The reading for today is Proverbs 21:3.
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
To understand Proverbs 21:3, we need to look at it as a part of the message set forth in Proverbs 21:1-4. This section has three proverbs on divine judgement followed by a fourth proverb that is related but does not explicitly mention the Lord. God is a much higher judge than the king, whom he controls. The Solomonic origin of these passages shows that the king is specifically the Davidic king.
People are not vindicated by their own consciences but by God’s judgement. (21:2)
In verse three, the people cannot avert God’s judgement simply with sacrifices and religious rites. In this, it is clear, all the sacrifices and ceremonies will not keep people from God’s judgement.
In verse one, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will,” we learn that the power of the king to judge is under the authority of God.
In verse two, “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart,” here it is clear that mankind is self-righteous in the way we lives, but God judges our deeds.
In the fourth verse, we read, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.” This verse can be interpreted to tell us that the thing most likely to bring divine judgement on one’s head is pride.
By looking at these four verses together, we see that the king’s heart and his judgements are controlled by God, who weighs what is in the heart, and of which, pride is the one most likely to bring man down.
Back to verse three, we find that doing what is right and seeking justice is more acceptable to the lord than ceremonial acts and offering something in propitiation or homage, the ritual slaughter of an animal. Thus, the four verses together warn the people of that time: God is the ultimate judge and he looks at what is in the heart.
Maureen Baldwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern: Control over the slaughter of innocent victims during mass shootings in our country.