“It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman” (Proverbs 21:19 NASB). A desert land may have a scorching sun, but it is free from the withering looks of an unpleased mate. Living in a dessert land may cause your skin to blister and burn, but it is free from the hurtful, blistering remarks of an angry and careless mate. Many people enter into marriages full of hope and happiness, but wind up feeling burned. Many a man has entered into a marriage with a woman he thought respected and honored him, but ended up with a wife that was constantly disputing, correcting, and nagging him. Many a woman has entered into a marriage with a man she thought would love and care for her, but ended up with a husband who lives selfishly and would barely talk to her. The solution is not to divorce or to forgo marriage altogether, but to live with your mate in an understanding way. Take the time to communicate with each other and to understand your mate’s needs and dislikes. Then, make your relationship and oasis for your spouse. Don’t drive them into the desert!
“The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous is in the place of the upright” (Proverbs 21:18 NASB). This proverb speaks of the deliverance and victory of the righteous and the downfall of the wicked (cf. Proverbs 11:8). It might be referring to a situation where the wicked has planned evil for the righteous but their plans turn on themselves as it was with Haaman and Mordecai in the book of Esther. It could also be the wicked are going to reap what they have sowed as the violence and immorality the Babylonians sowed was reaped when they were conquered by the Medo-Persian empire. At the same time the Babylonians were being conquered, however, God was putting into motion the events that would lead the now faithful Israelites out of Babylonian captivity and back to the Promised Land. We must always remember: “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
“He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich” (Proverbs 21:17 NASB). Overindulging can be quite expensive. Even seemingly little indulgences begin to stack up rapidly. Some are in the habit of spending $4-5 on a cup of coffee (or whatever) at Starbucks. This “little” indulgence every day could cost around $150 a month. Movies, eating out, and T.V. channel packages can all cause us to spend more than we should on luxury items. While we do not need to cut these out all together, we may need to cut back on them (especially if we are in debt). We need to use our resources wisely and not just waste our money seeking pleasure.
“A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead” (Proverbs 21:16 NASB). It’s dangerous to depart from God’s ways and get lost in they ways of the world. Notice this proverb speaks of a man wandering away. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision, but he didn’t think about where he was going or what he was doing. When we don’t intentionally and purposefully live for God, we often end up wandering away from God. We need to pay close attention to God’s Word so that we do not drift away (Hebrews 2:1). If we want to be in the assembly of the righteous rather than the assemble of the dead, we need be sure to avoid wicked influences and take our delight in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:1-6).
“The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, But is terror to the workers of iniquity” (Proverbs 21:15 NASB). There is no need to fear justice and truth when one lives righteously (cf. Romans 13:3-4). There are no skeletons in the closet. No secrets one fears being revealed. In fact, the righteous take their delight in seeing justice prevail. Even when the court systems don’t uphold justice, the righteous take comfort knowing God is the final judge and His court is supreme. The wicked don’t want justice and so use bribes (cf. Proverbs 21:14) or prevent the truth from being known by twisting and perverting laws intended to protect the innocent. They are afraid of having their lives exposed and taking responsibility for what they have done. We need to live in such a way that we do not fear truth or justice.
“A gift in secret subdues anger, and a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath” (Proverbs 21:14 NASB). We must remember the Bible does not approve of these bribes, but we must realize these methods are being used. In Proverbs 17:23, it asserts that only wicked men that give and receive bribes and it results in perverting the ways of justice. Many people, however, simply do not care about justice. Instead, they seek to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. While this isn’t fair, this is the way our world operates. This is one of the reason why the righteous sometimes suffer while the wicked prosper. They won’t prosper forever, though, it will end in trouble for them and their families (cf. Proverbs 15:27). It’s better to fear God and live honestly than to resort to the world’s tactics.
“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13 NASB). If we ignore others in need, we might find ourselves ignored when we need help. Acts of kindness seem to be getting rarer and rarer even among Christians. Perhaps some have grown callous because of those who take advantage of other’s help or maybe they have let the selfishness of the world creep into their lives. So they sit back and do nothing when they have the means and opportunity to help another. What we all need to realize, however, is we cannot have abide in the love of God without helping others. 1 John 3:17 says: “whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” If we have the world’s goods, it may be that God is expecting us to use them to help others.