Proverbs 21:30 lays out three means of defeating God, or at least, three means that mankind tries to employ against God. In the end, as we shall see, they are all futile.
The first means of outwitting God is from the standpoint of wisdom. Truth be told, all three relate to one another, but let us briefly consider each one. Each means is preceded by a negative - "No wisdom." Therefore we know that this is not true wisdom, for God is the embodiment of wisdom and used her in creation as well as all aspects of His sovereign activity (see Proverbs 8-9). The wisdom in view in this verse is therefore the world's wisdom. The world indeed claims to be wise, but Paul sums up this claim succinctly in Rom. 1:22 when he states that "claiming to be wise, they became fools." We hear the world's claims of wisdom all around us. In fact, the echo is so loud it is almost deafening. In worldly wisdom they reject the notion of God altogether. They come up with their own way to view our origin and refuse to admit that their theory also employs faith. They do the same with the afterlife, some explaining it away altogether claiming that we simply cease to exist after this life while others adopt a more religious view that they can tolerate because it does not come from the Bible, namely that we will somehow be re-incarnated and come back to live over and over and over again. They also foolishly claim that the form of one's reincarnation is based on how they lived this particular life. Superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Also, according to the self-proclaimed "all-wise" world, there is no such thing as sin, for sin presupposes the existence of God who would be offended by sin, the One against whom sin is a violation. This is played out in the notions that are constantly trumpeted that "all men are born good;" "if left to themselves, mankind would choose to do the right thing." If I may be so bold as to interject at this point - how did the world come up with the notion of "right and wrong" anyway? A world that exists apart from God, where there is no afterlife, where truth is subjective can't possibly have any standard of morality because you can always find someone who disagrees. But I digress. How does God view the world's wisdom? "The wisdom of this world is folly with God" (1 Cor. 3:19-20).
The second means of outwitting God (or at least attempting to) according to Prov. 21:30 is tied in with wisdom, and that is "understanding." Again, the negation in front of understanding sets it apart from God's understanding and lands it squarely with the world's version. Using their wisdom, which we have already seen is folly, they consult with one another to gain understanding of their lives and the world around them. The word here in Hebrew (תְּבוּנָה) is tied to cleverness. Think of this as the reasoning process, or what we might call logic. In what they claim to know (their wisdom), they weave it together to form an argument against God and His revelation. It is as though they say to God Himself "You don't exist; you didn't create; you don't judge sin; you won't judge sin in the future; there is no sin and here are all our reasons." Is God open to this kind of reasoning from man? Hardly. In His Word, the Bible, God has revealed that He is unchanging, without beginning or end. Ps. 2:4 says that God, who is in heaven (which is to be instructive to us here on earth), laughs. This is the end of the world's understanding and logical arguments against God. They too are utter folly.
This brings us to the third attempted means of outwitting God in Prov. 21:30 - counsel. Again, it is stated with the negation, so it is not the Lord's counsel, but the counsel of world. Here, they are not just using their own minds and logic, but rather are coming together. Each of the three means builds on the other. We start with what one person knows, then move to his reasoning. Now, at the end, we bring all of mankind together and pool his collective wisdom and understanding. It is a global symposium of sorts and at this symposium they comfort one another with their godless epithets and foolish conclusions. "Don't worry, you can live as you please - God doesn't exist!" "Don't worry about the afterlife, there is no afterlife." "Don't talk about sin - it doesn't exist. That's simply an antiquated notion from centuries back and is a holdover for the religious and superstitious only." "Look at all the millions of people who agree with us; surely they can't all be wrong!" God answers this last one through the pen of Paul in Rom. 3:4 - "Let God be true though every one were a liar."
So what does God do with the counsel of the world? Back to Psalm 2:1-4. Here we find the nations gathering together to counsel with one another - it is the very global symposium we just hypothesized! And, the counsel they are taking together is to unite against God and against His Anointed. Ps. 2:4 - God, who sits in the heavens laughs; He holds them in derision.
Prov. 21:30 employs these three means that the world tries to use against God and concludes this way: None of them can avail against the LORD. God's wisdom is infinite and perfect; the world's is limited and flawed. God's understanding, His reasoning and Logic is infinite and perfect, in accord with His holiness and perfection. As the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is, we being the work of His hands (cf. Is. 64:8), He is the author of understanding and reason and wants us to come to Him and learn from Him (Is. 1:18)! We should not turn to one another for counsel against God, but take His wise and infinite counsel! When it comes to a battle of wits with God, man will always lose.
Sunday School** / 9:30AM - 10:15AM
Sunday Morning / 10:30AM - 11:45AM
Sunday Evening / 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Wednesday Night / 7:00PM - 8:00PM