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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Proverbs 13

 

 

Verse 1

A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.

A wise son (heareth) his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke. A wise son shows his wisdom by hearing his father's disciplinary instruction - i:e., instruction accompanied with chastisement (Hebrew, muwcar (Hebrew #4148)). Had Eli administered such discipline, and his sons heeded it, their end would have been very different (1 Samuel 2:25).


Verse 2

A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence. A man shall eat good by the fruit of (his) mouth. He shall enjoy the fruit of the good words which he uses (Proverbs 12:14). No wonder that the Holy Spirit here labours so much for the reformation of the tongue; for the apostle also (Romans 3:13, etc.), when giving an anatomy of human depravity in the members of the body, dwells more on the tongue than all the rest (Cartwright).

But the soul of the transgressors (shall eat) violence - the transgressors who seek to inflict injury on others shall suffer the fruit of injury in their own soul. The soul of the transgressors (including all their inward man) is opposed to the mouth of good man. They do not show by the mouth the evil which is within their soul; but the good man's month indicates the good heart within. Therefore his mouth is mentioned, but their soul.


Verse 3

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

He that keepeth his mouth (considering about what, with whom, in what manner, place, and time, he speaks, Gejer) keepeth his life: (but) he that openeth wide his lips (rashly and inconsiderately babbling out whatever enters his mind) shall have destruction - (Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 12:23.) "Keepeth" - namely, as watchmen keep the city gates to prevent the enemy entering (Psalms 141:3). We should keep our mouth from uncharitable, idle, rash, hasty, and passionate words. "Keepeth his life," not only of the body, but of the soul (Matthew 12:32-37); 'Misfortune is the end of an unbridled mouth' (Euripides).


Verse 4

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

The soul of the sluggard (Hebrew, the soul of him, the sluggard) desireth, and (hath) nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat - (Proverbs 11:25.) The sluggard desires abundance, and does nothing more: he makes no diligent effort to effect his desire. When labour is laid aside, the desires are let loose; but they are restrained by doing work (cf. Proverbs 10:4).


Verse 5

A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame. A righteous (man) hateth lying (not merely in others, but in himself: not merely abstains from it, but hateth it): but a wicked (man) is loathsome, and cometh to shame - literally, 'maketh (himself) loathsome, and bringeth (himself) to shame.'


Verse 6

Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.

Righteousness keepeth (him that is) upright in the way - of life and of safety. He needs no other defenses.

But wickedness overthroweth the sinner - Hebrew, 'sin:' the abstract for the concrete (cf. note, Proverbs 10:29). 'Sin' is the very element of the sinner. He is the slave of sin, and gets sin's wages, death (Romans 6:23).


Verse 7

There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

There is that maketh himself rich, yet (hath) nothing: (there is) that maketh himself poor, yet (hath) great riches - parallel, I think, to Proverbs 11:24, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." There are rich men who, by not using their riches to the glory of God and the good of man, have no real good out of their riches: there are also those who make themselves poor by spending to the glory of God and the good of man; yet they have all that is really good in riches, and are counted rich by God (cf. Revelation 2:9, "I know thy ... poverty (the church of Smyrna), but thou art rich;" Luke 12:21; 1 Timothy 6:18; James 2:5). Such a rich widow before God was that one that "of her penury" cast into the Lord's treasury "all the living that she had" (Luke 21:4). On the contrary, the church of Laodicea, "rich, and increased with goods" in her own esteem, was in God's esteem "wretched, and miserable, and poor." Gejer, (Grotius, etc., explain it, 'There are persons who make a show of being rich, while all the time they have nothing' (cf. note, Proverbs 12:9, end): poor and proud at once. 'And there are those who feign themselves poor, while all the while they have ample riches.'


Verse 8

The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke. The ransom of a man's life (are) his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke. If the rich man's life is in danger, he can often redeem himself by his riches (Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 18:11); but the poor do not ever 'hear' threats -

i.e., the poor are not exposed to threats or envy affecting the safety of their life. On such "rebuke" cf. Isaiah 30:17. The rich deliver themselves from danger: the poor are free from it. If riches have their advantage, so has poverty its advantages. Juvenal says, (Cantabit vacuus coram latrone viator), 'The traveler who has nothing to lose can sing in the highwayman's face.' The godly poor, above all, shall 'hear no rebuke' in the great day of the Lord (Isaiah 25:8; Job 3:18).


Verse 9

The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.

The light of the righteous rejoiceth - joyfully shines forth. "The light of the righteous" is that of their piety, joy, peace, and blessedness, which, beginning here, is perfected in the life to come (Matthew 5:16; Psalms 97:11; Psalms 112:4; Proverbs 4:18). It is like the sun, ever brightening from morning to mid-day.

