What does Proverbs 16:20 mean?
ESV: Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
NIV: Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.
NASB: One who pays attention to the word will find good, And blessed is one who trusts in the Lord.
CSB: The one who understands a matter finds success, and the one who trusts in the Lord will be happy.
NLT: Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.
KJV: He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
NKJV: He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
Verse Commentary:
The book of Proverbs endorses several aspects of wisdom, including the benefit of thinking clearly and carefully. What's being given attention, in this verse, is translated from the Hebrew word dā'bor, which can refer to a statement, a concept, or an idea. A conscious effort to be diligent when assessing something tends to yield better results that inattention or laziness (Proverbs 14:15; 18:13). As other proverbs have noted, the most crucial aspect of clear thinking is seeking God's truth more than anything else (Proverbs 1:7).

The most valuable "word" one can consider is the Word of God. Psalm 119:97–100 indicates that the Word of God bestows wisdom and understanding. The same psalm declares that those who love the Word experience "great peace" (Psalm 119:165).

Scripture also cautions that merely thinking about doing good is not enough. James 1:22 admonishes us to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James continues his admonition by comparing a man who simply hears the Word but does not obey it to a man who looks at his face in a mirror but soon forgets what he looks like (James 1:23¬–24). He concludes the admonition by saying, "But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:25).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 16:16–26 focuses on righteousness, pride, humility, faith, speaking, and industrious labor. Again, we see the contrast between the upright and fools, as well as between diligence and laziness. Many of these proverbs come in a two-sentence style, where each presents the same idea from different directions of thought.
Chapter Summary:
This part of Solomon's proverbs emphasizes human motives, self-control, and common sense. Many of these proverbs are arranged in a two-part style. The first and second half of these statements make the same basic point, but from opposite perspectives. Notable verses are verses 9 and 33, speaking of God's sovereignty, and verse 18, a famous warning about arrogance. Also often cited is verse 25, which repeats Proverbs 14:12 and encourages self-reflection.
Chapter Context:
A lengthy list of Solomon's wise sayings began in chapter 10. Chapter 16 begins a section mostly composed of comparisons and completions. It extends to Proverbs 22:16. Man's thoughts, speech, motives, and conduct are examined in this chapter. The chapter also addresses pride, evil, and injustice.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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