Proverbs Chapter 13

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PROVERBS CHAPTER 13 Teachability 13:1 A wise son owes his wisdom to listening to godly parents. People who love wisdom will likewise love instruction, constructive criticism and advise. The wise are also humble, they realize their own ignorance (James 1:21). “The scorner is the highest level of a fool. He has no respect for authority, reviles religion, and, because he thinks that he knows what is best, is not teachable” (Gaebelein p. 974). Such a person won’t even be moved by a severe rebuke. “suggests that if you cannot stand home truths from your own father you are well on the way to becoming insufferable” (Kidner p. 100). A person who scoffers at godly parental instruction, will scoff at God and sacred things also (1 Samuel 2:22-25).

Fruitful Or Fatal Words 13:2-3 Wise and apt words bring blessings upon the speaker. In contrast, the unfaithful desire to harm others, by violent words and deeds. Compare with the statement, “You will end up eating those words”. Words pass, their fruit does remain. The type of speech that you give to others, will be given back to you. Being careful about what you say, will keep you out of unnecessary troubles (14:3; 15:1; 21:23). “By his reckless words he makes promises he can’t keep, divulges private information, offends, or misrepresents. People learn not to depend on what he says and do not want to be around him” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 932). This goes against the modern advice that we should just say anything that comes to mind. See Psalm 39:1.

Laziness Leaves You Dissatisfied 13:4 Wishful thinking can never replace hard work, if you want something, then you must work for it. The fulfillment of our dreams will demand diligence. Which means that happiness isn’t found in doing nothing or getting out of work, rather, happiness is the result of working hard. The verse also suggests that we have a good deal of say whether our dreams will be realized or not.


Words Fair And Foul 13:5 Another distinguishing characteristic of the person on the right path, they hate what is false. A righteous man won’t resort to lying, even when such might bolster his case. Honest people don’t just avoid lies, they hate dishonesty. “a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully”-i.e., they are always ready to smear and slander. They will use any tactic and even the most outrageous lies and untruths in order to protect themselves. The phrase, “acts disgustingly”, literally means, “cause a stink”. “The effect wicked men have on their family or community is to make everyone smell bad” (Alden p. 105). In addition, the verse may imply that wicked people, in order to survive or remain in power, might attempt to smear the reputations of everyone else.

Honesty Is Safety 13:6 Integrity will protect you. The world says that you must protect yourself regardless of the means used. “subverts”-i.e. to wrench, overthrow, pervert. Wickedness will end up leading the sinner further and further into sin (Ephesians 4:22 “corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit”). The advocates of situation ethics must however disagree that honesty is always the best policy.

Judge Not According To Appearance 13:7 People may not be what they seem to be. Pretending to be rich is like pretending to be somebody, so be careful about who you admire, or who you chose as a role model. “We all know wealthy people who shop in second-hand stores and poor people who drive big cars they can’t really afford” (Alden p. 106). Also remember, that money is a small part of real wealth. There are “rich people” who are bankrupt in the sight of God (Luke 12:21; Revelation 3:17-18). And there are people with limited physical resources that are extremely wealthy in other areas, i.e. character, spirituality, friends, family, happiness, etc…(2 Corinthians 6:10). Point To Note: Next time we are tempted to envy the unbeliever rich in this world’s goods, we might want to reflect and consider the real possibility that such a person is secretly envying the marriage, family, friendships, etc…that we are enjoying.

Wealth, Its Disadvantages


13:8 “The rich man may spend his fortune meeting his commitments (Ecc. 5:11) and avoiding fears to which a poor man offers too small a target” (Kidner p. 102). There are side effects of having too many possessions. The rich are often the target of robbery, blackmail and kidnappers. Generally it is the rich who are kidnapped for ransom. This doesn’t mean that poverty is problem-free, but rather it reminds all of us that everyone, even the rich man has problems. That money is never the answer to a problem-free life. Property and wealth can both become prisons.

Bright Prospect 13:9 “Rejoices”-side refer., shines brightly, like our “burning merrily”. The righteous man brings joy, encouragement, edification and optimism to those around him (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15-16). “This light is the grace and virtue which adorn the good man’s life, and which beam through all his actions which a cheerful, kindly radiance” (P.P. Comm. p. 252). The energy and hope of the righteous man continues to burn brightly, while the hope of the evil fades. The OT often warns that the lights of the wicked will be put out (Job 18:5-6; 21:17; Proverbs 20:20; 24:20).

