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.

  • Which Bible version are your quoting? all other version render it :"And the tongue of the wise is healing." Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 20:08
  • @Ozzie Nicolas : I quoted the ESV version.
    – 123iamking
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 6:19

2 Answers 2


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
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 8:10

Proverbs 16:1 - meaning of the answer of the tongue.

Proverbs 16:1 (GW)

"Wisdom’s Blessings Come from the Lord ,The plans of the heart belong to humans,but an answer on the tongue comes from the Lord."

Similarly we read in 12:18

Proverbs 12:18 (NASB)

18" There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing."

When does the tongue of the wise bring healing ? Only, when the answer on the tongue comes from the Lord."

That is when we speak spiritually the words of truth found in God's word.

James stresses that failure to bridle one tongue , may cause ones worship to be worthless.

James 1:26 (MEV)

" If anyone among you seems to be religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

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