Proverbs 16 Commentary

Laying plans and making decisions (16:1-33)

A person may make plans, but God is the one who determines their outcome. He knows the person’s unseen motives and controls events according to his purposes. It is important, therefore, always to bring God into one’s planning (16:1-4). God punishes the arrogant but has mercy on those who fear him (5-6). He protects them from harm and guides them on the right pathway (7-9).

When a king’s wisdom comes from God, his decisions will be right. He will show no partiality but will punish evil, commend good, and insist that all trading practices be fair and honest (10-15). The person who is truly rich is not the one who has money, but the one who is wise, upright, humble, obedient and faithful (16-20).

Pleasant speech is not hypocritical if it springs from a pure heart. It benefits the speakers for it gives their words persuasiveness, and it benefits the hearers for it improves their minds (21-24). People can readily deceive themselves, but they cannot escape the plain fact that if they do not work they will go hungry (25-26). In contrast to the pleasant speech just mentioned, abusive speech, whispering and sly scheming create only trouble (27-30). Living uprightly guarantees honour in old age; controlling one’s passions guarantees strength; referring matters to God guarantees right decisions (31-33).

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