The first 9 verses seem to loosely be about plans and the motivations for various actions. The wisdom and purpose of God's actions are contrasted with the motivations of human plans.
The first proverb is a bit of a riddle. The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. I get the first part, but why would a spoken answer generally be from God? Is it that even if you are wise, and fear God, your plans are still your own but the way you speak about them is different because you fear God?
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Don't be surprised that foolish, stupid or evil people think that their actions and decisions are upstanding and good. Understand that God says the spirit (motivation or attitude) that produced the plan or the actions is what should be judged. I don't think that God would agree that "the ends justifies the means".
Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. A good proverb for fridge magnets.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. The mysteries around moral responsibility from free will and predestination are not unique to the New Testament. I can't think of anything useful to say in order to expand on this. I believe it's true, I don't really know what I would do differently now that I've read this proverb. I can trust God that he knows what he's doing and that he is good. I'll add it to my list of things I know about God without taking anything else off the list.
Everyone who is arrogant1 in heart is an abomination to the Lord, be assured he will not go unpunished. God really doesn't like arrogance, which seems very similar to pride. This is troubling because society seems to have lost any appreciation for humility to the point where we no longer know how to talk about the virtues and vices of humility and pride. Pride is considered a virtue and is conflated with self-worth. We lack the nuance required to reliably discern wisdom from folly.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. It is refreshing and pleasant to read about Steadfast love and faithfulness.
I don't hear many people talking about these virtues - love has been reduced or redefined as something that can be found or changed quickly.
Faithfulness isn't celebrated or spoken about very much. Maybe because it isn't as dramatic as betrayal. Faithfulness and steadfast love are predicated on humility, which is another concept society seems silent about.
The second half of the proverb is also profound. It tells me how I can turn away from evil. I know that it is easier to say I will change my ways than it is to actually change, consistently.
"Being good" or "turning away from evil" is not nearly as easy or simple as a child thinks it is, and this proverb tells me how to do it. The last proverb of the previous chapter said that the fear of the lord is instruction in wisdom, and that humility comes before honor.
Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. In case there was any doubt, here it is. Don't compromise yourself in order to make more money.
The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes2 his steps. So I can make my own plans, but if my plans are to be successful, or substantial, I need the Lord to make my plans "firm" or "permanent".
An oracle is on the lips of a king, his mouth does not sin in judgement. I don't know what this means. An oracle is "a priest acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods." Kings have certainly sinned when making judgements.
A just balance and scales are the Lords, all the weights in the bag are his work. God loves justice, and the instruments or justice are ultimately his, and are from him.
It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. The kings in verses 12 and 10 are not like kings I have heard about. If 12 is true then perhaps 10 can be true. At a minimum, 12 and 13 provides some standard by which to judge kings.
How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. One of the many bits of advice that could come from this would be to prioritise jobs with training and experience over jobs with higher salaries immediately. Especially in your twenties or when you are starting your career. You don't need lots of disposable income, you do need wisdom, training, experience, perspective, time with wise or experienced people.
The highway of the upright turns aside from evil, whoever guards his way preserves his life. Guarding your way - this is not a concept or expression I've heard of before. I guess it could mean "defend the path your life could take", or "think about the consequences (second order consequences)."
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. God really doesn't like pride, and also it leads to destruction. This is not a coincidence. Haughty means "arrogantly superior or disdainful" which is mostly a synonym for prideful.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. Avoid prideful people, avoid evil people. Proverbs seems really clear that you are supposed to socialise and spend time with people you want to be like. A lowly spirit is "low is status, or humble". Better to hang out with poor people and be humble than to be rich and associate with prideful people.
Whoever gives thought to a matter will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. More encouragement to trust God, and to be considerate.
21 and 23 both say that it is wise to speak persuasively or encouragingly. If the words are well intended, then make them more effective by being persuasive.
The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious3 and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.Our words affect our bodies, and our souls. Gracious words are really valuable. Gracious means to be kind, courteous, or patient. Let it go, be gentle.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Don't be so confident in your own wisdom and judgement. It's not just that your judgement is a bit less good than God's, this proverb says its totally opposite. Expect to be doing things that look like the opposite of what someone might expect. Expect to do unintuitive things.
A workers appetite works for him, his mouth urges him on. True that.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. Wow. This is high praise for self control.