Proverbs 16:33

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
– Proverbs 16:33

The casting of lots in the Old Testament time was a way of making decisions deemed too difficult, or the settling of disputes. The word for disposing means judgment, or verdict. The point of the proverb is God’s sovereign determinations and not random chance controlling events. This proverb closes chapter 16, which has strong statements of God’s sovereignty from the start (Proverbs 16:1, 9).

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Proverbs 16:9

A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
– Proverbs 16:9

The word for deviseth means to plait, or weave, like a rug. The first phrase speaks of a man planning and plotting his course in his heart, i.e., mind. The word for directeth in the second phrase means to set upright, or to establish. The second phrase means that regardless of what man plans or attempts, what actually happens is established by God. It is more advanced theology concerning the sovereignty of God and providential governance of the creation. What man does and what he means by what he does is subjugated to God’s will and God’s intent of all that comes to pass (Genesis 50:20; Proverbs 16:1; 20:24; 21:30).

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Proverbs 16:4

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
– Proverbs 16:4

This proverb is an advanced piece of theology pertaining to the sovereignty of God over his creation. The word for himself is the same as in verse 1 that was translated answer. The first statement reveals Yahweh has made everything and everything is made for his purpose (Romans 11:36; Revelation 4:11). The day of evil, or trouble, speaks of judgment. The wicked will come to their deserved end and even this is by God’s purpose and for his glory (Job 21:30; Romans 9:21-22). The depth of theology here is beyond the scope of a brief commentary. God has a will and purpose from beginning to end for his creation from before the foundation of the world (Isaiah 46:9-10; Ephesians 1:9-11). All of history is moving toward God’s designed end and this proverb emphasizes that the rebellion of the wicked and their rejection of his revealed will do not thwart his purpose (Daniel 4:35). Asaph wrote that even man’s wrath praises God and all else is restrained by God (Psalm 76:10).

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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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