By Irvin Himmel
There are many devises in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand (Prov. 19:21).
The word “device” translates the Hebrew word machashebeth, and the term is translated “thought,” “imagination,” “means,” and “purpose” in various Old Testament passages. The devices in a man’s heart are his intentions, plans, purposes, imaginations, thoughts, or schemes.
Devices of the Human Heart
(1) Man devises schemes for fulfilling greed. The wants of man surpass his needs. People develop a strong craving for material things. The Bible refers to this excessive desire as covetousness. Greediness produces wicked imaginations. To feed their greed people have contrived daring plans.
Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, ran after Naaman when the Syrian captain felt indebted to Elisha. Gehazi told Naaman that two young men, sons of the prophets, had just arrived from the hill country of Ephraim. They needed silver and two changes of garments. Gehazi said his master had sent him. Naaman gladly gave as requested and beyond, but the fabricated plot of Gehazi did not escape detection by the Spirit-filled Elisha. The leprosy of Naaman was sent on Gehazi (2 Kgs. 5:20-27).
(2) Man devises ways to exploit sensuality. The public mind is bombarded today with sexually-oriented material. Toothpaste is advertised as having sex appeal. Automobiles, garments, and numerous products are advertised as sexy. Everything from soft drinks to plumbing supplies is sold through ads depicting models with sex appeal. Nudity and nearnudity are pictured on TV, in newspapers, magazines, and books, on large billboards, and commercial displays. Many movies and TV productions go beyond any semblance of moral restraint to portray explicit sex, adultery, homosexuality, rape, and all the trimmings of vulgar language, drunkenness, seduction, crime, drugs, brutality, prostitution, murder, and erotic behavior.
Under the banner of liberation many who find it a lucrative business to promote sensually-centered stuff are enslaving others to the power of lust. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah!
(3) Man devises plans for exalting himself. In the long ago, when the whole earth was of one language and one speech, people tried to build a city and a high tower. A part of their wicked design was, “Let us make us a name. . . ” (Gen. 11:4). The unfinished tower of Babel reminds us of human pride. Men will go to great lengths in quest of name, fame, and renown.
“Affectation of honor and a name among men commonly inspires with a strange ardor for great and difficult undertakings, and often betrays to that which is evil and offensive to God” (Matthew Henry).
(4) Man devises plots for covering his iniquity. Although he began his reign as a man after God’s own heart, king David allowed wicked designs to corrupt his heart. After committing adultery with Bathsheba (wife of Uriah) and learning that she was with child, David tried to conceal his sin. He sent for Uriah, a soldier in the army under Joab, and gave him opportunity to go home, but Uriah had an extraordinary sense of loyalty and insisted on sleeping with the king’s servants. David made him drunk, but he still refused to spend the night at home. In desperation, David arranged for Uriah to be killed on the field of battle. That left everything clear for David to take Bathsheba to be one of his wives. But God was not fooled (2 Sam. 11; 12:1-4).
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
(5) Man devises false religions. Jeroboam set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel and urged the people of the Northern Kingdom that it was too far to go to Jerusalem to worship. He ordained priests of the lowest of the people and initiated other changes in religion (1 Kgs. 12:25-33). His wicked religious system was designed to insure his reign.
Men invent all manner of false doctrines. They preach whatever they please. They are like the people in Jeremiah’s time who said, “We will walk after our own devices” (Jer. 18:12).
(6) Men devise imaginations to overthrow God’s purposes. Haman devised an ugly plot to exterminate the Jewish race. The Bible refers to it as “his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews” (Esth. 9:25). But God providentially preserved the Jewish race and fulfilled His promise to bring the Messiah into the world through that race.
The Bible prophetically pictures the heathen as imagining a vain thing; the kings and rulers taking counsel together against Jehovah and His anointed (Psa. 2). But the likes of Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate could not defeat God’s purposes!
The counsel of God stands firm while the plans, thoughts, and schemes of the human heart vacillate. His counsel comes from His infinite wisdom. What He teaches is right. What He reveals is for our good. Let us believe and obey His will.
“The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (Psa. 33: 10,11).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 18, p. 554
September 18, 1986