Proverbs 16 – More Good Stuff!
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(16:1–5) Verse 1 – “From the LORD comes the reply of the tongue” means that the final outcome of the plans we make is in God’s hands. If this is so, why make plans? In doing God’s will, there must be partnership between our efforts and God’s control. He wants us to use our minds, to seek the advice of others, and to plan. Nevertheless, the results are up to him. Planning, then, helps us act God’s way. As you live for him, ask for guidance as you plan, and then act on your plan as you trust in him.
Verse 2 – “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him.” People can rationalize anything if they have no standards for judging right and wrong. We can always prove that we are right. Before putting any plan into action, ask yourself these three questions: (1) Is this plan in harmony with God’s truth? (2) Will it work under real-life conditions? (3) Is my attitude pleasing to God?
Verse 3 – There are different ways to fail to commit whatever we do to the Lord. Some people commit their work only superficially. They say the project is being done for the Lord, but in reality they are doing it for themselves. Others give God temporary control of their interests, only to take control back the moment things stop going the way they expect. Still others commit a task fully to the Lord, but put forth no effort themselves, and then they wonder why they do not succeed. We must maintain a delicate balance: trusting God as if everything depended on him, while working as if everything depended on us. Think of a specific effort in which you are involved right now. Have you committed it to the Lord?
Verse 4 – This verse doesn’t mean that God created some people to be wicked, but rather that God uses even the activities of wicked people to fulfill his good purposes. God is infinite and we are finite. No matter how great our intellects, we will never be able to understand him completely. But we can accept by faith that he is all-powerful, all-loving, and perfectly good. We can believe that he is not the cause of evil (James 1:13,17); and we can trust that there are no loose ends in his system of judgment. Evil is a temporary condition in the universe. One day God will destroy it. In the meantime, he uses even the evil intentions of people for his good purposes (see Genesis 50:20).
Verse 5 – Pride is the inner voice that whispers, “My way is best.” It is resisting God’s leadership and believing that you are able to live without his help. Whenever you find yourself wanting to do it your way and looking down on other people, you are being pulled by pride. Only when you eliminate pride can God help you become all he meant you to be.
(16:6) This verses points to work of Jesus Christ, “through His love and faithfulness” to die on the cross, our “sin is atoned for.”
(16:7) We want other people to like us, and sometimes we will do almost anything to win their approval. But God tells us to put our energy into pleasing him instead. Our effort to be peacemakers will usually make us more attractive to those around us, even our enemies. But even if it doesn’t, we haven’t lost anything. We are still pleasing God, the only one who truly matters.
(16:8) It’s better to not have as much materially but be living right than to have a lot because you lied, stole or cheated to get it.
|(16:9) The issue in this verse is wisdom in making decisions. Whether you make detailed plans or resort to palm reading, tarot cards or whatever events and circumstances are all in God’s control. So the wise make plans but put their faith in God and not human plans for the ultimate outcome.|
|(16:10–15) These verses concern righteousness in government. Also the catchword “king” is found in every verse except 11, which still deals with justice in government. The government is described in favorable terms here; the king appears to be a flawless minister of justice in vv. 10 and 12. These pronouncements, however, should be understood as ideal rather than actual. They represent what a king should be. Dedication to justice and truth are preconditions for good government.
Verse 11 does not mention the king but is important because, using the image of scales and measures teaches us that justice is derived from God. Equity is not a human invention, and kings do not have the authority to suspend or violate the laws of fairness.
*Whether we buy or sell, make a product or offer a service, we know what is honest and what is dishonest. Sometimes we feel pressure to be dishonest in order to advance ourselves or gain more profit. But if we want to obey God, there is no middle ground: God demands honesty in every business transaction. No amount of rationalizing can cover for a dishonest business practice. Honesty and fairness are not always easy, but they are what God demands. Ask him for discernment and courage to be consistently honest and fair.
Verse 13 counsels the young court official to be honest in all dealings with the king, and vv. 14–15 speak of the need for respect for monarchs but also imply that they can be illogical if not irrational.
(16:16–17) Wisdom is better than gold, understanding is better than silver. The upright avoids the highway to hell. Going the right way leads to life.
(16:18–19) Prideful people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it. Ask someone you trust whether self-satisfaction has blinded you to warning signs. He or she may help you avoid a fall.
(16:20–24) Verse 20a alerts the reader to the need to weigh words and matters accurately, and v. 20b draws attention to the fact that wise behavior is impossible without fear of God. Wise teachers choose their words carefully and in so doing enhance the learning experience for their students.
“Pleasant words.” We all like to hear something good, don’t we? So much of the news we get from TV, internet or social media is bad news. It’s too bad more people don’t read the Bible. It is filled with good news. That is what the gospel is — good news. Also, we should learn to say pleasant words now — instead of trying to say it with flowers when it is too late.
(16:25) You will recognize that we had this proverb before (Prov. 14:12). Then why is it repeated? It is because the Lord doesn’t want us to miss this one. Repetition reveals its importance. The Fleetwood Mac song says, “you can go your own way” but the Bible teaches to make sure the way we go is the way God would have to go.
(16:26) This proverb speaks of the importance of incentive. It is a good example of a proverb that easily could be twisted for evil purposes; like to justify giving the lowest pay to workers. Contrast Jas 5:1–6.
(16:27–30) Verses 27–30 describe the man who has evil schemes and are another thematic unity. Verses 27–29 concern the evil machinations of the scoundrel, the perverse man, and the violent man, and v. 30 is a conclusion or commentary on those three descriptions. The winking eye and pursed lips of v. 30 may be taken either as signals among conspirators or as a general statement of shiftiness in the facial mannerisms of scheming people. The point may be that the reader should learn to read the faces of others in order to spot the three kinds of evil men described in vv. 27–29.
(16:31) The Hebrews believed that a long life was a sign of God’s blessing; therefore, gray hair and old age were good. While young people glory in their strength, old people can rejoice in their years of experience and practical wisdom. Gray hair is not a sign of disgrace to be covered over; it is a crown of splendor. As you deal with older people, treat them with respect.
(16:32). Success in business, school, or home life can be ruined by a person who has lost control of his or her temper. So it is a great personal victory to control your temper. When you feel yourself ready to explode, remember that losing control may cause you to forfeit what you want the most.
(16:33) The lot was almost always used in ceremonial settings and was the common method for determining God’s will. Several important events occurred by lot, including the identification of Achan as the man who had sinned (Joshua 7:14), the division of the promised land among the tribes (Joshua 14:2), and the selection of the first king for the nation (1 Samuel 10:16-26). The lot in their day would be like throwing dice today, not in a gambling sense but to pray first and then see if the lot landed yes or no. But “every decision is from the Lord”
| Until tomorrow, Darrell
Classic Bible Commentary
J Vernon McGee’s Through the Bible
Life Application Bible Notes
Matthew Henry Concise Bible Commentary
New American Commentary