Proverbs 13

Chapter 13

The Light of the Righteous Shines Brightly[a]

1 A wise son listens to his father’s correction,
but a mocker will not accept any rebuke.[b]
2 A good man derives nourishment from the fruit of his words,
but one who is treacherous craves violence.
3 He who guards his mouth makes his life secure,
but one who talks excessively ensures his own downfall.[c]
4 The idler[d] craves for food and remains unsatisfied,
but the appetite of the diligent is fully sated.
5 The righteous man hates words that are deceitful,
but the evildoer slanders and defames.
6 Righteousness stands guard over one who is honest,
but sin brings about the ruin of the wicked.
7 One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor,[e] yet has great wealth.
8 A wealthy man pays a ransom to save his life;[f]
a poor man never has to worry about such threats.
9 The light of the righteous shines brightly,
but the lamp[g] of the wicked is extinguished.
10 An ignorant man causes strife by his insolence,
but wisdom is found with those who take advice.
11 Wealth hastily acquired will dwindle away,
but when amassed little by little, it will increase.
12 Hope deferred sickens the heart,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
13 One who refuses to accept advice is headed for destruction,
but he who respects a command will be rewarded.[h]
14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life
enabling one to avoid the snares of death.[i]
15 Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the faithless leads to their destruction.
16 Every prudent man acts out of knowledge,
but a fool proudly parades his folly.
17 An unreliable messenger engenders trouble,
but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
18 Poverty and disgrace befall one who ignores discipline,
but one who takes correction is honored.
19 A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
while fools regard turning from evil as an abomination.
20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but he who mingles with fools will suffer harm.[j]
21 Misfortune afflicts the sinful,
but good fortune is the reward of the upright.
22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
23 The fields of the poor may yield much food,
but it is stolen from them through injustice.
24 He who spares the rod[k] hates his son,
but one who loves his son will take care to discipline him.
25 The righteous man has enough food to appease his hunger,
but the belly of the wicked man is empty.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 13:1 In this uninterrupted accumulation of ancient proverbs, we find words about education and good sense; if one proverb highlights the burden of wealth, another presents it as a reward. However, in these diverse aphorisms the idea of a righteous life is always there, even though the author allows strongly opposed conceptions to be expressed. In all countries, each proverb finds its counter-maxim; but from the whole a vision of things comes through that is proper to a civilization or a religion.
    Rather than giving direct teaching, the Book of Proverbs provides us with an atmosphere in which to reflect; we are to learn to appreciate the mood and the felicitous formulation, without taking each maxim literally. We must bear in mind the penchant of Semitic poetry for strong expressions and its use of parallelism (either repetition or contrast).
  2. Proverbs 13:1 A mocker will not accept any rebuke: see notes on Prov 1:22; 9:7-12.
  3. Proverbs 13:3 The tongue has the power over life and death (see Prov 10:19; 18:21; 21:23; Jas 3:6).
  4. Proverbs 13:4 Idler: see note on Prov 6:6.
  5. Proverbs 13:7 Pretends to be rich . . . pretends to be poor: both pretenses are foolish and lead to folly (see Prov 11:28; 12:9; 14:8).
  6. Proverbs 13:8 Pays a ransom to save his life: the wealthy have the means to ward off enemies (see note on Prov 10:15). The poor are never held for ransom.
  7. Proverbs 13:9 Light . . . lamp: symbols of life (see Job 3:20). Lamp of the wicked is extinguished: see Prov 20:20; 24:20; Job 18:5; 21:17.
  8. Proverbs 13:13 The reward indicated is to receive the benefits of wisdom (see note on Prov 3:2; see also v. 21; 3:16-18).
  9. Proverbs 13:14 Life . . . death: in this and other similar proverbs, these two words indicate “a long and happy life” and a “premature death” respectively.
  10. Proverbs 13:20 This verse stresses the need to choose friends and associates wisely (see Prov 2:20; 12:26) and to steer clear of the wicked (see Prov 1:10, 18; 2:12; 16:29; 22:24-25).
  11. Proverbs 13:24 Rod: most likely a symbol for any kind of discipline, which protects one’s children from folly and leads them away from evil paths (see Prov 19:18; 23:13-14). A “rod” of correction is really a “rod” of love—even God makes use of it for the good of his faithful (see note on Prov 3:11-12).

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