We hear them all the time — feel-good, mildly comforting sayings that seem to have their root in Scripture, only for us to find out they aren’t anywhere in the Bible: God won’t give you more than you can handle, this, too, shall pass, if God closes one door, He’ll open another.
What about the saying, “Where God guides, He provides?” Is it biblical, or simply something comforting people say to reassure each other in tough times?
Does This Phrase Appear in the Bible?
While this exact five-word phrase does not appear in the Bible, it is a shortened version of a longer Scripture from the Book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 58, God reveals to His prophet that those of His people who do not follow His ways will be punished, but those who do follow His commands and act in a godly manner will be His light and walk closely with Him.
For these people, the verse says, “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11). Other translations of the Bible use more specific “guide/provide” wording, such as the CEB, which states, “The Lord will guide you continually and provide for you.”
What Does it Mean?
“Guide,” as a verb, is defined by Merriam Webster as “to direct in a way or course, to supervise or influence usually to a particular end, or to superintend someone’s training or instruction.” As our heavenly Father, God does indeed guide us. He provides the Bible as instruction for us, as well as His commandments for us to follow.
We know that through prayer, obedience, and relationship with God, He leads us through both hard and easy times. As we are reminded in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”
The verb “provides” is defined as “to make preparation to meet a need, especially to supply something for sustenance or support.” For example, when the Israelites were hungry in the desert after they’d fled Egypt, God provided quail in the evening and wafer-like bread, which they called manna, at dawn so they would not go hungry (Exodus 16:11-16).
Therefore, the phrase, “Where God guides, He provides” means that if we follow God’s guidance and leading, He will provide for our needs in the way He sees fit.
Is This Meaning Biblical?
Yes, it is biblical to trust that God will provide for us if we follow where He guides. But we must be careful how we interpret “provides.” For instance, some believe God’s providence means He will give us prosperity and material blessings, including shelter and clothing, a variety of food, and physical well-being. Some even believe that means financial wealth or good health for ourselves and those we love. But providence and prosperity are not necessarily the same thing.
God promises to never leave us. He promises to give us rest and hope. For those of us who repent and believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, God promises we shall not perish but instead receive eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom (John 3:16).
For these believers, the Apostle Paul writes, “God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). These riches are not earthly treasures, such as money, buildings, and other things that can be destroyed, but rather, as Jesus explains, things of the spiritual realm are “treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20).
But in order for God to provide, we are to follow His guidance. That means walking in alignment with His ways and His will, following His direction and His leadership, and trusting Him.
It’s staying rooted in faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, we are to “live by faith, not by sight.” We must put our hope, indeed all our trust and expectations, in God alone. When He leads us in a direction, even if it seems like a bad idea to our human minds, that means we follow. We do as He asks, no matter what.
What Are Some Biblical Examples?
In the Old Testament, God tested Abraham’s heart by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Abraham did not want to do this. He loved Isaac, and the boy was an answered prayer — a later-in-life miracle baby born when both Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were elderly.
But Abraham intended to obey God, and just as he got to the top of the mountain and was about to do what God asked, God ordered Abraham to halt and, instead, provided a ram for the offering, instead. Abraham named that site “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:1-18).
Years later, David faced a great obstacle when God called Him to go up against the giant, Goliath. But God called, and David answered — and with God’s protection, plus a sling and a stone, Goliath was slain (1 Samuel 17:50).
Even later, God called the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn the people they were on the verge of destruction because of their great sin. While, at first, Jonah fled his call, he finally obeyed — and God used him to open the Ninevites’ eyes and hearts to their sin, repent, and ultimately find salvation (Jonah 3:10).
In the New Testament, the Apostles Peter and John were “ordinary, unschooled men” who should not have been able to argue Jewish law and speak so intelligently and boldly about the gospel. Yet they did, impressing those who heard them and converting thousands of believers (Acts 4:13).
What Might ‘Where God Guides, He Provides’ Look Like Today?
Today, this might look like the missionary called by God to leave her home and material possessions to preach the gospel to people in a foreign nation. Though she does not have the training and perhaps even doubts her ability to succeed, she answers that call — and God provides by supplying her with the tools, abilities, and people she needs to achieve His plan. Because of this, she is able to start numerous churches and transform thousands of lives all for the glory of the Lord.
When God speaks, calling us to action, we are to listen and obey. And He will provide what we need to get the job done right.
Are There Similar Concepts in Scripture?
Throughout the Bible, we find many examples of God encouraging His people to trust in His leadership, and in return, He will take care of their needs.
In addition to those verses above, here are some more Bible verses that tell us in other ways that when we heed God’s guidance, He will provide:
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: Sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22).
- Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
- I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him (Psalm 32:8-10).
The bottom line is that we are to trust in God, go where He leads, and know that He will take care of us, whatever that looks like — in this life or the next: Our eternal life in heaven.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Wojciech Kozielczyk
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.