What does Proverbs 21:26 mean?
ESV: All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.
NIV: All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
NASB: All day long he is craving, While the righteous gives and does not hold back.
CSB: He is filled with craving all day long, but the righteous give and don’t hold back.
NLT: Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give!
KJV: He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
NKJV: He covets greedily all day long, But the righteous gives and does not spare.
Verse Commentary:
This continues a statement made in verse 25, contrasting immoral laziness with a righteous approach to work. A lazy person's desire to do nothing leads them to ruin, even to death (Proverbs 21:25).

Here, Solomon notes how those who are idle have intense desires, which cannot be fulfilled in part because of their laziness. The person who produces nothing still wants food and shelter; they become a bottomless pit that swallows everything without giving back anything in return. By contrast, a righteous person is generous. This generosity is not merely an expression of godliness, but it is also enabled by their work ethic. The righteous person understands they are a steward of all God has given; therefore, they use money and possessions wisely and with a mind to furthering the gospel.

First Corinthians 4:1–2 states: "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful." Paul was a faithful steward. In his farewell address to the Ephesian elders, he said, "I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:33–35).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 21:17–31 continues the recorded wisdom of Solomon (Proverbs 10:1). He contrasts the wise person with the foolish person, the righteous with the wicked, the lazy person with the diligent, and human wisdom with the Lord's sovereignty.
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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