Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 21:1-15 (ESV)
21 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. 2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. 3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. 4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. 5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. 6 The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death. 7 The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just. 8 The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright. 9 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, strong wrath. 15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.
Many of today’s proverbs give us insight into wicked people. This serves several purposes. We are to use these teachings to help us recognize the wickedness in our own hearts, and our need for Christ’s salvation. Secondly, these words should warn us to stop our ungodly behaviors. Finally, they should give us hope that God can be trusted to give the wicked just punishment for their actions. Verses 21:2-3 help us stay focused on true faith. Verse 2 teaches us to recognize that our sinful hearts always minimize our own badness. We even imagine we are doing the right thing, but we need to remember that God decides what is right, not us. Verse 3 teaches us that we can’t pretend that a few religious acts will cover our sin; God wants to see actual acts of kindness, mercy, and genuine help for others (see Micah 6:7)