Some proverbs are prescriptive – they tell us what to do. For example, “A stitch in time saves nine” tells us to be timely in our work to avoid further unnecessary work. Other proverbs may be descriptive – they tell us what the reality is. For example, “A fool and his money are soon parted” tells us the fact that a fool will ultimately lose all his wealth. Of course, descriptive proverbs also suggest that we should avoid the negative descriptions and aspire to the positive ones.
Let us savour together the proverbs in Chapter 16.
1 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. (Mark 13:11)
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
But the LORD weighs the spirits.
Recently a ‘friend’ of a disgraced ex-preacher who continues to preach against the doctrines of the church said that while supporting and encouraging this ex-preacher and his partisan supporters, he had “never done anything wrong”.
3 Commit your works to the LORD,
And your thoughts will be established.
No shadow of a doubt that it is “all for Jesus”, no doubt that it will be done. (Matthew 7:7; Romans 8:27)
4 The LORD has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.
Did God create the devil?
God created Lucifer, who became wicked and fell to become the devil.
5 Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.
Pride, women, money.
Three great dangers for the worker of God.
6 In mercy and truth, atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
Mercy (love), truth, fear of the LORD.
From these come pardon and deliverance from evil.
It’s a long chapter so I shall now just pick out those which I like.
8 Better is a little with righteousness,
Than vast revenues without justice.
There were two brothers who were accountants and both refused, at the risk of losing their jobs, to commit illegal acts that their bosses asked them to do.
The Lord blessed them with enough.
9 A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
Not fate, just the sovereignty of God.
‘Directs’ here and ‘established’ in v.3 have the same root word in Hebrew ‘kun’ כון
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
Why study in school? Why study the Bible?
Enough to earn a living, but never stopping to learn for living now and for eternity, and to give others life.
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.
It’s a highway,
but a narrow way. (Matthew 7:13,14)
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.
From Lucifer to the errant friend of the ex-preacher:
how can one say that he has “never done anything wrong”?
20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.
Road signs pepper our terrestrial highways;
the Lord’s word guides the narrow way.
24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
“If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn …
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident …
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative …”
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Beware the ‘but’ –
especially when it comes after “the Bible says” …
28 A perverse man sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
Beware the soft ‘but’ –
baseless unverified ‘truth’.
31 The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.
Young guy looks despisingly at old gentleman fumbling with smartphone and says, “You old guys should leave the running of things here to the young generation. I wonder what you did during your youth?”
Old gentleman says, “Designing and developing the basis for the smartphone.”
32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19,20)
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the LORD.
A final reminder for us all;
a comfort to trust in the sovereignty of God.