What does it say?

A change begins in Proverbs 16 as the maxims suddenly become mostly synthetic and synonymous rather than antithetical as we have seen to this point. Also, while the previous chapters seem to emphasize principles for daily living, some commentators would say that this section focuses more, though not entirely, on pleasing God. Pleasing God and dealing righteously with issues of daily life obviously overlap a great deal, so be careful not to be too rigid as you approach this passage.

By this time you will be observing words or images that appear somewhat frequently in these maxims. You will probably notice themes that are repeated. Proverbs 16:25 is the very same maxim you saw in 14:12. Practice asking yourself the same questions you have seen here every day since you began this journey – what does it say, what does it mean and how will I respond? Only do this individually for those verses that you analyze.

What does it mean?

Proverbs 16:7 is another example of learning the difference between an absolute promise in a literal sense, and a principle for living. When your ways please God it doesn’t mean your enemies will necessarily make peace with you right now. There are many examples to the contrary in both the Bible and life. Incidentally, a very literal translation might be “he makes even your enemies to hold their peace.” This verse affirms God’s sovereignty. Don’t worry about winning or losing against your enemies, but about pleasing God. There will come a day (no time limit given) when God will silence them and they will have nothing left to say.  

Be aware that the same words in English do not always have the same meaning, but depend on the context. Sometimes different words in Hebrew are translated as one word in English. For example, in 17:8 and 23, the some translations use the word gift for the Hebrew word that many contemporary versions translate as bribe. Gift is not incorrect in the English of 400 years ago, but it means bribe, literally and in the context. However, 18:16 says that a man’s gift makes room for him, or enables him to get access otherwise not available. This is a completely different Hebrew word and does not mean bribe, but rather one’s skills or abilities.

How will I respond?

What verses ministered grace to my heart today? What verses corrected me or gave me specific life instruction? What is the most important lesson for me today and how will I apply it to my life? With whom will I share this truth today?