"MAN PROPOSES, BUT GOD DISPOSES"
This quote is believed to have originated from several different sources, although no one is absolutely sure who first said it or wrote it. There are many verses in the Bible that come close to this or at least imply the same general meaning. Some scholars give credit to the German monk and writer, Thomas A Kempis, who wrote the very popular and widely-read work, "Of The Imitation Of Christ," around 1420. In this book, Thomas wrote:
"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."
Others claim that this expression comes from the writings and teachings of Euripides in his work, "Andromache," written around 430 B.C. In this work, Euripides writes:
"That which we expected is not accomplished. While for the unexpected, God finds a way. Man thinks, but God decides."
In the Bible, there are many verses which imply the exact same meaning as this quote, especially in the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. For example, Proverbs 16:9 says:
"A man's heart devises his way; but the Lord directs his steps."
Also, Proverbs 19:21 comes close to the same meaning:
"There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand."
Even the prophet Jeremiah wrote something similar in Jeremiah 10:23:
"O Lord, I know, that the way of man is not in himself; it is not a man that walks to direct his own steps."
William Shakespeare also wrote something not unlike this quote when he put these words in the mouth of his character Hamlet (Act V, Scene II):
"There is a Divinity that shapes our ends. Rough-hew them how we will."
This quote has also been credited to J. Lydgate in "Fall Of Princes", (1440) and G. Herbert in "Outlandish Proverbs, No. 1", (1640), to name a couple more.
Basically, the quote means you can plan out and think up whatever you like, but, in the end, it will be God who will decide the outcome of it. The quote can be implied in a negative way or in a positive way. It can be used to express the idea that man can build a great big ship and call it unsinkable, but God can create a rather large iceberg and prove him wrong.
Or the quote can be used to express the idea that if anyone proposes something and includes God in on the proposal, He can assure that person success in whatever they propose.
But, ultimately, this quote conveys the idea that God is in total control and will not allow Himself to be excluded from the workings and devices of His creation. The course and destiny of our personal lives and of the world is not up to Fate. Everything is in the hands of Almighty God and, in the end, it is His will that shall prevail.