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Dave Burnette's Commentary

Proverbs Chapter 21

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Solomon, Agur, and Lemuel
Date Penned: (970-931 BC)
Overview: Wisdom to Teach People to Live Godly (c 1-31)
Theme: Wisdom for All People (c 10-24)
Message: Godly Wisdom (v 1-31)

Proverbs 21 Commentary 

(21:1) In God's Hands - In Solomon's day, kings possessed absolute authority and were often considered to be like gods. This proverb shows that God, not earthly rulers, has ultimate authority over world events. Although they may not have realized it, the earth's most powerful kings have always been under God's control. (See Isaiah 10:5-8 for an example of a pagan king who was used for God's purposes.) 

(2:12) God Knows Our Motives - People may mistakenly think they are doing what is right, but God sees the motives behind their actions. We often have to make choices in areas where the best 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 serve our own interests. 

(21:3) Manipulation - Our good deeds and offerings 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 is collected will make up for it. 

(21:5) Being Diligent - The faithful completion of our mundane tasks is a great accomplishment. Such work is best carried out patiently and according to a plan. Diligence does not come naturally to most people; it comes as a result of building strong character. Don't look for quick and easy answers. Be a diligent servant of God. 

(21:11-12) Learning From Others - 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. 

(21:13) Loving Others - We should work hard to meet the needs of those who are poor and protect their rights (see Deuteronomy 15:10; James 2:3; 1 John 3:17). As God's people, we are called to love others as God does and as we would like to be loved ourselves. That especially includes helping those who cannot help themselves. It might be helpful to remember that someday we may be in need of the same help. 

(21:20) Good Stewardship - This proverb teaches us about saving for the future. Easy credit has many people living on the edge of bankruptcy. The desire to keep up appearances and to accumulate more pushes them to spend every penny they earn, and they stretch their credit to the limit. But anyone who spends all they have is spending more than they can afford. A wise person puts money aside for hard times. God approves of foresight and restraint. Examine your life choices to see whether your spending pleases God or merely pleases yourself. 

(21:27) Bribing God - The kind of worship ("sacrifice") described in this proverb is no better than a bribe. How do people try to bribe God? They may go to church, tithe, or serve, not because of their love and devotion to God, but because they hope God will bless them in return. But God has made it very clear that he desires obedience and love more than religious ritual (See 21:3; 1 Samuel 15:22). God does not want our sacrifices of time, energy, and money alone; he wants our hearts--our complete love and devotion. We may be able to bribe people (Proverbs 21:14), but we cannot bribe God. 

(21:31) Being Prepared - This proverb has to do with those preparing for battle. All our preparation for any task is ultimately useless without God. But even with God's help we still must do our part and prepare. His control of the outcome does not offset our responsibilities. God may want you to produce a great book, but you must learn to write. God may want to use you in foreign missions, but you must learn the language. God will accomplish his purposes, and he will be able to use you if you have done your part by being well prepared.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Changing a Nation

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today, we continue with the Book of Proverbs with Chapter 21. In our text today, we continue in words of Wisdom from the Lord. What catches my eye is how the King's heart is in the hand of the Lord. Even the Bible you read today is in your hands due to the Lord changing a wicked King's heart. In making applications, we see our country and others have ungodly leaders. It is hard to work under the authority of these leaders, but the Bible instructs us to pray and seek God to have an ungodly king's heart changed. Today, our leaders approve of sins that are abominations, from abortion to homosexuality. Still, even so, the heart of the King is in the Lord's Hand. If we humble ourselves, pray, and seek the Lord's face, the ungodly leaders will be convicted and change their hearts to lead our land in a Godly direction. How about you? Do you pray for your leaders? Let us learn from our text today to remember that the King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, so we must pray and seek His face to change the course of a nation. 


Proverbs 21

Proverbs 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 10The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 19It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

 20There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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