On Life and Conduct
21The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it whichever way He wishes.(A)
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs and examines the hearts [of people and their motives].(B)
To do righteousness and justice
Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice [for wrongs repeatedly committed].(C)
Haughty and arrogant eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked [their self-centered pride], is sin [in the eyes of God].
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage,
But everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.
Acquiring treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the seeking and pursuit of death.
The violence of the wicked will [return to them and] drag them away [like fish caught in a net],
Because they refuse to act with justice.
The way of the guilty is [exceedingly] crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop [on the flat roof, exposed to the weather]
Than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (contentious) woman.
The soul of the wicked desires evil [like an addictive substance];
His neighbor finds no compassion in his eyes.(D)
When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise;
But when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge.(E)
The righteous one keeps an eye on the house of the wicked—
How the wicked are cast down to ruin.
Whoever shuts his ears at the cry of the poor
Will cry out himself and not be answered.(F)
A gift in secret subdues anger,
And a bribe [hidden] in the pocket, strong wrath.
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous (the upright, the one in right standing with God),
But to the evildoers it is disaster.
A man who wanders from the way of understanding (godly wisdom)
Will remain in the assembly of the dead.
He who loves [only selfish] pleasure will become a poor man;
He who loves and is devoted to [a]wine and [olive] oil will not become rich.
The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
And the treacherous in the place of the upright [for they fall into their own traps].
It is better to dwell in a desert land
Than with a contentious and troublesome woman.
There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future],
But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.
He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness, and honor.(G)
A wise man scales the city [walls] of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue
Guards himself from troubles.(H)
“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names
Who acts with overbearing and insolent pride.
The desire of the lazy kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor;
He craves all the day long [and does no work],
But the righteous [willingly] gives and does not withhold [what he has].(I)
The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable and offensive [to the Lord].
How much more [unacceptable and insulting can it be] when he brings it with evil intention?
A false witness will perish,
But a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged.
A wicked man puts on a bold face,
But as for the upright, he considers, directs, and establishes his way [with the confidence of integrity].
There is no [human] wisdom or understanding
Or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord.
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance and victory belong to the Lord.
- Proverbs 21:17 I.e. items associated with lavish feasting and excessive luxury.
- Proverbs 21:1 : Ex 10:1, 2; Ezra 6:22
- Proverbs 21:2 : Prov 24:12; Luke 16:15
- Proverbs 21:3 : 1 Sam 15:22; Prov 15:8; Is 1:11; Hos 6:6; Mic 6:7, 8
- Proverbs 21:10 : James 2:16
- Proverbs 21:11 : Prov 19:25
- Proverbs 21:13 : Matt 18:30-34; James 2:13
- Proverbs 21:21 : Prov 15:9; Matt 5:6
- Proverbs 21:23 : Prov 12:13; 13:3; 18:21; James 3:2
- Proverbs 21:26 : 2 Cor 9:6-10