Pro 16:9 A person32 plans his course,33 but the LORD directs34 his steps.35
Net Bible commentary:
32 tn Heb "the heart of a man." This stresses that it is within the heart that plans are made. Only those plans that are approved by God will succeed.
33 tn Heb "his way" (so KJV, NASB).
34 tn The verb כּוּן (kun, "to establish; to confirm") with צַעַד (tsa'ad, "step") means "to direct" (e.g., Psa_119:133; Jer_10:23). This contrasts what people plan and what actually happens — God determines the latter.
35 sn "Steps" is an implied comparison, along with "way," to indicate the events of the plan as they work out.
Many may think they have free will but circumstances and events determine our action. You may go the ice cream store to enjoy some chocolate ice cream. Your 'will' is to eat chocolate ice cream. However, upon arriving you find out the store is out of chocolate flavor! Your 'free will' would have been thwarted at that moment in time!
Pro 20:24 The steps of a person73 are ordained by74 the LORD —so how can anyone75 understand his own76 way?
73 tn Heb "the steps of a man"; but "man" is the noun גֶּבֶר (gever, in pause), indicating an important, powerful person. BDB 149-50 s.v. suggests it is used of men in their role of defending women and children; if that can be validated, then a translation of "man" would be appropriate here. But the line seems to have a wider, more general application. The "steps" represent (by implied comparison) the course of life (cf. NLT "the road we travel").
74 tn Heb "from the LORD"; NRSV "ordered by the Lord"; NIV "directed by the Lord."
sn To say that one's steps are ordained by the LORD means that one's course of actions, one's whole life, is divinely prepared and sovereignly superintended (e.g., Gen_50:26; Pro_3:6). Ironically, man is not actually in control of his own steps.
75 tn The verse uses an independent nominative absolute to point up the contrast between the mortal and the immortal: "and man, how can he understand his way?" The verb in the sentence would then be classified as a potential imperfect; and the whole question rhetorical. It is affirming that humans cannot understand very much at all about their lives.
76 tn Heb "his way." The referent of the third masculine singular pronoun is unclear, so the word "own" was supplied in the translation to clarify that the referent is the human individual, not the Lord.
CEV Rom 9:19 Someone may ask, "How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?"