1Plans are made in human hearts,
but from the Lord comes the tongue’s response.#Words, like actions, often produce results different from those which were planned, and this comes under the agency of God.
2All one’s ways are pure#“Pure” in a moral sense for human action is found only in Job and Proverbs. As in v. 1, the contrast is between human intent and divine assessment. in one’s own eyes,
but the measurer of motives is the Lord.#a. [16:2] Prv 21:2.
3Entrust your works to the Lord,
and your plans will succeed.
4The Lord has made everything for a purpose,
even the wicked for the evil day.#Even the wicked do not lie outside God’s plan.
5Every proud heart#Proud heart: lit., “high of heart.” To forget one is a fallible human being is so basic an error that one cannot escape exposure and punishment. is an abomination to the Lord;#b. [16:5] Prv 6:16–17; 8:13.
be assured that none will go unpunished.
6By steadfast loyalty guilt is expiated,
and by the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.#As v. 5 used the language of worship to express what is acceptable or not to God, so this saying uses similar language to declare that lovingly loyal conduct undoes the effects of sin.
7When the Lord is pleased with someone’s ways,
he makes even enemies be at peace with them.
8Better a little with justice,
than a large income with injustice.
9The human heart plans the way,
but the Lord directs the steps.#As in vv. 1–3, the antithesis is between human plans and divine disposal. The saying uses the familiar metaphor of path for the course of life. #c. [16:9] Prv 19:21; 20:24; Jer 10:23.
10An oracle is upon the king’s lips,
no judgment of his mouth is false.#Six sayings on the king and his divine authority begin here, following the series of sayings about the Lord’s governance in 15:33–16:9, in which “Lord” was mentioned nine times.
11Balance and scales belong to the Lord;
every weight in the sack is his concern.#d. [16:11] Prv 11:1.
12Wrongdoing is an abomination to kings,
for by justice the throne endures.#e. [16:12] Prv 25:5.
13The king takes delight in honest lips,
and whoever speaks what is right he loves.#f. [16:13] Prv 14:35; 22:11.
14The king’s wrath is a messenger of death,#g. [16:14] Prv 19:12; 20:2.
but a wise person can pacify it.
15A king’s smile means life,
and his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.#The last of six sayings about the king. In the previous verse, royal wrath means death; in this verse royal favor means life. It is significant that royal favor is compared to something not under human control—the clouds preceding the spring rains.
16How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is preferable to silver.#The point of comparison is the superiority of the pursuit of wisdom and gold, not the relative merits of wealth and wisdom. #h. [16:16] Prv 8:10–11.
17The path of the upright leads away from misfortune;
those who attend to their way guard their lives.#In the metaphor of the two ways, the way of the righteous is protected and the way of the wicked is unprotected. Since the path of the righteous leads therefore away from trouble, one’s task is to stay on it, to “attend to” it.
18Pride goes before disaster,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19It is better to be humble with the poor
than to share plunder with the proud.#i. [16:19] Prv 11:2.
20Whoever ponders a matter will be successful;
happy the one who trusts in the Lord!
21The wise of heart is esteemed for discernment,
and pleasing speech gains a reputation for learning.
22Good sense is a fountain of life to those who have it,
but folly is the training of fools.
23The heart of the wise makes for eloquent speech,
and increases the learning on their lips.
24Pleasing words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the taste and invigorating to the bones.
25Sometimes a way seems right,
but the end of it leads to death!#j. [16:25] Prv 14:12.
26The appetite of workers works for them,
for their mouths urge them on.#The adage puzzled ancient and modern commentators. The meaning seems to state the paradox that a person does not toil to feed the gullet but that the gullet itself “toils” in the sense that it forces the person to work. As often in Proverbs, the sense organ stands for the faculty by metonymy. Cf. Eccl 6:7. #k. [16:26] Prv 10:4.
27Scoundrels are a furnace of evil,
and their lips are like a scorching fire.
28Perverse speech sows discord,
and talebearing separates bosom friends.#l. [16:28] Prv 6:14, 19; 17:9; 26:22; Sir 28:15.
29The violent deceive their neighbors,
and lead them into a way that is not good.
30Whoever winks an eye plans perversity;
whoever purses the lips does evil.#A restless or twitching eye or lip betrays the condition of the heart (cf. 6:13).
31Gray hair is a crown of glory;#m. [16:31] Prv 20:29.
it is gained by a life that is just.
32The patient are better than warriors,
and those who rule their temper, better than the conqueror of a city.#n. [16:32] Prv 14:29.
33Into the bag the lot is cast,
but from the Lord comes every decision.#Dice were given meanings of “yes” or “no” and then cast for their answer. What came out was the decision. Here the saying interprets the sequence of actions: a human being puts the dice in the bag but what emerges from the bag is the Lord’s decision.