Proverbs 16

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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!

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Read Proverbs 16

16 To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
    even the wicked for a day of disaster.

The Lord detests all the proud of heart.
    Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
    through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
    he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Better a little with righteousness
    than much gain with injustice.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,
    and his mouth does not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances belong to the Lord;
    all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,
    for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;
    they value the one who speaks what is right.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
    but the wise will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;
    his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,
    to get insight rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;
    those who guard their ways preserve their lives.

18 Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed
    than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
    and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,
    and gracious words promote instruction.

22 Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent,
    but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction.

24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death.

26 The appetite of laborers works for them;
    their hunger drives them on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,
    and on their lips it is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse person stirs up conflict,
    and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent person entices their neighbor
    and leads them down a path that is not good.

30 Whoever winks with their eye is plotting perversity;
    whoever purses their lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
    it is attained in the way of righteousness.

32 Better a patient person than a warrior,
    one with self-control than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,
    but its every decision is from the Lord.

Go Deeper

Who runs your world? Is it your parents, spouse, teachers, coaches, boss, friends, activities, or even your cell phone? Who is really in charge of you–your time, your mind, your heart? Proverbs 16 demands an answer to this question. The answer might change your life forever.

In verses 1-9, Solomon contrasts God’s thoughts and ways with those of man. Verses 3 and 9 encourage us to give our thoughts, plans, and work to the Lord: “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established…The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” The promise is clear in these verses. We will have the support and counsel of Almighty God as we surrender our works and ways to Him. What a perfect foundation to live on, rather than one of our own strength. Each and every small act of obedience along the way is us exercising and living by faith.

Verses 10-15 echo Christ’s teaching in Luke 12:48: “Great gifts, great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities.” These verses stress the importance of leading with wisdom, justice, integrity, and righteousness. To be a truly effective leader, we must commit to wise and righteous living. We must ask for help from God in all this. Conversely, if we are being led, we must pray for those leading us. In reality, we are all both leading and following in some capacity. In either case, wisdom and integrity matter a lot to God.

Verses 16-24 explains beautifully that Godly wisdom developed in spiritual disciplines prepares our lives for His blessing. Throughout these verses, we recognize the many benefits of wisdom, such as discernment, prosperity, humility, and avoiding evil. There is nothing but good in this list. Seeking His wisdom results in deeper trust in God, His ways, and His promises. How much better our world would be if all of us searched wholeheartedly for God’s wisdom!

In contrast, verses 25-30 show how twisted hearts and motives lead to evil, destruction, strife, perversion, slander, violence, and ultimately, death. We must all heed this warning and follow the path away from choices that could dramatically harm our lives.

Finally, verses 31-33 are a beautiful summary of the results of a life of righteousness and self-control. Let’s encourage each other in the spiritual pursuit of God and His wisdom. It is a disciplined search that takes time, but it will bring strength, discernment, and peace that will positively affect our lives and those around us, now and forever.


  1. Define the word motive.
  2. What is the promise in verse 3? How does that affect our motives and God’s view of those motives?
  3. Who or what do you want to “run your life”? Pick one or two attributes of wisdom that you desire from this Proverb and ask God to impress them into your heart.

Watch This

Check out this brief video featuring Dr. Tim Keller from The Bible App’s Verse of the Day series on Proverbs 16:9.

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4 thoughts on “Proverbs 16”

  1. Proverbs 16:25 caught my attention, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Appearances in my mind and feelings of my heart are not foolproof and cannot be trusted. Left unchecked they can lead me straight into pride, evil, and destruction. Jesus speaking in John 14:6 answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” Jesus is not one of MANY ways to God, he is the ONLY way to God. Therefore in humility I must acknowledge that he knows best, deny myself and follow him.

  2. Vs 1 To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue. We plan or have a “motive” for our lives but God has the answer. Our responsibility is to listen and obey when He does guide our way. I am a ‘fixer” but what needs to happen for me to be a Godly woman “fixer” is to be more prayerful, listen, and then if He leads help. BUT GOD has given us the answers to all the questions, for me I have to be still, pray, pray some more, listen, perhaps listen some more, continue to search His word much and obey.

    God I thank You for directing my path. I thank You for me coming to You, listening, reading Your word and obeying. God thank You for loving me so much. God I give You this day. Thank You for Your love goggles and kind words for Your people in Jesus name amen.

  3. Your choices matter in rather you are blessed a good God favored peaceful life . Or you choose the opposite self centered destruction that leads to death. God wants what’s best for us and our choices impact that . 100% my choice and 100% Gods for my life. Thank you God for the freedom to chose you.

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