Proverbs 21:6-8 (ESV)
6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
7 The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
8 The way of the guilty is crooked,
but the conduct of the pure is upright.
Those who gain wealth by deception will be rewarded with emptiness. They lie to get what they want but are never satisfied. Although they oppress, even by violence, in the end, they will be destroyed. They are like fish caught in a net, soon dragged away to certain death. Even though they have opportunity to repent, they aren’t interested. They fight God to the very end, refusing to trust him with their lives. They have no interest in the straight path, which seems boring, insisting that God’s way would strip the fun from their lives. They resist the testimony of their conscience, the Spirit and God’s word, thinking they will worm their way out of personal responsibility in the judgment. In contrast, the upright, who have turned from living for self to following the way of the Lord, are made blameless. Because the righteous put their trust in the Lord, he will keep them pure to the very end.
Proverbs 21:4-5 (ESV)
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
the lamp of the wicked, are sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Those who are obsessed with themselves look down on others with haughty eyes. They are quick to criticize, and they ignorantly believe they are superior to people around them. Their egotism is rooted in the core of their being. The proud see no real need to submit their desires under God’s demands. In fact, they believe the Lord will ultimately embrace their beliefs regarding proper behavior. God will “discover” that they were right. What fools! Those who scheme to get a fast dollar lose out on what is truly valuable in life. The hard working and righteous woman will be rewarded in the end. Her labor and care in managing her resources will yield unexpected profits. Do you habitually compare yourself with others? We should evaluate ourselves before God and not people. When we admit our moral failure before a holy God, we lose our arrogant attitudes, we live humbly, and we replace criticism with compassion.
Proverbs 21:1-3 (ESV)
1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 To do righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Just as a farmer directs water by digging trenches, the Lord guides the affairs of men. The king is the most powerful of all, believing he can do whatever he wants, and yet God is in control of the king’s wishes. The Lord uses the king to provide for his people. One may believe her motives are right, but God sees everything. Though it is proper to give to God what he is due, the Lord prefers internal obedience to external service. God expects our visible display of devotion to mirror our inward commitment to him. No matter how free we may feel we are, we must humbly acknowledge that everything we have comes from God. Even if your longings are good and right, you owe that to the Lord. Pray that God would make your desires consistent with his today. He can, and he will do so for those who ask.
Proverbs 20:29-30 (ESV)
29 The glory of young men is their strength,
but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
30 Blows that wound cleanse away evil;
strokes make clean the innermost parts.
There are benefits to being young and to being old. Those who are young have more physical strength and energy than the aged, but those who are mature possess the wisdom that comes from years and decades of righteous living. The youth and the elderly compliment one another and should see their need for dependence upon each other. When wrong behavior is met with painful consequences, the suffering that results can work like the external scrubbing of metal pots to cleanse from impurity. Though no one enjoys being hurt, the blows of life can add to a person’s integrity, strength and ability to navigate through circumstances in a godly manner. Concerning age, would you be considered young or old? If you are old, are you sharing wisdom with the youth around you? And if you are young, are you purposefully seeking out older mentors? Don’t isolate yourself from people in different life stages. Work together with one another today.
Proverbs 20:26-28 (ESV)
26 A wise king winnows the wicked
and drives the wheel over them.
27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,
searching all his innermost parts.
28 Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,
and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.
Just as the wheel of a cart is driven over plucked heads of grain to thoroughly divide them, rulers use godly wisdom to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, eliminating evil from their realm. God is aware of all that goes on in the universe, and we will face full and honest judgment when we stand before his throne. The good king, though unable to see men’s motives, seeks to maintain the cause of the oppressed. When the king is determined to stand up for justice, he acts on the Lord’s behalf. It’s easy to forget that God knows everything about us. He even knows how we would behave if given different circumstances. Do you think that if things were different you would be a better person? God already knows how you would act in every possible scenario. God has us exactly where we are today for a very good reason.
