The LORD made all things for himself, even the wicked, but he is NOT forcing people to sin (Prov. 16:4)

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Prov. 16:4)

Some actually believe that God created wickedness, and that He has made some people into sinners just so He can punish them on the day of evil. That is not the God of the Bible. At first glance this verse seems to contradict other verses:

The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalms 145:9

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

In Proverbs 16:4 the phrase, ”things for Himself” takes us back to the Hebrew word maaneh which means ”to answer to”, or ”to give a reply to”, and what is being said in this verse is, ”The Lord hath made all things to answer or give an account unto Him.” They eventually reap what they sow. We could accurately read Proverbs 16:4 like this:

The LORD hath made all things to give account unto Him: yea, even the wicked, who think they are off His hook, have to give an account unto Him on the day of judgment.

This makes more sense and goes together well with the rest of the Bible where we can see that God EXPECTS us to be obedient to His commands.

More verses from Proverbs 16

The context of this verse is here below and we can read that a proud heart is an ABOMINATION to God, so clearly He wouldn’t predestine people to be wicked. Why would God even consider forcing us to do abominable things before His eyes and then turn around and punish us for it?

Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. [The LORD hath made all things to give account unto Him: yea, even the wicked, who think they are off His hook, have to give an account unto Him on the day of judgment.]5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.6By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

The text tells us that people can depart from evil if they FEAR God, which is something THEY must do. God did NOT create the wicked so that He could punish them. God created all things to give an account unto Him, even those who think they are getting away with their sins now. God set up His creation where good is (eventually) rewarded and evil is (eventually) punished. In this sense the “purpose” for the wicked is found in the “day of trouble” that shall come upon them. The verb translated in the NRSV as “made” (paw-al’) can be translated as “works out”.

Prov. 16:When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. 9A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Man has desires and can plan the means to achieve them, but we are dependent on God. We should seek him so he can lead us right. We can’t take Proverbs 16:9 to mean that God dictates each of our actions, because that would make him the author of sin. We would then be able to blame each of our sins on GOD ALONE. That is not the God of the Bible. Abraham devised a way to seek a wife for Isaac, and the servant met Rebekah. Jacob devised a way to flee from Esau, and the Lord blessed him to become rich with a large family. Joseph chose to be righteous, and the Lord directed his steps to Egypt’s throne. Jesse devised a way to send food to his sons in the army, by his youngest son David, not knowing that God was directing David’s steps for a showdown with Goliath. The fact that God can direct our steps, doesn’t mean that we don’t have a free will. The fact that God is always in control, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t allow us the freedom to accept/reject and obey/disobey.  This is applicable also for Proverbs 16:33. We simply should not take a poetic verse out of context and make a doctrine out of it, contrary to the rest of the Scripture. God does not predestine us to sin, and that’s that.

Prov. 16: 12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. 13Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. — 17The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul. 18Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  20He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.— 23The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. —25There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.— 27An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. 28A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. 29A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. 30He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.— 32He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. 33The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Poetry reflects the truth and should not always be understood literally

Psalms and proverbs often contain poetry, songs and hyperboles, so we should be careful to not use various statements as  universal truths applicable for all people everywhere at all times. It’s better to read the verses as general principles described poetically. Do you believe the following information can be applied universally? Can we really say that the below ALWAYS happens at all times with no exception?

Proverbs 13:21Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.22Agood man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.—25The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want. 

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

One thought on “The LORD made all things for himself, even the wicked, but he is NOT forcing people to sin (Prov. 16:4)

  1. Pingback: Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me « bummyla

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