The Product Of Pride 13:10 “presumption”-“pride” (KJV). “One who is haughty and overbearing, or who is too conceited to receive advice is sure to quarrel with others” (P.P. Comm. p. 252). Those who are wise listen to advice, rather than argue out of stubborn pride. “The idea of ‘pride’ here describes contempt for other opinions, a clash of competing and unyielding personalities…This kind of conceited person creates strife, enflames passions, and wounds feelings” (Gaebelein p. 977).

Easy Come, Easy Go 13:11 Such a truth is vividly demonstrated in the lives of people who gamble. Money management is a skill acquired through the ‘little by little’ gathering and wise use of money. So don’t get depressed if you aren’t making money quickly. There is a warning here against wild speculation and the desire to get rich quick or to make a lot of money out of a very small investment. “By fraud”-could also be translated, “in haste”, as in a quick scheme.

Hope Deferred 13:12 “Deferred”-something long drawn out. “Hope is beautiful, but if it never fulfilled one’s hope can soon turn to bitterness….The applied lesson of this verse teaches us to deal cautiously with the hopes and wishes of others” (Alden p. 3

107). In addition, we are only going to get hurt if we hope for things which aren’t right or realistic. A good way to avoid depression and discouragement is to have godly and biblical goals. A tree of life is that which refreshes, gives vigor, encouragement, renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Obedience Pays 13:13 “Word” and “commandment” in this verse implies that the “instruction” mentioned in Proverbs is instruction which comes from the Scriptures. “will be in debt to it”-will be treated as a debtor. King Saul paid a high price for his rebellion (1 Samuel 15:17-23). “is still bound to fulfill his obligations to it; he cannot escape duty by ignoring or despising it, but is pledged to do it, and will suffer for its neglect” (P.P. Comm. p. 253). Compare with Matthew 5:25. “Despising parental or other instruction results in a person having to make a ‘payment’ of guilt or punishment” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 933). Many people that we see in society, like the person living on the street or asking for a handout is often a person who is making payments for their previous and continued rebellion.

Law Means Life 13:14 “teaching”-side ref., “law”. Not only does such teaching result in life, it enables one to escape the snares and pitfalls that can spell hardship, disaster and spiritual ruin. Refreshment and safe guidance are found in following the law of God (Psalm 19; 119; John 8:32; 2 Timothy 2:26).

Sin Doesn’t Pay 13:15 Wisdom and intelligence add to one’s social esteem. People, even unbelievers do admire the person who has good sense, sound judgment and offers wise advice. “the way of the treacherous is hard”-as Cain learned (Genesis 4:13 “My punishment is greater than I can bear”). The same is true in reference to the later end of King Saul (1 Kings 31:1-4) and Judas (Matthew 27:3-5). ”Hard”-rough and rugged, leading to desolation. The word “hard” can also mean, “enduring, long established”. “Perhaps in Proverbs 13:15 it refers to the calloused, ongoing conduct of the wicked, who are so entrenched in their ways that they find it difficult to turn from them” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 933).

The Product Proclaims The Man


13:16 “But a fool displays his folly”-“like a peddler who openly spreads his wares before the gaze of all men” (Bible Knowledge Comm. pp. 933-934). Eventually the fool will expose his true character and nature, one cannot consistently talk and act any different from the condition of one’s heart and mind (4:23).

Envoys Good And Bad 13:17 A unreliable messenger gets into trouble, whether by his own laziness, foolish talk or conduct. Many employers can identify with the truth in this verse. An unreliable representative or salesperson can destroy your business, while a trustworthy employee can bring healing and success to your business. “One who faithfully performs his errand is a source of comfort and satisfaction both to his employer and to those to whom he is sent” (P.P. Comm. p. 253).

