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Proverbs chapter 21

New International Version

1 In the LORD's hand the king's heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.
2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the LORD weighs the heart.
3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart-- the unplowed field of the wicked--produce sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.
6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right.
8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.
9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.
12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin.
13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.
15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
24 The proud and arrogant person--'Mocker' is his name-- behaves with insolent fury. 25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable-- how much more so when brought with evil intent!
28 A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.
English Standard Version

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. 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. 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. 9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. 10 The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes. 11 When a scoffer is punished, the simple becomes wise; when a wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge. 12 The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; he throws the wicked down to ruin. 13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. 14 A gift in secret averts anger, and a concealed bribe, strong wrath. 15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. 16 One who wanders from the way of good sense will rest in the assembly of the dead. 17 Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. 18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the traitor for the upright. 19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. 20 Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. 21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. 22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust. 23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. 24 “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. 25 The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent. 28 A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. 29 A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways. 30 No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the LORD. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
King James Version

1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.
3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin.
5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
7 The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment.
8 The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.
9 It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
10 The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.
11 When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise: and when the wise is instructed, he receiveth knowledge.
12 The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.
13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
14 A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
15 It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. 26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. 31 The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.
New American Standard Bible

1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He pleases. 2 Every person’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD examines the hearts. 3 To do righteousness and justice Is preferred by the LORD more than sacrifice. 4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked, is sin. 5 The plans of the diligent certainly lead to advantage, But everyone who is in a hurry certainly comes to poverty. 6 The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. 7 The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, Because they refuse to act with justice. 8 The way of a guilty person is crooked, But as for the pure, his conduct is upright. 9 It is better to live on a corner of a roof Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. 10 The soul of the wicked desires evil; His neighbor is shown no compassion in his eyes. 11 When the scoffer is punished, the naive becomes wise; But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge. 12 The righteous one considers the house of the wicked, Bringing the wicked to ruin. 13 One who shuts his ear to the outcry of the poor Will also call out himself, and not be answered. 14 A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in an inside pocket, strong wrath. 15 The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, But terror to those who practice injustice. 16 A person who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead. 17 One who loves pleasure will become a poor person; One who loves wine and oil will not become rich. 18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous is in the place of the upright. 19 It is better to live in a desert land Than with a contentious and irritating woman. 20 There is precious treasure and oil in the home of the wise, But a foolish person swallows it up. 21 One who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness, and honor. 22 A wise person scales the city of the mighty And brings down the stronghold in which they trust. 23 One who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. 24 'Proud,' 'Arrogant,' 'Scoffer,' are his names, One who acts with insolent pride. 25 The desire of the lazy one puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work; 26 All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent! 28 A false witness will perish, But a person who listens will speak forever. 29 A wicked person displays a bold face, But as for the upright, he makes his way sure. 30 There is no wisdom, no understanding, And no plan against the LORD. 31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But the victory belongs to the LORD.
New Living Translation

1 The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases.
2 People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart.
3 The LORD is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
4 Haughty eyes, a proud heart, and evil actions are all sin.
5 Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.
6 Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.
7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away, because they refuse to do what is just.
8 The guilty walk a crooked path; the innocent travel a straight road.
9 It's better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.
10 Evil people desire evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
11 If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded become wise; if you instruct the wise, they will be all the wiser.
12 The Righteous One knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked; he will bring disaster on them.
13 Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
14 A secret gift calms anger; a bribe under the table pacifies fury.
15 Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers.
16 The person who strays from common sense will end up in the company of the dead.
17 Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
18 The wicked are punished in place of the godly, and traitors in place of the honest.
19 It's better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.
20 The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
22 The wise conquer the city of the strong and level the fortress in which they trust.
23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.
24 Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.
25 Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.
26 Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
27 The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable, especially when it is offered with wrong motives.
28 A false witness will be cut off, but a credible witness will be allowed to speak.
29 The wicked bluff their way through, but the virtuous think before they act.
30 No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the LORD.
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.
Christian Standard Bible

1 A king's heart is like channeled water in the Lord's hand: He directs it wherever he chooses.
2 All a person's ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs hearts.
3 Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
4 The lamp that guides the wicked -- haughty eyes and an arrogant heart--is sin.
5 The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor.
6 Making a fortune through a lying tongue is a vanishing mist, a pursuit of death.
7 The violence of the wicked sweeps them away because they refuse to act justly.
8 A guilty one's conduct is crooked, but the behavior of the innocent is upright.
9 Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.
10 A wicked person desires evil; he has no consideration for his neighbor.
11 When a mocker is punished, the inexperienced become wiser; when one teaches a wise man, he acquires knowledge.
12 The Righteous One considers the house of the wicked; he brings the wicked to ruin.
13 The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.
14 A secret gift soothes anger, and a covert bribe, fierce rage.
15 Justice executed is a joy to the righteous but a terror to evildoers.
16 The person who strays from the way of prudence will come to rest in the assembly of the departed spirits.
17 The one who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich.
18 The wicked are a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous, for the upright.
19 Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.
20 Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of a wise person, but a fool consumes them.
21 The one who pursues righteousness and faithful love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
22 A wise person went up against a city of warriors and brought down its secure fortress.
23 The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
24 The arrogant and proud person, named "Mocker," acts with excessive arrogance. 25 A slacker's craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work.
26 He is filled with craving all day long, but the righteous give and don't hold back.
27 The sacrifice of a wicked person is detestable;-- how much more so when he brings it with ulterior motives!
28 A lying witness will perish, but the one who listens will speak successfully.
29 A wicked person puts on a bold face, but the upright one considers his way.
30 No wisdom, no understanding, and no counsel will prevail against the Lord. 31 A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.

What does Proverbs chapter 21 mean?

Proverbs chapter 21 continues a long series of wise statements attributed to Solomon (Proverbs 10:1). Early comments in this passage remark on God's perfect knowledge of our innermost thoughts. Merely "doing" right is not enough to please God. He knows whether we act in arrogance or humility, and whether pious actions are motivated by worship, or selfishness. As do other parts of the book of Proverbs, this section extols the value of wisdom and warns against the consequences of sin and wickedness (Proverbs 21:1–16).

The second part of this chapter emphasizes the power of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) as compared to the dangers of rejecting godliness. Living according to wisdom does not make a person invincible, but it greatly increases one's likelihood of success. This passage repeats God's intense disgust at those who try to whitewash their sin using sacrifices or other acts of service. God, and God alone, is ultimately in control of all things. This includes daily life and the victor on a battlefield (Proverbs 21:17–31).