The alarm on your device goes off and tells you it is time to get up. If the sleep is still too sweet, you ignore it and remain in your comfort zone. Later on, you get up then the planning begins. You project what you are going to do that day, perhaps what you have to accomplish at work, someone you plan to meet and something you hope to buy. You have an idea of how the day will go and expect it to go that way. By the time you return home and lay down to review the happenings of that particular day, it is much different from whatever you anticipated. Perhaps you didn’t meet the person you intended to meet, did more work than expected but bought what you wanted. That is what the proverb above means: we make our plans but God ultimately determines what happens.
If you have been a believer for a while you know by now that the direction you want your life to take does not always match God’s chosen path. This shouldn’t be a problem because if you follow God’s direction, you’ll be happy and content in the end.
Jacob in the Scriptures was one who had his life all planned out. Like his father Isaac, he took God seriously and in early life wanted to live the right way. The Lord had prospered Isaac greatly; he had many servants, plenty of land and was rich in silver and gold. He often spent time meditating and speaking with God and was much respected among the people with whom he dwelt. Isaac always seemed to prevail whenever a challenge manifested. This is what Jacob wanted for his life but there was a problem: he was not the firstborn and therefore by tradition would not have the birthright. The blessing given by a father to the firstborn determined their destiny in life.
So what was Jacob to do? The only solution was to somehow get that birthright from Esau the firstborn. An opportunity presented itself when his brother—who was a hunter of wild game—came home tired and empty handed. He found Jacob at the tent cooking some delicious stew of lentils and because he was starved, found the stew irresistible. He asked for some and Jacob quickly took advantage.
This is how their conversation went (Genesis 25:30-34):
Esau: “Feed me some of the red stew – yes, this red stew – because I’m starving!”
Jacob: “First sell me your birthright.”
Esau: “Look, I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?”
Jacob: “Swear an oath to me now.”
So Esau swore an oath to Jacob and sold his birthright. The Bible then says Esau despised his birthright.
Jacob had planned his way and he must have been so pleased with himself, however God would be the one to direct his steps. He later told both his mother and father that Esau sold the birthright to him but Isaac disregarded it. Rebekah however took it seriously because God had told her even before the brothers were born that the older would serve the younger (Genesis 25:23).
Many years later when Isaac was old and wanted to pronounce his blessing on the firstborn, Rebekah advised Jacob to trick his blind father in order to receive the blessing that was rightfully his. Jacob listened and after disguising himself in Esau’s clothes, after serving his father goat meat in place of his brother’s game meat, he indeed received his blessing.
Jacob was planning his way and God directing his steps. Ideally, Esau should have returned with the game meat and on finding out about his brother’s trickery, would not really care. But this did not happen, instead Esau was filled with wrath and even started planning how he would kill Jacob.
Long story short, Jacob had to flee from their home and stay with a shrewd uncle of his. For twenty years he served this man called Laban. In this time he got married and had children but remained under the authority of his uncle-turned-master. Eventually God delivered him with great wealth and gave him a new name, He called him Israel. You can read the details of his life experiences in Genesis chapters 27-32.
Jacob ultimately became the nation Israel and although God did not do things in the way he expected, by the end of his life he was more than satisfied. He reconciled with his brother Esau and returned to his father’s dwelling place. He had the son he always wanted in Joseph and God took care of him all his life.