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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 16

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Proverbs 16:1 . The preparations of the heart in man. As the field must be plowed, and the soil prepared for the seeds, so the heart of man must be prepared for grace. Afflictions in Egypt disposed the Hebrews to cry, and instruction must prepare the soul of the ignorant for conversion. When the conscience is oppressed with sin, and the body groans with pain, then we pray in the Spirit, and the Lord graciously accords the answer of our tongue. The Versions vary the reading, but the above is the sense. The LXX, “The heart of man deviseth righteous things, that his ways may be directed by God.” Vulgate, Hominum est animam præparare, et Domini gubernare linguam. “It belongs to man to prepare his heart, and to God to direct the tongue.”

Proverbs 16:2 . All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes. Because he contemplates his image in the mirror of his own heart, instead of viewing himself in the light of the Lord. Without the law he is all alive; but when the commandment comes, which is an emanation of the moral glory of God, sin revives, and his hopes are slain.

Proverbs 16:3 . Commit thy works unto the Lord. Lay every plan before him, and seek his approbation and blessing; then thy thoughts and purposes shall be established. But if thou shalt find, after all, at the bottom of thy heart an unaccountable misgiving, be cautious of procedure. The events of the future are known only to the Lord.

Proverbs 16:4 . The Lord hath made all things for himself. When the disputes about grace ran high in Holland, Grotius gave a comment on this verse. Sensus non est malus, si propter se ipsum intelligas, ut proprietates suas notas faciat, et impium non fieri talem a Deo, (absit!) sed fieri, sive poni, ad mala. The sense is not a bad one, if by all things being made for himself, you understand made as his property; and the wicked, not to have been made such of God, (heaven forbid) but to have become, or been drawn to evil. The Chaldee reads, “The wicked is reserved for the evil day.”

Proverbs 16:6 . By mercy and truth iniquity is purged. Then it is not purged by the blood of bulls and goats. God who is rich in mercy gave his Son; and truth, faithful to the promise, accomplished it on Calvary. So grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. And by the exercise of mercy and truth men give proof by the fruit, that their sins are really purged; for charity covereth a multitude of sins. Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy; him will the Lord deliver in the time of trouble.

Proverbs 16:10 . A divine sentence is in the lips of the king. Hebrews קסם kesem, divination, as in the margin. The kings of Israel were anointed, the Lord gave them of his Spirit, and counsellors stood at the foot of the throne; their decisions therefore were superior to the interests of party feeling.

Proverbs 16:15 . The latter rain, as described in Deuteronomy 11:14. The royal favour brightens the countenance of the subject, banishes fear from the heart, and prompts him to perform every duty in excellence of temper, and uprightness of heart.

Proverbs 16:25 . There is a way that seemeth right unto a man. The wicked own that their way is wrong, being convicted by their own conscience. But this pharisaical way of magnifying human rectitude, and consequently partially leaving the atonement, terminates in death. It nourishes human pride, it engenders prejudice and ignorance, and prevents the reception of converting grace and comfort. Consequently it leaves the soul a prey to pride, covetousness, and every sin which has a sort of decency in the eyes of men. Thus the pharisees, who appeared beautiful in the eyes of men, said of Jesus Christ, It is better that one die than all perish. Thus sin when it is conceived worketh death.

Proverbs 16:27 . An ungodly man diggeth up evil, as miners dig for ores. His thoughts run on evil, and his tongue dwells on men’s faults; but his proofs that other men are wicked do not prove that he himself is good.

Proverbs 16:33 . The lot is cast into the lap. When Haman cast the lot for a lucky day to destroy the Jews, it fell in the middle of the twelfth month. Thus the Lord, ever watchful over his church, took time to provide for their safety, and for Haman’s destruction. Yet, I know not that we have now any warrant to expect the Lord to give us an answer by lot, however doubtful or important the case. We should have recourse to counsel, prayer, and prudence: and then if men will put a matter to the lot, I will neither praise nor blame their conduct. For myself, I want no way but that of prayer and prudence.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/proverbs-16.html. 1835.
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