Proverbs 8:16

ESV by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.
NIV by me princes govern, and nobles--all who rule on earth.
NASB By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly.
CSB by me, princes lead, as do nobles and all righteous judges.
NLT Rulers lead with my help, and nobles make righteous judgments.
KJV By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

What does Proverbs 8:16 mean?

The voice speaking in these verses is that of wisdom, personified as a woman (Proverbs 8:1–4). Continuing his thought that wisdom establishes the powers of government, Solomon says that by wisdom "princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly." This is true in the sense that "just" rulers are those who apply godly wisdom. It is also true in that God—the ultimate source of all wisdom—is ultimately sovereign over who rules. This truth becomes apparent when we examine the lives of Joseph and Moses.

In His wisdom, God determined that Joseph would be taken from his homeland to Egypt and from a prison in Egypt to occupy the position of second in command in Egypt. Only God could arrange for someone to rise from a dungeon to a throne. Joseph recognized God's hand in all this. When his brothers feared for their lives because of their ill-treatment of Joseph, Joseph said, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:19–20). God used Joseph to keep alive the Hebrew race, through whom the Messiah would come.

Another example of divine appointment is Moses. God rescued him from the Nile River to make him a prince in Egypt and then the leader of the Hebrews who guided them through the desert to the Promised Land. Moses recognized that he was inadequate for the job of leading Israel, but the Lord said, "I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:10).
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