Proverbs 21 Commentary

God at work in people’s lives (21:1-31)

As God directs the course along which a stream flows, so he guides the decisions of national rulers according to his plan (21:1). God knows people’s motives and he will not accept their sacrifices if their thoughts and actions are wrong (2-4). Prosperity that comes through diligence is a fitting reward, but prosperity that comes through greed, lying and violence is a deadly trap (5-8). Some people make life unpleasant for those who live in the same house, and others deliberately do evil wherever they can. They will come to ruin, but the righteous will enjoy blessing (9-12).

Some people live solely for themselves, ignoring the needy and bribing the influential so that they can get whatever they want and live in complete comfort. One day they will justly suffer for their selfishness and dishonesty (13-17). By suffering the evil they planned against the innocent, the wicked become the ransom for the innocent (18). Wise people save for the future. At the same time they realize that the only way to build lasting treasure is to practise righteousness and kindness (19-21).

Wisdom is more important than military might, and control of the tongue is a good defence against trouble (22-23). Religious acts done with wrong intentions are hateful to God, along with pride, laziness and selfish desires (24-27). Whether in general speech or in sworn testimony before a court, a person must give a genuine testimony of the truth, not merely put on a bold face to impress others (28-29). It is useless to fight against God, and just as useless to fight without him (30-31).

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