Proverbs 21:8

The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.
– Proverbs 21:8

The word for froward means crooked, or perverse. The word for strange means guilty. The first phrase means the guilty man goes in a crooked way. The same idea is expressed of the evil man in Proverbs 2:15. The word for pure means clean, or righteous. The word for right means straight, or upright. The contrast is obvious. The guilty walk a crooked way while the innocent walk a straight path. The purpose of the proverb is to teach wisdom and discernment. Wisdom here teaches a tree is known by its fruits.

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Proverbs 20:9

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
– Proverbs 20:9

This proverb is a rhetorical question that anticipates a negative answer. Though “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness” (Proverbs 20:6) and “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2), wisdom teaches us God weighs the spirits and ponders the hearts of all. Wisdom concludes, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12).

The word for heart means the inner being, including the mind, will, emotions, etc. The first phrase asks whose inner intentions and motivations are clean, or innocent. Being pure from my sin points to the outward acts being morally good, or upright. This proverb speaks of rich theological truth we refer to as the depravity of man. Man is a fallen and corrupt creature who cannot keep from sin, nor purify himself from its defilement (1 Kings 8:46; Proverbs 21:4; Job 9:30-31).

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Proverbs 15:26

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.
– Proverbs 15:26

The word for thoughts means contrivance, or plan. The plans, or imaginations, of the wicked are abominable to God (Proverbs 6:16-19; 24:9). The contrasted phrase, words of the pure, emphasizes God’s knowledge of the thoughts of men. Our hearts are ever open before him (Proverbs 15:11). The word for pure means clean and pleasant means agreeable, or delightful. The Lord hates a lying tongue but loves a tongue of truth (Proverbs 6:17; 12:22).

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