The book of Proverbs is full of wise sayings. The Holy Spirit, especially in this book, has packed a lot of wisdom into few words. Proverbs 20:24 is a succinct verse I’ve been contemplating recently – “A man’s steps are of the LORD; how then can a man understand his own way?”
Although God has granted free will to every human being, man is not in a position to adequately guide himself alone. Man (whether righteous or wicked) cannot understand all the long-term consequences of his daily choices (in both word and deed), but God certainly does understand and is very much involved in the lives of those made in His image. He is Master over everything–including that which we do not understand and cannot presently perceive. I believe that this verse addresses the providential guiding of Almighty God. God knows the end from the beginning; He knows how to work out things for good in the ultimate sense for those who love Him (cf. Rom. 8:28).
So, what should we do in light of these truths? We should wait upon the Lord! We should confess our own ignorance and insufficiency before God and trust Him–even when it feels like He has forgotten us or is working against us. We should serve God to the best of our ability, even when we do not understand why certain things are or are not happening in our lives presently. I have compiled a list of verses from the Old Testament on this theme that I’d like to read at this time:
Psalm 25:1-5 – “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.”
Psalm 37:1-7 – “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.”
Psalm 52:8,9 – “I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. I will praise You forever, because You have done it; and in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name for it is good.”
Proverbs 20:22 – “Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.”
Isaiah 30:18 – “For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Jeremiah 14:22 – “Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, since You have made all these.”
Zephaniah 3:8 – “‘Therefore wait for Me,’ says the LORD…”
Although the contexts vary from which these verses are taken, the general theme is very clear. Wait on the Lord–in other words, trust Him enough to serve Him and rely upon Him in crisis and in the good times. He will take care of you and see you through! Is there something you strongly desire to be added to your life but God has not blessed you with yet (like a godly mate, for example; cf. Prov. 18:22)? Wait on the Lord; He knows what is best for you and His timing is perfect. Is there something you strongly desire to have removed from your life but God has not done so yet (like a thorn in the flesh, for example; cf. II Cor. 12:7ff)? Wait on the Lord; He knows what is best for you and His timing is perfect. Indeed, “a man’s steps are of the Lord” (Prov. 20:24). There is nothing better for a Christian to do than to trust and obey God, no matter what. Such a course will lead to joy and peace that passes understanding.