111-133 Proverbs Chapter 21
In verse 1 we see that the king is as a channel of water that is directed by God. God can even cause the unrighteous to do His will. In verse 2 the ways of man seem right to him but God sees the intentions and knows the motives. Verse 3 tells us that obedience to God’s justice and His Word is of greater value than our sacrifices. (Amos 5:22-24; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8) A sacrifice is a religious duty but personal uprightness and justice with our neighbors is of more value. The demand is to love God first.
In verse 4 we see that haughtiness and pride are central for the wicked, instead of humility. Verse 5 condemns get rich schemes and promotes diligence in our labors. And in verse 6 we see ill-gotten gain by lying is short lived. Verse 7 shows there is retribution for wicked acts. The wicked will not engage in violence without bringing destruction upon themselves. Verse 8 makes a contrast between the wicked and the righteous more decisive.
In verse 9 states that deprivation is preferred over strife with one’s spouse. In verse 10 the observation is made that the perverse person has no regard for anyone. No one is safe in the hands of a wicked person. Verse 12 is the righteous learn from the perverseness of the wicked as they go down to their ruin. Verse 13 states that we get what we give in life. If we ignore the needs of others, then our needs will be ignored also. Verse 14 states a fact of life. The one who offers bribes will gain favor and influence. But this practice is not recommended.
Verse 15 may have been the inspiration for the Apostle Paul in his writing of 1 Corinthians 13:6. In verse 16 we see a warning to not stray from the path of understanding. “Will rest in the assembly of the dead.” Means to die and be cast into Sheol. In Verse 17 we see an admonition against self-indulgence. Wine and oil are signs of affluence and ease. The partying man will never find wealth living a riotous life. In verse 18 we see an expression of prophetic religion. In this verse it is suggested that the wicked, like Haman, who in Queen Esther’s day plotted to kill the Jews was hanged on the vary gallows that he had built for Mordecai. Here in this story the wicked was punished in place of the righteous. The other side of this prophetic religion is the “Suffering Servant.” The righteous One who suffers in place of the wicked. (Isaiah 53)
Verse 20 teaches that a wise man is conservative with all that he has gathered. The foolish on the other hand will squander whatever comes into his hands. In verse 21 we see a progressive statement where the second line is required to complete the thought. It is a familiar statement in that the righteous will be rewarded. Verse 22 celebrates the victorious power of wisdom. Wisdom is mightier than the kinds of power considered to be supreme. The word picture of the city walls being scaled by ingenuity of the wise is most impressive. Verse 23 gives us practical advice of not talking too much. If we discipline our mouths to remain shut we will save ourselves a lot of trouble. Verse 24 gives us a definition of a scoffer. A scoffer is one of the most obnoxious fools in the book of Proverbs. Pride and arrogance are the characteristic marks of the scoffer.
Verse 25 is another statement about a lazy person. The humor of the Proverb is that the sluggard kills himself by starving. In his laziness he will not even support himself. He would rather go hungry than go to work. The contrast between the righteous and the wicked is no greater than their attitude towards money. The wicked covets while the righteous is open handed in giving. (Verse 26) Verse 27 has prophetic overtones. God will not accept the sacrifice of the wicked, and to bring a sacrifice with evil intent and malice is a worse offence.
In verse 29 we see an image of the wicked as a person who has no shame. His look is brazen. He does not avert his gaze and stares others down. He knows no shame and is never embarrassed. The righteous is considerate of others and are concerned by the way others are effected by their behavior. Verse 30 declares the supremacy of God. No human ingenuity can overcome God. In verse 31 we are told that no human effort leads more to pride than war. Regardless of the efforts of man it is God who gives the victory.