Proverbs 16:1

The plans of the heart belong to man,

but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

The phrase The plans of the heart belong to man I can understand as: the man plans things on this own.

The phrase but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD, I guess the meaning is: the final result is from the LORD. Is it correct?

I really don't understand the phrase the answer of the tongue - I wonder whose tongue it is? If the tongue is of the man himself, then obviously, the answer can be anything, but I feel like the tongue here is meaning something else.


Various commentaries suggest that the tongue is the tongue of the man himself, and that even when words have been prepared in the heart, and the thoughts are organized, man still needs God to help him speak properly and express those thoughts eloquently.

The JPS translation follows this in a slightly clearer way:

The preparations of the heart are man's, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

Other translations do seem to follow the you suggested, which is akin to Proverbs 19:21, (which my Hebrew username is taken from),

רַבּ֣וֹת מַחֲשָׁב֣וֹת בְּלֶב־אִ֑ישׁ וַעֲצַ֥ת יְ֝הֹוָ֗ה הִ֣יא תָקֽוּם׃

Many plans are in a man's heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand. (NAS)

in which case we are to understand this as God being able to "hijack" the tongue of man and make it say what He wants.

  • Thanks, now think deeper about this, I think I have experienced this myself. It all makes sense now. – 123iamking Jan 14 '18 at 8:10

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