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The meaning of this proverb is similar to that of Proverbs 16:9. Even though man has freedom to plan, in the end he only fulfills the will of God by what he says. Man plans his words, but what really comes out takes place because God sovereignly controls. "Man proposes, God disposes," is a common equivalent.
". . . when someone is trying to speak before others, the Lord directs the words according to his sovereign will." [Note: Ibid., p. 1002.]
B. How to Please God 16:1-22:16
There is a shift in emphasis in Solomon’s anthology here. Pleasing God (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:33; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 John 3:22) becomes a greater factor in the proverbs that follow, whereas those in chapters 10-15 had living successfully more in view. Nevertheless, this is only a change in proportion of emphasis. Both ends are present in both sections of the book (chs. 10-15 and Proverbs 16:1 to Proverbs 22:16).
1. Trusting God ch. 16
In this chapter, there is also a slight change in the form of the proverbs. Solomon expressed the earlier proverbs (chs. 10-15) mainly in antithetical parallelisms, but the proverbs in this section are mainly synonymous and synthetic parallelisms. Instead of the key word being "but" it now becomes "and."
When we cast (lit. roll) our cares on God (1 Peter 5:7), He will arrange our plans. The AV and RV have "thoughts" for "plans," but the idea is the same. This proverb stresses the importance of depending on the Lord.
"The admonition commit to (gol ’el, lit. ’roll to/upon’; cf. Genesis 29:3; Genesis 29:8; Genesis 29:10; Psalms 22:8, Psalms 37:5) connotes a sense of finality; roll it unto the LORD and leave it there." [Note: Waltke, The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31, p. 11.]
We do not atone for our own iniquity by being loving and truthful. This proverb is not a denial of our need for God’s atonement. However, we can and should cover (atone for) the mistakes of others lovingly and truthfully (1 Peter 4:8), as God covers our sins. What will keep us all away from evil is the fear of Yahweh.
"The fear of Jahve is subjection to the God of revelation, and a falling in with the revealed plan of salvation." [Note: Delitzsch, 1:339.]
A king’s edict becomes law for his people. [Note: For the meaning of "divine decision" or "oracle," see E. W. Davies, "The Meaning of qesem in Prv 16:10," Biblica 61 (1980):554-56.] His ordinances are the will of God for them (unless he commands contrary to God’s revealed will; cf. Acts 4:19-20). Consequently it is very important that the ruler not err in his judgment. [Note: See W. Lee Humphreys, "The Motif of the Wise Courtier in the Book of Proverbs," in Israelite Wisdom: Theological and Literary Essays in Honor of Samuel Terrien, pp. 177-90.]
"Understanding" (good sense) is a source of life for a wise person, but "folly" is a source of discipline for a fool. Thus a person’s wisdom or lack of it determines his or her prospects in life. Proverbs has little that is positive to say about a fool.
"It is highly unlikely that Solomon would accept the idea that all men are created equal and thus deserve education at government expense." [Note: Alden, p. 129.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24