Proverbs 21

Listen to Proverbs 21
1 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he 1turns it wherever he will.
2 2Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD 3weighs the heart.
3 4To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 5Haughty eyes and a proud heart, 6the lamp[a] of the wicked, are sin.
5 The plans of 7the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is 8hasty comes 9only to poverty.
6 10The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a 11fleeting 12vapor and a 13snare of death.[b]
7 The violence of the wicked will 14sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just.
8 The way of the guilty 15is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.
9 It is 16better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.
11 When 17a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise; when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.
12 The Righteous One 18observes the house of the wicked; he throws the wicked down to ruin.
13 19Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
14 20A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe,[c] strong wrath.
15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous 21but terror to evildoers.
16 One who wanders from the way of good sense 22will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
18 23The wicked is a 24ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright.
19 It is 25better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
20 26Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man's dwelling, but a foolish man 27devours it.
21 Whoever 28pursues righteousness and kindness will find 29life, righteousness, and honor.
22 30A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 31Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue 32keeps himself out of 33trouble.
24 34"Scoffer" is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.
25 The desire of 35the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.
26 All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous 36gives and does not hold back.
27 37The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more 38when he brings it with evil intent.
28 39A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure.
29 A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright 40gives thought to[d] his ways.
30 41No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD.
31 42The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but 43the victory belongs to the LORD.

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.

Cross References 43

  • 1. [Ezra 6:22]
  • 2. Proverbs 16:2; [Proverbs 12:15]
  • 3. Proverbs 24:12; [Luke 16:15; 1 Corinthians 4:4]; See 1 Samuel 16:7
  • 4. See Proverbs 15:8; 1 Samuel 15:22
  • 5. See Proverbs 6:17; Psalms 101:5
  • 6. 1 Kings 11:36
  • 7. Proverbs 10:4
  • 8. [Proverbs 19:2]
  • 9. [Proverbs 11:24; Proverbs 14:23; Proverbs 22:16]
  • 10. Proverbs 20:21; See Proverbs 10:2
  • 11. [Proverbs 13:11]
  • 12. Job 13:25
  • 13. [Proverbs 8:36]
  • 14. [Jeremiah 30:23]
  • 15. [Proverbs 2:15]
  • 16. Proverbs 25:24; [ver. 19; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 27:15]
  • 17. Proverbs 19:25; See Psalms 1:1
  • 18. Psalms 37:35, 36
  • 19. [James 2:13]; See Matthew 18:30-34
  • 20. [Proverbs 17:8; Proverbs 18:16]
  • 21. [Proverbs 10:29]
  • 22. [Psalms 49:14]
  • 23. [Proverbs 11:8]
  • 24. Isaiah 43:3
  • 25. [ver. 9]
  • 26. [Psalms 112:3]
  • 27. [Job 20:15, 18]
  • 28. Proverbs 15:9; Matthew 5:6; [Proverbs 3:3]
  • 29. Proverbs 3:16; 1 Kings 3:11; Matthew 6:33; See Proverbs 4:22
  • 30. [Proverbs 24:5; Ecclesiastes 7:19]; See 2 Samuel 5:6-9; Ecclesiastes 9:14-18
  • 31. See Proverbs 13:3
  • 32. Proverbs 22:5
  • 33. Proverbs 12:13
  • 34. Proverbs 1:22; See Psalms 1:1
  • 35. [Proverbs 13:4]
  • 36. See Psalms 37:26
  • 37. Isaiah 66:3; See Proverbs 15:8
  • 38. [Proverbs 24:9]
  • 39. Proverbs 19:5, 9
  • 40. Psalms 119:5
  • 41. Isaiah 8:9, 10; 1 Corinthians 3:19, 20; [Proverbs 19:21]
  • 42. [Psalms 20:7; Psalms 33:17; Isaiah 31:1]
  • 43. Jeremiah 3:23

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Or the plowing
  • [b]. Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Latin; most Hebrew manuscripts vapor for those who seek death
  • [c]. Hebrew a bribe in the bosom
  • [d]. Or establishes

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