Proverbs 21:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 21:4, NIV: Haughty eyes and a proud heart-- the unplowed field of the wicked--produce sin.

Proverbs 21:4, ESV: Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Proverbs 21:4, KJV: An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.

Proverbs 21:4, NASB: Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin.

Proverbs 21:4, NLT: Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.

Proverbs 21:4, CSB: The lamp that guides the wicked -- haughty eyes and an arrogant heart--is sin.

What does Proverbs 21:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Scripture sometimes uses the imagery of a lamp in reference to what guides a person. A positive example of this would be the one who lets God's instruction lead their choices (Proverbs 6:23; Psalm 18:28). A negative example is the one controlled by their temptations and urges (Matthew 6:22–23). Lamps are also sometimes used to depict a person's life, itself (Proverbs 24:20; Matthew 5:14–16).

This proverb notes that immoral people are guided by arrogance and selfishness. In effect, the arrogant person worships himself. Their life is defined and guided by their preferences, instead of a sincere interest in God's truth (Proverbs 3:1–5). Such attitudes are completely incompatible with submission to Him (Proverbs 6:16–19; Psalm 101:5).

A graphic example of God's hatred for arrogance was Herod Agrippa, who loved the praise of Jews and Gentiles alike. Yet he opposed the Lord by persecuting the apostles. Herod also worked for the worship of the people of Tyre and Sidon who depended on him for food. Acts 12:21 tells us he put on robes and delivered a speech. When the people shouted and declared him to be God, Herod should have deflected that praise to the Lord. Instead, he absorbed the worship for himself (Acts 12:22). This resulted in a speedy, but gruesome death (Acts 12:23). Herod learned the hard way that "God opposes the proud" (James 4:6).