What does Proverbs 21:6 mean?
ESV: The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.
NIV: A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.
NASB: The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.
CSB: Making a fortune through a lying tongue is a vanishing mist, a pursuit of death.
NLT: Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.
KJV: The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.
Since the world is a corrupt place (2 Peter 1:4), it's possible to gain temporary wealth through dishonest means. But those who ignore God's goodness and seek money, instead, are headed for terrible disaster (Proverbs 15:27). That consequence often comes in this life, either by legal ramifications or revenge from those who've been cheated. But it will certainly come in eternity; God judges those who reject Him in favor of wealth (Proverbs 10:2). One way or another, sin leads to destruction (Proverbs 21:7).
Some lie to gain wealth, but that pursuit is futile. Riches can only last so long as earthly life (Luke 12:19–20). Contemporary history is full of stories about those who used deceit to steal from victims. Crooked salesmen, dishonest stockbrokers, and telephone scammers are among the typical examples given of those who use dishonesty to make a living. Regardless of the exact nature of the sin, anyone who lives by theft will pay a bitter price for the crimes. Psalm 68:2 predicts the judgment wicked people face. This verse says, "As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them [the wicked] away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God." The idea of dishonest people being caught in the snare of death may suggest their lives are in jeopardy. Those whom they swindle may take revenge by killing the swindlers. Or perhaps the idea suggests the swindlers put themselves in line for divine judgment. Trying to get rich by deceiving others is a dangerous pursuit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:04:39 AM
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