Proverbs of Solomon – Proverbs 21:1-8


There may be hundreds of verses which I often quote, but I have never broken apart and directly taught. Proverbs 21:1 is one of those scriptures. Tonight I will correct that oversight, even though our excavations will be somewhat shallow. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

As you all know, our current “king” – President Trump – is one of the most polarizing in recent history. Most who are politically-minded have strong opinions about him – love, hate, disrespect, tolerance, etc. While somewhat true in this country, in many other countries there is fear of what our president might do. It might be one kind of fear in North Korea, but there are other kinds of fear elsewhere. He appears to be fickle and unpredictable. And as a result there is a fear that he will provoke a war which will once again engulf the world. It could be military, but it could also be economic or even something else.

The Christian needs to remember that there is a King who is above all other kings – a LORD over other lords. His name is “Jehovah” “The king’s heart is in the hand of Jehovah,” spelled in all caps, “LORD.” And “as the rivers of water: he turneth the hearts of human kings whithersoever he – Jehovah – wills.” So for you and me, who believe the Bible and trust in the Lord, there are no grounds for fear. Yes, the king may some day invoke laws against God’s saints, but our LORD is in control – of the law and the outcome of those laws. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” of politics, of economics, or of the world in general.

Solomon tells us – “The king’s HEART is in the hand of the LORD.”

When it comes to his earthly life, the heart is at the core of the person – whether king, citizen or illegal. As Solomon tells us in chapter 23 – As a man “thinketh in his heart so is he.” A man may keep his hands from stealing, but if his heart is greedy, his peace will be destroyed with its lust. He may keep his feet from running off, but if his heart wishes he’d never married that woman at home, neither of them will be happy. When a man’s heart is right, he will never have a problem with pornography. When his heart is right, he will be content which such things as he has.

But here is the problem “the (human) heart is deceitful and desperately wicked” by nature. The truth is, the heart of our President IS fickle, and there is no telling where it might go next. I know that to be true because I have a heart just as fickle but with a little less power over others. Not even the king can guarantee that the promises made last year or last week will be kept tomorrow. However, you and I can rest assured that even this “king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD.” No man, including the king, will be able to do something which doesn’t come under the supervision of the “the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Obviously, the first and primary lesson of this verse is the sovereignty of God. Not only does the Lord control the weather, He can change our attitude and reaction to the weather. He can touch the heart of Saul of Tarsus, regenerating that man and turn him into Paul the Apostle. Or he can cause any king’s heart make a u-turn in the midst of a a busy political freeway. Fear not, Jehovah is still God over His Creation.

“The KING’S heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Having said those things about our President, let me take a step back. Was Solomon speaking of the leaders of Egypt, Assyria and Syria when he wrote this? Was he talking about foreign kings, or was he referring to David his father or Rehoboam his son? Could he not have been speaking about himself and His own heart?

I have quoted this verse hundreds of times when speaking about the sovereignty of God. That is a general truth. That is a universal principle. I don’t regret having ever done it. Jehovah is the true King over all kings. This is the primary purpose and application of the verse. But what if we turned the verse around just a little bit.

What if Solomon was saying, MY heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will”? You know, grammatically, it doesn’t appear that was what he was saying. I think our common application of this verse is correct – the hearts of the leaders of China, Iraq, North Korea, Mexico and Canada are under the control of our God. There is not a king in all the world whose heart is beyond the control of the Lord. Solomon could have said EVERY king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

But couldn’t Solomon have been saying, “I am placing my heart, as king, into the hand of the Lord?” Couldn’t he have been saying, “I am willing to be turned whithersoever the Lord wants me to be turned?” Then by extension, shouldn’t this be something we all are willing to do? But how often have I willingly taken my heart and placed it into the hand of the Lord? “Here Lord, I surrender to you my heart, knowing already that it is yours. I want it to be in your hand; I want it to be turned by your will. I want your will to dominate in my life.”

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Is there any significance in the fact that the “The king’s heart is in the HAND of the LORD”? Actually there is some significance in that word. James Strong in his Concordance says that the Hebrew “yad” refers to an open hand in distinction to a closed hand. There are different Hebrew words translated “fist” and “fingers.” Solomon didn’t say that the king’s heart is in the fist of God; rather it is in God’s open palm. Before arthritis sneaks in we can do a lot of damage by squeezing things in our fists, and certainly God could do much more than we ever could. But “the king’s heart is in the (open) hand of the LORD,” and still “he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

I don’t know about you, but that gives me a picture of a kind and gentle leadership. A butterfly, injured by a bird, has landed on your shoulder. You slowly reach up with your open palm, resting it near the delicate little bug. She steps from your shirt to your hand and you carefully lower it to a nearby flower, permitting her to walk onto its petals. “The king’s heart rests in the open palm of Jehovah,” like a little butterfly or bird. Sure, I know we could use other means to illustrate the authority of the Lord, but this is the one to which Solomon points in this verse.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

How hard is it to turn a river? Some commentators suggest that Solomon is speaking about irrigation ditches. There are farms in arid places where water flows through complicated systems of irrigation. Today one section is flooded with water, but tomorrow the farmer closes some gates opening others in order to water different fields. That is all fine and good, but the word “river” raises a different kind of image in my mind. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the Columbia river: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

How difficult was it for those engineers to harness the water of the Columbia at Grand Coulee? By 1943 the cost of construction was $163 million, but in today’s dollars that would be about $2 billion. The first phase of construction took 8 years, and there were more than 5,000 workers on the job at any one time. More than 80 mien lost their lives working on the dam, along with a few million salmon. It is hard and costly to turn a powerful river. I mention the Grand Coulee dam because more of you are familiar with it than you are of the Kenney Dam.

In northern British Columbia the Kenney Dam blocked the Nechako River, creating a huge reservoir. The Nechako runs east and then into the Fraser River which eventually enters the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver. Until the 1960s the Kenney Dam was the largest rock-filled dam in the world. The reservoir behind the dam forced some of that water west into a hydro-electric plant to feed electricity to the Alcan Aluminium plant at Kitimat, where my parents lived for a few years. All in all it was a huge project, costing millions and taking years, to turn at least part of a river 180* It is no easy task for mere mortals to turn a major river. But to the King of kings, He can do it with the palm of His open hand.

What should be the effect of this verse?

There is no reason for any Christian to worry about the state of the world or his own personal safety. The Lord not only knows about what is going on, He is master of it all. There is no war which the Lord cannot defuse. There is no famine which He can’t cover with rain and bring to productivity. There is no neighbor who He can’t convert. There is no disease which He cannot instantly cure..

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” This should encourage us to bring the name of that lunatic king before God’s throne of grace. We should pray for the Lord to save and conquer that heart. We can ask the Lord to turn him from what appears to be disastrous decisions. We can also pray for peace and safety. These things are all in the control of Jehovah. Because “the king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”