Proverbs 21

1 In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.
2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.[a]
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.
8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.
12 The Righteous One[b] takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.
13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity[c] and honor.
22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
24 The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name— behaves with insolent fury.
25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable— how much more so when brought with evil intent!
28 A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with 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 36

  • 1. Esther 5:1; Jeremiah 39:11-12
  • 2. S Proverbs 16:2; Proverbs 24:12; Luke 16:15
  • 3. S 1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 15:8; Isaiah 1:11; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8
  • 4. S Job 41:34; Proverbs 6:17
  • 5. S Proverbs 10:4; Proverbs 28:22
  • 6. S Proverbs 10:2; 2 Peter 2:3
  • 7. S Proverbs 11:5
  • 8. S Proverbs 2:15
  • 9. ver 19; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 25:24
  • 10. S Proverbs 19:25
  • 11. S Proverbs 14:11
  • 12. S Exodus 11:6
  • 13. S Job 29:12; Matthew 18:30-34; James 2:13
  • 14. S Genesis 32:20; Proverbs 18:16; Proverbs 19:6
  • 15. S Proverbs 10:29
  • 16. Psalms 49:14; Ezekiel 18:24
  • 17. Pr 23:20-21,29-35
  • 18. Proverbs 11:8; Isaiah 43:3
  • 19. S ver 9
  • 20. Psalms 25:13
  • 21. Matthew 5:6
  • 22. S Proverbs 8:14; Ecclesiastes 9:15-16
  • 23. S Psalms 34:13; James 3:2
  • 24. S Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 12:13; S Proverbs 13:3
  • 25. Jeremiah 43:2; Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 1:22; Isaiah 16:6; Jeremiah 48:29
  • 26. Proverbs 13:4
  • 27. S 2 Samuel 17:27
  • 28. S Leviticus 25:35; Psalms 37:26; Matthew 5:42; Ephesians 4:28
  • 29. S 1 Kings 14:24; Isaiah 66:3; Jeremiah 6:20; Amos 5:22
  • 30. S Proverbs 15:8
  • 31. Isaiah 29:21
  • 32. S Proverbs 19:5
  • 33. S Proverbs 14:8
  • 34. S Job 12:13; S Job 15:25; Jeremiah 9:23
  • 35. S 2 Chronicles 13:12; S Job 5:13; Isaiah 8:10; Acts 5:39
  • 36. Psalms 3:8; Psalms 33:12-19; Isaiah 31:1

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts "vapor for those who seek death"
  • [b]. Or "The righteous person"
  • [c]. Or "righteousness"

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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