Man proposes, God disposes

Possible interpretation: Human beings can make any plans they want, but it's God that decides their success or failure.

Note: Man (noun) = human beings in general | propose (verb) = suggest; put forward (an idea or plan) | dispose (verb) = decide what happens [mainly poetic] | Also seen as: "Man proposes, but God disposes."

Origin: This proverb is a translation from "The Imitation of Christ" by the German-born Thomas à Kempis (c.1380-1471): "For the resolutions of the just depend rather on the grace of God than on their own wisdom; and in Him they always put their trust, whatever they take in hand. For man proposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of man in his own hands." This may be a reflection of a verse in the Bible (Proverbs 16:9): "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." Shakespeare, too, had a similar message in Hamlet by Hamlet: "There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will."

Quick Quiz:

The saying "Man proposes, God disposes" suggests that people have

a. free will

b. limited free will

c. silly ideas

Saying of the Day

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Contributor: Josef Essberger