Proverbs 21 – Lord Turns King’s Heart, Pride, Violence, and Nagging Wife

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

“king’s heart is…in the hand of the LORD” – God controls the lives and actions even of the kings, such as Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 4:31-32, 35) and Cyrus (is 45:1-3; cf, Ezra :22).

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

3 To do justice and Judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

“more acceptable…than sacrifice” – A theme also found in the prophets (Hos 6:6; Mic 6:7-8; also see v 27).

4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

“high look” – a proud and haughty look.

5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.

“hasty” – either rash actions (19:2) or a desire to get rich quick (see 13:11; 20:21; 28:20).

6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

“treasures by a lying tongue: – cf, 19:1.

“vanity” – like a vapor that is here and gone in a moment (see 13:11; Ecc 1:14.

“seek death” – cf, 5:22; 7:23.

7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do Judgment.

8 The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.

9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

“corner of the housetop” – roofs were flat, and small rooms could be built there (see Deut 22:8; 2 Kgs  4:10).

10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbor findeth no favor in his eyes.

11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.

12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

“He also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard” – the punishment fits the crime.  The fate of the rich man (Lk 1:19-31) and the unmerciful servant (Matt 18:23-34).

14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.

“pacifieth anger…wrath” – perhaps that of an offended party (see 6:34-35).

15 It is joy to the just to do Judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.

16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

Graphically illustrated by the man who succumbed to the adulteress (see 2:18; 5:23; 7:22-23; 9:18).

17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

“wine and oil” – both were associated with lavish feasting (see 23:20-21; Amos 6:6).  Oil was used in various lotions or perfumes, some of which were very expensive (Jn 12:5).

18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.

“The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous” – close to the thought of 11:8.  In Is 43:3-4 God gave three nations to Persia in exchange for Persia’s willingness to release the exiles of Judah.

19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

“treasure…oil in the dwelling of the wise” – see 3:10.

“oil” – olive oil (see Deut 7:13).

21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honor.

“life, righteousness, and honor” – benefits for those who seek wisdom.

22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

“wise man scaleth…of the mighty” – probably another way of saying, “Wisdom is better than strength” (Ecc 9:16).  Cf, 24:5; 2 Cor 10:4, where spiritual weapons are “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.”

23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.

“Proud…scorner is his name” – God mocks and punishes him for his “proud wrath” (cf 3:34; 19:2, 29; 1:11).

25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor.

26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.

“giveth and spareth not” – the righteous are prosperous, so they can share with those in need (see Ps 37:26; 112:9; cf, Eph 4:28).

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.

29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.

“hardeneth his face” – he has a defiant attitude.  Cf the behavior of the adulteress in 7:13.

30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

Nor counsel against the LORD” – because He is sovereign and controls people and nations (see 16:4, 9; 19:21; 21:1; 1 Cor 3:19-20).

31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.

“horse” – many times God cautions against trusting in horses and chariots for victory (e.g., Ps 20:7; Hos 1:7; cf, Deut 17:16).

“Safety” – victory in battle (see 1 Sam 17:47; Ps 3:8).