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Proverbs 21

1 The Lord controls the mind of a king as easily as he directs the course of a stream.
2 You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the Lord judges your motives.
3 Do what is right and fair; that pleases the Lord more than bringing him sacrifices.
4 Wicked people are controlled by their conceit and arrogance, and this is sinful.
5 Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough.
6 The riches you get by dishonesty soon disappear, but not before they lead you into the jaws of death.
7 The wicked are doomed by their own violence; they refuse to do what is right.
8 Guilty people walk a crooked path; the innocent do what is right.
9 Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife. 1
10 Wicked people are always hungry for evil; they have no mercy on anyone.
11 When someone who is conceited gets his punishment, even an unthinking person learns a lesson. One who is wise will learn from what he is taught.
12 God, the righteous one, knows what goes on in the homes of the wicked, and he will bring the wicked down to ruin.
13 If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard.
14 If someone is angry with you, a gift given secretly will calm him down.
15 When justice is done, good people are happy, but evil people are brought to despair.
16 Death is waiting for anyone who wanders away from good sense.
17 Indulging in luxuries, wine, and rich food will never make you wealthy.
18 The wicked bring on themselves the suffering they try to cause good people.
19 Better to live out in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife.
20 Wise people live in wealth and luxury, but stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.
21 Be kind and honest and you will live a long life; others will respect you and treat you fairly.
22 A shrewd general can take a city defended by strong men, and destroy the walls they relied on.
23 If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say.
24 Show me a conceited person and I will show you someone who is arrogant, proud, and inconsiderate.
25 Lazy people who refuse to work are only killing themselves;
26 all they do is think about what they would like to have. The righteous, however, can give, and give generously.
27 The Lord hates it when wicked people offer him sacrifices, especially if they do it from evil motives. 2
28 The testimony of a liar is not believed, but the word of someone who thinks matters through is accepted.
29 Righteous people are sure of themselves; the wicked have to pretend as best they can.
30 Human wisdom, brilliance, insight - they are of no help if the Lord is against you.
31 You can get horses ready for battle, but it is the Lord who gives victory.

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 2

  • 1. +221.9Ben Sira 25.16.
  • 2. +221.27Ben Sira 7.9.

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

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation - Second Edition, Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.