Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
E S V
I recently saw this verse posted on one of the social media sights I follow.
“Interesting”, I thought. “Why post such a verse now?”
I don’t know what the motives were of the person who posted this verse. But for all of the years that I have listened to sermons where this verse has been quoted. This verse has only ever been used in one of two ways.
To demonstrate the futility of mankind's ideas and plans when placed against the magnitude of eternity and the mighty plans of God.
Or to cause anxious Christians to second guess themselves into immobility, out of the fear of offending God by choosing to do something that is outside of His plans for their lives.
It’s understandable that such a conclusion would be reached as many of the translations are in the same vein. Here are a few.
There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. KJ21
We may make a lot of plans, but the Lord will do what he has decided. CEV
Man proposes, but God disposes. TLB
People can make all kinds of plans, but only the Lord’s plan [purpose; advice] will happen [succeed]. EXB
But are these translations an accurate understanding of Proverbs 19:21?
Let’s have a look.
Using Strong's concordance I’ve looked at each Hebrew word in this passage, to find the most comprehensive and accurate understanding.
רַבּוֹת מַחֲשָׁבוֹת בְּלֶב-אִישׁ; וַעֲצַת יְהוָה, הִיא תָקוּם
rav רַבּ H7227 = Many, great/much/captain/multitude/abundant.
makh·ash·ä·vä' מַחֲשָׁבוֹת H4284 = Thoughts, devices/imagination/purpose(s).
lāv לֶב H3820 = Heart, mind/understanding/wisdom.
ēsh אִיש H376 = Man, men/one/husband/any/whosoever/person.
ā·tsä' עֲצַת H6098 = Counsel, counsels/purpose/advice.
yeh·hō·vä' יְהוָה H3068 = LORD, Lord’s/God/Jehovah.
hü הִיא H1931 = That, this/same/he/she/who
küm קוּם H6965 = Up, arose/arise/rise/stand/establish/perform.
Surprisingly, the word אַךְ H389 that is translated as, ‘But’ or ‘Nevertheless’; while frequently expressed in nearly all of the English translations commonly available. This word אַךְ is not in the original text. Neither is there the sense of the negation of a person’s plans or ideas conveyed in the original language.
So where has this addition come from?
I believe it is Christian religious thinking, rooted in a sin consciousness state of mind.
Combined with the misguided teachings that reinforce the idea of a God who not only enjoys, but needs to impose his will on us. Alongside the belief in an angry god manipulating the lives of puny humans.
This way of thinking is a lie.
The evidence is all around us, both in the bible and in our experience that God is not bent on thwarting all our plans for the sake of proving his supremacy.
Rather God’s heart for us is that we will be in good health and prosper in all our ways, 3 John 1:2.
It is hard to stand against the weight of so many translations, but new wine requires new wineskins.
The old way of thinking is pleasing; even in its discomfort, it is comfortable.
Whereas new ways of thinking require that we allow ourselves to be stretched, to be temporarily made uncomfortable; to put on, ‘New Wine Skin Thinking.’
Thankfully there is at least one redeeming translation; Young’s Literal Translation is as follows.
‘Many [are] the purposes in a man's heart, And the counsel of Jehovah it standeth.’
Therefore, based on the above study I would like to propose a new translation.
Abundant are the imaginations in the hearts of people;
The person who seeks the counsel of the LORD, he is the one that will prosper.