What Does Proverbs 16:9 Mean ?

proverbs 16 9 meaning

One of the most commonly used passages in biblical studies is Proverbs 16:9.
Why ? What is its meaning ? How important is it ?

A man's heart devised his way but the LORD directed his steps

In ancient times, some of the Israelite knowledge was transmitted as sayings and popular sayings for several generations. The only writings were the books of law, attributed to Moses.

It is not until the time of David that the first scribes appear and record the events of Israel's history 🇮🇱. 

1) Who Wrote Proverbs 16:9 ?

According to tradition and the introduction of the book (Proverbs 1:1), Jews and Christians attribute it to Solomon, from whom it is said that he obtained so much wisdom (1 Kings 4:30-32) that many centuries later, he became proverbial in Israel.

king solomon

King Solomon is now considered to have written between the first half and three-quarters of the book of Proverbs ✏️.

The rest of the book, as well as chapters 30 and 31, is attributed to other authors after the Salomonic period.

There are even those who think that Solomon actually collects the proverbs, although it has not been proven.

a. Proverbs 16:9 King James Version

The version reads:

"A man's heart devised his way: but the LORD directed his steps".

The King James Bible takes its name from King James I of England, who protected a group of Catholic Inquisition scholars to translate the Bible from Latin into English 🇬🇧.

king james proverbs 16 9

It was published in 1611 and has been a reference for modern English-speaking bibles. It was written from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and other translations of the time were used for writing, such as the Queen Valera Bible. 

b. Proverbs 16:9 New International Version

 The New Version says:

"In their hearts these plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.

The New International Version was born of a group of scholars who wish to translate biblical manuscripts into modern English, with multiple revisions and better writings than the King James Bible.

niv proverbs 16 9

The New International Version was initially launched in 1973. The entire Bible was subsequently available in 1979. 

3) “A man´s heart devised his way” Meaning

To explain Proverbs 16:9 let's break it down sentence by sentence:

For many, man is the only one who defines his future and his path 🔮.

We think many times that there are several paths, we have a variety of options, and that each of them is good for what we desire (Job 23:13).

We live in a society that demands you to decide your way and take the reins of your life.

1 kings 27

They reduce it to rationalizing life like a calculator. It is not all evil: we were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26).

This means that we can think and plan our way 🙂. 

We own our decisions, for each of them was conceived as a desire in our hearts (1 Corinthians 2:11), from which our lives go (Proverbs 4:23).

Some are obsessed with planning their lives (James 4:13) down to the last detail, while others do not give it as much importance and leave it to "luck" 🍀. 

We become angry when our plans go wrong (Matthew 6:21) and rejoice when unforeseen events benefit us.

matthew 6 21

The evil thing is that because our hearts are deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9), if we do not think well what we desire, we can turn to sin and follow evil ways 😈. 

The heart always justifies what we desire (Proverbs 27:19), and if it is evil, it inclines the persian mind and to think in such a way that our desires, however evil, may be right.

book of proverbs

Thus, the mind becomes a factory that assimilates the evil desires of the heart.

4) “but the Lord directed his steps” Meaning

Reducing my life to a calculator ignores the sovereignty of God, who has the last word (Jeremiah 29:11).

As much as we plan or do, see the current reigning chaos, or strive to change something, in the end God's will will prevail (Isaiah 46:10).

proverbs cross symbol

It is God who maintains our souls and weighs our hearts (Proverbs 21:2). We can plan, but it is God who leads our steps 👣 (Jeremiah 10:23).

If the plan does not match God's Will, let us not expect it to be fulfilled (Psalm 135:6). We can devise our way under the direction of the heart, even if it's bad. 

But no man can escape God's Sovereignty or devise a different path than God has prepared (Daniel 4:35).


Here is the contrast between what we plan and what happens: It is God who determines whether or not it is done (Isaiah 43:13).

He wields his own power (Job 42:2) to allow, annul, or promote our ways.

I summarize it in one sentence: Man proposes and God disposes (Proverbs 19:21).

5) Proverbs 16:9 The Message Behind the Verse

Even if man has many plans, right or wrong, in the end it is the Will of God that will remain.

Many times we blame ourselves for the things we did or stop doing, we find ourselves at crossroads where we need wisdom or advice to decide well, but we do not think whether the result obtained may be aligned to the Will of God, who directs your life and path 🧭. 

proverbs 16 9 message

Instead of living stressed or condemning ourselves by having to make a decision, let us open our hearts to Christ, entrust our way to Him, and wait for His answer, for He will know how to lead us 🙏🏻 (Romans 8:28).

