Proverbs 21


‘In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.’ Proverbs 21:1

Under God’s Control

The king needs to realise that he too, is under the control of God, Daniel 4:17 / 1 Timothy 2:1.

‘A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.’ Proverbs 21:2-3

We all do things because we think it is right at the time, but our motives are not always pure. The good news is that God knows what our real motives are, 1 Samuel 15:22. Sacrifices are secondary to more essential qualities, Isaiah 1:11-31.

‘Haughty eyes and a proud heart—the unploughed field of the wicked—produce sin.’ Proverbs 21:4

Solomon is saying that an attitude of this kind makes sacrifices unacceptable.

‘The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.’ Proverbs 21:5

Sometimes it takes a while to complete our plans but if we take our time it will be worth it in the end. The word ‘haste’ implies that we might think of some things as ‘quick fixes’.

‘A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapour and a deadly snare. The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright. Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.’ Proverbs 21:6-9

This is not a well-equipped and comfortable room. It is something far less than the comfort found below, Proverbs 18:22 / Proverbs 21:19.

‘The wicked crave evil; their neighbours get no mercy from them. When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge. The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.’ Proverbs 21:10-13

Solomon is teaching that we must learn from the mistakes of others, Proverbs 21:12 and we must be willing to help those around us in need, 1 John 3:17.

‘A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.’ Proverbs 21:14

What does Solomon have in mind here? He’s saying that the wisdom teachers are not promoting pacifying all the time, but they know that occasionally this technique was necessary.

‘When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead. Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich. The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.’ Proverbs 21:15-18

Perhaps the meaning here is that the wicked person gets into the trouble they had actually planned for the righteous, Proverbs 22:4.

‘Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.’ Proverbs 21:19-20

Here again, we’re reminded of having a godly wife, Ephesians 5:22-24 / Colossians 3:18. The wise man knows how to possess and preserve wealth. The rest of the verse deals with saving for the future. Saving is something that a lot of people don’t do and as a result, we’re living in a bankrupt society.

‘Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour.’ Proverbs 21:21

Pursuing is an ongoing thing, we must always pursue these things because this shows an energetic and urgent action, Matthew 5:6.

‘One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.’ Proverbs 21:22

Solomon is saying that intelligent action is better than military fortification.

‘Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.’ Proverbs 21:23

Once again, we’re reminded of the dangers of our tongues. Disciplined speech is necessary, James 3:5-12.

‘The proud and arrogant person—‘Mocker’ is his name—behaves with insolent fury. The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.’ Proverbs 21:24-26

It is the desire that kills the mocker because they don’t possess the discipline to work to fulfil their desires. Solomon is saying that the wicked are constantly covetous, Ephesians 4:28.

‘The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—how much more so when brought with evil intent! A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.’ Proverbs 21:27-28

In what way is the sacrifice wicked and detestable? Simply because they are trying to bribe God. How do people do that today? If God will help them out, they will commit more to Him and His ways. There are severe consequences for a false witness, but a good listener is a good witness.

‘The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways. There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.’ Proverbs 21:29-31

The wicked set their course in wickedness but the upright thinks about their plans first. These verses seem to be addressed to the political and military confidence of men in positions of leadership who relied on their own scheming.

Any army must have a commanding officer, they must listen to and obey his every command, it takes his part and the Lord’s part. Working together for the victory.

‘Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’ 2 Timothy 2:19

Go To Proverbs 22


"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."