Summary: A verse by verse look at Proverbs chapter 21.
Pearls From Proverbs – Chapter Twenty One
We will now look at Proverbs chapter twenty one:
On Life and Conduct
1 The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1 (NASB)
It is good for all of us to remember – it is God who is ultimately in charge. In Solomon's day, kings possessed absolute authority and were often considered to be like gods. This proverb shows that God has ultimate authority over world rulers. Although they may not have realized it, the earth's most powerful kings have always been under God's control.
2 Every man's way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. Proverbs 21:2 (NASB)
It is very easy for us to believe that everything we believe is correct. People may mistakenly think they are doing right, but God sees the motives of their hearts. We often have to make choices in areas where the right action is difficult to discern. We can help ourselves make such decisions by trying to identify our motives first and then asking, “Would God be pleased with my real reasons for doing this?” God is not pleased when we do good deeds only to receive something in return.
3 To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3 (NASB)
Sacrifices are not bribes to make God overlook our character faults. We can't exchange good behavior in one area for bad behavior in another. If our personal and business dealings are not characterized by justice, no amount of generosity when the offering plate is passed will make up for it.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. Proverbs 21:4 (NASB)
A person who walks in his own pride is walking a path that leads to sin. What lamp are you using to light your path? Remember it is God’s word that should direct our path.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, But everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NASB)
Faithful completion of one's work is a great accomplishment. Being a diligent worker does not come naturally to some people; it is a result of strong character. Don't look for shortcuts that result in inefficiency. Work hard as if in the service of God.
6 The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. Proverbs 21:6 (NASB)
Those who lie to make a living – live a phantom life which as this verse promises – is “the pursuit of death”. There is honor living a life of truth.
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, Because they refuse to act with justice.
Proverbs 21:7 (NASB)
Because the wicked refuse to act with justice – violence will drag them away. Those who follow after righteousness shall find righteousness, honor and life – but it will not be the life of the wicked.
8 The way of a guilty man is crooked, But as for the pure, his conduct is upright. Proverbs 21:8 (NASB)
Evil men have evil ways – but the pure seek the way that is upright and clean.
9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. Proverbs 21:9 (NASB)
There are times we think that we know what is best for us – but to live in a shack alone is better than live in a grand house with a contentious person. Which one of us wants to live in a house where fighting takes place every day? Barnes says of this verse:
The flat roof of an Eastern house was often used for retirement by day, or in summer for sleep by night. The corner of such a roof was exposed to all changes of weather, and the point of the proverb lies in the thought that all winds and storms which a man might meet with there are more endurable than the tempest within.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil; His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes. Proverbs 21:10 (NASB)
What are your desires? Do you desire evil? Is so – you are bent toward wickedness – according to the Bible. This person is so wicked that it goes all the way down to his soul and even his neighbor or his friend will find no favor from him.
11 When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge. Proverbs 21:11 (NASB)
It is usually better to learn from the mistakes of others than from our own. We can do this by observing other people's lives and listening to their advice. Take counsel from others instead of plunging ahead and learning the hard way.