Discipline, Its Benefit 13:18 Failing to listen to advice can cost you material blessings. There is a financial cost to being foolish. “People in Old Testament times must have been much like people today; advice wasn’t willingly received then either. Yet ‘ignoring discipline’ in those times reaped the same poverty and shame as flouting the law does today” (Alden p. 108). Foolishness and arrogance will affect every area of your life including your pocketbook. Again, how are we at handling criticisms, advice, instruction, discipline and rebukes? Do we resent it? (Hebrews 12:11)

Heart’s Desire 13:19 At first the thoughts in this verse seem unrelated, but while good men dedicate themselves to the accomplishing of noble deeds, the fool would consider it abominable (detestable) to give up his sins in order to live that way. “In spite of the sweetness of good desires accomplished, fools will not forsake evil to attain it” (Gaebelein p. 980). The fool does see the happiness of the person who patiently waited to marry the right person, they see the happiness of the couple who allowed God’s word to govern their marriage, they see the happiness in the family who serves God, they see the happiness of parents who have raised godly children, and so on. But in spite of all the facts, the fool refuses to change his ways. He thinks that there is some sort of short-cut.

Education By Friendship


13:20 People do influence you for good or evil (1 Cor. 15:33). “he who associates with fools will be left a fool”. The point must not be missed: Examine who is influencing you, and pick your associations carefully. “Tell me your companions, and I will tell you what you are” (P.P. Comm. p. 254). We have the English proverb, “He that lies down with the dogs shall rise up with fleas”. Are your friends the type of people you want to become? In addition, our companion can also be a book or a television program. A good way of determining the character of the person you are considering dating, is to look at the people they admire and spend time with.

Rewards 13:21 “Adversity pursues sinners”-Eventually what the sinner sows with catch up to them (Galatians 6:7). The past does catch up, and one cannot outrun the consequences of their evil deeds forever, “and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Don’t envy the sinner, because he or she has a lot of spiritual creditors on their tracks. One of the surest ways of generating some “bad luck” in your life is to depart from God. 13:22 Generally, the wealth amassed by good people does make it to succeeding generations. But the wicked, either due to selfishness, internal family squabbling or no descendants, end up forfeiting what they have gained. Other passages talk about the wicked leaving their estates to others (Psalm 49:10,17). Wealth that is unjustly acquired or wickedly used, ultimately finds its way into better hands and better stewards.

Method Matters 13:23 “it is swept away by injustice”-“destroyed by want of judgment”. “The point of this very terse proverb seems to be that the size of your resources matters less than the judgment with which you handle them” (Kidner p. 105). That is, often people remain poor, because they lack good sense and planning. “Poor men may sweat and toil to produce much, but all of it may be for nothing if it is not dispensed properly” (Alden p. 109). “The poor man may, by his labor produce enough food to feed himself but without protection from injustice he may lose it” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 934). The verse also suggests that poverty isn’t in the world because of a lack of material resources or food (the earth can easily feed everyone), poverty exists because of injustice or bad judgment.

Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child


13:24 Child abuse also happens when parents don’t discipline their children. Parental love is seen when a child is disciplined responsibly (Ephesians 6:4) Hating a child means in effect, abandoning or rejecting him. The Egyptians used to say, “boys have their ears on their backsides; they listen when they are beaten”. Far from teaching child abuse, Proverbs stresses tenderness (4:3-4, 10-11). “disciplines him diligently”-lit., seeks him early or earnestly-gives him timely punishment, or immediately. “A wise parent will not defer punishment, will not put it off and off and really do nothing about his child’s disobedience” (Hunt p. 162). “A loving parent inflicts temporary discomfort on his child…to spare them the long-range disaster of an undisciplined life. Refusal to discipline one’s child when he needs it shows that a parent’s genuine love and concern are questionable (or misguided)” (Bible Knowledge Comm. p. 934). God disciplines His own sons in like manner (Hebrews 3:11-12; Hebrew 12:6). Hence any accusation against spanking is an accusation that God isn’t a good parent.

Contentment 13:25 This verse also could imply that what the righteous eat is satisfying because they obtained it with hard work, from noble motives and in the right way. Things that you truly have earned are always satisfying. The wicked are always in want: 1. Because he might be foolish and thus in need. 2. Because he always wants more and more and can never really enjoy that he does have. 3. Because he is addicted to sinful pleasures and cannot enjoy wholesome things. 4. Because he is constantly worrying about missing out or somebody taking his stuff (Ecc. 5:12). 5. The righteous may not be wealthy, but they will have enough (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 37:25). For being in want---see Luke 15:14. Point To Note: “Proverbs takes a balanced position; it neither dehumanizes the poor on the grounds that they are to blame for all their troubles nor absolves the individual of personal responsibility” (Garrett p. 140).


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