Proverbs Devotional Experience

Proverbs 16

We come now to the section of Proverbs I have termed "Prejudicial Proverbs" (see introduction for breakdown). By “prejudicial” I mean to imply these proverbs show some degree of distrust; they hint that life cannot be trusted—it will not always turn out the way one plans, assumes, or seems logical. The righteous do not always prosper (16:8, 28:6). Things are not always black or white but sometimes shades of gray. In these proverbs, Solomon suggests to his son that life can be painful, absurd, unjust, and sometimes catastrophic, but there is still wisdom that governs all. They are written to reflect life, for life can seem illogical, but in the end, there is always guiding wisdom. Solomon often splits up the perplexity with the unchanging related wisdom.

In verses 1 through 9, Solomon presents God as over all, and he bookends these proverbs with contrasts in our plans with the Lord's response (1,9).

A. We plan and the Lord gives the answer (1).

  B. People think they're godly, but God examines motives (2).

    C. Commit your actions and succeed (3).

      D. Everything has a purpose, even disaster (4).

        E. Proud are detested and punished (5).

      D. Love atones for sin; fear of the Lord avoids evil (6).

    C. Please the Lord and be at peace (7).

  B. Better to be modest and godly than have bad motives (8).

A. We plan and the Lord determines our steps (9).

From verses 10 to 15, Solomon inserts some proverbs relating to the leadership of kings. In verses 10 through 12, Solomon deals with the king’s judgment as it is calibrated to fairness, justice, and honesty. In verse 11, he speaks to standards of fairness. In verses 14 and 15, Solomon teaches the king how to use anger and friendliness.

From verses 16 to 25, Solomon wants his sons trained in right choices. In verse 16, he asserts that wisdom and good judgment are better than money. In verse 17, he reveals that virtue naturally leads away from evil. In verses 18 through 20, he teaches his son to cultivate humility. In verses 21-24, he instructs in how to be wise in the way one speaks. He concludes his comments on right choices by telling his son there is a way that seems right but ends in death.

The chapter moves to Solomon’s revealing the kind of people who cause trouble (26-30).

A. The satisfied (26)

  B. The deceitful (27)

    C. The slanderer (28)

      D. The harsh (29)

        E. The insincere (30)

Finally, Solomon charges his sons to look forward to his future (31), to look inward at his spirit (32), and to look upward to Yahweh Who determines all (33).