Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.
– Proverbs 21:31

The word for safety means deliverance. Referent to the first phrase, that deliverance is a successful defense from attack or victory. The war horse mentioned is a strong and valuable asset. Man can train and guide a horse (James 3:3), and so prepare it for battle. The proverb does not condemn arms and fortification, but rather the trust in such things (Psalm 20:7; 33:17-18). The prophets often rebuked Israel and Judah for trusting more in the strength of foreign nations than in the word of Yahweh (Isaiah 31:1-3). Wisdom doesn’t teach the futility of arming ourselves, but in trusting in those arms. Wisdom teaches us to trust in Yahweh who can deliver with or without man and his strength (2 Chronicles 14:11).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:30

There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
– Proverbs 21:30

Skill, intelligence, and plans do not stand against the Lord, nor do they succeed apart from him. You have to fear the Lord to even begin in the way of wisdom, so refusing that is only the way of folly and destruction (Proverbs 1:7). Wicked fools delight in their folly and in turning away from the wisdom of Yahweh. If they do not come to repentance and forsake their own ways, they will meet with judgment and destruction (Proverbs 1:22-33).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:29

A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
– Proverbs 21:29

The word for hardeneth means to be strong, or firm. The word appears three times in Proverbs and is translated impudent (Proverbs 7:13), strengthened (Proverbs 8:28), and hardeneth (Proverbs 21:29). The word for directeth means to separate mentally, or understand. The proverb contrasts the wicked and the upright. The wicked man puts up a strong front, whereas the upright considers well his way. The proverb speaks of appearance versus substance. The wicked are more concerned about the right appearance, whereas the upright is more concerned about the right way.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:28

A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
– Proverbs 21:28

The word for perish means to go astray, or be destroyed. A false witness is a lying witness, which works all kinds of evil (Proverbs 6:19; 19:5). The second phrase is difficult and interpretations vary. The word for constantly means enduring, or perpetuity. The word for heareth means to hear intelligently, or to understand. From the contrast with the first phrase, we know a faithful witness is in view (Leviticus 5:1). In ultimate terms, truth will endure and falsehood will not last (Proverbs 12:19), and that seems the overall point of the proverb.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:27

The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
– Proverbs 21:27

The word for abomination means disgusting, or detestable. Here it refers to a form of ritual worship that God hates. The first phrase echoes Proverbs 15:8 and the issue is the odious nature of hypocritical worship. Getting the outward form right is meaningless when the heart is not right (1 Samuel 15:22-23). In the second phrase, wicked mind refers to an evil intent, or plan. We could view this as an attempt to bribe God to overlook unrighteousness, or an attempt to entice God to deliver the wicked one through payment apart from repentance and faith. However, God refuses to hear those who will not hear him (Proverbs 28:9).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:26

He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
– Proverbs 21:26

This proverb continues from the previous one and describes the desire of the slothful. Greed marks the slothful and unrighteous. Greed contributes to their ruin (Proverbs 15:27; 28:22, 25). The antithesis in the second phrase shows generosity a mark of the righteous. Generosity is set against greedy coveting by showing the righteous giving without restraining their giving (Proverbs 11:24-26; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:25

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor.
– Proverbs 21:25

The word for desire means longing, or wish. In the negative sense, the word refers to greed and lust. The desire is explained in the next verse as daily, greedy coveting. The word for killeth can mean to die as a penalty, or what we might call execution. The slothful man’s desire destroys him. The first phrase is explained by his refusal to work. The slothful have an animal laziness that marks them (Proverbs 6:9-11; 12:27; 19:24). When laziness is couple with strong appetites, then unrighteousness is sure to follow. The slothful man will go to various evil means to obtain what he desires and bring ruin upon his own head.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:24

Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
– Proverbs 21:24

The wording of this proverb is awkward. The word for name indicates the reputation or character of a person by figure. The scorner, or scoffer, is at the far end of the spectrum of fools in Proverbs. They are not simple or ignorant, but proud and haughty, which means they obstinately refuse wisdom (Proverbs 9:7-8; 13:3; 15:12). The word for wrath means outburst of passion. The scorner is marked by arrogantly pouring out his anger. He is ripe for judgment (Proverbs 16:18; 18:12; 19:29).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 21:23

Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
– Proverbs 21:23

The word for keepeth in both occurrences means to guard, or hedge about. The act of closely guarding your speech also guards your life to prevent troubles, or adversity, as the word indicates. Proverbs consistently testifies to the wisdom of controlling your words so that they are few (Proverbs 10:19; 17:27-28), timely (Proverbs 15:23), righteous (Proverbs 16:13), and cool tempered (Proverbs 15:1; 25:15). The mouth of the wicked and foolish will always bring them into trouble (Proverbs 6:2; 11:8; 18:6-7).

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Next Page »