Proverbs 13

1 A wise son accepts his father's discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

In the first ten years or so, most children accept their father’s discipline. But as they grow older they are less inclined to do so. They prefer to listen to their own thoughts instead. This is foolishness, and a really bad idea.

Now I understand that some parents take advantage of their children, and don’t give them good advice. I don’t think God expects children to listen to such parents.

A rebuke is a sharp criticism. People don’t like to be rebuked. They respond by scoffing (making fun of the rebuke). A wise son (or daughter) will take his (her) parents rebuke seriously.

When children and young men and women staying with their parents read such verses in the book of Proverbs they should take these words seriously, because they come from God.

2 From the fruit of a man's mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence.

3 The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

As you grow up, and as you read the book of Proverbs, note how much it talks about being careful about what you say or write.

If you know how to speak with sense in a sensible way, good things will come to you.

However, there are people who speak things that result in fights. They will say things with the motive of getting you to say things that you will regret, or things that will cause you grief.

Be careful of people who try to get you to say bad things about others. Be careful of people who try to get you to take a position publicly or privately that they can later quote and get you into a jam. Refuse to answer such people.

Whenever the subject of conversation turns to other people or your position on volatile topics, a loud alarm bell should ring in your mind, and you should guard your mouth. Let a dumb look appear on your face, and spread your hands sheepishly and say, “Why are you asking a simple guy like me? I’m not adequate to answer such things.”

4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.

A sluggard is a lazy person. Lazy people don’t get what they want, but people who work hard do. So don’t become a lazy person. Teach yourself to apply your mind and your hand, and get stuff done.

5 A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.

Is it easy for you to tell a lie? If so, then you are an unrighteous person.

At the end of the day, as often as possible, ask yourself if you did anything disgusting or shameful that day. If you did, practice repentance.

An unnecessary unkind word is disgusting.

To steal what belongs to another is shameful – whether it be their reputation or their spouse or their time or their money or their ideas.

6 Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner.

Do you want to be blameless – that is, someone to whom no blame can be attached? There are two ways to be like that: one, do no wrong, and two, fix every wrong that you did. This verse talks about doing what is right (i.e. doing no wrong).

To subvert something is to undermine its power or authority. When you are wicked (i.e. when you do wrong) you weaken your ability to be blameless, and receive the many advantages of a blameless man. Therefore, the best approach is to avoid trouble rather than meet trouble and then try to get out of it.

For example, if a peer tries to get to you try smoking or drinking or drugs or any addiction, don’t try it. Why try what is known to be foolish and they later expend much effort to get out of it?

7 There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

Don’t judge a person by what he wears or drives, or where he lives. Things are not always what they appear to be. Many a person has treated a shabby looking person with contempt, only to find out later that that person was someone greater than they.

8 The ransom of a man's life is his wealth, but the poor hears no rebuke.

When you are rich, your riches can be used as a weapon over you, but when you are poor, such a weapon doesn’t exist. That doesn’t mean that you should aim to be poor. It just means that you should not let people know that you are rich, which is what the verse before was alluding to.

9 The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

10 Through insolence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

Insolence is rude and disrespectful behavior. When you are insolent you will make the people around you angry, and there will possibly be a fight. Such fighting doesn’t result in any gain, so it is best to avoid it. So then, if you are chatting with someone, and he begins saying something disagreeable to you, the wise thing to do is to listen to his counsel, and consider it. If it doesn’t make sense, respectfully ask a good question or two. If he still doesn’t make sense, respectfully thank him for his perspective and walk away.

11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.

Think about all the money you have. Did you get it by cheating or deceiving anyone? If so, know that God won’t bless it, and sooner or later you will find it gone in a way you didn’t anticipate.

Let every penny you own be a penny you received through the grace of God. Those are the kind of pennies that God blesses and multiplies.

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

To hope for something is to eagerly desire it. Know that if you don’t get what you eagerly desire, you will feel pain. So then, don’t hope for too much. Learn to hope for that which comes via the promises of God. Those hope always come to fruition.

13 The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.

When you see something written in God’s word, take it seriously and make every effort to apply it to yourself with the aim of pleasing God. Keeping doing that over the years, and then, when you look back you will see that God has rewarded you for doing that.

14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death.

