Proverbs 16:33

ESV The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
NIV The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
NASB The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.
CSB The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
NLT We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
KJV The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

What does Proverbs 16:33 mean?

This proverb emphasizes the Lord's sovereign control over all things. Many common English expressions about luck relate to rolling dice. The point of dice is belief that well-balanced cubes will give a completely random result each time they are used. Casting lots in the Old Testament era might have involved one or more methods meant to seek an uncontrolled, arbitrary result. Such techniques are often used when a decision needs to be completely free from human bias (Proverbs 18:18; Joshua 14:2; Jonah 1:7).

The truth is that what human beings call "luck" is merely the sum of all the factors we cannot see or control. No dice roll, or casting of lots, ever takes God by surprise. Some things do happen "by chance," from the human perspective, as even Jesus noted (Luke 10:31). That does not mean they are arbitrary or random from God's point of view. Even those things we perceive as determined by chance are in the Lord's control (Psalm 16:5). This proverb points out that even those things we think of as "pure chance" are still under God's sovereign control.

After Judas committed suicide, Peter led 120 believers to cast lots to decide who should become an apostle in place of Judas. Barsabbas and Matthias became the two candidates for the apostolic office. When the group prayed for the Lord's will to be accomplished, they said: "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place" (Acts 1:24–25). Then they cast lots, "and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26).
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