Proverbs 21
Contemporary English Version

The Lord Is In Charge

1 The Lord controls rulers,

just as he determines

the course of rivers.

2We may think we are doing

the right thing,

but the Lord always knows

what is in our hearts.

3Doing what is right and fair

pleases the Lord

more than an offering.

4Evil people are proud

and arrogant,

but sin is the only crop

they produce.+

5If you plan and work hard,

you will have plenty;

if you hurry to get rich,

you will end up poor.

6Cheating to get rich

is a foolish dream

and no less than suicide.+

7You destroy yourself

by being cruel and violent

and refusing to live right.

8All crooks are liars,

but anyone who is innocent

will do right.

9 It's better to stay outside

on the roof of your house

than to live inside

with a nagging wife.

10Evil people want to do wrong,

even to their friends.

11An ignorant fool learns

by seeing others punished;

a sensible person learns

by being instructed.

12God is always fair!

He knows what the wicked do

and will punish them.

13If you won't help the poor,

don't expect to be heard

when you cry out for help.

14A secret bribe will save you

from someone's fierce anger.

15When justice is done,

good citizens are glad

and crooks are terrified.

16If you stop using good sense,

you will find yourself

in the grave.

17Heavy drinkers and others

who live only for pleasure

will lose all they have.

18God's people will escape,

but all who are wicked

will pay the price.

19It's better out in the desert

than at home with a nagging,

complaining wife.

20Be sensible and store up

precious treasures—

don't waste them

like a fool.

21If you try to be kind and good,

you will be blessed with life

and goodness and honor.

22One wise person can defeat

a city full of soldiers

and capture their fortress.

23Watching what you say

can save you

a lot of trouble.

24If you are proud and conceited,

everyone will say,

“You're a snob!”

25If you want too much

and are too lazy to work,

it could be fatal.

26But people who obey God

are always generous.

27 The Lord despises the offerings

of wicked people

with evil motives.

28If you tell lies in court,

you are done for;

only a reliable witness

can do the job.

29Wicked people bluff their way,

but God's people think

before they take a step.

30No matter how much you know

or what plans you make,

you can't defeat the Lord.

31Even if your army has horses

ready for battle,

the Lord will always win.


21.4 but sin … produce: Or “but sin is the only light they ever follow.”
21.6 and … suicide: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

© 2006 American Bible Society.  All rights reserved.

Bible text from the Contemporary English Version 2nd Edition (CEV®) is not to be reproduced in copies or otherwise by any means except as permitted in writing by American Bible Society, 101 North Independence Mall East, Floor 8, Philadelphia, PA 19106-2155  ( Learn more at Discover .BIBLE resources for your ministry at

Bible Hub

Proverbs 20
Top of Page
Top of Page