Proverbs 20:24-25 (ESV)
24 A man’s steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his way?
25 It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,”
and to reflect only after making vows.
Although things occur which are unjust, those who trust in the Lord do not need to live in fear, since God is sovereign over all the ways of mankind. As creatures, humans will never outwit the Lord. People strategize and step forward, but God supersedes man’s plans. Wisdom advises against making quick vows regarding what we will and won’t do for the kingdom of God. The woman who serves habitually, without resorting to impulsive resolutions, lives balanced and with less regret. This wise woman looks to the Lord rather than others, including herself, to work everything together for his good. All are responsible for the decisions they make, and yet God determines how the affairs of men will end. You can push and plan all you want, but if God opposes your demands, they aren’t going to happen. The godly woman yields all, including her hopes, desires and dreams, to the Lord’s faithful care.
Proverbs 20:22-23 (ESV)
22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.
23 Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord,
and false scales are not good.
God will help the oppressed and righteous woman, taking care of her, while punishing those who brought her harm. When you are wronged and rejected, resist the temptation to get revenge on your own. God is the source of all justice in the universe. He will not allow any transgression to go unpunished. As an earthly father, often quietly, watches his children and the way they treat one another, so God watches us. But unlike the earthly father, God sees everything, including every motive behind what is done. When a child is being mistreated by her siblings, the father will often sit back for a moment and allow the wronged child to develop strength and character. Yet at the perfect time, the father will step in and settle the score. If you have been wronged, know that God sees your plight. He knows exactly what is going on, precisely what he plans to do, and he will make everything right in the end.
Proverbs 20:20-21 (ESV)
20 If one curses his father or his mother,
his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.
21 An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning
will not be blessed in the end.
The foolish son insults his mother and father, but God will cause his cursing to turn back upon him. Just as the law teaches that those who honor their parents will live long, those who disparage their parents will be cut off prematurely. Many fathers labor diligently to leave something to their children, but the one who can’t wait to get her hands on an inheritance will experience the Lord’s punishment. Parents who truly love their children will speak and teach truth. Godly parents don’t cower before their children, seeking their approval, but instead recognize that if they don’t discipline their kids, God will. Our culture pressures us to worship our children, and even many change churches or theology to appease their offspring. Trust God enough to be firm with your kids today. It would be better for you to be rejected by your kids now than for God to reject them later.
Proverbs 20:17-19 (ESV)
17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.
18 Plans are established by counsel;
by wise guidance wage war.
19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.
The deceptive woman may enjoy the fruit of her schemes, but in the end the “sweetness” will be gone. She will be left with a mouth full of rocks, which break the teeth, rather than bread, which satisfies the appetite. The godly woman pays attention to advice and receives correction well. Before using any sort of force to overcome enemies, it is wise to get biblical counsel. Only plans that are consistent with God’s desire will succeed. The gossip is known for revealing the latest news and secrets of others. She has the dirt on everyone in the community and even prides herself in how much she knows. But don’t be deceived. Just as this woman easily betrays the confidence of others, she’s quick to let people in on your secrets too. Avoid the one who consistently has the scoop on others. The news you take in isn’t at all worth the information about you that’s going out.
Proverbs 20:14-16 (ESV)
14 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer,
but when he goes away, then he boasts.
15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
16 Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners.
God is not pleased with unjust transactions. We may act as if something isn’t worth much, and then rejoice because of the great “deal” we got, but the Lord does not condone this deceit. If the item is “bad,” then why buy it? Expensive things may be worth much, but honest words are most prized. It is stupid to jeopardize your life for the debt of a stranger. The one who puts herself at risk might as well have her own property taken away. Are you willing to be honest, even if it means you may not get the better end of an exchange? Or do you keep silent, later to return home boasting about how you took advantage of someone? If your gain means someone else’s loss, then walk away from the deal. You may not end up with a sack of gold, but your character will be worth more than any bank account can buy.