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Man’s Mind Plans but God Directs His Path (Proverbs 16)


Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995 The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 NASB1995 Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the Lord will stand.

The mind of man is always making plans, even if you think you’re not, you are. We all make plans! Our plans can be general or in great detail. Either way, there are those plans that turned into a complete disaster. Occasionally, we see why, and every so often we just can’t figure out what went wrong. What, we thought, was the ideal plan in our mind, turned out to be nowhere near what we thought.

To avoid this from happening, one must know what God says about making plans. When we create a course of action, these verses will give us the right direction and purpose. In order to have the foundational purpose of making plans, we must understand what God is saying. We will do this by learning what these two verses mean through breaking down the keywords within the verse. Definitions help us to think and see what God is saying.

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

What Does Plan Mean?

PLAN 33b (SN2803) hashab –
properly, to use the mind; reflecting individual viewpoint and moral values (from Discovery Bible)

God created us to make plans.

For instance, a friend calls and says, “hey let’s go do this”! And at that moment, you make a decision to go.

The choice you made caused you to change your plans to accommodate meeting your friend at the last minute.

As you can see, our minds plan things from spur of the moment to long term. Plans reveal our attitude and where the importance of moral value lies in our heart.

Why is the Heart Important When Making Plans?

HEART 3820 leb –
properly, heart (always used figuratively) inherent capacity to exercise moral preference as an endowment by God, equipping people to live “from the inside out;”
2. 3820/en (“heart”) is the seat of moral preference and thought…centers on the will; i.e. personal decision making (volition) shaped by emotions and desires (G. Archer) (from Discovery Bible)

The heart is important because the heart is the core of who we are. When we make choices, our moral values, will, and emotions all are involved. When God talks about our heart, He is referring to who we really are from the inside out.

Notice God says, everyone (man, human race) makes plans. That is, believers and unbelievers alike. Though believers and unbelievers make plans concerning the way they will go, believers come from a different viewpoint.

What is the Way?

WAY 23f (SN 1810) derek –
properly, one’s whole journey (over all way) of life, rooted in timeless moral-spiritual realities. (from Discovery Bible)

A believer’s walk is based on the thoughts and ways of God. The way we live our life has eternal value to God, whether good or evil (Job 34:11). So, believer’s plot their steps based on the thoughts and ways of God. We do this using our mind, will, and emotions to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that directs our steps.

Is Having a Direction Important?

DIRECTS 3559 kun –
properly, make firm, placing something just as it is related to make secure in just the right location that fits the need (from Discovery Bible)

HIS STEPS 23m (SN 6806) sa’ad –
properly, a march step, stride, Reflection: “Keeping in step” with the Holy Spirit is essential in the faith-life, taking “big or small steps” as He directs so not getting ahead of nor behind His leading (from Discovery Bible)

What Does all This Mean?

The believer strives to walk in step with the Holy Spirit to do the good works of God. Unbelievers strive to lead their life believing they are in control. When we say, it’s my life, I am the captain of my own ship, etc. they are verbalizing the belief they determine the course of their life. The reality (truth) is, God is sovereign over all the earth (Colossians 1:16).

How Do We Make Plans in Step With the Holy Spirit?

Psalm 119:104-105 NASB1995 104 From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

As an example of this is; If you have gone camping and had to walk a path at night to see, you need a lantern to light your way. It helps to keep you on the correct path and show you where the ground is level and stable.

That is what reading, thinking on, and studying God’s word gives us. It gives understanding of truth (light) and lies (darkness). That is knowing which way to walk that reflects godly morals. We lean on prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit. We stay in God’s word to be guided into reality (truth), ( Psalm 143:10;John 16:13).

Psalm 143:8-9 NASB1995 8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

What is the Purpose of Life?

Isaiah 43:7 NASB1995 Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”

Habakkuk 2:14 NASB1995 “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.

Our salvation brings us into the plans God has had for us from the foundation of the world. Life has a new purpose, which is to do God’s will to bring Him glory. This leads us to do His good works on His path (Ephesians 2:8-10). When we walk in the ways of God through faith, led and controlled by the Holy Spirit, we are pleasing God and glorifying Him.

However, there will be times when understanding and guidance comes quickly and makes perfect sense to us. Other times we find ourselves in the waiting room of God. Do not become discouraged when the road blocks and silence comes. Instead, stop, pray, stay in God’s word until the Light opens your eyes to see and your ears to hear.

Psalm 27:14 NASB1995 14 Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

As you read, you see the importance of knowing the full meaning of Proverbs 16 and 21 has on a believer’s life. Without this kind of understanding, our walk with the Lord will become very superficial.

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