Proverbs 16 is one of the chapters of Proverbs that is all about the contrast between the upright and the wicked. In other words, it speaks to what is good and smart to do and what is not so good and smart. In fact, many of these chapters and “Proverbs” speak in varied fashion to that which, for many, is virtually normal behavior and perhaps has been for some time, even much of their lives. Indeed, Solomon had much to say about these groups and their conflict in the life of the redeemed and the body of the Lord.
As is usual in many of the Proverbs, he begins with a reference to the “heart”, that is, the very center of man, his mind, his will, and/or his emotions. It speaks, as we have spoken of before, of the center of things for man. That which, collectively, allows him to interact with and accomplish, meaningfully, spiritual living (if we are talking about a redeemed person) and some meaningful purpose for God. In order to do so, of course, one must be allowing God’s Spirit and His Word to inform and maintain the wisdom and abilities of this “center” of a man.
Solomon draws our attention to the heart of the “wise”. Wise here, as in a lot of other places in Proverbs, speaks of a number of “shades” of application and meaning to the mind and workings of God’s people. It can indicate that they are cunning, subtle, skillful (in technical work), shrewd (even describing a whole class of men), crafty, wily, learned, but is most often translated as wise (ethically and religiously). It is used more than 165 times in Proverbs and a huge amount of times elsewhere in the OT.
It is interesting that Solomon hints at the idea that the “heart” is what guides the mouth. We can readily understand the idea that the mind or intelligence guides what we say. It arms or equips us so that we speak rightly and effectively. Sadly or disturbingly, it is true that man often speaks as prompted by our feelings or on impulse. But we need to remember that Solomon is not saying that we need to allow that aspect of our “inner man” be that which controls or even drives our communication with others.
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