Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21

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21   The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD;
    he turns it wherever he will.
  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
    but the LORD weighs the heart.
  To do righteousness and justice
    is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
  Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
  The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
  The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
  The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
    because they refuse to do what is just.
  The way of the guilty is crooked,
    but the conduct of the pure is upright.
  It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
    than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
  The soul of the wicked desires evil;
    his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.
  When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise;
    when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.
  The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
    he throws the wicked down to ruin.
  Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
    will himself call out and not be answered.
  A gift in secret averts anger,
    and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.
  When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous
    but terror to evildoers.
  One who wanders from the way of good sense
    will rest in the assembly of the dead.
  Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man;
    he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
  The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
    and the traitor for the upright.
  It is better to live in a desert land
    than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
  Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling,
    but a foolish man devours it.
  Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
    will find life, righteousness, and honor.
  A wise man scales the city of the mighty
    and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
  Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.
  “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
    who acts with arrogant pride.
  The desire of the sluggard kills him,
    for his hands refuse to labor.
  All day long he craves and craves,
    but the righteous gives and does not hold back.
  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
    how much more when he brings it with evil intent.
  A false witness will perish,
    but the word of a man who hears will endure.
  A wicked man puts on a bold face,
    but the upright gives thought to his ways.
  No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel
    can avail against the LORD.
  The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but the victory belongs to the LORD.


Proverbs 21 Commentary

by Hank Workman

We make excuses all the time.  We excuse decisions we made because we wanted something.  We justify speaking our mind even though we may be wrong or hurtful in what we said because we wanted to get it off our chest.  We reason our way down a path that is not the right one because our wants overruled discernment and in the moment we didn’t care where the chips would land.  Oh, we’re good at excuses.

Unfortunately, when we pursue ourselves destruction follows.  Relationships breakdown, finances take a tremendous hit, others trust or confidence in us can tumble.  In particular, we’re masters at excuses when it comes to the ways of God.  We won’t bend our knee at the altar; we won’t admit we were wrong; we alienate and relegate God to corner of our thoughts.

“Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.”

Proverbs 21:2

God looks behind all the excuses we make to one another and to Him and weighs the motive of our heart. He sees the very depth of our souls and knows what the true reasons are for which we do what we do.

What have been the motives of your actions lately?  What decisions have you made to speak so harshly?  Where have you used the phrase, “I have concerns…” with another but truly your concerns were motivated by your own issues and not spiritual?  Where have you invested yourself or your finances and yet refuse to give the same amount to Him and His commands?

He’s weighing your heart and motives.  What is He seeing?

Proverbs 21 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

A very intriguing verse in this chapter of Proverbs includes a reference back to the days of King Saul.

“Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

Proverbs 21:3 HCSB 

From a New Covenant perspective, we might read this and assume the writer is speaking of sacrificing our lives to Jesus. That application, however, does not fit the overall context of Scripture. This is an Old Testament reference to the animal sacrifices required time and time again for the sins of Israel.

In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is told to go and destroy the Amalekites. He is told to slaughter even the animals in the city. However, he brings back a slew of “the best” sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord. He disobeyed what the Lord had told him to do, and then justified it with a “spiritual angle.” The prophet Samuel was furious and rebuked him in verse 22…

“Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.”

1 Samuel 15:22 HCSB 

This is a serious matter with the Lord, because we see it many times in Scripture…

“You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering.”

Psalms 51:16 HCSB 

“For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Hosea 6:6 HCSB 

What does this mean for us today under the New Covenant? In Matthew, we see Jesus (just as serious as God is about the same issue) give a scathing rebuke the Pharisees…

“”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.”

Matthew 23:23 HCSB 

Essentially, what God is getting at through all of these passages is that He is not concerned with “going through the motions,” but rather, your true heart posture. Anyone can check items off a list. It takes humility and obedience to truly allow the Holy Spirit to change a heart.

Don’t be fooled by people who take bits and pieces of Scripture and justify their “half-truth” behavior with a spiritual angle. This is essentially the modern-day version of what King Saul was doing. He obeyed *part* of what God had told him, and then justified disobedience by trying to sound spiritual. As you can see from both God’s response to Saul and Jesus’ response to the Pharisees, it did not turn out well.

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