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Proverbs 21English Standard Version (ESV)

21 The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.
To do righteousness and justice
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart,
    the lamp[a] of the wicked, are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.[b]
The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
    because they refuse to do what is just.
The way of the guilty is crooked,
    but the conduct of the pure is upright.
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,[c] 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[d] 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.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 21:4 Or the plowing
  2. Proverbs 21:6 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint, Latin; most Hebrew manuscripts vapor for those who seek death
  3. Proverbs 21:14 Hebrew a bribe in the bosom
  4. Proverbs 21:29 Or establishes
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Proverbs 21New Living Translation (NLT)

21 The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;
    he guides it wherever he pleases.

People may be right in their own eyes,
    but the Lord examines their heart.

The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just
    than when we offer him sacrifices.

Haughty eyes, a proud heart,
    and evil actions are all sin.

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,
    but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.

Wealth created by a lying tongue
    is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap.[a]

The violence of the wicked sweeps them away,
    because they refuse to do what is just.

The guilty walk a crooked path;
    the innocent travel a straight road.

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[b] 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.

Footnotes:

  1. 21:6 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads mist for those who seek death.
  2. 21:12 Or The righteous man.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 21New King James Version (NKJV)

21 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts.

To do righteousness and justice
Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

A haughty look, a proud heart,
And the plowing[a] of the wicked are sin.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.

Getting treasures by a lying tongue
Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.[b]

The violence of the wicked will destroy them,[c]
Because they refuse to do justice.

The way of a guilty man is perverse;[d]
But as for the pure, his work is right.

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;
His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.

11 When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise;
But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.

12 The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked,
Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.

13 Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be heard.

14 A gift in secret pacifies anger,
And a bribe behind the back,[e] strong wrath.

15 It is a joy for the just to do justice,
But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.

16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding
Will rest in the assembly of the dead.

17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous,
And the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to dwell in the wilderness,
Than with a contentious and angry woman.

20 There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it.

21 He who follows righteousness and mercy
Finds life, righteousness, and honor.

22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty,
And brings down the trusted stronghold.

23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.

24 A proud and haughty man— “Scoffer” is his name;
He acts with arrogant pride.

25 The desire of the lazy man kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor.
26 He covets greedily all day long,
But the righteous gives and does not spare.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!

28 A false witness shall perish,
But the man who hears him will speak endlessly.

29 A wicked man hardens his face,
But as for the upright, he establishes[f] his way.

30 There is no wisdom or understanding
Or counsel against the Lord.

31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 21:4 Or lamp
  2. Proverbs 21:6 Septuagint reads Pursue vanity on the snares of death; Vulgate reads Is vain and foolish, and shall stumble on the snares of death; Targum reads They shall be destroyed, and they shall fall who seek death.
  3. Proverbs 21:7 Literally drag them away
  4. Proverbs 21:8 Or The way of a man is perverse and strange
  5. Proverbs 21:14 Literally in the bosom
  6. Proverbs 21:29 Qere and Septuagint read understands.
New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 21The Message (MSG)

God Examines Our Motives

21 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
    he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.

We justify our actions by appearances;
    God examines our motives.

Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
    mean far more to God than religious performance.

Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
    are just plain sin.

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
    hurry and scurry puts you further behind.

Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
    get paid with smoke and a promotion—to death!

The wicked get buried alive by their loot
    because they refuse to use it to help others.

Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
    pure motives take you straight down the road.

Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst

Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
    than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

10 Wicked souls love to make trouble;
    they feel nothing for friends and neighbors.

11 Simpletons only learn the hard way,
    but the wise learn by listening.

12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked
    and undo the evil they’ve planned.

13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor,
    your cries will go unheard, unanswered.

14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
    a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs,
    but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.

16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow
    ends up in a congregation of ghosts.

17 You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
    The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs;
    the plotter gets it in the end.

19 Better to live in a tent in the wild
    than with a cross and petulant spouse.

20 Valuables are safe in a wise person’s home;
    fools put it all out for yard sales.

21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
    finds life itself—glorious life!

22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers—
    their trusted defenses fell to pieces!

23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
    you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

24 You know their names—Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer—
    intemperate hotheads, every one.

25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
    because they won’t get up and go to work.

26 Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have;
    the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.

27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks;
    it’s even worse when they use it to get ahead.

28 A lying witness is unconvincing;
    a person who speaks truth is respected.

29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot;
    honest people are sure of their steps.

30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
    can get the better of God.

31 Do your best, prepare for the worst—
    then trust God to bring victory.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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