Proverbs 16:1

Chapter 16 begins the second part of the “Proverbs of Solomon” that runs from chapter 10 to chapter 22. The proverbs in this second part are primarily two lines that parallel. The first part featured mostly proverbs that were two-line contrasts. The parallel structure has the second phrase building on the first, expanding it rather than contrasting it. Most of these proverbs begin a phrase that is good and moves to better in the second, or the first phrase is something bad and the second goes to something worse. The proverbs in chapters 16 to 22 are also arranged and grouped more topically than in chapters 10 to 15. These proverbs deal with various topics such as, relationships with people, speech, wealth, business, justice, etc.

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.
– Proverbs 16:1

Verses 1-9 touch on God’s sovereignty. Statements about God’s sovereignty in Proverbs are specimens of theology that seem ahead of their time, like statements about life after death, etc. But, they reveal much wisdom to us. The word for preparations means arrangement, mental ordering, or plans. The first phrase states that a man plans, or thinks, of his answer in his heart, or mind, before speaking. The second phrase reveals that, despite man’s plans, the answer, or reply, is from the Lord. This proverb balances human responsibility and God’s sovereignty. Man plans and does, but, ultimately, what man plans and does fulfills God will (Proverbs 16:9; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1).

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