Proverbs 12:21

ESV No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.
NIV No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
NASB No harm happens to the righteous, But the wicked are filled with trouble.
CSB No disaster overcomes the righteous, but the wicked are full of misery.
NLT No harm comes to the godly, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.
KJV There shall no evil happen to the just: but the wicked shall be filled with mischief.

What does Proverbs 12:21 mean?

Each passage of the Bible fits into a particular genre, or literary style. The book of Proverbs contains statements which are exactly that: "proverbs," which are general purpose statements of common sense. These are meant to be understood in that sense of broad, typical observation. Scripture notes very clearly that evil people sometimes achieve access (Psalm 73:2–3) and that good people can be stricken with hardship (Psalm 22:1; Habakkuk 1:2–4). Proverbs also notes, however, that the "righteous" who honor God put themselves at much less risk of such consequences than those who dabble in evil (Proverbs 6:27–28; 11:8).

Certainly, godly people experience disaster. Like others, they have trials. They know firsthand what it is to experience illness, loss of property, and loss of loved ones. A tornado may destroy their home. Financial loss may severely reduce their income. However, they do not face calamity alone. The Lord is with them in every trial, supplying grace, strength, and hope. The patriarch Job experienced numerous hard trials (Job 1:12; 2:6–7), but he possessed the secure hope of resurrection and seeing the Lord someday (Job 19:25). Eventually, the trials ended, and the Lord blessed Job with twice as much as he had before hardship struck (Job 42:10). The wicked lack the comforting presence of the Lord when they encounter trials, and they do not have an eternal hope (Proverbs 11:7).
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