1 A man may make plans in his heart,
but the Lord provides the words that his tongue utters.[a]
2 A man’s ways may seem honorable to him,
but the Lord weighs his motives.
3 Entrust everything that you do to the Lord,
and your plans will turn out to be successful.
4 The Lord has made everything for his own purposes,
even the wicked for the day of disaster.[b]
5 The Lord abhors the proud man;
be assured that such a man will not go unpunished.
6 Iniquity is expiated by kindness and faithfulness,
and by fear of the Lord[c] man turns away from evil.
7 When the Lord is pleased with someone’s conduct.
he makes even that man’s enemies friends with him.[d]
8 It is better to have little and be righteous
than to acquire great riches with injustice.
9 A man may plan his own course,
but the Lord makes his steps secure.[e]
The Justice of Kings[f]
10 The lips of a king utter inspired oracles;
he does not err when he pronounces judgment.
11 Accurate scales and balances belong to the Lord;
all the weights in the bag[g] are his concern.
12 Kings regard wrongdoing as abhorrent,
for their throne’s foundation depends upon righteousness.
13 Honest speech is the delight of a king,
and he loves a man who speaks truthfully.
14 A king’s wrath is like a messenger of death,
but one who is wise will appease it.
15 When a king’s face brightens it spells life,
and his favor is like a rain shower[h] in spring.
The Path of the Upright[i]
16 It is better to acquire wisdom rather than gold,
and more desirable to acquire understanding rather than silver.
17 The path of the upright avoids evil;
he who treads carefully preserves his life.
18 Pride goes before disaster,
and a haughty spirit goes before a fall.
19 It is better to live humbly among the lowly
than to share plunder with the proud.
20 The one who pays heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed[j] is he who trusts in the Lord.
21 A wise man is esteemed for being pleasant,
and his friendly words increase his influence.
22 Wisdom is a fountain of life to one who possesses it,
but folly is the punishment of fools.
23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,
and his lips increase learning.
24 Pleasing words are like a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and affording health to the body.[k]
25 Sometimes a path may seem to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
26 The laborer’s appetite works on his behalf,
as hunger spurs him on.[l]
27 A scoundrel[m] concocts evil,
and his lips are like a scorching fire.
28 A perverse man sows strife,
and a tale-bearer destroys close friendships.
29 One who indulges in violence entices his neighbor
and leads him into evil ways.
30 One who winks his eye is plotting perverse deeds;
one who purses his lips is bent on mischief.
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained by a righteous life.
32 It is better to be a patient man rather than a warrior,
one who controls his temper rather than one who captures a city.
33 The lot[n] is cast into the lap,
but the decision comes from the Lord.
- Proverbs 16:1 People make plans, but it is God’s grace that enables them to accomplish them (see Prov 19:21).
- Proverbs 16:4 God’s providence works in every life and in all history (see Eccl 7:14; Rom 8:28). Even the wicked, in their punishment, glorify God and his justice (see Ex 9:16).
- Proverbs 16:6 When God’s people repent of sin and obey his will, God offers forgiveness and withholds his chastisement (see Isa 1:18-19; 55:7; Jer 3:22; Ezek 18:23, 30-32; 33:11-16; Hos 14:1-4). Hence, iniquity can be said to be expiated by kindness and faithfulness—inasmuch as the latter ward off God’s wrath against it. Fear of the Lord: see note on Prov 1:7.
- Proverbs 16:7 By his grace God turns the enemies of his faithful into their friends (see Rom 8:28).
- Proverbs 16:9 When making plans for our future, we must always remember that they depend on God’s will: “If it is the Lord’s will, we shall live to do this or that” (Jas 4:15).
- Proverbs 16:10 A ruler’s true greatness lies in making use of his power to dispense justice inspired by the sentiments of God. Were there any kings even in Israel who were completely faithful to such an ideal?
- Proverbs 16:11 The Lord desires that all scales be accurate (see Prov 11:1; 20:23; Ezek 45:10). All the weights in the bag: in their bags merchants carried various sizes of stones for weighing money; money was paid by weight, since coins were unknown. God condemns fraud.
- Proverbs 16:15 Rain shower: bringing the awaited rain for the growth of the vegetation.
- Proverbs 16:16 The maxims follow one another, in no real order, to oppose the righteous and the wicked, the wise and the foolish. Under different formulas, the same virtues are always set forth. In this group, we will see above all the recommendations to be attentive to what one says and to hold in the cry of anger, which is reputed as wisdom (Prov 16:32). We will have discerned little by little that the Book of Proverbs contains a complete morality of the human word. Humility is placed in value (notably in Prov 17:19), and at times we divine better the meaning of poverty (Prov 17:5), pardon (Prov 7:9), and understanding (Prov 16:16, 22, 27).
- Proverbs 16:20 Blessed: see note on Prov 31:28.
- Proverbs 16:24 See note on Prov 2:10.
- Proverbs 16:26 See 2 Thes 3:10.
- Proverbs 16:27 Scoundrel: see note on Prov 6:12.
- Proverbs 16:33 Lot: an allusion to the high priest’s pectoral and to the Urim and Thummim that it contained, which were used for casting lots. However, the lot is controlled by God’s providence (see Eph 1:11).