Proverbs 21:1-16: Gracious Wisdom!

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Proverbs 21:1-16: Gracious Wisdom!

September 6, 2022


Isaiah 14-16Proverbs 21:1-16Luke 22:1-13Hebrews 4:1-11 

Proverbs 21:1-16

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (21:1).

Even the powerful are in God’s hands! Therefore, take courage you who are oppressed—and pray! You have a defender in heaven.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart” (21:2).

People tend to think that what they think is right. It is not always so—and God weighs our true motives. Be humble, therefore, and rejoice in God’s grace!

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (21:3).

Don’t emphasize fancy “sacrifices” or impressive “worship services.” God is more interested in doing what is right and taking care of those who are hurting.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin” (21:4).

Don’t follow the advice of the world: to go with what you are proudest about and emphasize what you want, to be “haughty.” This kind of guidance, “the lamp of the wicked,” is really sin. Confess your sins, therefore, and find forgiveness in Christ!

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (21:5).

Don’t rush; plan. Plan your work, and work your plan.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death” (21:6).

Lying and cheating to get ahead will only come back to bite you in the long term. Be honest!

The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just” (21:7).

As Jesus put it, he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. Violence has a way of coming back to be violent against you.

The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright” (21:8).

When someone feels guilty, they tend to take convoluted and crooked paths, hiding and maneuvering. But if that is you, it is not too late to find grace and help, and a chance to start again through repentance and faith in Christ!

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (21:9).

Therefore, be careful whom you marry! And if you are married, be not quarrelsome!

The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes” (21:10).

One of the characteristics of those who refuse God’s mercy is that they do not have mercy on others. And if someone refuses to have mercy on their neighbor, it could well be that they have not humbled themselves to receive God’s mercy.

When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise; when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge” (21:11).

There is a purpose to discipline and instruction: it increases wisdom and knowledge!

The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he throws the wicked down to ruin” (21:12).

We sometimes think that evil will always get away with doing evil; but there will come a time when The Righteous One will judge.

Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (21:13).

With the measure we use, it will be measured to us; do not shut your ear to the cry of the poor. One day you may yourself need help.

A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath” (21:14).

This does not mean bribery is good—far from it! This proverb describes things as they are, not as they should be.

When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (21:15).

Justice thrills the righteous but terrifies evildoers. This means there will always be opposition to doing the right thing. But those who are righteous will rejoice!

One who wanders from the way of good sense will rest in the assembly of the dead” (21:16).

Keep your common sense and your sanctified wisdom, therefore!


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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