Proverbs 21 Study Notes
21:3 Sacrifice stands for the outward actions of religious observance, equivalent to “doing church.”
21:4 This Hebrew word for lamp that guides could also be translated “unplowed field of.” Just as an unplowed field produces weeds, haughty eyes (see “arrogant eyes” and note at 6:17) and an arrogant heart (immodesty and lack of restraint) produce sin. In contrast, a commandment and teaching guide the righteous (6:23).
21:8 To be crooked is to be perverse or deceptive.
21:9 On better . . . than proverbs, see note at 15:16-17; on nagging, see note at 19:13. Houses in ancient Israel had flat roofs, and it was possible to build a shelter on them (2Kg 4:10) or to sleep there in the summer (1Sm 9:25-26). Normally, however, the inside of the house was “better.”
21:10 The Hebrew words for evil (ra‘) and neighbor (rea‘) look and sound similar.
21:11 A mocker’s only contribution is as a negative example (see note at 1:22). He in the second part of this verse could refer to the inexperienced (see note at 1:4), who first becomes wiser, then acquires knowledge.
|Hebrew pronunciation||[yah SHAHR]|
|CSB translation||straight, right, upright|
|Uses in Proverbs||25|
|Uses in the OT||119|
|Focus passage||Proverbs 21:2,8,18,29|
Adjectival yashar, from the verb yashar (go straight), means straight (Is 26:7) or smooth (Jr 31:9). People are upright (Nm 23:10), true (Dt 32:4), just (Ps 92:15), honest (Jb 4:7), or honorable (1Sm 29:6). Actions are right (Ex 15:26), ordinances impartial (Neh 9:13), journeys safe (Ezr 8:21), and hearts one (2Kg 10:15). “Yashar of heart” implies conscientious (2Ch 29:34). “Yashar in his eyes” suggests fine to him (2Sm 19:6), whatever seems right (Jdg 17:6; Jr 40:4), and what pleases him (Jr 34:15). Book of Jasher is literally “Book of the Upright” (Jos 10:13). Related yosher (15x) and meshar (19x) mean integrity, uprightness, rightness, and agreement (Dn 11:6,17). Additionally, yosher connotes that which is upright (Ps 119:7), honesty (Pr 17:26), accuracy (Ec 12:10), and straightness (Pr 4:11). Meshar connotes fairness (Ps 9:8), levelness (Is 26:7), and smoothness (Pr 23:31). Yishrah means integrity (1Kg 3:6).
21:18 One should not conclude from this proverb that sinners somehow pay the debt of the godly; in fact Christ, the sinless One himself, paid for the sins of all (Ps 49:7-9,15; Gl 3:13; 1Tm 2:6). While this does not explain the means of salvation, it does express the outcome: the righteous go free and the treacherous will be punished.
21:22 Secure fortress in this verse uses the same two Hebrew words as “strong confidence” in 14:26. However, those who trust in this mighty fortress have unfounded confidence. A wise person can overcome the most formidable obstacles.
21:25-26 The slacker (see note at 6:6) has a selfish craving that is unfilled because he is too lazy; he will experience physical and spiritual death. Righteous people are generous yet contented (19:24).
21:28 The person who listens could be one who paid attention to the report of a crime so that he could give accurate second-hand testimony, or it could be the accused person who listened to a lying witness against him and then gave a good rebuttal.