Proverbs 21:2

Every Way of Man


1. In verse one of this chapter, Solomon spoke of God’s sovereignty in the life of the king. God holds the king’s heart in His hand and turns it whithersoever He will.

2. Now Solomon extends God’s involvement in the lives of men to include, not just the heart of the king, but the hearts of ALL men.

3. This includes you and me too!

2a Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:

1. The way of man.

a. Way = literally: Road; pathway.

b. The term is most often used in a figurative sense as a metaphor for the pathway of one’s life; course of life; manner of life; habit.

c. Proverbs speaks of various WAYS.
• The way of wisdom.
• The way of darkness.
• The way of the Lord.

d. The term is similar to the New Testament metaphor describing a man’s life as his “walk.”
• But there is a difference.
• Walk implies step by step process. It looks at one’s life as a series of steps, choices, or decisions.
• Add up all those steps and you have the WAY of a man.
• This term takes a step back and looks at the broader picture: the whole course of one’s life… the road he is headed down… the whole direction of his life, rather than the process of step by step.
• The figure of a road implies also the destination. A road leads to a predetermined destination.
• If you are headed down a road, you are going to end up where that road takes you.
• Roads lead to a particular place.

2. Men choose their own WAYS in life.

a. God gives us all the will to choose which pathway we want to travel in life.
• Whatever roadway you and I are traveling down, it is a road of our own choosing.
• Some might argue this point because they feel trapped on the pathway they are headed down now. They want to reverse direction, but find it virtually impossible.
• But even in that situation, we find ourselves there because we made decisions which brought us to a place of few options.
• Most often however, there are ways to reverse direction, IF we are willing to bite the bullet and pay the price.
• Reversing direction after walking down a roadway for many years, may take a long time to make up for lost time going down the wrong street… but it CAN be done!
• Whatever road we are on—the course of our lives—has been a course that we carved for ourselves.

b. There are countless pathways available too.
• There are various career pathways:
» There are lots of different trades that will set you down a certain job pathway… the kind of school you attend… the kind of training you receive.
» There are various pathways in the medical field; computer related businesses; finances; manufacturing; etc.
» Some will give their lives to full time Christian service—in the ministry or mission field.
» Choices that we make (usually early on in life) will set us down a pathway for many years to come.
» And of course, those pathways CAN be reversed, but it could be costly and might interrupt your life.
» It might involve re-training in another field—but it can be done.

• There are various moral and spiritual pathways available too.
» Whether we receive Christ and are saved or remain lost!
» Some believers choose to live a carnal Christian life… (They are saved, but they live for self and the world.)
» Some choose to live a mediocre Christian life… (They read their Bible and go to church… but that’s about it.)
» Some choose to put their all on the altar… and be sold out for Christ. (These folks are true servants who will receive a well done though good and faithful servant.)
» Mark 4:20 – “And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”
» Jesus spoke of a few different spiritual pathways that believers choose: different levels of dedication to Christ and thus varying degrees of reward.

c. All of us have chosen a pathway in life.
• And each pathway is headed in a predetermined direction with a predictable outcome.
• That is the nature of ways or ROADS. A road take you in the direction that road was built.
• We are all on “a road” and it is the road of our own choosing.
• We will all end up wherever that road leads.

d. Unfortunately, when we decide to travel down a particular road, we don’t always THINK ahead, about exactly WHERE that road will take us!
• We SHOULD think ahead, but we don’t.
• Prov. 4:26 – PONDER the path of thy feet!
• Sometimes we only consider how easy the road is; how smooth; how many hills or obstacles there might be; how comfortable the ride; who else is traveling that road.
• Sometimes we as believers hop on a road in life without consciously thinking about where it will actually take us.
• Sometimes we are afraid to take a stand for the Lord and to be different.
• Usually we make those kinds of decisions because we think like Esau—the here and now is our only concern. Esau was not concerned about the ultimate consequences of his choices in life. He was concerned about having warm porridge NOW… and not to worry about a future birthright.
• We are often earthly minded rather than heavenly minded.
• And thus, with earthly, temporal values, we make choices that head us down a particular pathway in life… without considering WHERE that road will take us.

