Horses & Victory
Proverbs 21:31 (ESV) – The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
There is a paradox in the Christian faith, and throughout the book of Proverbs. We are told that the sluggard will not eat. In other words, the lazy person reaps the rewards of their inactivity. Hardship follows slothfulness. However, we are also reminded throughout Scripture that God is our Provider. He is our Defender.
We see this paradox in today’s passage. The proverb says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.” This passage is a great picture of the Christian life. The writer emphasizes the importance of making the horse ready for battle. If you are going out to war on the battlefield, you definitely want to make sure your horse is made ready. You inspect your weapons and gear to ensure readiness. However, the proverb ends with the reminder that the victory belongs to the LORD. So, yes, you must be ready and prepare for the battle, but you must recognize where the ultimate strength and help comes from.
This parallels with our spiritual lives. We are told to share the gospel with lost people, but we are reminded that salvation is of the Lord. The Scriptures implore us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling but we’re reminded that it is the Lord who works through us for His good pleasure. These are not contradictions. These are paradoxes, meaning, things that stand together though we often try to separate them. God is sovereign over all things in the universe, yet man is responsible for his willful actions and decisions. It isn’t either/or, it’s both/and.
This instructs us in two ways. First, we as Christians should strive to do everything we are commanded to do.
We do not let God’s actions be an excuse for our inaction. We follow His commands and do as He instructs. Work hard, pursue holiness, share the gospel, be cunning in business, and everything else. But recognize the work of the Lord.
Second, don’t put all your hope in what you can do. Because the Lord also is at work, you don’t have to trust in yourself or your actions alone. God is the giver of victory. He saves sinners. He blesses endeavors. It is the Lord. Hold these things together and you’ll live like you should and center your hope where it belongs—on the LORD.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do we struggle with paradoxes as Christians?
- What does this passage teach about man’s responsibility and God’s actions?
- How does this text apply in your life specifically? What things do you need to do? Where do you need to trust Him?
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