What Does Proverbs 16:9 Mean ?

What Does Proverbs 16:9 Mean ?

reading - words

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."



  • Kim alexander

    Thank you I really needed that

  • Veizo

    Proverbs 16:9 👍👍👍

  • Karen

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

  • Peter Awoteye

    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

    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.

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