Proverbs 16:7
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

     We’ve spoken before about the use of the term “way” in Proverbs.  It speaks of the habit of a life, or portion of such.  It is an active word and speaks of the manner in which someone speaks, or thinks or behaves for some period of being.  We have also said that “man” is not speaking of males, but is a general reference to adult people.  So, this is saying then, when an adult person’s manner of conducting themselves, either in total or in some portion of living is pleasing to the Lord…  
    We should also not that “When” is a time word.  It can speak of any amount of time in view, either in a relatively short sense, of doing a thing that is pleasing to God and reaping the reward from God for it.  Or, it could speak of the life’s habit and reaping the reward and blessing of God tthat He promises over that period of time.
    We also need to keep in mind a couple other things:
·        We are not talking about an earned blessing here.
·        Nor are we speaking of a thing demanded by God, or else, no dinner tonight!  It is not that sort of thing.
·        The two, taken together, point to the truth that blessing and the good gifts of God are the result of His mercy and grace, not a matter of our earnings.  We don’t “work for”, earning the blessing and rewards that come at the various “whens” in the course of life.  Our Master in heaven is good and loving and gives to us.

“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
    We need also recognize that the verse implies that God is always watching over His people.  Here, when He sees what He likes/approves He chooses to reward.  The blessing given by God is that even the enemies of the one obeying come to be “at peace” with him.  Enemies here speaks of one person of opposes or sets himself against another.  In the OT it spoke of the “enemies” of the nation of Israel; even to the point of its’ very existence.  It is taken to be axiomatic that the reason for this opposition was that had been proved to be the channel of God’s blessed presence in the world.  Israel fought against them, not just for territory or because they (Israel) wanted what the other nations had; though this a reason much voiced today.  They were those who set themselves against God and His Divine right to make choices and set chains of events in motion.  
    The OT story of Israel makes it very clear that these chains, quite frequently, involved God acting to the detriment of other nations, while acting to the blessing and benefit of His chosen ones, Israel.  Solomon makes it clear that the way of war is not the common way for God’s people.  Rather, as this passage makes clear; if one of His children, (or, by implication) a nation or large group are faithful and obedient to their God, the God of Heaven and of all men, then God will make even those who set themselves to be enemies of God’s “men”, He will make to be “at peace” with them, namely the “men” in view.
    Of course, we must take view here that what is being said is NOT an absolute statement.  It is not saying wither of two things:

1.      First, it is not a statement of absolute favor for the people of God.  “If you do such and so, there will be no conflict in your life.”  In fact, the Lord Jesus told us that those who are Godly and obedient to God can really expect to experience conflict in this world!
2.      Neither is it meant say any such absolute thing about entire nations and group.  Those groups can apply the idea to their pursuits in life.  But the blessing of God is not an absolute promise in all the affairs that touch the matters in which the nation or group are involved.  
3.      There is no absolute promise here.  If you are a good boy, you won’t run into, or have to tolerate anyone who would, otherwise be one whom you would have conflict with or not “be at peace”.  Such a man, conceivably, cold see such a thing happen, but likely “one at a time”.
4.      A fourth idea that is present here is that the “enemies” here, those who are in conflict or not getting along with the man in view, are one sort of “extra” difficult to be at peace with; even under normal circumstances.  Thus, it underscores, in this context, the working of God’s hand is especially needed to accomplish that peace.  There are in fact, quite a number of things that require such help from God.  Many men can live peaceably with those around him; but when it comes to those who are living openly and clearly for Christ, it seems certain that they will draw the animosity of the world around them and thus the intercession of God will be necessary.
   “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
5.      It is interesting that the passage also seems to imply that as a result of the believers’ obedience and “pleasing” of his God, God will “make” their enemies to come to a state of peace with them.  It is not the man himself that is directly responsible for the result of peace.  Though the man is surely responsible indirectly, as it was his actions that God was pleased with and which God desired to bless by bringing peace with those who were enemies.  
    But the implication is that is doing something in/to them that is the real “cause” of their change of demeanor/attitude.  It isn’t just a matter of them observing their behavior and saying something like “You know, that a really nice person…I was wrong about him… I think I’ll start being nicer to him!”  Now, we have no way of knowing anything about the actual mindset and the ruminations therein of the “enemy” involved.  But we can suffice it to say that God does and that men, by and large do that which their minds direct them to do.  Surely there is a sense in which some of man’s behavior is conditioned and thus automatic; but the view given here is what effects the autonomic behavior in the “enemy” that God changes. Rather, it has to do with the way this “enemy” thinks and feels.
    Interestingly (and, hopefully, briefly) this is the way that we can see God works in all of those that do what they do as a result of God “making” them do it.  Here, the enemy chooses to be a peace.  That much is clear from the context and general idea here.  God is NOT twisting their arms behind them and threatening them with terrible punishment if they do not do what he tells them concerning being at peace with the man in view.  Rather, God works in their thoughts and emotions to choose to be at peace.  
    This is much like what God tells us about how men come to Christ in matter of salvation and redemption.  There are some who seem to think that God, because salvation is pre-ordained from before the foundation of the world and God knew the very names of his coming people, that, when the time came for their redemption, He simply forced them to agree and submit.  But that is the truth.  He forces no one to accept salvation.  Rather, like in this instance, He simply works within the mind and the emotions to cause the recipients of His grace to both desire and choose to receive the Lord.  
    The same is true in this Proverb (16:7).  God does not smash the “enemies” in view here.  He simply works in their minds and hearts and causes them to desire to be at peace with the men in view.  What a fabulous demonstration of both the grace and goodness of God, as well as His great power among the children of men.

Illustrations. ·        Esau, on Jacob’s ways becoming pleasing to God, was made to be at peace with him whose life he had once sought. 
·        Laban, who followed Jacob as an enemy, departed from him a friend. 
·        By an overruling providence, the nations surrounding Israel were restrained from desiring their land when they went up at the appointed seasons to appear before the Lord their God (Exod. 34:22, etc.). 
·        How was King Saul won over for a time by David’s magnanimity, and the proofs of God being on his side! 
·        And Saul of Tarsus, from breathing forth threatenings and slaughter, how was his heart turned, in the hands of God, towards the Christians whom he persecuted!

   Application. It must not be supposed that this text contradicts others which tell me that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Both are true, as God’s words always must be. The one shows the native enmity of the human heart as against God, so also against His people. The other, the divine restraint which curbs that enmity, so that it shall not really “harm those that are followers of that which is good” (1 Pet. 3:13), and shall in the end work their good (Rom. 8:28), and also be for ever subdued (1 Cor. 15:25). I must expect enemies, and probably of my own household, if I make it always my first aim to please God. The Church will never be without them, yet has she her times of “rest,” and “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against her. I, too, as a member of the Church, must expect to share her lot. Let me not make foes gratuitously by injudicious, needless, ill-tempered opposition. Let me always have a conciliatory bearing, and to be ready to return evil with good. But if for conscience’ sake I am opposed, threatened, ill-treated, slandered, let me “commit myself to Him that judgeth righteously.” Let me hold fast my principles “without wavering,” and it may be God will so convince my enemies that He is with me, or so turn their hearts, that in time they shall become my friends. Or He will overrule their malignity for my good. In the end they shall come and worship at my feet, and know that He has loved me (Rev. 3:9).
 


Comments

04/16/2016 11:14am

This book Living the Infinite Way: Life as Oneness with God by Joel S. Goldsmith is as interesting as what I have read from this article. The topic is also significant that this teaches that the presence of God is within us, and that one can live by that presence, in a way that God wants and thus, we enjoy a loving, peaceful and happy life.

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