Proverbs 21

1 A king's heart is a water channel in the Lord's hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.
2 All the ways of a man seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.[a]
3 Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.[b]
4 The lamp[c] that guides the wicked- haughty eyes and an arrogant heart[d]-is sin.
5 The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor.[e]
6 Making a fortune through a lying tongue is a vanishing mist,[f] a pursuit of death.[g] [h]
7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away because they refuse to act justly.
8 A guilty man's conduct is crooked, but the behavior of the innocent is upright.[i]
9 Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.[j]
10 A wicked person desires evil; he has no consideration[k] for his neighbor.
11 When a mocker is punished, the inexperienced become wiser; when one teaches a wise man, he acquires knowledge.[l]
12 The Righteous One considers the house of the wicked; He brings the wicked to ruin.
13 The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.[m]
14 A secret gift soothes anger, and a covert bribe,[n] fierce rage.[o]
15 Justice executed is a joy to the righteous but a terror to those who practice iniquity.[p]
16 The man who strays from the way of wisdom will come to rest in the assembly of the departed spirits.[q]
17 The one who loves pleasure will become a poor man; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich.[r]
18 The wicked are a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous, for[s] the upright.[t]
19 Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.[u]
20 Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them.[v] [w]
21 The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness, and honor.[x]
22 The wise conquer a city of warriors and bring down its mighty fortress.[y]
23 The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.[z]
24 The proud and arrogant person, named "Mocker," acts with excessive pride.[aa]
25 A slacker's craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work.[ab]
26 He is filled with craving[ac] all day long, but the righteous give and don't hold back.[ad]
27 The sacrifice of a wicked person is detestable- how much more so when he brings it with ulterior motives![ae]
28 A lying witness will perish,[af] but the one who listens will speak successfully.
29 A wicked man puts on a bold face,[ag] but the upright man considers his way.
30 No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel [will prevail] against the Lord.
31 A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.[ah]

Proverbs 21 Commentary

Chapter 21

Verse 1 The believer, perceiving that the Lord rules every heart as he sees fit, like the husbandman who turns the water through his grounds as he pleases, seeks to have his own heart, and the hearts of others, directed in his faith, fear, and love. Verse 2 . We are partial in judging ourselves and our actions. Verse 3 . Many deceive themselves with a conceit that outward devotions will excuse unrighteousness. Verse 4 . Sin is the pride, the ambition, the glory, the joy, and the business of wicked men. Verse 5 . The really diligent employ foresight as well as labour. Verse 6 . While men seek wealth by unlawful practices, they seek death. Verse 7 . Injustice will return upon the sinner, and will destroy him here and for ever. Verse 8 . The way of mankind by nature is froward and strange. Verse 9 . It is best to shun bitter contention by pouring out the heart before God. For by prudence and patience, with constant prayer, the cross may be removed. Verse 10 . The evil desires of a wicked man's heart, lead to baseness in his conduct. Verse 11 . The simple may be made wise by punishments on the wicked, and by instructions to those who are willing to be taught. Verse 12 . Good men envy not the prosperity of evil-doers; they see there is a curse on them. Verse 13 . Such as oppress the poor by beating down wages, such as will not relieve according to their ability those in distress, and those in authority who neglect to do justice, stop their ears at the cry of the poor. But doubtless care is to be used in the exercise of charity. Verse 14 . If money can conquer the fury of the passions, shall reason, the fear of God, and the command of Christ, be too weak to bridle them? Verse 15 . There is true pleasure only in the practice of religion. Verse 16 . Of all wanderers in the ways of sin, those are in the most dangerous condition who turn aside into the ways of darkness. Yet there is hope even for them in the all-sufficient Saviour; but let them flee to him without delay. Verse 17 . A life of worldly pleasure brings ruin on men. Verse 18 . The righteous is often delivered out of trouble, and the wicked comes in his stead, and so seems as a ransom for him. Verse 19 . Unbridled passions spoil the comfort of all relations. Verse 20 . The plenty obtained by prudence, industry, and frugality, is desirable. But the foolish misspend what they have upon their lusts. Verse 21 . True repentance and faith will lead him that relies on the mercy of God in Christ, to follow after righteousness and mercy in his own conduct. Verse 22 . Those that have wisdom, often do great things, even against those confident of their strength. Verse 23 . It is our great concern to keep our souls from being entangled and disquieted. Verse 24 . Pride and haughtiness make men passionate; such continually deal in wrath, ( proverbs 21:25-26 ) misery of the slothful; their hands refuse to labour in an honest calling, by which they might get an honest livelihood; yet their hearts cease not to covet riches, pleasures, and honours, which cannot be obtained without labour. But the righteous and industrious have their desires satisfied. Verse 27 . When holiness is pretended, but wickedness intended, that especially is an abomination. Verse 28 . The doom of a false witness is certain. Verse 29 . A wicked man bids defiance to the terrors of the law and the rebukes of Providence. But a good man asks, What ( proverbs 21:30-31 ) after all, our safety and salvation are only of the Lord. In our spiritual warfare we must arm ourselves with the whole armour of God; but our strength must be in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Footnotes 34

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates a second vision Solomon had at Gibeon, in which he received an answer to his prayer in the preceding chapter, 1Ki 9:1-9 that passed between him and Hiram king of Tyre, 1Ki 9:10-14, the places that Solomon built or repaired, 1Ki 9:15-19, the Canaanitish people that became bondmen to him, and the officers he had among the children of Israel, 1Ki 9:20-23 the removal of Pharaoh's daughter to the house built for her, 1Ki 9:24. Solomon's attention to religious services, 1Ki 9:25 and the navy of ships he employed, which brought him in great riches, 1Ki 9:26-28.

Proverbs 21 Commentaries

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