Proverbs 16:4


I. THE MORAL DESIGNS OF GOD. (Ver. 4.) The creation is teleological; it has a beginning, a process, and an end in view, all determined by the will and wisdom of God. If this is true of every plant, of every mollusc, it is true of every man. We are formed to illustrate his praise. Disobedience, with its consequences, ratifies his just and holy laws.

II. THE MORAL FEELINGS OF GOD. (Ver. 5.) Only that which stands in a true relation to him can be true. Haughtiness and arrogance are, so to speak, in the worst taste. In the eyes of God they are not beautiful, and cannot escape his criticism and correction.

III. HIS PROVISION FOR THE OBLIVION OF GUILT AND THE CURE OF MORAL EVIL. (Ver. 6.) In social relations he has opened a fountain, sweet and healing, for mutual faults and sins. Love hides a multitude of sins. "I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much" (comp. Isaiah 58:7; Daniel 4:27). But prevention is better than healing, and in religion is the prophylactic against evil.

IV. GOD'S RECONCILING LOVE. (Ver. 7.) What sweeter pleasure does life yield than reconciliation? 'Tis a deeper blessing than peace which has never been broken. Life is full of the principle of opposition; and God is manifested, first in the drawing of us to himself, and then in the union of estranged human hearts to one another.

V. THE LAW OF COMPENSATION. (Ver. 8.) He hath set the one over against the other, that we should seek nothing alter him. Poverty has great advantages, if we will see it so - is more favourable, on the whole, to moral health than the reverse condition. And the hard crust of honest poverty, how sweet! the luxurious living of the dishonest rich, how insipid! or how bitter!

VI. DIVINE RECTIFICATIONS. (Ver. 9.) We must take heed to our own way; yet with all our care, we cannot ensure right direction or security. We need God's rectification and criticism at every point, and hence should ever say to ourselves, "If the Lord will, we will do this or that" (James 4:15). The blending of human with Divine counsel, human endeavour with God's guidance, may defy analysis, but is known in experience to be real. - J.







The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil
No light on this passage comes from the context. The words may be taken —

I. IN THE SENSE THAT GOD CREATED ALL THINGS MERELY FOR HIS OWN GOOD PLEASURE, WITHOUT ANY EXTERNAL MOTIVE. Then the latter part of the verse contains a great difficulty — how can God be said to have made the wicked for Himself, for the manifesting of His glory in the day of punishment? It is impossible that God could have any external motive, when in the universe there was nothing existing without Himself. The good pleasure of God is the only reason why things were brought into being at all. God has declared Himself by a clear revelation to persons of all capacities to be the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things that are therein. His goodness moved Him to bring creatures into being on which He might display that goodness, and to whom He might communicate His happiness. The glory of God is not anything properly relating to Himself, any advantage or benefit to Him; it is the communicating of His goodness, by creating the world; the promoting His likeness among rational creatures, by the practice of righteousness. But how can God be said to have made even the wicked for Himself? Some have contended that God has on purpose made many creatures necessarily inclined to wickedness, that He might manifest His power and authority in their destruction. But nothing can be more blasphemous than to imagine that He created any beings with design that they might be wicked and miserable. Nevertheless, because it is certain that nothing comes to pass without His permission, nothing subsists but by His power and concurrence, nothing is done but by the use or abuse of those faculties which He has created, therefore in Scripture phrase, and in acknowledgment of the supreme superintendence of providence over all events, God is represented as doing everything that is done in the world.

II. CONSIDER THE TEXT AS MEANING, THE LORD HAS MADE ALL THINGS SUITED TO EACH OTHER: YEA, EVEN THE WICKED TO THE DAY OF EVIL. This is the more natural sense. The only question that arises is, How can God be said to have fitted the wicked to destruction? In the Jewish language all that is meant is, that God causes wickedness and punishment to be proportionable. It is only an instance of the wisdom and exact adjustment of the works of God. The adjustment of men's condition to their deserts is the true greatness and glory of a kingdom. It is the natural tendency of things to get conditions fitted to deserts; and God takes care, by the positive interposition of His power and authority in the world, that every evil work shall have its proper recompense in the day of evil.

1. We may justify God, and give glory to Him in all His proceedings.

2. If we would escape the day of evil, we must avoid the wickedness to which it is annexed.

(S. Clarke, D.D.)

All things are in God's hands, and He makes use of all things as He pleases; for He created them all. However the wicked may be set upon mischief, they can proceed no further than God permits; being instruments only in His hand, to afflict others; to exercise good men with trials, or to punish the wicked. All kinds of calamities and disasters that may befall mankind may therefore be ascribed to God as the supreme arbitrator, and disposer of all events. Mankind were very apt to suspect that there were two opposite powers in the world, one the fountain of good, and the other the fountain of mischief. Scripture teaches that both good and evil, both prosperity and adversity, proceed from the same fountain, and are both to be ascribed to one and the same God. God serves Himself of angels and men as His instruments, and permits them to act no further than He can turn to good.

I. OPEN AND ILLUSTRATE THE GENERAL DOCTRINE. The Lord orders and disposes all things so as one way or other to serve His own wise purposes. Whatever second causes there are, or however they act, still it is God, and God alone, that governs the world. Events that seem merely casual and accidental are in reality providential. The most mysterious part of God's government of the moral world is His ordering even the wicked in a way consistent with human liberty, and so as to serve the ends of His providence, and to promote His glory. The fact is certain, the manner how is beyond our comprehension. This we can see, it was kind and gracious in God to create men, though He knew that many of them would prove wicked. And God makes use of the wicked men, who are His creatures, to serve the ends of His providence. They mean nothing but evil, while God turns it to good. Consider the power of God over the minds and hearts of wicked men. But does not God's making use of the sins of men look like concurring with, and countenancing their iniquities? Men commit the sins, God does but control, curb, and regulate.

