Proverbs 15:21

ESV Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.
NIV Folly brings joy to one who has no sense, but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course.
NASB Foolishness is joy to one who lacks sense, But a person of understanding walks straight.
CSB Foolishness brings joy to one without sense, but a person with understanding walks a straight path.
NLT Foolishness brings joy to those with no sense; a sensible person stays on the right path.
KJV Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.

What does Proverbs 15:21 mean?

Proverbs routinely notes that ignoring God (Proverbs 1:7) leads to dire consequences. Many of those are eternal (Proverbs 10:25; 11:7), but they also involve the present natural effects of our choices (Proverbs 11:3, 6). Why, then, do people choose to sin and ignore God? As this proverb notes, the reason is because there can be temporary pleasure—amusement and diversion—in earthly sin (Hebrews 11:25). The one lacking discernment has fun with sin; he fails to take it seriously and see its dangers (Proverbs 11:19).

The person who enjoys their sin does not realize they are spiritually dead. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:12 about condemned people, "who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The Devil deludes people by suggesting that sinful pleasure is true pleasure, but true pleasure is found only in doing God's will. The psalmist writes: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

The contrast to foolishly wallowing in sin is to follow the path laid out by God (Proverbs 2:6–10). A God-honoring person (Proverbs 3:5–7) does not wander from the straight and narrow way to indulge in sinful pleasures.
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