But the lamp of the wicked shall be put out. The little and faint spark of prosperity which the wicked have now, shall be put out, as a "lamp" which soon goes out; whereas the righteous shine like the sunlight, permanently and universally (Job 18:5; Job 21:17).


Verse 10

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

Only by pride cometh contention. The "only" is joined by Maurer, Castalio, etc., not to "pride," which immediately follows, but to "cometh contention" - literally, will one give contention. Pride only causeth contention. There only cometh contention by pride. Pride conduces to nothing else than to stir up the proud to contention. It aggravates the sin of contentions so caused, that they arise, not from sudden anger or provocation, but from mere pride. The proud have not the "wisdom" to take 'advice' from others (the parallel clause supplies these words and ideas); so, in conversation with others, they "contend" with all who do not yield to them. The English version, however, joining "only" with the Hebrew word next in order, gives the more likely connection. If it were not for pride there would be no contention, but pride prevents either party confessing himself to be in the wrong; so the strife is begun and continued.

But with the well advised is wisdom. In Proverbs 11:2 it is "with the lowly is wisdom." The "well advised" are those who through lowliness are not too proud to take advice, or to yield to the superior opinion of another. As the "well advised" are opposed to "pride" - i:e., the proud-so "wisdom" is opposed to "contention." For "the wisdom that is from above" is not only "pure," but also "peaceable, gently, and easy to be entreated" (James 3:17). "Wisdom" is the cause of "lowliness."


Verse 11

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Wealth (gotten) by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour (Hebrew, with the hand) shall increase - literally, 'wealth from (Hebrew, min (Hebrew #4480)) vanity' (Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 20:21). The "vanity" here answers to "a slack (deceitful) hand," Proverbs 10:4, where cf. note. "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand." Thus, it stands in opposition to "he that gathereth with the hand" in the parallel clause. Wealth ill gotten is soon gone; but wealth gotten by honest labour remains sure. The "hand" here represents all honourable ways of industry, and is opposed to "vanity." [The Hebrew preposition as in some manuscripts, `ad (Hebrew #5703), even unto the hand; in other manuscripts, `al (Hebrew #5921), upon or under the hand - i:e., under the diligent custody (1 Samuel 17:22; 2 Chronicles 12:10). The sense with or by arises from the idea of dependence upon: so the Hebrew is used, Genesis 27:40, "By (literally, upon) thy sword shalt thou live." So here, 'He that gathereth depending upon labour.'] He that gathereth with unwearied assiduity, and by legitimate means, shall increase.


Verse 12

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but (when) the desire cometh, (it is) a tree of life - (Proverbs 3:18.) True wisdom admonishes us to set our hopes, not on the unsatisfying things of earth, but on that which, though our hope be exercised with long waiting, will not disappoint us in the end, but will be as "the tree of life" in the midst of the "Paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7; Habakkuk 2:3; Hebrews 10:37).


Verse 13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

Whose despiseth the word (namely, of God) shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded - Hebrew, 'shall be destroyed for himself' [ low (H3807a)]: all he shall get for himself is destruction. Or else, he shall be destroyed for it - i:e., for despising it. The Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic, translate, 'by it.' Maurer translates, 'becometh liable to it'-namely, to the punishment which is inflicted on its violators. So Esau "despised (his) birthright," and became liable to punishment accordingly (Genesis 25:34). So the despisers of the Lord's invitation (Luke 14:18). Also the Jews who "despised God's words, so that the wrath of the Lord arose, against His people, until (there was) no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:16). "Shall be rewarded" ( y


Verse 14

The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

The law of the wise (is) a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. "The law of the wise" is the law God, which the wise follow, and which they put forth from their "mouth" as "a well of life," present and eternal to others (Proverbs 10:11; Psalms 36:9). On "the snares of death," cf. Psalms 18:5.


Verse 15

Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.

Good understanding giveth favour - both with God and man.

But the way of transgressors (is) hard - rugged; literally, rough, as soil unfit for cultivation (Deuteronomy 21:4). The way of transgressors is one which yields no fruit of favour from God or good men to them; nor will it yield the precious fruit of eternal life at last, which "good understanding" (i:e., doctrinal experimental, and practical knowledge of the truth) shall yield.


Verse 16

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.

Every prudent (man) dealeth with knowledge - acteth with judgment, not inconsiderately.

But a fool layeth open his folly - betrayeth it by setting about his business rashly, without knowledge or counsel, or regard to the place, the time, or the persons with whom he has to do; whereas the "prudent man" does not say or do all things at once and together, and in all places, but prudently has regard to what is suitable to the place, the time, and the persons (T. Cartwright).


Verse 17

A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.

A wicked messenger falleth into mischief. A messenger who does not execute his 'embassy' 'faithfully,' "falleth into" the penalty of his faithlessness.

