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Proverbs 16 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 16

Plans are made in human hearts,
    but from the Lord comes the tongue’s response.[a]
All one’s ways are pure[b] in one’s own eyes,
    but the measurer of motives is the Lord.
Entrust your works to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed.
The Lord has made everything for a purpose,
    even the wicked for the evil day.[c]
Every proud heart[d] is an abomination to the Lord;
    be assured that none will go unpunished.
By steadfast loyalty guilt is expiated,
    and by the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.[e]
When the Lord is pleased with someone’s ways,
    he makes even enemies be at peace with them.
Better a little with justice,
    than a large income with injustice.
The human heart plans the way,
    but the Lord directs the steps.[f]
10 An oracle is upon the king’s lips,
    no judgment of his mouth is false.[g]
11 Balance and scales belong to the Lord;
    every weight in the sack is his concern.
12 Wrongdoing is an abomination to kings,
    for by justice the throne endures.
13 The king takes delight in honest lips,
    and whoever speaks what is right he loves.
14 The king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
    but a wise person can pacify it.
15 A king’s smile means life,
    and his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.[h]
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
    To get understanding is preferable to silver.[i]
17 The path of the upright leads away from misfortune;
    those who attend to their way guard their lives.[j]
18 Pride goes before disaster,
    and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be humble with the poor
    than to share plunder with the proud.
20 Whoever ponders a matter will be successful;
    happy the one who trusts in the Lord!
21 The wise of heart is esteemed for discernment,
    and pleasing speech gains a reputation for learning.
22 Good sense is a fountain of life to those who have it,
    but folly is the training of fools.
23 The heart of the wise makes for eloquent speech,
    and increases the learning on their lips.
24 Pleasing words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the taste and invigorating to the bones.
25 Sometimes a way seems right,
    but the end of it leads to death!
26 The appetite of workers works for them,
    for their mouths urge them on.[k]
27 Scoundrels are a furnace of evil,
    and their lips are like a scorching fire.
28 Perverse speech sows discord,
    and talebearing separates bosom friends.
29 The violent deceive their neighbors,
    and lead them into a way that is not good.
30 Whoever winks an eye plans perversity;
    whoever purses the lips does evil.[l]
31 Gray hair is a crown of glory;
    it is gained by a life that is just.
32 The patient are better than warriors,
    and those who rule their temper, better than the conqueror of a city.
33 Into the bag the lot is cast,
    but from the Lord comes every decision.[m]


  1. 16:1 Words, like actions, often produce results different from those which were planned, and this comes under the agency of God.
  2. 16:2 “Pure” in a moral sense for human action is found only in Job and Proverbs. As in v. 1, the contrast is between human intent and divine assessment.
  3. 16:4 Even the wicked do not lie outside God’s plan.
  4. 16:5 Proud heart: lit., “high of heart.” To forget one is a fallible human being is so basic an error that one cannot escape exposure and punishment.
  5. 16:6 As v. 5 used the language of worship to express what is acceptable or not to God, so this saying uses similar language to declare that lovingly loyal conduct undoes the effects of sin.
  6. 16:9 As in vv. 1–3, the antithesis is between human plans and divine disposal. The saying uses the familiar metaphor of path for the course of life.
  7. 16:10 Six sayings on the king and his divine authority begin here, following the series of sayings about the Lord’s governance in 15:33–16:9, in which “Lord” was mentioned nine times.
  8. 16:15 The last of six sayings about the king. In the previous verse, royal wrath means death; in this verse royal favor means life. It is significant that royal favor is compared to something not under human control—the clouds preceding the spring rains.
  9. 16:16 The point of comparison is the superiority of the pursuit of wisdom and gold, not the relative merits of wealth and wisdom.
  10. 16:17 In the metaphor of the two ways, the way of the righteous is protected and the way of the wicked is unprotected. Since the path of the righteous leads therefore away from trouble, one’s task is to stay on it, to “attend to” it.
  11. 16:26 The adage puzzled ancient and modern commentators. The meaning seems to state the paradox that a person does not toil to feed the gullet but that the gullet itself “toils” in the sense that it forces the person to work. As often in Proverbs, the sense organ stands for the faculty by metonymy. Cf. Eccl 6:7.
  12. 16:30 A restless or twitching eye or lip betrays the condition of the heart (cf. 6:13).
  13. 16:33 Dice were given meanings of “yes” or “no” and then cast for their answer. What came out was the decision. Here the saying interprets the sequence of actions: a human being puts the dice in the bag but what emerges from the bag is the Lord’s decision.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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