Proverbs 21:17-31: Be a Person of True Understanding!

Devotionals > Old Testament > Proverbs > Proverbs 21:17-31: Be a Person of True Understanding!

Proverbs 21:17-31: Be a Person of True Understanding!

September 7, 2022


Isaiah 17-20Proverbs 21:17-31Luke 22:14-23Hebrews 4:12-16 

Proverbs 21:17-31:

Be a person of true understanding!

Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (21:17).

If you make money, but you immediately spend it, then it doesn’t matter how much you make! The first way to get yourself out of the debt pile is to do what you can to work to a budget. Practical advice, driven by the care of the gospel for us.

The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright” (21:18).

We can become bitter about those who do evil and apparently get away with it until we look at these things through the light of eternity. There will be a judgment day. That should cause us to rejoice in the truth of the gospel and never be jealous of those who do not have the hope of that gospel.

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman” (21:19).

Therefore, be careful who you marry! And if you are married, do not be quarrelsome, and do not fret and worry about things!

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” (21:20).

Part of wisdom is having the restraint not to use up all your resources, but to keep them in store for when they are needed. And as you do that over time, those sorts of reserves will grow. They can grow so that it then becomes a spiritual trap; the solution to that is to have your generosity always at least match your prosperity.

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (21:21).

The way to real lasting honor is to pursue what is right. It is not honorable to pursue honor itself! Have a great cause and go to it—and the greatest cause of all is the building up of God’s kingdom.

A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust” (21:22).

What is better: power and strength or wisdom? Proverbs has a clear answer: wisdom. Therefore, do what you can to pursue wisdom!

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (21:23).

One of the surest ways to stop getting into trouble is to learn to bridle your tongue. Physically bite your tongue if need be, but any way you can, control your tongue.

‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride” (21:24).

Arrogance is shown by a kind of verbal scoffing. Behind such a sneer is selfish 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” (21:25-26).

What makes someone such a sluggard that he refuses to work? Desire, the lack thereof. Therefore, seek the renewal of God’s Spirit to give you motivation to do what is right! By contrast, the righteous is generous. How much better to give and not hold back! Work to be able to be generous with what you have earned.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent” (21:27).

Religious actions without good intentions are no good to the one who brings such a sacrifice. God sees the heart. Do not pretend piety. Repent of your sins and seek God wholly; and if you cannot muster the will to do so, then ask God to give you the will to seek him first!

A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure” (21:28).

Interesting contrast: a false witness perishes, but the word of a man who hears will endure. The way to have lasting words is to be a person who truly listens. The way to teach effectively is to learn effectively. Be a learner. Listen well. Most of all listen to the Bible!

A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways” (21:29).

When someone is always bold and extremely confident, behind such brazen demeanor can be sin. But God knows the heart. By contrast, the upright gives thought to their ways. Being upright in this sense actually makes you more reflective. You don’t have to pretend, and therefore you can think.

No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord” (21:30).

How foolish then to try to do something which is against God’s will. Submit to him and his Word.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (21:31).

Preparation for interviews, jobs, work, and study is all important. It is important to get the horse ready for battle. But nonetheless, the victory belongs to the Lord. So seek God and ask him for help.


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.


To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."

Bible - devo featured image


Get Pastor Josh’s Daily Devotional in your inbox.