Proverbs chapter 16

The collection of 375 short pithy sayings of Solomon continues in this chapter.





VERSE 1. The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.


VERSE 2. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weighs the motives.

NAB translation: All the ways of a man may be pure in his own eyes, but it is the LORD who proves the spirit.

pure in his own eyes. It is very easy for us humans to deceive ourselves about our own motives.

the LORD weighs the motives. Ancient Egyptians believed that in the hall of judgment, the scribal god weighed the heart of the deceased.


VERSE 3. Commit your deeds to the LORD, and your plans shall succeed.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of Proverbs and from the entire Bible.

NIV translation: Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

whatever you do. Lots of us plan for the future. But we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. We should say “God-willing” and speak tentatively of our future. Read  more »

In the final analysis, we have to make a plan and move forward. But some people can get gridlocked into too much deliberating. That might hold them back and keep them from doing. So for them, it might be helpful to analyze less, to form a plan, to commit it to the LORD, and take action.


VERSE 4. The LORD has made everything for its own end—yes, even the wicked for the day of evil.

everything for its own end. Are negative things part of God’s plan?


VERSE 5. Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: they shall certainly not be unpunished.


VERSE 6. By mercy and truth iniquity is atoned for. By the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

atoned for. The LORD provides a way for our sins to be atoned for.


VERSE 7. When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.


VERSE 8. Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues with injustice.


VERSE 9. A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD directs his steps.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of Proverbs and from the entire Bible.

KJV translation: In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

the LORD determines his steps. How things actually turn out is subject to the grace and favor of God. We apply for a job, and we do our best at the interview, but if we get the job, we owe a debt of thanks to God. Can you give God the glory for “your” successes?


VERSE 10. Inspired judgments are on the lips of the king. He shall not betray his mouth.

Inspired judgments are on the lips of the king. This verse and those that follow suggest that the king is the mouthpiece of the LORD. This is contrary to the biblical experience that the prophets, not the king, spoke for God.


VERSE 11. Honest balances and scales are the LORD’s; all the weights in the bag are his work.


VERSE 12. It is an abomination for kings to do wrong, for the throne is established by righteousness.

for kings to do wrong. If a king is dishonest or unjust, his kingdom will fall.


VERSE 13. Righteous lips are the delight of kings. They value one who speaks the truth.


VERSE 14. The king’s wrath is a messenger of death, but a wise man will pacify it.


VERSE 15. In the light of the king’s face is life. His favor is like a cloud of the spring rain.

the spring rain. In ancient Israel, rain was always needed.


VERSE 16. How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! Yes, to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.


VERSE 17. The highway of the upright is to depart from evil. He who keeps his way preserves his soul.


VERSE 18. Pride goes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

KJV translation: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

NLT translation. Yes, your wisdom has made you very rich, and your riches have made you very proud.

NIV translation. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

This verse is where this famous saying comes from.

2 Chronicles 26:16. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up, so that he did corruptly and he trespassed against the LORD his God, for he went into the LORD’s temple to burn incense on the altar of incense.

Proverbs 16:18. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Ezekiel 28:5. by your great wisdom and by your trading you have increased your riches, and your heart is lifted up because of your riches—”

Obadiah 1:3. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’


VERSE 19. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, than to divide the plunder with the proud.

a lowly spirit with the poor. It is better to be impoverished than to associate with arrogant people.


VERSE 20. He who heeds the Word finds prosperity. Whoever trusts in the LORD is blessed.


VERSE 21. The wise in heart shall be called prudent. Pleasantness of the lips promotes instruction.


VERSE 22. Understanding is a fountain of life to one who has it, but the punishment of fools is their folly.

Understanding. The Hebrew word is sekel. It means prudence or insight. It is like a fountain of life.


VERSE 23. The heart of the wise instructs his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.


VERSE 24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.


VERSE 25. There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Book of Proverbs and from the entire Bible.

in the end it leads to death. How many people have made a major life choice, only later to find it was wrong? We pray for and seek God’s guidance for our decisions.


VERSE 26. The appetite of the laboring man labors for him; for his mouth urges him on.


VERSE 27. A worthless man devises mischief. His speech is like a scorching fire.

worthless man. That is, a scoundrel.


VERSE 28. A perverse man stirs up strife. A whisperer separates close friends.

perverse man. Literally a “man of perversity.”


VERSE 29. A man of violence entices his neighbor, and leads him in a way that is not good.

man of violence. Literally “a violent man.”


VERSE 30. One who winks his eyes to plot perversities, one who compresses his lips, is bent on evil.

winks his eyes. Doing that was a nonverbal cue for people to join in on his perversity.


VERSE 31. Gray hair is a crown of glory. It is attained by a life of righteousness.

NAB translation: Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by virtuous living.

Gray hair. In the world of the Bible, a gray-haired person is considered wise. And a person who does not yet have gray hair is not considered wise. The religious leaders scoffed at Jesus Christ, saying that he was not yet 50 years old. That was likely based on this idea that only the gray-haired people have arrived at wisdom.

Leviticus 13:40. If a man’s hair has fallen from his head, he is bald. He is clean.

John 8:57. The Jews therefore said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old! Have you seen Abraham?”


VERSE 32. One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; one who rules his spirit, than he who takes a city.

slow to anger. Are you a patient person?


VERSE 33. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

The lot. Sometimes decision were made by casting lots. That is, by rolling dice. They give a yes-or-no answer.

Proverbs 16:33. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Proverbs 18:18. The lot settles disputes, and keeps strong ones apart.

Esther 3:7. In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, and chose the twelfth month, which is the month Adar.

Acts 1:26. They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.