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Proverbs 16:7-9 New English Translation (NET Bible)

When a person’s[a] ways are pleasing to the Lord,[b]
he[c] even reconciles his enemies to himself.[d]
Better to have a little with righteousness[e]
than to have abundant income without justice.[f]
A person[g] plans his course,[h]
but the Lord directs[i] his steps.[j]


  1. Proverbs 16:7 tn Heb “ways of a man.”
  2. Proverbs 16:7 tn The first line uses an infinitive in a temporal clause, followed by its subject in the genitive case: “in the taking pleasure of the Lord” = “when the Lord is pleased with.” So the condition set down for the second colon is a lifestyle that is pleasing to God.
  3. Proverbs 16:7 tn The referent of the verb in the second colon is unclear. The straightforward answer is that it refers to the person whose ways please the Lord—it is his lifestyle that disarms his enemies. W. McKane comments that the righteous have the power to mend relationships (Proverbs [OTL], 491); see, e.g., 10:13; 14:9; 15:1; 25:21-22). The life that is pleasing to God will be above reproach and find favor with others. Some would interpret this to mean that God makes his enemies to be at peace with him (cf. KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT). This is workable, but in this passage it would seem God would do this through the pleasing life of the believer (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV).
  4. Proverbs 16:7 tn Heb “even his enemies he makes to be at peace with him.”
  5. Proverbs 16:8 sn The lines contrast the modest income with the abundant income, but the real contrast is between righteousness and the lack of justice (or injustice). “Justice” is used for both legal justice and ethical conduct. It is contrasted with righteousness in 12:5 and 21:7; it describes ethical behavior in 21:3. Here the point is that unethical behavior tarnishes the great gain and will be judged by God.
  6. Proverbs 16:8 sn This is another “better” saying; between these two things, the first is better. There are other options—such as righteousness with wealth—but the proverb is not concerned with that. A similar saying appears in Amenemope 8:19-20 (ANET 422).
  7. Proverbs 16:9 tn Heb “the mind of a man.” The term לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) represents the person in this case (a synecdoche of a part for the whole) but highlights that faculty most relevant to the verb for planning.
  8. Proverbs 16:9 tn Heb “his way” (so KJV, NASB).
  9. Proverbs 16:9 tn The verb כּוּן (kun, “to establish; to confirm”) with צַעַד (tsaʿad, “step”) means “to direct” (e.g., Ps 119:133; Jer 10:23). This contrasts what people plan and what actually happens—God determines the latter.
  10. Proverbs 16:9 sn “Steps” is an implied comparison, along with “way,” to indicate the events of the plan as they work out.
New English Translation (NET)

NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://netbible.com All rights reserved.


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