Thursday, July 16, 2009

Proverbs 16: 1-15

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
1The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
2All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
3Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established.
4The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
5Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.
6By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for,
And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.
7When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
8Better is a little with righteousness
Than great income with injustice.
9The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.
10A divine decision is in the lips of the king;
His mouth should not err in judgment.
11A just balance and scales belong to the LORD;
All the weights of the bag are His concern.
12It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts,
For a throne is established on righteousness.
13Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.
14The fury of a king is like messengers of death,
But a wise man will appease it.
15In the light of a king's face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Today, a triple-play! Can't resist; they are too interrelated:

"The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD."
"Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established."
"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." (vs 1, 3 and 9)

The plans of the heart.... There's a lot that goes on in the heart, have you noticed? We have talked so much about acquiring wisdom within our hearts. That's to keep up with the number of plans that we make for ourselves--LOL!

The KJV uses 'preparations' instead of plans, but the meaning is what's important. Strong's describes the Hebrew translation as "an arrangement... (figuratively) mental disposition." This broadens the idea beyond just saying, "I want to go on a picnic, Lord." Where the heart is involved--that deep center of ourselves--there is a mental disposition to following in a certain direction. We can easily start believing more in the idea and in the possibility of it coming to fruition--if not the outright trying to accomplish it--more than we trust in faithfulness that God will provide according to His good will and purpose!

When we turn the focus off God, we put it on ourselves and our own ways. Solomon has been blunt about what happens when we go that route. Even when we fill our hearts with His wisdom, and believe that we are following His will, we have to be careful that we truly have brought our plans before Him. God does know all of our thoughts. No matter how "right" we think we are, if we don't bring our plans before Him, we cannot possibly know if what we have our hearts set on is what God wants us to do. As the proverb says, the answer comes from the Lord's tongue!

The Message Bible presents it this way:

"Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word."

Following up on this comes verse 3, which has some very interesting wording differences as you look across the translations and paraphrases. Here are a few. Compare and contrast with me:

  • New American Standard--"Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established."
  • King James--"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established."
  • The Message--"Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place. "
  • The Amplified Bible--"Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed."

That Hebrew word translated 'commit' does mean "to roll" as used by The Amplified Bible. For me, it's a fascinating word picture of what we need to do with our ideas. Working in publishing, I had several opportunities to view publications as they were in the process of being printed. Large sheets of paper running through multiple print rollers, spilling text and colors onto pages, bringing them to life, with special coatings added as a seal. If we roll our ideas upon the Lord, He can bring them to life as they roll through, applying His seal, as it were. Otherwise, our ideas may be returned blank at the end of the roller line.

I like the amplification of the verse focusing on being "agreeable to His will." (AMP) When we pick up that "processed" idea at the end of the rollers, sealed with His care, His blessing, do we understanding that it says "OK by Me--God"? Wow! An idea, a plan, a wish of the heart--OK'd by God!! How awesome is that?! The translations use the word established, which implies a firmness, a fixedness. Figuratively, it can also mean that our plans committed to the Lord will be rendered sure and prosperous [Strong's]. It's a win-win!

Quickly, note the KJV uses 'thoughts' instead of 'plans.' Coupled with 'works', I like 'thoughts' because it brings both actions and thinking together. With our great emphasis on right thinking, I especially want to connect with the concept that when I bring my intended actions to the Lord that He will prosper me with thinking that is agreeable to His will.

Finishing up with a look at verse 9, "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." This falls right in line with verse 3. In fact, in the KJV, the words establish (from vs 3) and direct (from verse 9) are translated with the same verb in Hebrew!

We are thinking beings. God created us with that amazing ability that He gave to no other. He expects us to generate ideas and plans. When we have those, though, what do we do next? It's at that point when we need to realize that, truly, we can do NOTHING! Nothing apart from God. Remember Proverbs 3? "In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (3:6, emphasis mine)

He wants to make our lives prosperous, abundant, successful. He has plans for us that have nothing to do with our plans. Yet, through seeking Him, His wisdom, His will, we can see more and more of His plan for us.

"We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it."
(vs 9, The Message)


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 16: 16-24
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Loved your insight today! Very meaty. I love the Amplified Bible as well, in fact, it is my main bible. It just says things so well. Have a good day!