Proverbs 20:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:21, NIV: An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.

Proverbs 20:21, ESV: An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.

Proverbs 20:21, KJV: An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.

Proverbs 20:21, NASB: An inheritance gained in a hurry at the beginning Will not be blessed in the end.

Proverbs 20:21, NLT: An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end.

Proverbs 20:21, CSB: An inheritance gained prematurely will not be blessed ultimately.

What does Proverbs 20:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In an earlier statement, Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) noted the shame of a child who abuses their parents (Proverbs 19:26). He also commented on the dangers of "get rich quick" thinking (Proverbs 13:11). When godliness is thrown aside in pursuit of wealth, that wealth is not likely to last. Even in well-meaning situations, sudden wealth carries serious risks. Many modern-day lottery winners, who unexpectedly became enormously rich, find themselves bankrupt within several years. The spiritual maturity that helps a person properly care for what they have is incompatible with the immaturity that seeks money for money's sake.

A classic New Testament example of this principle is the prodigal son, from a parable of Jesus. This wayward child demanded his share of the inheritance prematurely and left home. Then he wasted what he'd demanded from his father, living a wild lifestyle. His reckless path led him to poverty and friendlessness. He took a lowly job feeding pigs—a humiliating position for a Jewish man of that era. He was so destitute and hungry that he wished he could eat the slop being fed to the swine, but no one gave him anything (Luke 15:11–16). He came to his senses and found forgiveness, but the lesson was still costly (Luke 15:17–24).

Jacob's example also shows the danger of conniving to gain wealth, especially at the expense of one's family. He cheated his brother, Esau, out of the blessing which rightly belonged to the older brother. Jacob disguised himself, so his blind father Isaac thought he was blessing Esau (Genesis 27:34–35). In the aftermath, Jacob was forced to flee from his murderous brother (Genesis 27:41–43). Later, when Jacob was working for his uncle Laban, the tables turned on him. Laban cheated him numerous times (Genesis 29:21–30; 30:33–35; 31:41–42). The love of money can bring many problems!