Proverbs 16 – Overconfidence, Tact, and Pride

1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

“the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD” – God must give the ability to articulate and accomplish those plans.

2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.

“the LORD weigheth the spirits” – God examines the motives behind the actions see 24:12; Ps 139:23; 1 Cor 4:4-5; Heb 4:12.

3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.

“thy thoughts shall be established” – goals and plans will be reached (see 3:5-6; Ps 1:3; 55:22; 90:17.

4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

“hath made all things for himself” – God is sovereign in every life and in all of history (see Ecc 7:14; Rom 8:28).

“the wicked men God displays His power” – (cf Ex 9:16), and all evil will be Judged (cf Ez 28:22-23; Rom 2:5-11).  The passage is not teaching that God is the author or creator of evil.

5 Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged” – the moral quality of conduct that God desires is sometimes summed up by two Hebrew terms often translated as “mercy and truth” (3:3; Hos 4:1).  When His people repent of sin and bring their lives into accord with His will, God forgives and withdraws His Judgment (see Is 1:18-19; 55:7; Jer 3:22; Ez 18:23, 30-32; 33:11-12, 14-16; Hos 14:1-2, 4).  Thus it can be said that mercy and truth, in a manner of speaking, “purge” sin, i.e., they turn away God’s wrath against it.

7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

“maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” – as in the reigns of godly Asa and Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 14:-7; 17:10).

8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.

9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

“the LORD directeth his steps” – verses 1, 3-4 also emphasize God’s control of men’s lives (see 19:21; 29:24; Ps 37:23; Jer 10:23).

10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in Judgment.

“divine sentence…lips of the king” – in Judging cases brought before him, a king functioned as God’s representative (see Deut 1:17).  Therefore he needed the divine gift of wisdom to discern between right and wrong in order to render God’s Judgment (see 1 Kgs  3:9).  When he did so, his Judgment was tantamount to a divine oracle for the people (see 1 Kgs  3:28; see also 2 Sam 4:17, 20; 19:27).

11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.

“All the weights of the bag” – merchants carried stones of different sizes with them to weight and measure quantities of silver for payment (cf Mic 6:11).

12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: f
or the throne is established by righteousness.

“throne is established by righteousness” – when the king “faithfully Judgeth the poor” (29:14), refuses to take bribes (29:4) and removes any wicked advisers (25:5).  See 14:34; Deut 17:19-20; Is 16:5; Rom 13:3.

13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.

14 The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

“messengers of death” – any angry king can pronounce death quickly and effectively (see 19:12; Establish  7:7-10; Matt 22:7; Lk 19:27).

“wise man will pacify it” – cf, Daniel’s response to the rage of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:12-16).

15 In the light of the king’s countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain.

“light of the king’s countenance” – referring to the king’s favorable disposition toward a person.  Cf Num 6:25.

“his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain” – the spring rain was essential for the full development of barley and wheat; it was therefore a sign of good things to come.  Cf, the “dew” of 19:12; see Ps 72:6.

16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

“depart from evil” – cf, the thorns and snares in the paths of the wicked (22:5).

 18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.

20 He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.

21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

“sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” – people are more willing to listen to someone who uses pleasant speech.  Cf, the last line of v 23.  “Sweetness” is expanded in v 24.  Cf the persuasive but destructive words of the adulteress in 7:21.

22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.

23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb” – they are good for you (see 24:13-14), and they taste good (cf 2:10; Ps 19:10).

25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

“end thereof are the ways of death” – see 5:4, 23; 7:21-27.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt 7:13-14).

26 He that laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thes 3:10).  See Ecc 6:7; Eph 4:28.

27 An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

“ungodly man” – see 6:12; see also Deut 13:13.

“diggeth up evil” – see 3:29; 6:14; Mic 2:1.

“burning fire” – his speech is inflammatory and destructive (see Jas 3:6).

28 A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

“whisperer” – one who whispers slander and gossip about others

29 A violent man enticeth his neighbor, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

30 He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.

“shutteth his eyes” –his winking eye signals his insincerity.

“Moving his lips” – thereby making insinuations.

31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

“hoary head is a crown of glory – the gray-haired person.  The elderly were to receive deep respect (see Lev 19:32).

32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

“that is slow to anger is…mighty” – see 14:29; 15:18; 19:11; Jas 1:19. 

  Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good (Ecc 9:18).

“he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” – although one who practices patience and self-control receives far less attention and acclaim than a warrior who takes a city, he accomplishes better things.

33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

“The lot is cast into the lap” – here the lot may have been several pebbles held in the fold of a garment and then drawn out or shaken to the ground.  It was commonly used to make decisions.