What does Proverbs 21:10 mean?
ESV: The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes.
NIV: The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
NASB: The soul of the wicked desires evil; His neighbor is shown no compassion in his eyes.
CSB: A wicked person desires evil; he has no consideration for his neighbor.
NLT: Evil people desire evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.
KJV: The soul of the wicked desireth evil: his neighbour findeth no favour in his eyes.
Verse Commentary:
A cornerstone aspect of biblical morality is "love" for one's neighbors. This includes more than emotional aspects; it's meant to imply working for that person's benefit. Scripture notes that the definition of "neighbor" even includes those whom society thinks we ought to hate (Luke 10:29–37; John 13:34). This proverb presents a contrast to that ideal. For those who reject God's goodness and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 10:23), their neighbors are objects of evil intent (Proverbs 3:29; 14:21).

Wickedness originates in the human soul. No one can say God is the source of their sinful urges because God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt anyone (James 1:13). Instead, James writes, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own evil desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death" (James 1:14). The apostle John warns about three sources of sinful desire: the flesh, the eyes, and pride (1 John 2:16).

Believers have a choice. The Holy Spirit, who resides in them, wants to produce godly traits in them; therefore, believers ought to obey the exhortation: "Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 21:1–16 continues Solomon's wise observations (Proverbs 10:1) by acknowledging the Lord's control of kings. He also mentions what the Lord despises: pride, love of money, violence, the conduct of the wicked, the withholding of charity, bribery, and apostasy. On the other hand, he commends righteousness and justice, pure conduct, wise acceptance of instruction, and charity.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter begins and ends with a declaration of God's sovereignty. He alone judges the heart; the Lord considers intentions just as important as physical actions. Other comments include statements about unpleasant spouses, proper perspectives on wealth, work ethic, and the essential nature of godly wisdom. Human wisdom is no match for the sovereign Lord, who alone is ultimately responsible for victory in battle.
Chapter Context:
This is part of the second major section of the book (Proverbs 10—22) featuring nearly four hundred statements. Most of these are two-line comments presenting common sense and general wisdom. The vague theme of chapter 21 is God's control. Man may believe he is in control of his circumstances, but God superintends everything. The chapter begins and ends by assuring the readers that God holds ultimate sway over all things.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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