Proverbs 20:24

Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
– Proverbs 20:24

The word for goings means steps, or way. That his goings are of the Lord means that God ultimately directs the course of his life (Proverbs 16:9). The rhetorical question of the second phrase highlights that man cannot fully comprehend the whole course of his life. He cannot fully discern the twists and turns that attend life, and though he may plan and execute some things that prosper, many other things happen he does not intend or understand (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Contemplation of this without wisdom can lead to despair and fatalism. Wisdom means understanding that one’s life is in the hands of another and gives us incentive to seek good counsel and pursue wisdom (Proverbs 14:8; 20:18; Ecclesiastes 3:14).

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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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