Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:5
"A plan in the heart of man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out."
a plan in the heart of man is like deep water
The word plan is the Hebrew word etsah meaning counsel, purpose, plan. This phrase could be understood in two ways based upon the meaning of that word. The NASB translates it as plan. If this is correct, then the verse means that when a man is planning his future or dreaming about what he would like to do, he keeps it hidden and it is deep in his soul. It is then the one with great understanding who brings it to the surface and gets the person talking about his dreams and plans and hopes; sometimes even shocking the person who has these dreams down deep in his heart.
If the word is understood as purpose then the meaning is much deeper. It is that each person has a purpose for which they were put on the earth. They were given skills, talents, gifts, experiences, opportunities, social standing, and certain parents all for the purpose of fulfilling that purpose. All of these things point to the purpose of the person. Many times the persons themselves cannot see what it suggests that they should do. They are too close to themselves to see how all the things work together to show what God wants them to do. They may still be fixated on a childhood dream which they have no skills to pursue. It is the man of understanding who is able to draw it out and show how the various threads of their life make a particular picture.
but a man of understanding draws it out
The word translated understanding is the Hebrew word tabuwnah. This word means to understand or have insight. It comes from the physical idea of between. It carries with it the idea that this facility of intelligence sees relationships between things that others do not see. The one who has insight or understanding sees how things are connected or how they should be connected. In this case, it would mean in the first understanding of the text that the person who has understanding sees the relationships between various actions and various comments and begins to piece together what the plan in the heart is. They anticipate, therefore, the next move and ask about it or confront the person if the plan is different than their own or is evil.
Under the second understanding of the verse, the person of understanding sees the relationships between all the things that God has allowed a person to experience – the gifts that they possess and the opportunities that they have been given – and is able to draw out the purpose of God for their life. Is it not true that we need others to see our lives from an objective position that is not possible for us? That trusted person then helps us figure out what we are to do with what God has given us. Too often we end up pining away over the fact that we did not get to do something that we were not meant to do. Get about the business that you were meant to do. God has not made a mistake when you were born, and He is prepared to use all the experiences that you have had to glorify Him and give you a real future of significance. Stop wishing that you could have been a singer or President or rich or taller or athletically gifted in some area. You are gifted in the area that you were supposed to be gifted. Let a man or woman of understanding help you see how it fits together.
The man or woman of understanding is the key focus of this verse. It is they who are seeing the relationships and drawing crucial insights. It would seem obvious that one would want to become a person of understanding and see relationships between seemingly disconnected things. It would also seem to be obvious that we would want some people of understanding in our lives; people who can connect the dots in the pictures of our lives when we just can't get perspective. Become one of these kinds of people and let these kinds of people in your life.
I will say that the persons of understanding in my life have, at times, said some hard things about what God is doing – things that I do not always want to hear but usually know is true when I hear it. Do not drive these wonderful people who have insight into your life away but instead collect more of them to help you as you follow in the Lord's path for you.