What does Proverbs 19:21 mean?
ESV: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
NIV: Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
NASB: Many plans are in a person’s heart, But the advice of the Lord will stand.
CSB: Many plans are in a person's heart, but the Lord's decree will prevail.
NLT: You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
KJV: There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
NKJV: There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) understood the importance of sensible planning. He worked out a design to build a temple for the Lord. He arranged the building of an impressive house for himself. And he laid out gardens and infrastructures (1 Kings 3:1). He recognized the wisdom of consulting with others to make the best decisions (Proverbs 11:14; 12:15; 20:18). He knew the value of diligence when making plans (Proverbs 14:15; 18:13, 15, 17). That starts with seeking God's will and His direction (Proverbs 3:5–6).

However, Solomon was wise enough to know that human plans are never guaranteed to work out. He observes here that only God's intents are destined to succeed. Likewise, the apostle James tells his readers not to be arrogant about their future designs. He doesn't condemn planning, but instead notes that it should be done in God-honoring humility. He counsels, "You ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'" (James 4:15).

Proverbs 27:1 sounds a similar warning: "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." Psalm 37:3–5 provides pieces of a formula for successful planning: "Trust in the LORD," "Do good," "Delight yourself in the LORD," and "Commit your way to the LORD."
Verse Context:
Proverbs 19:8–21 continues Solomon's observations about wisdom and foolishness, a king's wrath, household turmoil, and human plans as compared to divine sovereignty. A theme of these proverbs is the danger of ignoring godly wisdom, while placing too much reliance on one's own ability. A wise person is prudent, diligent, and honest. At the same time, wisdom means realizing that not all plans work out.
Chapter Summary:
Several themes are associated with these statements. Among them are the idea that personal integrity is worth much more than earthly wealth or success. Solomon discusses the unfortunate habit of favoring the rich and dismissing the poor, while commending those who care for the unfortunate. Many references are made to the consequences of foolish behavior, including the shame and punishment such things can bring.
Chapter Context:
This series of proverbs is part of Solomon's writing on wisdom (Proverbs 10:1), a long chain continuing into chapter 22. As do other segments, this speaks on the harsh realities of poverty, the need for integrity, the dangers of laziness, the value of loving discipline, and the consequences of acting foolishly.
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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