3. “Right in his own eyes.”

a. Solomon’s MAIN point in the first part of the proverb is to highlight the ARROGANCE that often accompanies those choices… which road we decide to head down.

b. We (like Esau) come up with excuses for choosing a pathway that may not be the best spiritually.

c. We convince ourselves that we are RIGHT and deceive ourselves.

d. We can be ingenious in putting a good face on our bad behavior.

e. We judge ourselves with a different standard than we use on others. Let’s face it—none of us are exactly “impartial” judges of our own actions.

f. Luke 18 – the Pharisee and the publican: “O Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men…” He put the best construction on his own actions… but God had a very different estimation.

g. Once we convince ourselves that our pathway is the RIGHT one, and after we have been walking down it for some time, and we have sort of “committed” ourselves to that route, and we realize that turning around now would be difficult and humbling… there is a selfish incentive to continue to FEED that arrogance… and try to justify our choices.

h. Of course some pathways ARE the right ones, and we shouldn’t change direction.

i. But Solomon seems to imply here that NOT ALL are.

j. Even though it may be the WRONG pathway, we convince ourselves that we are right…

k. And we are right “in our own eyes.”
• Everyone else may easily see how WRONG we are…
• But we can be blind and not see what is so obvious to others.
• We like to PROVE ourselves to be right… even in the face of wise counsel to the contrary… even in the face of some obvious application of Scripture.
• The book of Judges ends with the words, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
• It was not a way of saying “they lived happily ever after.” It was a picture of anarchy and chaos. And there was a price to pay.
• Prov. 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to man, but ends in death.
• What folly—to convince ourselves that we are right… even if the direction we are headed in leads to death.
• That is the utter blindness of pride. It would rather die than admit it is wrong… and have to repent and change direction.

l. As Solomon observed human behavior, he noticed this sort of thing time and time again: proud men convince themselves that they are headed down the RIGHT road, even though it is obvious to others that they are not!

m. I’m sure we all know folks in this condition.

n. The sad part is that this kind of pride REFUSES to listen to counsel.

o. Prov. 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

p. Isa. 55:7 – God challenges men to forsake their wicked ways (lest God be forced to intervene).

2b But the LORD pondereth the hearts.

1. We as men may not always ponder the path of our feet, but the Lord does.

2. And the Lord is pondering us even BEFORE we take a step. He ponders the thoughts, intents, and desires of our heart even BEFORE we make a choice or take a step.

3. Ponder = Measure, estimate, ponder, balance, weigh out.

a. The Lord is measuring and weighing out all the thoughts in our heart…

b. He not only knows what steps we will take… but WHY we take them. He knows all the thought that went into our choices in life.

c. God is observing… measuring… and will judge us on that basis.

d. Psalm 1:6 – the Lord KNOWETH the way of the righteous (and the way of the ungodly shall perish).

4. Prov. 16:2 – All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

a. This proverb is nearly identical to 21:2.

b. Man’s ways are CLEAN in his own eyes.

c. But God looks deeper than his outward ways.

d. God looks at the heart… the spirit… the inner man.

e. This ought to cause us all to stop and think.
• It is possible to be walking down the right road.
• We may be outwardly doing that which is good.
• Our lives may appear to be heading in the right direction.
• But God always looks deeper than outward appearances.
• God weighs our heart. He considers motives… intentions…
• We could be doing the right thing the wrong way.
• We could be going in the right direction, but with the wrong motives.
• Remember the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee was doing many things right outwardly. He tithed, he prayed, he gave to the poor. BUT it was for selfish reasons: to be seen of men… out of self righteous pride!
• The Lord sees the heart motives before they are ever put into action.

5. This thought OUGHT to have an effect on us as believers.

a. It should cause us to make sure that our thoughts are in line with His Word… and our steps as well.

b. We should learn to immediately cast down any thoughts that are not in harmony with His word BEFORE we ever take a step in the wrong direction.

c. Don’t be satisfied that our ways are right in our own eyes. We should be concerned to discover if they are right in the eyes of the Lord. That’s what counts.