Study Guide

Proverbs Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

"Man Proposes, God Disposes"

  • Mortals can devise whatever plans they want, but, says the author, God is the one who determines what happens in the end.
  • Continuing on this theme, this chapter begins by going through some of the ways in which God rules over humans—knowing all their innermost thoughts and desires, and creating everything for a purpose.
  • The author excoriates pride and the unwillingness to trust in God, but has nice things to say about loyalty and faithfulness.
  • Again, the author points out that human beings make plans, but God is the one who actually directs their steps.

A Tribute to Gray Hair 

  • The author also talks about how great and just a good king is, remarking also on how God appreciates fairness in judgment.
  • To some degree, the book seems to assume that kings will be just: unrighteousness is an abomination to them. Avoid their wrath, but bask in the glow of a cheerful, happy king's mood.
  • Famously, "Pride comes before the fall": the proverbs make this point again, this time in its most well-known version.
  • Again, it's better to be poor and not proud, than proud and not poor.
  • If you speak pleasantly, people will be more persuaded—and persuasiveness is something the wise possess. Such pleasant words are sweet, like honey.
  • In contrast, the words of scoundrels set fire to things.
  • Having an appetite or being hungry spurs you to work harder.
  • Also, in line with the Proverbs' love for all things elderly, the author praises gray hair as indicating special life wisdom.
  • Again, the author repeats the same point as at the beginning: life is like casting lots, but the decision on where they actually fall lies in God's hands.

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