But a faithful ambassador (is) health - alike to himself and to those by whom he is sent. Bad rulers and their bad ministers or agents are both accursed by God (cf. 1 Samuel 22:17-18, with Psalms 52:1-9, title; 2 Kings 1:9-14).


Verse 18

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.

Poverty and shame (shall be) to him that refuseth instruction - disciplinary instruction, correction. 'Disciplinary instruction' is needed for learning any honest trade or profession. He who refuseth discipline excludes himself from a way of livelihood, and involves himself in "poverty."

But he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured - before God, and often before men. "Regardeth," mindfully and practically; not merely bearing it calmly, but profiting by it, and refraining from the sins which were the cause of it. "Honoured," stands in contrast to "shame" and to "poverty," which is generally regarded with contempt. The pious are not always enriched, but they are sure, either here or hereafter, to "be honoured."


Verse 19

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but (it is) abomination to fools to depart from evil.

Compare Proverbs 13:12, "When the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." A canon of interpretation in Proverbs is, In antithetical clauses an opposite member is often suppressed in one clause, and has to be supplied from the opposition of the other member in the corresponding clause (Gataker). Thus, here, the desire of the wise or good being accomplished by their departing from evil is sweet to their soul; but as it is abomination to fools to depart from evil, their desire being not accomplished is not sweet, nay, it "maketh the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12). Compare Psalms 145:19, "The Lord will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him." As the wise desire the possession of the true good, and by departing from evil attain to it, so that it is "sweet to the soul;" so fools desire the possession of what is good and "sweet to the soul:" but as they will not de depart from evil, they fail in attaining to what is "sweet to the soul," but shall have bitter and everlasting grief. Just as if there were two patients, both desiring health; the one avoiding forbidden foods, and using the prescribed dregs would recover health, to his joy; the other, disliking the remedies, and indulging his appetite, would fail to recover, and would die (Gejer). The reason why fools abominate to depart from evil is because evil is sweet to them, and they like to indulge their own passions and lusts.


Verse 20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

He that walketh (namely, continuously and habitually) with wise men shall be wise. So the Masoretic text reads [ howleek (Hebrew #1980) ... yech


Verse 21

Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.

Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repaid - or 'good shall repay the righteous.' "Evil" -

i.e., the punishment of evil; not only the reproach of conscience, but also the positive penalty of evil from God, as a shadow follows a body, or a hound its prey. Moreover, it is hinted that evil is made by God its own punishment (Revelation 22:11). On the other hand, "good" becomes its own reward to the good, besides the positive reward which God appoints (Isaiah 3:9-11).


Verse 22

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

A good (man) leaveth an inheritance to his children's children - i:e., presuming that the children and grand-children taught by the good man follow his steps.

And the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. This is one instance of the principle in Proverbs 13:21. The expression, "is laid up," implies that there are hidden ways whereby God sustains the godly, though they do not see it with their eyes nor can comprehend it with their mind (T. Cartwright).


Verse 23

Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.

Much food (is in) the tillage of the poor - `in the newly tilled had of the poor;' in the land which they have newly broken up with arduous and honest labour.

But there is (that is) destroyed for want of judgment. By the rule of interpretation by the contrast of opposites, and by supplying the wanting member in one clause from its opposite expressed in the other clause, the sense is, But there is food (i:e., wealth) possessed by rich men, that is destroyed for want of honesty (literally, judgment or justice) in its acquisition and its employment. The poor man's (honest) labour forms the contrast to the rich man's 'want of justice' in his acquisitions. 'The newly tilled land,' of the poor forms the contrast to the rich man's possessions held for some time. The "much food" of the poor, secured by honest labour, is opposed to the 'food destroyed' of the rich man, (Proverbs 16:8; Jeremiah 17:11; Jeremiah 22:13; Ezekiel 22:29, margin).


Verse 24

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son - i:e., acts in such a way as one who hated the boy and desired his ruin might be supposed to act. "His rod," the rod which the parent is bound to use.

But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes - i:e., early, diligently, painstakingly, while the boy is yet tender; as soon as the corruption of the boy begins to sprout up. The tree is to be bent while young. The punishment is to follow the sin so soon as to prevent the habit of sin being formed-literally, 'early seeks chastening (discipline) for him' (Gesenius, Mercer). Gejer and Maurer take the Hebrew suffix, 'early seeks it'-namely, 'chastening.'


Verse 25

The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.

The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul - (Proverbs 10:3,) by the blessing and kind providence of God. The little which the just have is, as it were, much, because they are content with their lot, and receive all things from the hand of the Lord. The Lord will always provide for them what is for their true good.

But the belly of the wicked shall want. They are never satisfied, because they do not measure their desires by nature, but by their opinion, which is boundless (Mariana). Also, the Lord shall punish them, either here or hereafter, by giving them up to insatiable lust, without the means of gratifying it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 13:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-13.html. 1871-8.

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