trusted online casino malaysia
Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Of Mice and Men

Making His plans your plans

Proverbs 6:16, 18a

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

18 A heart that devises wicked plans…

Proverbs 16:1-3

1 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits. 

3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.


Celebrated Scottish poet, Robert Burns, is known for many great poems and is a figure of romantic literature. As a young man in the 1780’s, however, he labored in obscurity, struggling as a farmer, failing at life and love. He was a dreamer, a scribbler and a bit of a cad with the ladies. At rock bottom, he was facing further exile the West Indies and preparing to depart to become a plantation overseer in Jamaica, when he received word that his first work of poetry was to be published.

An instant celebrity, “Rabbie Burns” would become a symbol of Scotland and a figure of a national movement of Scottish identity. The world soon was taken by his romantic poems like, “A Red Red Rose,” and the patriotic, “Scots Wha Hae,” and (the now-familiar New Years Eve hit), “Auld Lang Syne,” to a point that ordinary literate people everywhere found themselves happily struggling to pronounce the brogue of his “light Scots dialect” in which his works were written.     

Burns’ meteoric rise to stardom represents a dramatic shift of fortune and a clear example of how quickly the plans of man can change. One poem Burns writes shortly before his discovery is “To a Mouse,” which he dedicates to, well, a mouse.   

Perhaps remembering an incident when he was farming, Burns writes of accidentally turning over the nest of a mouse with the edge of his plow. As the frightened mouse scampers away, he calls after her:

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

The poet, seeing the mouse with her home destroyed and her winter hopes of safety and security ruined, is reminded of how quickly and unexpectedly fortunes and plans can change. 

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,*
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

*Go oft awry

If a phrase in this second stanza sounds familiar to you, you may remember it from the title and work of another tale of tragedy and ruined plans: John Steinbeck’s novel, “Of Mice and Men.” 

Do you have plans in life that have somehow gone awry? Have you experienced this so often that you now, perhaps, avoid making plans altogether, as you expect that your hopes and dreams will only become dashed? Or do you see the plans of evil people prosper and thrive? 

Those around you who live worldly lives or inflict harm on others can seem to live long and happy lives enjoying the bounty of their sometimes ill-gotten gains–while you seem to struggle in obscurity, or deal with one tragedy after another. 

Solomon is aware of these things as he teaches his son and the youth of Israel. The schemes of the wicked will not only appear to prosper, they often enjoy fame, fortune, and lives of ease at the expense of the innocent. Solomon warns, however, that none of this is lost on God, and even if a golden earthy reward is received for evil plans, a fiery eternal reward is guaranteed:  

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

18 A heart that devises wicked plans…–Proverbs 6:16, 18a

Solomon is telling you that you in addition to having a heart for God and not a heart for evil, you must take care to examine your motives in all the things you do. 

It is easy to assume that those with wicked plans are among the evil who walk the land in sin and darkness. You may imagine them as a classic Bond villain, stroking his Persian cat and monologuing of his plans to destroy the world economy, while Agent 007 is tied to a giant laser. 

But it is never like that. The wicked schemes that you run afoul of are usually tied to your personal relationships: Lies from a spouse to cover unfaithfulness in marriage. Someone who spreads gossip to better himself at your expense in the eyes of the boss. Engaging in unethical or shady business practices that bring harm to you while the evildoer profits.

Jesus was no stranger to evil plans. The religious leaders of His day continually plotted to trap and later kill Him. They constantly asked leading questions seeking to trick Jesus into blasphemy, or trotted out innocent victims in order to accuse Him or violating the law. At last, one of His own–Judas Iscariot–carried out his evil plans, which Jesus exposed to His disciples during their final meal together: 

26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”–John 13:26-27

Judas may have died a traitor’s death, but it often seems that God lets life’s evil schemers carry on. Nevertheless, He will have the final say. Solomon illustrates this in chapter 16 of Proverbs:

1 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.–Proverbs 16:1

Man may make his plans, but God will provide the ultimate answer of His judgement–in this life or the next. Not only this, but the normal, ordinary “good” plans you make are also subject to God’s will and authority. Understating that will impact not only the way you do things, but how you see others as well.

