Proverbs 16


‘To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue. All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for a day of disaster.’ Proverbs 16:1-4

Man Proposes, But God Disposes

The limitations of mankind to plan their lives are disclosed in these verses and Proverbs 16:9. Is there anything wrong with making plans? No, but we should think out our plans but what God wants should be the determining factor.

We should ask ourselves a couple of questions before we make a decision.

1. Is what we’re about to do in line with God’s Word?

2. Is the outcome going to be pleasing to God?

God should be at the centre of everything we do, every plan we make individually and as a church, James 4:13-17. And if we’ve got any worries or concerns about our plans, we should take Peter’s advice, and give them to God, 1 Peter 5:7.

Does God create evil people to be wicked? No! People choose to be evil but God can use evil people in His plan. God prepared a place for the wicked even before there were any wicked people.

The idea is that there are ultimately no ‘loose ends’ in God’s scheme of things. Everything will be put to some use and matched with the proper outlook, Isaiah 45:7 / 2 Peter 2:12.

‘The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD evil is avoided. When the LORD takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice. In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.’ Proverbs 16:5-9

Why is pride so dangerous? Pride causes us to trust in ourselves and causes much trouble for us and within the church as a whole, James 4:10 / Proverbs 2:8 / Proverbs 3:23 / Proverbs 4:26 / Jeremiah 10:23.

‘The lips of a king speak as an oracle, and his mouth does not betray justice. Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right. A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but the wise will appease it. When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favour is like a rain cloud in spring. How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver! The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.’ Proverbs 16:10-17

Solomon speaks about the wheat selling business, where they use a small basket but the cost is extreme, Amos 8:5. Does everyone in the world know the difference between right and wrong? Most people do and as Christians, we’re, to tell the truth always, there are no grey areas in God’s Word, although there may be some subjects which aren’t straightforward to understand as we first think.

The point is very simple yet powerful, if we haven’t understood by now and still don’t know what the ‘upright highway’ is, it is to depart from evil.

‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.’ Proverbs 16:18-19

What do all proud people have in common? They don’t realise they suffer from pride, 1 Corinthians 10:12. It is God who brings about the destruction, Proverbs 15:25. The foremost problem with pride is that it conflicts with the principle of wisdom which is to ‘fear of the Lord’.

Our attitude is crucial, if dividing the spoil will promote pride and arrogance, we will be better off staying with the lowly.

‘Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.’ Proverbs 16:20

Those who give attention to God’s Word will find good and if they trust, that is obey that Word they will be blessed.

‘The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools. The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.’ Proverbs 16:21-23

Wisdom will undoubtedly make a good impression on those around us. In what ways do people look for life? A lot of people look for life in so-called wise men, mediums, horoscopes, etc, but Solomon says that the one thing which leads to a fountain of life is understanding. A wise man presents arguments that are hard to disregard, Matthew 12:34.

‘Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.’ Proverbs 16:24

What are some of the signs of wisdom? It is a sign of wisdom to say nice things when we can.

‘There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death. The appetite of labourers works for them; their hunger drives them on.’ Proverbs 16:25-26

When people rely on their own understanding or feelings or emotion, it can lead to death. Some think if they become rich and successful this will lead to salvation, Proverbs 14:12 / Proverbs 16:2.

The sports company ‘Nike’ has been on the television recently, they were exposed for owning slave labour factories where children work for pennies. Is this right?

In one sense it is right, they are providing employment but in another sense no, because they are taking advantage of people with cheap labour.

These verses teach us truth on the subject of motivation, we work because we like to eat, 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

‘A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips, it is like a scorching fire. A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. A violent person entices their neighbour and leads them down a path that is not good. Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity; whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.’ Proverbs 16:27-30

An evil person has a motivation also, but this is to injure someone or destroy their reputation. They have an incentive also, a desire to create strife and division, Proverbs 17:4. Their motivation is to take advantage of their neighbour.

Notice that there is a relationship between mannerisms and character, they give a friendly wink but they have evil on their mind.

‘Gray hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness.’ Proverbs 16:31

The word ‘gray’ can be translated as ‘hoary’ in some versions. The modern world idolises ‘youth’ but God’s Word places great value on old age and the wisdom and experience that comes with it.

‘Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.’ Proverbs 16:32-33

Self-control is a very powerful attribute, Proverbs 15:17 / Proverbs 25:28 / Galatians 5:22-23 / Titus 2:11-14. The reference to the ‘lot’ is probably referring to the Urim and the Thummim, Exodus 28:30.

Can you think of any other time these were used in the Bible? Joshua 19:51 / Joshua 14:1-2 / 1 Chronicles 25:8 / Acts 1:26.

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Go To Proverbs 17


"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."