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21 The Lord controls the mind of a king as easily as he directs the course of a stream.

You may think that everything you do is right, but remember that the Lord judges your motives.

Do what is right and fair; that pleases the Lord more than bringing him sacrifices.

Wicked people are controlled by their conceit and arrogance, and this is sinful.

Plan carefully and you will have plenty; if you act too quickly, you will never have enough.

The riches you get by dishonesty soon disappear, but not before they lead you into the jaws of death.

The wicked are doomed by their own violence; they refuse to do what is right.

Guilty people walk a crooked path; the innocent do what is right.

(A)Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife.

10 Wicked people are always hungry for evil; they have no mercy on anyone.

11 When someone who is conceited gets his punishment, even an unthinking person learns a lesson. One who is wise will learn from what he is taught.

12 God, the righteous one, knows what goes on in the homes of the wicked, and he will bring the wicked down to ruin.

13 If you refuse to listen to the cry of the poor, your own cry for help will not be heard.

14 If someone is angry with you, a gift given secretly will calm him down.

15 When justice is done, good people are happy, but evil people are brought to despair.

16 Death is waiting for anyone who wanders away from good sense.

17 Indulging in luxuries, wine, and rich food will never make you wealthy.

18 The wicked bring on themselves the suffering they try to cause good people.

19 Better to live out in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife.

20 Wise people live in wealth and luxury, but stupid people spend their money as fast as they get it.

21 Be kind and honest and you will live a long life; others will respect you and treat you fairly.

22 A shrewd general can take a city defended by strong men, and destroy the walls they relied on.

23 If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say.

24 Show me a conceited person and I will show you someone who is arrogant, proud, and inconsiderate.

25 Lazy people who refuse to work are only killing themselves; 26 all they do is think about what they would like to have. The righteous, however, can give, and give generously.

27 (B)The Lord hates it when wicked people offer him sacrifices, especially if they do it from evil motives.

28 The testimony of a liar is not believed, but the word of someone who thinks matters through is accepted.

29 Righteous people are sure of themselves; the wicked have to pretend as best they can.

30 Human wisdom, brilliance, insight—they are of no help if the Lord is against you.

31 You can get horses ready for battle, but it is the Lord who gives victory.

21 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
    he turns it wherever he will.
All deeds are right in the sight of the doer,
    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 of the wicked—are sin.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
    but everyone who is hasty comes only to want.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a snare[a] of death.
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 right.
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop
    than in a house shared with a contentious wife.
10 The souls of the wicked desire evil;
    their neighbors find no mercy in their eyes.
11 When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wiser;
    when the wise are instructed, they increase in knowledge.
12 The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
    he casts the wicked down to ruin.
13 If you close your ear to the cry of the poor,
    you will cry out and not be heard.
14 A gift in secret averts anger;
    and a concealed bribe in the bosom, strong wrath.
15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous,
    but dismay to evildoers.
16 Whoever wanders from the way of understanding
    will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will suffer want;
    whoever loves wine and oil will not be rich.
18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous,
    and the faithless for the upright.
19 It is better to live in a desert land
    than with a contentious and fretful wife.
20 Precious treasure remains[b] in the house of the wise,
    but the fool devours it.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
    will find life[c] and honor.
22 One wise person went up against a city of warriors
    and brought down the stronghold in which they trusted.
23 To watch over mouth and tongue
    is to keep out of trouble.
24 The proud, haughty person, named “Scoffer,”
    acts with arrogant pride.
25 The craving of the lazy person is fatal,
    for lazy hands refuse to labor.
26 All day long the wicked covet,[d]
    but the righteous give and do not hold back.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
    how much more when brought with evil intent.
28 A false witness will perish,
    but a good listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put on a bold face,
    but the upright give thought to[e] their 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.


  1. Proverbs 21:6 Gk: Heb seekers
  2. Proverbs 21:20 Gk: Heb and oil
  3. Proverbs 21:21 Gk: Heb life and righteousness
  4. Proverbs 21:26 Gk: Heb all day long one covets covetously
  5. Proverbs 21:29 Another reading is establish

21 The king’s heart in Adonai’s hand is like streams of water —
    he directs it wherever he pleases.

All a person’s ways are right in his own view,
    but Adonai weighs the heart.

To do what is right and just
    is more pleasing to Adonai than sacrifice.

Haughty looks, a proud heart —
    what the wicked plow is sin.

The plans of the diligent lead only to abundance;
    but all who rush in arrive only at want.

A fortune gained by a lying tongue
    is vapor dispersed [by] seekers of death.

The violence of the wicked will sweep them away,
    because they refuse to act justly.

A criminal’s conduct is crooked,
    but the work of the pure is right.

It is better to live on a corner of the roof
    than to share the house with a nagging wife.

10 The wicked is set on evil;
    he doesn’t pity even his neighbor.

11 When a scorner is punished, the simple become wiser;
    and when the wise is instructed, he takes hold of knowledge.

12 The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked;
    he overthrows the wicked to their ruin.
13 Whoever stops up his ears at the cry of the poor
    will himself cry, but not be answered.

14 A secret gift allays anger,
    and a bribe under the cloak the strongest fury.

15 Acting justly is a joy for the righteous
    but it terrifies evildoers.

16 The person who strays from the way of common sense
    will come to rest in the company of the dead.

17 Pleasure-lovers will suffer want;
    he who loves wine and oil won’t get rich.

18 The wicked serve as a ransom for the righteous,
    and likewise the perfidious for the upright.

19 It is better to live in the desert
    than with a nagging, irritable wife.

20 In the home of the wise are fine treasures and oil,
    but a fool quickly devours it.

21 He who pursues righteousness and kindness
    finds life, prosperity and honor.

22 A wise man can go up into a city of warriors
    and undermine the strength in which it trusts.

23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.

24 “Scoffer” is what you call a proud, insolent person
    who acts with overweening conceit.

25 A lazy man’s craving will kill him,
    because his hands refuse to work —
26 he covets greedily all day long;
    but a righteous person gives without holding back.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;
    how much more when he brings it with vile motives.

28 A lying witness is doomed,
    but one who heard [what was said] will testify successfully.
29 A wicked man puts on a bold face,
    whereas the upright prepares his ways.

30 No wisdom, discernment or counsel
    succeeds against Adonai.

31 A horse may be prepared for the day of battle,
    but victory comes from Adonai.

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.