Proverbs 16
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Pr 16:1-33.

1. preparations—schemes.

in man—or literally, "to man," belonging, or pertaining to him.

the answer … Lord—The efficient ordering is from God: "Man proposes; God disposes."

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
2. clean—or, "faultless."

weigheth—or, "tries," "judges," implying that they are faulty (Pr 21:2; 24:12).

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.
3. (Compare Margin). Rely on God for success to your lawful purposes.
The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
4. for himself—"for its answer," or "purpose," that is, according to God's plan; the wicked are for the day of evil (Ps 49:5; Jer 17:18); sinning and suffering answer to each other, are indissolubly united.
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
5. (Compare Pr 3:32).
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
6. By mercy and truth—that is, God's (Ps 85:10); He effects the atonement, or covering of sin; and the principles of true piety incline men to depart from evil; or, "mercy" and "truth" may be man's, indicative of the gracious tempers which work instrumentally in procuring pardon.

purged—expiated (as in Le 16:33; Isa 27:9, Hebrew).

When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
7. Persecutions, of course, excepted.
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.
8. (Compare Pr 15:6, 16, 17).
A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
9. (Compare Pr 16:3).


A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.
10. The last clause depends on the first, expressing the importance of equity in decisions, so authoritative.
A just weight and balance are the LORD'S: all the weights of the bag are his work.
11. are the Lord's … his work—that is, what He has ordered, and hence should be observed by men.
It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.
12. Rulers are rightly expected, by their position, to hate evil; for their power is sustained by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.
13. A specification of the general sentiment of Pr 16:12.
The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.
14. This wrath, so terrible and certain, like messengers of death (1Ki 2:25), can be appeased by the wise.
In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.
15. light of … countenance—favor (Ps 4:6).

life—preserves it, or gives blessings which make it valuable.

the latter rain—fell just before harvest and matured the crop; hence specially valuable (De 11:14).

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
16. (Compare Pr 3:16; 4:5).
The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
17. The highway—A common, plain road represents the habitual course of the righteous in departing from evil.


Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
18, 19. (Compare Pr 15:33). Haughtiness and pride imply self-confidence which produces carelessness, and hence

a fall—literally, "sliding."

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
19. divide the spoil—that is, conquer. Avoid the society of the proud (Jas 4:6).
He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
20. handleth a matter—wisely considers "the word," that is, of God (compare Pr 13:13).

trusteth—(Compare Ps 2:12; 118:8, 9).

The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
21. wise in heart—who rightly consider duty.

sweetness of the lips—eloquent discourse, persuades and instructs others.

Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
22. Understanding—or, "discretion," is a constant source of blessing (Pr 13:14), benefiting others; but fools' best efforts are folly.
The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
23. The heart is the source of wisdom flowing from the mouth.
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
24. (Compare Pr 15:26). Gentle, kind words, by soothing the mind, give the body health.
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
25. (Compare Pr 14:2).
He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.
26. Diligence is a duty due to one's self, for his wants require labor.
An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
27. ungodly man—(Compare Pr 6:12).

diggeth up evil—labors for it.

in his lips … fire—His words are calumniating (Jas 3:6).

A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
28. (Compare Pr 6:14; 10:31).

whisperer—prater, talebearer (Pr 18:8; 26:20).

A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
29. violent man—or, "man of mischief" (Pr 3:31).

enticeth—(Pr 1:10).

He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.
30. He shutteth his eyes—denoting deep thought (Ps 64:6).

moving his lips—or, "biting his lips"—a determined purpose (Pr 6:13).

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
31. (Compare Pr 20:29).

if—or, which may be supplied properly, or without it the sense is as in Pr 3:16; 4:10, that piety is blessed with long life.

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
32. (Compare Pr 14:29).

taketh a city—that is, by fighting.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
33. Seemingly the most fortuitous events are ordered by God.
A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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