Old Testament

Proverbs 21
Wise and Foolish Behaviors
211A king's heart is like streams of water in the hand of the Lord.
He directs it wherever he desires.
2In a person's own eyes all his ways are right,
but the Lord weighs the motives of the heart.
3Practicing righteousness and justice
is more acceptable to the Lord than a sacrifice.
4Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart,
the unplowed field[] of the wicked, produce sin.
5The plans of a hard worker lead to abundance,
but everyone in a hurry rushes toward scarcity.
6Piling up treasure by a lying tongue
is a vanishing vapor for those who seek death.
7The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
because they refuse to do what is just.
8A guilty person's way is very crooked,
but the conduct of a pure person is straight.
9Better to live on the corner of a roof
than in a house shared with a nagging wife.
10The soul of a wicked person craves evil.
He does not look on his neighbor with mercy.
11When a scoffer is punished, an undisciplined person becomes wise,
and when a wise person is instructed, he gains knowledge.
12The Righteous One[] carefully watches the house of the wicked.
He throws the wicked down to ruin.
13Whoever shuts his ear to the cries of the poor—
he too will cry out and not be answered.
14A gift given in secret soothes anger,
and a bribe slipped into the pocket soothes fury.
15It is a joy for a righteous person to practice justice,
but destruction waits for those who practice evil.
16A person who wanders from the way of understanding
will rest in the company of departed spirits.
17Whoever loves pleasure will be poor.
Whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
18The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
and the treacherous make a payment for the upright.
19Better to live in an arid region
than with a nagging, ill-tempered wife.
20Good food and olive oil are stored up in the dwellings of the wise,
but a foolish person devours everything he has.
21A person who pursues righteousness and mercy
will find life, righteousness, and honor.
22A wise man can climb up to a city full of warriors
and pull down the strong defenses in which they trust.
23The person who guards his mouth and his tongue
guards himself from troubles.
24The contemptuous, insolent person—“Scoffer” is his name—
behaves with overflowing arrogance.
25A lazy person's craving will kill him,
because his hands refuse to work.
26All day long he craves something more,
but a righteous person gives and does not hold back.
27A sacrifice offered by wicked people is an abomination.[]
How much more when they bring it with evil intent!
28A lying witness will perish,
but a man who listens will keep speaking forever.[]
29A wicked person puts on a bold front,
but an upright person gives thought to[] his way.
30There is no wisdom, no cleverness, and no advice
that can stand up against the Lord.
31A horse is made ready for a day of battle,
but the victory belongs to the Lord.


  • 21:4 Or lamp. The meaning of the word and the point of comparison are unclear.
  • 21:12 Or righteous one
  • 21:27 Or a disgusting thing
  • 21:28 The line is cryptic. Another suggestion is one who listens to him will perish forever.
  • 21:29 The translation follows an alternate Hebrew reading. The main Hebrew reading is establishes.