If you have the good fortune of coming across a wise man, listen to him, for doing that will help you to live well. You see, there are many traps and snares along the way. It takes wisdom and knowledge and understanding and prudence and discretion to avoid those traps. A man who can avoid traps saves himself a lot of grief and is able to live well.

Be grateful to those who have helped you avoid traps, and treat them with respect.

15 Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard.

When you understand things, and explain them to others, thus helping them avoid the traps across the way, it makes people value you, and be willing to help you in your time of need.

On the other hand, if you are a treacherous person, who sees someone going the wrong path, and not doing anything to warn them, even if there is a chance that they might listen to you, then your own way will be hard because no one will be willing to help a person like that.

16 Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly.

To act with knowledge is one aspect of wisdom. For example, if you want to catch a bus, if you just go to the bus stop and wait for the bus, you are not acting with knowledge. But if you examine the bus timetable beforehand so that you can arrive in time for the next bus then you are acting with knowledge.

For another example, if you marry, without researching on what makes a marriage successful then you are not acting with knowledge. Or if you have children, but don’t take the time to understand how to raise children then you are not acting with knowledge.

A fool displays folly in the sense that when people see that your children are not well brought up they will be seeing your folly on display.

17 A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings healing.

18 Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.

Discipline means doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like doing it.

People who only do things when it feels right will experience poverty and shame. Trying to help such people by saying comforting things to them is not the solution. The solution is to teach them discipline. When your children are young, teach them discipline.

When someone is teaching you discipline, if you regard their reproof then you will be honored; otherwise, you will end up with poverty and shame. Therefore, when your parent is teaching you discipline, learn from them.

Learning discipline is only difficult in the beginning. Once you get past the initial difficulty, it becomes a whole lot easier. So then, force yourself to stick through the difficult part.

19 Desire realized is sweet to the soul, but it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil.

When you set yourself to do something worthwhile, and you do it, you feel good. Remember that feeling – and whenever you are doing something and feel like giving up, remember how good it feels to finish things, and press on till you are done.

A fool doesn’t set himself to do something worthwhile (like turning from evil). If you know something to be evil, and you allow yourself to like doing it, then you are a fool, no matter how intelligent you are. For example, if you enjoy making fun of a disadvantaged person (someone who is not as smart as you, or not as good looking as you, or who is not as charming as you, or whatever), you are a fool.

20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

From as early as childhood, choose your company well. It will make a great difference in your life. If you choose the company of wise men, you will learn to be wise; but if you choose the company of fools, you will end up in lots of trouble. Don’t hang out with the popular people, or even with the intelligent people, or with the self-righteous people; rather, hang out with the wise people.

If you can’t find any such people, don’t hang out with anyone, but learn wisdom from God, and become wise, and those who want to become wise will have someone like you to hang out with and learn from.

21 Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.

22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

23 Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice.

Life is not fair. Let this sink into you from childhood. If you are poor (i.e. unable to make use of resources available to you) others will take those resources from you and use it for their benefit. So then, learn to protect what you have.

For example, if you manage people, but don’t use them wisely then other people will make use of their time, and you will not get that benefit. It is like a farmer who has land but cannot afford to plant anything in it. Others will plant there and take the crop.

24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

A child is moldable. You can teach it good and bad habits. You can teach it how to make good decisions. You can teach it self-discipline. But you’ve got to begin early – as early as two or three years of age. You’ve got to be persistent, and consistent. Once the child is in their early teens, it is pretty much too late to begin teaching then.

You have to teach your child via discipline. That is, when the child deviates from right, you have to express displeasure, and at times, even inflict mild pain – that’s what the ‘rod’ in this verse means.

Always explain why you are disciplining. Never discipline in anger. Never discipline out of spite. Never withhold love after the disciplining is over. Only discipline to the extent of communicating the message until it sinks in. Never ever break bones or cause injury or permanent damage. The palm of the hand or the bottom is a good area for inflicting discipline. Only discipline in public in extreme situations – e.g. when the child’s behavior endangers others and immediate action is needed.

If you allow your child to get his way when he is wrong this verse tells you that you hate your child.

25 The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in need.

If you consistently do what is right you will not go ‘hungry’, but if you consistently do what is wrong you will.

Copyright (c) 2007-2026, Rosario (Ross) D'Souza. All Rights Reserved
Contact us