One thing to love about the book of Proverbs is that it contains nuggets of wisdom that show up from time-to-time. Even though I’ve read this book many, many times in the past, there often seems to be something I have not seen before. Here is one.
When a man’s folly brings his way to ruin,
his heart rages against the Lord.
Nothing about that verse, in times past, has stood out to me. Perhaps it was not as pithy to me as other proverbs. Perhaps it is the fact that this verse is not an antithetical parallel—those often catch my attention for some reason. But this verse contains a simple truth that we need to have in mind.
The first line gives us a circumstance. A man’s folly has brought his way to ruin. It is significant that we understand that the man in this proverb has done something through his own foolishness to hurt himself. His life choices and his refusal to follow the ways of the Lord have brought him to brokenness.
What happens when this takes place? There are really two options. There are those, blessed of the Lord, who recognize it when they have ruined their own lives. If the Spirit of God is at work on the heart of such a person, their ruination can be the point that drives them to their knees in surrender to the Lord. Such a person, by the work of the Spirit, sees their sin, sees its consequences, sees their inability to run their own life, and repents. This, of course, is a good thing leading to salvation.
But there is another person out there. This is the person who is not given by God the gift of repentant faith. Instead, this person is allowed by God to be exactly what they want to be. And such a person, when his choices lead to his downfall, doubles down on his godlessness. Instead of recognizing that it was his own folly that hurt him, such a person rages against the Lord. HE will become aggressive against God and the things of God because he has not gotten from life what he wanted. He believes that God has treated him wrongly.
Wisdom requires that we recognize that what the proverb here describes is a real thing. And we should learn from it. We should learn that it is foolish to rage against God. It is especially foolish and dangerous to rage against God when the suffering we are facing is the result of our own refusal to obey the commands of God. While God does not promise us lives full of health, wealth, and prosperity, his word and his ways are good. Following his law does not lead us to self-destruction. Obedience to the Lord might lead us to persecution, but that will certainly not be a life ruined by our own folly.
And, if you find yourself tempted to rage against God, it would be wise to examine yourself honestly. It is possible that you are facing hard circumstances that have nothing to do with your own failure. We live in a fallen world, full of sin, full of sickness, full of people who would harm us. That is true. And we do often suffer because of things that have nothing to do with us. But, if we are honest, we also know that we often suffer because of choices we have made, self-destructive choices that lead to our sorrow. In all of those instances, raging against the Lord will not help. But coming to him in repentance and faith seeking grace, that leads to life.