooses to do so. He withheld King Abimelech from touching Sarah, whom he had taken from Abraham to be his wife (Gen 20:6). And He similarly withheld the Canaanites from desiring the land of Israel, when all the men went up three times a year for the feasts (Ex 34:24). Why does He not restrain all sin like this? Because He is using man’s wrath to His own praise (Ps 76:10)!

God prepared good in the hearts of Israel (I Chron 29:18), Cyrus (Ezra 1:1), Darius (Ezra 6:22; 7:27), Nehemiah (Neh 2:12; 7:5), the psalmist (Ps 119:36), Zerubbabel and the remnant (Hag 1:14), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Titus (II Cor 8:16), and the elect (John 6:45; Heb 8:10; 10:16). If you desire to serve Him at all, He prepared that as well (I Cor 12:3)!

Consider the tongue. Men think their lips and tongues are their own, but that is not what the Lord declares (Ps 12:4). Even Balaam’s dumb ass answered from the LORD (Num 22:28-30; II Pet 2:16). Balaam himself tried to curse, but the Lord brought forth a blessing (Num 23:11-12). Shimei did curse, but it too was from the Lord (II Sam 16:10).

When Caiaphas thought he was conspiring, he was rather prophesying (John 11:49-51). And Peter’s blessed answer was straight from heaven (Matt 16:17). Our Lord’s apostles could speak gloriously without preparation (Luke 21:12-15; Acts 6:10), and they did by God’s power in numerous foreign languages they had never learned (Acts 1:8; 2:1-13).

There is no evil that should frighten or perplex you, for it is all under the governing control of the LORD. And every good and noble thought you have toward heaven, you should give thanks, for God has prepared your heart toward Him (I Chron 29:9,14,18). Run with such a blessing. He does not owe you another convicting thought. Any good thought or confession is proof of His love for you, for He drew it from you (Hos 11:1-4).

No man has ever called on Jesus Christ’s name for salvation, without God first recreating His heart by regeneration. For without the resurrecting power of His quickening grace, you would still hate Jesus Christ with your dying breath (Ps 14:1-3; Is 26:10; Luke 16:27-31; John 1:12-13; 3:3,8; 5:24-29; 6:44-45,65; 8:43,47; 10:26-29; Rom 3:9-18; I Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3; Phil 2:13; I John 4:15; 5:1). The idea of free will salvation is preposterous and blasphemous, for it magnifies the clay over the Potter (Rom 9:15-24). It is God’s will that is the determining, originating, moving, and instrumental cause of good (Eph 1:5,11).

Shall you slothfully wait for Him to work in you? God forbid! Such is the wicked excuse of the Fatalist. How do you know He has not already done His work? You are to work out the salvation He has worked in (Phil 2:12). You should keep your heart as firmly as you can and labor as diligently as you can (Jude 1:21; II Tim 2:1-4). But sanctified wisdom, taught by this proverb, gives all the credit and praise to His grace (I Cor 15:10).

Can you change another’s heart? No! Can you help them profess faith that pleases God? Impossible! Only God can change a heart and draw forth a sincere confession. Abraham knew Lazarus coming back from the dead could not help the rich man’s brothers (Luke 16:27-31). Jesus knew that only the prior work of God could cause any to believe Him (John 3:3-8; 6:44; 8:43-45; 10:26-28). Paul knew that his preaching never prepared any man – it only revealed what was there (I Cor 1:18,22-24; 2:14-15; II Cor 2:14-17; 4:1-7).

Bow before this glorious God today. Let Him be your fear and dread (Is 8:13-15). Beg Him for mercy. Trust Him completely. Obey Him unconditionally. Give eternal thanks for any knowledge or desire you have toward Him or heaven. He gave it to you, and He can take it away or increase it more and more. Pray for Him to do further preparations in your heart toward Him, as David prayed (Ps 51:10; 86:11; 119:32,36,80; 141:4).