“The human mind plans the way,
but the Lord directs the steps.”
(cf. Prov. 19:21; 20:24; Jere. 10:23)
Far from teaching that God controls everything, as some compatibilists maintain, this verse contrasts what the Lord controls with what he chooses not to control. Humans can and do make their own plans, but the Lord directs how those plans get worked out. As Proverbs 19:21 puts it,
The human mind may devise many plans,
But it is the purpose of the Lord that
will be established.
This does not imply that God meticulously controls everything humans do as they seek to live out their plans, only that he steers our paths in ways that best fit his sovereign purposes. When the course of action the Lord is steering flows from someone’s evil intentions, we may be assured that he wishes it were otherwise.