Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
16The plans and reflections of the heart belong to man,
But the [wise] answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are clean and innocent in his own eyes [and he may see nothing wrong with his actions],
But the Lord weighs and examines the motives and intents [of the heart and knows the truth].(A)
[a]Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him],
And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance].
The Lord has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked [according to their role] for the day of evil.
Everyone who is proud and arrogant in heart is disgusting and exceedingly offensive to the Lord;
Be assured he will not go unpunished.(B)
By mercy and lovingkindness and truth [not superficial ritual] wickedness is cleansed from the heart,
And by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income [gained] with injustice.(C)
A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life],
But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.(D)
A divine decision [given by God] is on the lips of the king [as His representative];
His mouth should not be unfaithful or unjust in judgment.(E)
A just balance and [honest] scales are the Lord’s;
All the weights of the bag are His concern [established by His eternal principles].
It is repulsive [to God and man] for kings to behave wickedly,
For a throne is established on righteousness (right standing with God).
Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.
The wrath of a king is like a messenger of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud bringing the spring rain.
How much better it is to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.(F)
The highway of the upright turns away and departs from evil;
He who guards his way protects his life (soul).
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud (haughty, arrogant).
He who pays attention to the word [of God] will find good,
And blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is he who trusts [confidently] in the Lord.
The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweet speech increases persuasiveness and learning [in both speaker and listener].
Understanding (spiritual insight) is a [refreshing and boundless] wellspring of life to those who have it,
But to give instruction and correction to fools is foolishness.
The heart of the wise instructs his mouth [in wisdom]
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.
There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him,
But its end is the way of death.
The appetite of a worker works for him,
For his hunger urges him on.
A worthless man devises and digs up evil,
And the words on his lips are like a scorching fire.
A perverse man spreads strife,
And one who gossips separates intimate friends.(G)
A violent and exceedingly covetous man entices his neighbor [to sin],
And leads him in a way that is not good.
He who [slyly] winks his eyes does so to plot perverse things;
And he who compresses his lips [as if in a secret signal] brings evil to pass.
The silver-haired head is a crown of splendor and glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.(H)
He who is slow to anger is better and more honorable than the mighty [soldier],
And he who rules and controls his own spirit, than he who captures a city.
The lot is cast into the lap,
[b]But its every decision is from the Lord.
- Proverbs 16:3 Lit Roll.
- Proverbs 16:33 This is the reason why the casting of lots was sanctioned in Israel for certain cases of decision-making (e.g. Lev 16:8; Josh 18:6, 8; 1 Chr 25:8, etc.). It was understood that the outcomes were controlled by God, and the seemingly random procedure eliminated human influence. The last time the ritual is mentioned in the Bible is in the choice of Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:26). Many believe that the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 officially put an end to the ritual because it was then replaced by the direct guidance of the Spirit. It was never sanctioned or recommended as a way to determine God’s will in personal decision-making.
- Proverbs 16:2 : 1 Sam 16:7; Heb 4:12
- Proverbs 16:5 : Prov 8:13; 11:20, 21
- Proverbs 16:8 : Ps 37:16; Prov 15:16
- Proverbs 16:9 : Ps 37:23; Prov 20:24; Jer 10:23
- Proverbs 16:10 : Deut 17:18-20; 2 Sam 14:17-20; 1 Kin 3:9-12; Is 11:2
- Proverbs 16:16 : Prov 8:10, 19
- Proverbs 16:28 : Prov 17:9
- Proverbs 16:31 : Prov 20:29