Let the Lord direct your steps, for your ability to make decisions, however good it may be, is not always aligned to the Will of God. Let us not lose our strength, trust in the Lord, and He will know how to lead us on the way (Jeremiah 29:11). The key is to trust the Lord completely ❤️(Proverbs 3:5-6).


Read next: The Meaning of Matthew 19:26. "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • Louella Williams on

    I really need this verse at this time.I learning to but all my trust in the Lord and not make a plan my self for I know he will always lead me in the right direction.Thank you Jesus for this Beautiful BLESSING.

  • David on

    Thank you for this, I came across this looking for a more of understanding answer. I been a Christian a long time but still am human, I have never knowing what to do in my life for a job, or go to school, I was stressing out so much. Now I know I will let the Lords take control over my steps and life, sense The Lord will lead me to his will sense I have no clue what job to go into, but the Lord does. Thank you.

  • christine on

    Thank you so much for this the lord has been trying to rely this to me for long time through many intense trials
    I was living stressed and condemned confused
    Especially praying for the life of my grandaughter illness and my daughter’s years of
    Much heart ache pain
    But as I read this I can feel a peace in what ever happens I can trust in the sovereign care of Jesus to do what is right of course I hope for complete healing but I do understand that complete healing dose not always come in our time
    This has set me free from more anxiety I trust in the mercy love compassion on them both many times I thought I was going to lose my husband but god choose not to take him
    We have been through many loses and quite intense illness in my family and still face those challenges every day my sister too who has an autoimmune desease
    I am in ten year of remission. Of cancer I can say that in covid I drew closer to god and this bible study has opened my eyes more I realised it’s being in his presence now and opening my heart more to god instead of running away again from the thoughts the fears of yet more loved ones being taken I pray now instead that through his steadfast love mercy keep our souls in his eternal love thank you so much for this I had been working over time in analysing staying up night after night I understand now that it is god’s will that will be done I remember Jeremiah’s promise my plans are for good and not evil and I can see more clearly now that our ways of good may not be god’s although it’s still a massive challenge and has been heart breaking over years years I understand one thing our trials can bring us closer to god and refine us I no way claim that I haven’t resisted him crying out please please lord have mercy your strength to sustain us to not weaken in these trials that’s the kind of prayer I pray
    And have had to fight a battle of many a dark night over many years but I know that nothing is wasted in god
    So thank you lord for leading me to this amazing blog site
    I love the piece that says be still wait upon the lord
    It’s our human nature to want things sorted now to not have to face such pain but without Jesus we would have never my family would never have survived what we have been through and what that has taught still teaching us every day thank you god bless you

  • Mrs fernandes on

    Great wisdom and learning through this site. God bless you all for breaking the Word so powerfully…..


    Thanks for your message :) We are in a situation where we want to build our dream house. We need to trust the Lord and have confidence in Him.

  • Mike on

    14 years of hard work company decides to lay me off permanently I Came Upon This Proverbs 19 verse 6 this made me decide there’s nothing I could do about it but the Lord has plans for me. Doors close in New doors open

  • Aria Hegame on

    Thankyou so much for the insight, its been a great relief as I am going through a tough situation but I can now say that I am relaxed and know that my God is with me and my family. Together we will overcome. God is my best Father.

  • Leah on

    This blessed me. Thank you. All glory to Yeshua!

  • Kim alexander on

    Thank you I really needed that

  • Veizo on

    Proverbs 16:9 👍👍👍

  • Karen on

    This message popped up on my way this Sunday, I delt easy under God’s footsteps.
    Direct my footsteps oh good God.

  • Peter Awoteye on

    I feeling strength when I come across sach wonderful pieces that you put gethere, its open my understanding of something that am dealing with its clear now, thank you so much may GOD bless you more

  • Henry Mlalazi on

    This word blessed me this morning as I realised how much I have planned and forgot to ask God to guide my steps and coming back to square 1 every single time. I hope this serves as a lesson to all of us that we can plan things, businesses, etc but we need God for steps to fulfil the plan.

  • Patricia williams on

    I woke up this morning with a very heavy hart needing a answer from god and the scripture proverb 16:9 so I surfed the internet and came pass this page well it blessed me so much it really opened my eyes led me to other scriptures and gave me strength to make it another day! Thanks

  • Adeweathers48@gmail.com on


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published