II. THE PRACTICAL USE AND IMPROVEMENT OF THIS DOCTRINE.

1. It is both our duty and interest to submit all our concerns to Him, upon whom all success, and every blessing, depend. A question may arise as to the use of means, and the necessity or serviceableness of human care or industry. But miracles are not to be expected in the ordinary course of affairs. Success in affairs is proposed by God as the reward consequent upon proper care and application.

2. God controls and bridles wicked men in all their machinations. Therefore we need never be afraid of wicked men, or of devils. Wicked men, however malicious or mischievous, are weak in themselves. They are held in as with bit and bridle.

3. Refer all the hard usage, all the injuries or troubles we meet with from men, to God, the real author of them.

4. Learn to estimate aright the ordinary stream of affairs, the common course of this world. It may be very bad: it is being over- ruled.

5. Fix in the mind an assurance of the constant working of Divine Providence.

(D. Waterland, D.D.)

Scholars render this verse, "The Lord hath made everything for its purpose." The meaning of which is, that eventually the use and condition of every person and thing in the universe will be found to correspond with its character. But the form given in the authorised version sets forth a sublime and indubitable truth. How can we gain right views of the infinite majesty of God? God Himself aids us, inwardly, by His Spirit quickening our moral powers, and outwardly, by the means of light and instruction which He has put within our reach — the books of nature and of providence, and His inspired Word. Duly considered, our text may help us to find our proper place in the great system of things, and to see and realise our being's true end and aim. What was God's purpose in giving being to this universe? The answer of Scripture is that God made not only us but all things for Himself. Look at the necessity of the case. How else could it be? The whole universe must have one great object. All things now existing, save God, once did not exist. Everything was wrapped up in the bosom of God. His purpose embraced the creation of the universe. His purpose must have been derived from Himself, and have centred in Himself. When God spake the creative word, it was of and for Himself. There was no other conceivable source or object. When He made all things for Himself, and the promotion of His glory, He acted under a necessity of His nature as the infinitely perfect God. No doubt God willed the happiness of the creatures whom He made; but back of this, He purposed to promote His own glory.

1. Apprehending this is designed to teach us a lesson in self-knowledge. What we are as creatures we can never know as we ought, save by studying the Uncreated. It is in the contemplation of the nature, purposes, and works of God, that we can best see the insignificance of man. We should be humbled not merely as beings, but much more as moral beings. The greatness of God fearfully enhances the guilt of man.

2. The doctrine we are considering inculcates a lesson in active duty, as well as self-knowledge and humility. It urges a plea for God's service, before which every pretext for disobedience must be hushed. Did God make all things for Himself? There can be no higher reason for obeying Him, and to disobey Him is made thereby infinitely irrational, impious, and vain. The fact that God seeks His own glory in all things should not only determine the form of our duty, but also be its motive and its end. To give this prominence to God's glory clashes with no real interest of man, and does no violence to any original principle of His nature; on the contrary, in aiming at it, man is aiming at his greatest good. Why should not the infinite and perfect God be capable of engrossing and satisfying the whole mind and heart of His creature man? The frame of mind is not indeed natural to man, and it cannot be attained in the independent exercise of his natural powers. It is only by God's Spirit that he can be made thus spiritual. Only by looking to Jesus in a simple, earnest, exclusive, and habitual faith, can any one learn to make God and His glory the end of his being.

(W. Sparrow, D.D.)

The word "made" is not here" created," but it is used in the more general sense of "do," "work," "perform." The Lord Jehovah hath wrought, performed, all things for Himself. The final end of all Divine proceeding is God's own glory. This hidden and ultimate purpose of all the works of God is revealed in the text.

1. The Lord hath made all things for Himself in creation. And man is part of His creation.

2. The principle of the text applies to the work of redemption. It is of God's sovereign will and pleasure, and for His own eternal glory, that God hath been pleased to choose a Church outer this fallen world, to be glorified in His Son, Jesus Christ. This view of redemption tends to humble the sinner.

3. God hath made all things for Himself in providence. Every event or circumstance in this world's history has been arranged or ordered for the glory of Jehovah. It is impossible that anything shall ever happen which shall not tend directly or indirectly to this great end. Sin is essentially the fault of the creature. God is not the author of evil. The wicked were not created as such. They are, however, appointed unto the day of evil as their fitting punishment.

(W. E. Light, M.A.)

Here attention is directed to God, to His general formation of all things, and to the arrangements which, in that creation, He has unquestionably made. God is the universal Creator. Yet philosophers, ancient and modern, have always been trying to find another maker of things than God. Wherever there is existence, there the hand of God has been put forth in conferring that existence. God has made everything just as a Being absolutely perfect ought to make it. Though God made man upright, He did not make man a sinner. Man has made himself a sinner. God made all things for Himself. He is the origin, and He is the end. There are, indeed, subordinate ends, but they lose themselves, as it were, in God, the great end of all. In saying that the Lord "made the wicked for the day of evil," we must recur to His foresight. He allows some sinners to go on in their guilt till death finds them ready for eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord; and therefore, at every stage in which these wicked ones may be contemplated, they are still to be considered as the works of God, supported by Him, provided for by Him. The day of evil looks to the final retribution of all things. We are to ascribe to God the existence, the support, the maintenance, of those individuals who are rising up every moment in rebellion against Him. The wicked are as much in the hands of God to be punished by Him as the good are in His hands to receive undeserved kindness.

(James Maclean, D.D.)

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