v. 1. The preparations of the heart in man and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord, literally, "To man," that is, pertaining to man, "the plannings of the heart, but from Jehovah the answer of the tongue. " The mind of a man may be engaged in attempting to solve a problem, in setting up various plans or schemes to reach a right conclusion, but the best solution is that which is given by the Lord, who finally leads the thoughts according to His will and causes them to be expressed in words in agreement with His plans.
v. 2. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, in his own judgment; but the Lord weigheth the spirits, He has ways and means to try all men according to their real moral worth, and His judgment is not fallible like that of men.
v. 3. Commit thy works unto the Lord, rolling them in His direction, for Him to take care of, Psa_37:5, and thy thoughts shall be established, He Himself will give the proper and blessed direction to the believer's plans and purposes.
v. 4. The Lord hath made all things for Himself, according to His all-wise plans; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil, for even the works of the ungodly are included in His government, although His punishment will finally overtake them, the evil thus serving for His glorification.
v. 5. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord, He loathes such as exalt themselves; though hand join in hand, that is, most assuredly, he shall not be unpunished.
v. 6. By mercy and truth iniquity is purged, loving and faithful conduct toward one's neighbor, however, not being named as the reason for the expiation of sin, but as an invariable expression of a penitent and believing heart, Cf Luk_7:47; and by the fear of the Lord, which is shown in the virtues of mercy and truth, men depart from evil, that is, the believer thereby escapes moral evil, sin in all its forms.
v. 7. When a man's ways please the Lord, when Jehovah finds that a person's conduct, the objects which he has in mind, and the means which he uses to accomplish them, are in accordance with His will, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, causing them to abandon their hostile attitude and even to take his part.
v. 8. Better is a little with righteousness, small possessions gained and kept with a good conscience, than great revenues, a large income and great wealth, without right, having been gained by oppression and iniquity.
v. 9. A man's heart deviseth his way, reflecting most carefully on his conduct, considering as best he can what might be best for him to do; but the Lord directeth his steps, the result and the end are the Lord's, and the best suggestion is that a Christian from the beginning place himself under God's guidance; for "man proposes, but God disposes. "
v. 10. A divine sentence is in the lips of the king, he, in his position as sovereign, makes his decision as the representative of Jehovah; his mouth transgresseth not in judgment, he may not use his power for his own private interests by arbitrarily setting aside true justice.
v. 11. A just weight and balance are the Lord's, literally, "The scale and balances of justice belong to Jehovah," His sovereign will directs their proper use, He wants business to be carried on without cheating; all the weights of the bag are His work, the stones which were commonly used as weights and carried by the merchant in a sack were, by the direction of God, to be honest weight.
v. 12. It is an abomination to kings, it makes them objects of loathing and contempt, to commit wickedness, the setting aside of right and justice causes both God and men to despise them; for the throne is established by righteousness, regal power is sustained by righteousness in its constant application, not by the arbitrariness of the despot.
v. 13. Righteous lips are the delight of kings, true sovereigns are pleased to have men among their counselors who will frankly state the truth in righteousness; and they love him that speaketh right, that is, if they themselves are God-fearing men, they will prefer to have such men among their advisers.
v. 14. The wrath of a king is as messengers of death, if he becomes enraged, he has many means and instruments at his disposal to carry out his sentence of death; but a wise man will pacify it, he will quietly offer such arguments as will allay and soothe the wrath of the king.
v. 15. In the light of the king's countenance is life, when he is graciously disposed, he dispenses favors which make life pleasant for his subjects; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain, that which preceded harvest, the point of comparison being the enlivening strength.
v. 16. How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! its value being so immeasurably greater, and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! If a person should gain the wealth of the whole world, such an acquisition could not compare with that of true wisdom.
v. 17. The highway of the upright; their entire conduct, is to depart from evil, they avoid it by following the highway of strict piety; he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul, for it is by a careful following of God's will and Word that a person keeps his soul from spiritual and eternal death.
v. 18. Pride goeth before destruction, for self-exaltation blinds a person against dangers and against the growing resentment of other people and thus hastens his fall, and an haughty spirit before a fall, the herald of the proud person's overthrow.
v. 19. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, to abide with those who are in trouble, content to lead a life of obscurity, than to divide the spoil with the proud, enjoying the ill-gotten gains of false ambition.
v. 20. He that handleth a matter wisely, giving careful heed to the Word of God in every situation in life, shall find good, obtain true prosperity; and whoso trusteth in the Lord, being united with Him in the personal, confidential relation of faith, happy is he, the possessor of true blessedness.
v. 21. The wise in heart shall be called prudent, regarded as possessing true discernment, and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning, that is, where one makes use of grace, of a pleasant and attractive manner, in teaching, he will have easy access to ever-widening circles of hearers.
v. 22. Understanding, proper insight and watchful discretion, is a well-spring of life unto him that hath it, a source of life and power to its possessor; but the instruction of fools is folly, their folly, serving for their correction, being a source of all possible disadvantages; for a lack of reason is its own punishment, destroying a person's own happiness.
v. 23. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, for wisdom of heart and mind is shown in sensible speech, and addeth learning to his lips, giving greater emphasis and weight to his teaching.
v. 24. Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones; for the spirit of friendliness inspired by love is evident in them, to strengthen the hearer.
v. 25. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, when his conduct, in his own judgment, is good and fitting, but the end thereof are the ways of death; his judgment being wrong, his error leads him into destruction. cf Pro_14:2.
v. 26. He that laboreth, laboreth for himself, his spirit or soul, under the pressure of life's necessities, impels him to work earnestly for his daily bread; for his mouth craveth it of him, drives him forward, compels him, goads him on, for it is the Lord's rule that man must work in order to gain the necessities of life.
v. 27. An ungodly man diggeth up evil, his worthlessness causing him to dig pits for others; and in his lips there is as a burning fire, his words and statements are like a scorching fire or iron, whose searing heat destroys everything.
v. 28. A froward man, one who makes use of malice, soweth strife, for his conduct is bound to create enmity; and a whisperer, a backbiter, separateth chief friends, causing close friends to be divided, for such is the effect of slander skillfully disseminated.
v. 29. A violent man enticeth his neighbor, deliberately and maliciously persuading him to his hurt, and leadeth him into the way that is not good, where he will be in a position to execute the ruin which he planned.
v. 30. He shutteth his eyes, to keep away any good influence, to devise froward things, to meditate mischief and craftiness; moving his lips, he bringeth evil to pass, the act or gesture of pressing together the lips being evidence of malice, and so he carries out his wicked intentions.
v. 31. The hoary head, the white hair of an old person, is a crown of glory, like a splendid diadem, a shining ornament, if it be found in the way of righteousness, for only then will an old person be regarded with approval by the Lord.
v. 32. He that is slow to anger, keeping himself well in hand always, controlling his temper, is better than the mighty, a champion fighter, who is always engaged in battle; and he that ruleth his spirit, holding his temper in leash, than he that taketh a city, for not quarreling and fighting upon the slightest provocation is the sign of greatness of mind, but a meekness which is able to control a person's feelings and gains its point by its very unshakable tranquility.
v. 33. The lot is cast into the lap, apparently at random; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord, the decision rests with Him, for even those events which seem to us most fortuitous and subject only to chance are ordered, and governed by God.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 16". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany