There are some who might accuse me of being simple-minded, but it seems that in reading the Scriptures, we have a tendency to make it more complicated than necessary. A friend of mine once wisely observed, “When you read the Bible, if the first sense makes good sense, don’t look for any other sense.”
Stating that in a slightly different way, time and experience have taught me that we can be confident in knowing the Bible says what it means, and it means what it says.
Yes, sometimes the Scriptures employ literary devices to communicate God’s message. There were times, for example, when Jesus told parables that weren’t about literal events, but they were stories to illustrate an underlying truth – pictures on which to hang important principles.
When I think about “says what it means, means what it says,” one of the first sections of the Scriptures that come to mind are the Proverbs. With 31 chapters, one can read a chapter of Proverbs daily and read them through 12 times during a calendar year. I can’t think of many better investments of time and attention.
Consider a verse a friend introduced me to many years ago, Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” What this says to me is that our sovereign God even rules over the decisions made by people in authority. When presenting our case to someone, we can prayerfully trust the Lord will somehow intervene and guide in the midst of the decision-making process.
I’ve applied this principle and seen in work in many ways: Applying for a job; negotiating on a project; presenting a proposal to a board of directors; even calling a customer service department to protest a billing charge I felt was excessive or unfair.
Later in the same chapter of Proverbs, we’re told, “There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord” (Proverbs 21:30). From a human standpoint, we tend to fear – or at least defer to – those who hold positions of power to make decisions that could have a serious impact on our lives, for good or for ill.
Faith in God enables us to trust that whatever decision is made, it’s well within His will and plan for our lives. There were times when I didn’t receive job offers I felt well-qualified to get. Later, by utilizing the wonders of hindsight, I could see those opportunities never came because God knew something better was yet to be revealed.
I think of other examples that related to financial matters, health needs, even my education. You might remember the old TV show, “Father Knows Best,” but long before that, God was proving every day that truly He, as our Father, knows best.
Those times when we feel another person, or group of people, controls our future, it’s heartening to remember, as another translation expresses Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse, wherever it should go.” Trusting in Him means having confidence that nothing, and no one, can foil the plans and intentions He has for our lives. The Word of God says what it means – and it means what it says.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.