Proverbs 21:1-15

Talks for Growing Christians

Wisdom in Justice

Proverbs 21:1-15

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Lesson Number 33

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Proverbs are wise advice for everyday living.

Practical Application

  1. Distinguish between bribes and gifts!


  1. The proverb in verse 1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord.” Would this general truth apply both to godly kings and ungodly kings?
  2. The two key words in the proverb of verse 5 are “diligent” and “hasty.” The teaching here seems simple, but what other general truths may be taught regarding the way a person approaches work and decision making?
  3. Does the teaching of the proverb in verse 9 advocate separation or divorce when there is dissention between spouses? How was it possible for a person live on a rooftop in the days of Solomon?


  1. Scripture shows that the heart of a king (or person in governmental authority), even an ungodly king or unbelieving authority, is in the hand of the Lord. Examples would be Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Xerxes and Artaxerxes. Read the Scriptural accounts of these leaders to reinforce this truth.
  2. The teachings of this proverb in verse 5 do include the general truth that acting hastily can lead to the loss of material possessions. However, we can also learn that proper planning, hard, careful work and a consideration of the investment cost are all part of “diligence.” On the other hand, spur-of-the-moment decisions, absence of planning, lack of counsel, and a failure to consider the sacrifice that may be required are all part of acting “hastily.”
  3. The proverb in verse 9 does not teach or advocate a separation or divorce when spouses find themselves in a period of dissention or disagreement. Rather, the general truth that is taught here is that it is better for a husband and wife to put some distance between themselves until their emotions have settled down and they can think and communicate logically and objectively. A person could “dwell” on a rooftop in the days of Solomon, because the roofs were flat and sometimes had small rooms built on a part of the roof. Read 2 Kings 4:8-10 as an example of the upper room.


  1. Discuss the matter of gifts and bribes as it relates to the raising of children. Consider the positive and negative implications, both short and long term, of offering gifts or bribes to influence (or in an attempt to influence) the behavior of children.


  1. Verse 13 says, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” Are your ears tuned to hear the cry of the poor? Are you willing to share your material blessings with those who find themselves in poverty because of sudden loss or oppression? Pray that God will direct you to those whose needs are great and prompt you to be compassionate, generous and sacrificial in your sharing.

Key Verses

  • “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” “It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.” Proverbs 21:3 and 15

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