Proverbs 21 (NIV)
21 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him. 2 A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. 3 To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. 4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart— the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin. 5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. 6 A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. 7 The violence of the wicked will drag them away, for they refuse to do what is right. 8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright. 9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 10 The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them. 11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge. 12 The Righteous One takes note of the house of the wicked and brings the wicked to ruin. 13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. 14 A gift given in secret soothes anger, and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath. 15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. 16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead. 17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich. 18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright. 19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. 20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down. 21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor. 22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust. 23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. 24 The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name— behaves with insolent fury. 25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. 26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable—how much more so when brought with evil intent! 28 A false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully. 29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways. 30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. 31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.
What does it mean for God’s people to make sacrifices with ‘evil intent’? (see verse 27)
Wise Father, You see into people’s hearts. You are not impressed when we do the right things with wrong motives. You despise the offerings of wicked people with evil motives. Doing what is right and fair pleases You more than an offering. You, Lord, know what the wicked do and will punish them. You are always fair! Those who justify violence, intimidation and dishonest means to gain power and control destroy themselves by being cruel and violent and refusing to live right. No matter how much they think they know or what plans they make, they can’t defeat You, Lord. A society without justice and the rule of law is a terrifying place to live. Evil is unrestrained. The poor, in particular, suffer. Justice leads to a society where people feel protected and secure. Help me and Your church be sensitive to the cries of the poor and our prayers will be answered. People who obey You are always generous. If we try to be kind and good, we will be blessed with life and goodness and honor. Lord, I pray for justice in our world. Help me to live a life of integrity and generosity, humility and fear of the Lord. Victory rests with the Lord. Amen