Proverbs 21


21     The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord;

he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

This is contrasted to many cultures where they thought the king was god or on a par with him, as in the Roman Empire.

2 All a man’s ways seem right to him,

but the Lord weighs the heart.

God knows our motives, so even when we do “good” He knows if the motive was pride, self-promotion or some other selfish act.

3 To do what is right and just

is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,

the lamp of the wicked, are sin!

5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit

as surely as haste leads to poverty.

Planning is a virtue.  The times when I rushed into financial things usually turned out poorly.

6 A fortune made by a lying tongue

is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.

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.

That proverb is mentioned more than once (in v. 19 below and elsewhere), and it is a timeless bit of advice for those seeking to get married.  Appearance, money or power may attract you to someone, but you get to live with their character. 

10 The wicked man craves evil;

his neighbor gets no mercy from him.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;

when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.

12 The Righteous One takes note of

the house of the wicked

and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,

he too will 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 A man who strays from the path of understanding

comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 He who loves pleasure will become poor;

whoever loves wine and 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 ill-tempered wife.

20 In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,

but a foolish man devours all he has.

There is nothing wrong with prudent saving for the future.  Of course we should God our first and best, but He has also blessed us such that we can live within our means and save a reasonable amount for emergencies and retirement.

21 He who pursues righteousness and love

finds life, prosperity and honor.

22 A wise man attacks the city of the mighty

and pulls down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue

keeps himself from calamity.

We can undo years of hard work and success with a few poor words, and damage relationships forever as well.

24 The proud and arrogant man—“Mocker” is his name;

he behaves with overweening pride.

25 The sluggard’s craving 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,

and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever.

29 A wicked man puts up a bold front,

but an upright man gives thought to his 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.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


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