Let’s explore further:

2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the spirits.–Proverbs 16:2 

Now this is a timeless truth, is it not? Everyone things he is right in his own eyes. You and I do this. Nearly everything you do, you assume is “good” because you know your motives are pure, right? But as a sinner, your motives are not always pure, and often you structure much of what you do out of a sense of self-preservation or self-promotion. 

This is understandable. You want to be recognized, you want to be appreciated, you want to be seen as good-hearted and true. But then you remember that you are a sinner, and you daily struggle with the idolatry of self. You have sinful habits, desires, and even addictions. These will cause you to make sinful, evil plans in order to keep from changing or to deflect others from knowing.

Tim Keller helps identify this:

You don’t know yourself unless you know that your motives are never pure, and that they always seem better to you than they do to the Lord, who weighs them.–Timothy Keller, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life” 

Knowing that God weighs not only the motives of outright evil people, He also weighs your motives, will begin to shift the way you see things in this life. It makes you dependent on Him–even down to your smallest plans. Solomon continues now with instructions on what you must do:

3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.–Proverbs 16:3 

You may not be Ernst Blofeld planning to steal a nuclear bomb, but you are filled with your own evil schemes as a sinner. The only way to counter this is to do as Paul tells you, by: “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:4-5).”

Solomon is urging you not simply to “commit to Christ” or to “obey” but to “commit your works to the Lord.” This means that in order to avoid the trap of becoming an evil schemer, you must place all plans, desires, and daily living into the hands of the will of your Heavenly Father. The phrase “commit to” translates “roll onto.” In other words, take all of your concerns and efforts and roll them on to God, and leave them with Him. If your motives truly are pure, He will weigh and bless them–and make them part of His plan. Commentator Bruce Waltke talks of this:

Since the Lord assumes ownership of the disciples initiatives, and he alone can evaluate the purity of the motives behind them, the disciple should commit his plan deeds to the Lord to establish them permanently, outlasting the wicked persons temporary triumphs.–Bruce Waltke, "Proverbs"

This is a far cry from the brute-force of working to make things happen in this life. Even when seeking to serve Christ in His church, you can labor to do “good things” in His name, and yet He will find them wanting if they come from love of self, and not the Father. 

The only way to do this is to do as Paul instructs the Philippians:

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.–Philippians 2:3

This is to have the mind of Christ Jesus. Once you seek this, you will begin to see your plans and desires in an entirely different light-and even understand when you plans are crushed. 

Earthly disappointments are no match for providential blessings.

The plow may have turned up your nest, but you can stay faithful because you know that the plowman is under the will of God–and He knows what is best for you. Even if your best is to simply glorify Him. Tim Keller again offers encouragement:

Rather, the wise accept that “even if our human plans are subverted, we can recognize an even deeper plan at work in our lives,“ namely, the all-wise and goodwill of God (Rom 8:28).–Timothy Keller, “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life” 

Can you find comfort in this? You have been hurt and others have taken advantage of you–and yet you can follow Him. The evil people around you toast their own success at your expense–and yet you know that He will judge. Your Father loves you and calls you to His side, not just when your plans change–but because your plans change. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.–Jeremiah 29:11-13 

In times like this I think of Peter, John and the other disciples. Jesus called each of them from their ordinary lives, of plans to be fishermen, business owners, or to manage lucrative government positions. With the simple phrase “Follow me,” Jesus changed their lives forever–and changed the world through them as a result. Will you allow Him to change even the smallest of plans you make? Will you place your endless, almost unconscious scheming aside to follow HIm? 

Michael Card has an excellent song, “Sea of Souls,” that reminds you that the souls of millions upon millions may be at stake, even if it means your “best laid plans” need go awry: 

I left my boats and nets behind
To follow Him so I could find
A way to cast a different line

Upon the sea of souls
Upon the sea of souls
We ride the tides of time
Jesus shouts, behold
You stand beside a sea of souls



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.