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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 13

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-25

γ) With reference to the use of temporal good, and of the word of God as the highest good

Chap. 13

1          A wise son hearkeneth to his father’s correction,

but a scorner to no rebuke.

2     By the fruit of one’s mouth doth he enjoy good,

but the delight of the ungodly is violence.

3     He that guardeth his mouth keepeth his life,

he that openeth wide his lips shall be destroyed.

4     The sluggard desireth, but without the satisfying of his desire,

but the desire of the diligent is abundantly satisfied.

5     Deceit the righteous hateth,

but the ungodly acteth basely and shamefully.

6     Righteousness protecteth an upright walk,

but wickedness plungeth into sin.

7     One maketh himself rich and hath nothing,

another professeth to be poor yet hath great riches.

8     A ransom for a man’s life are his riches,

but the poor heedeth no threatening.

9     The light of the righteous rejoiceth,

but the lamp of the wicked goeth out.

10     By pride cometh only contention,

but wisdom is with those who receive counsel.

11     Gain through fraud vanisheth away,

but he that gathereth by labor increaseth it (his gain).

12     Hope deferred maketh the heart sick,

but desire accomplished is a tree of life.

13     Whosoever despiseth the word is bound to it,

he that feareth the commandment is rewarded.

14     The instruction of the wise man is a fountain of life

to escape the snares of death.

15     Kindly wisdom ensureth favor,

the way of the ungodly is desolate.

16     The prudent man doeth all things with understanding,

but a fool spreadeth abroad folly.

17     A bad messenger falleth into trouble,

but a faithful messenger is health.

18     Poverty and shame (to him) that refuseth correction;

he that regardeth reproof is honored.

19     Quickened desire is sweet to the soul,

and it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

20     Walk with wise men and become wise!

but whoso delighteth in fools becometh base.

21     Evil pursueth sinners,

but to the righteous God repayeth good.

22     A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children,

and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

23     The poor man’s new land (yieldeth) much food,

but many a one is destroyed by iniquity.

24     He that spareth his rod hateth his son,

but whoso loveth him seeketh correction.

25     The upright eateth to the satisfying of his hunger,

but the belly of the wicked shall want.


Proverbs 13:2. [The literal rendering is “the soul of the wicked (shall feed upon) violence. “Substantially this rendering is given by the E. V., by H., N., S., and M. Zöckler [see exeg. notes] regards this verse as convoying the two ideas that violence is the wicked man’s delight; and that it is his recompense. He feeds on it while he lives, and dies by it. Conceiving the former to be the more prominent idea hero he gives to נֶפֶשׁ a secondary and figurative meaning,—the longing, the delight. We think that he has lost rather than gained by this refining.—A.]

Proverbs 13:4. According to the Masoretic punctuation the clause would be literally rendered “His soul—the sluggard’s—longeth [strongly desireth], and there is nothing,” [“His appetite.” Z.] The suffix in נַפְשׁוֹ would then stand pleonastically before the appended genitive עָצֵל [as e.g. Numbers 24:3; Deuteronomy 32:43]; וָאַיִן would however be introduced as a parenthesis between the predicate and the subject, and would express substantially the idea “without satisfaction, without finding anything.” It appears simpler and less forced, however, to change the punctuation as Hitzig does, thus: מִתְאַוֶּה׀ וְאֵין נַפְשׁוֹ ׀עָצֵל, in which case נֶפֶשׁ receives the meaning by metonymy “object of desire” (comp. Psalms 35:25; Isa. 58:19), and the meaning of the whole clause is as in our version.

Proverbs 13:5. [יַבְאִישׁ, which Z. regards as equivalent to יָבִישׁ, Bött. (see § 1147, C. b.) regards as substituted for it by a mere interchange of weak and kindred consonants. The verbs are nearly related, באשׁ being used of that which is offensive to the sense of smell, בושׁ of that which changes color, by turning pale or otherwise. The one describes misconduct as offensive, the other as shameful.—A.]

Proverbs 13:9. The verb יִדְעָךְ seems to form a designed accord with יִשְׂמָח comp. Proverbs 12:25.

Proverbs 13:11. [The different renderings grow partly out of different conceptions of the meaning of the noun הֶבֶל and partly from different syntactical constructions. הֶבֶל originally “breath,” then “nothingness” or “vanity,” is by most interpreters taken in some metaphorical sense. The rendering of the E. V., followed by H., is ambiguous, “by or through vanity.” M. and St. render “without effort;” Fuerst agrees with Z. in giving it an ethical meaning,—that which is morally nothing, nothing right, nothing good. It so describes fraud and iniquity. Gesen., Noyes, etc., retain the primitive meaning, and treat the מִן as comparative. See Exeg. Notes.—A.]

Proverbs 13:15. [The rendering of שֵׂכֶל־טוֹב in the E. V., is again ambiguous: “good understanding.” II., N., S., M. agree substantially with Z., interpreting the phrase as descriptive of prudence or discretion joined with kindness. Others, e.g. Fuerst, give it, with less probability, the passive meaning of “consideration” or “reputation.”—A.]

Proverbs 13:16. Instead of כָּל־ we should read כֹּל, in accordance with the correct rendering of the Vulg.: Astutus omnia agit cum consilio. [The English commentators without exception, so far as we know, follow the E. V. and the LXX, translate according to the pointing of the Mas. text: πᾶς πανοῦργος; “every wise man,” etc. Z.’s rendering is certainly more forcible, and justifies the vowel change.—A.]

Proverbs 13:19. [The weight of authority has been decidedly against the author’s conception of the poetic נִהְיָה, Gesen. and Fuerst are against him, as well as the commentators cited. Kamph. may be added to those who agree with Z. in rendering this Niph. participle “become” as meaning “come into being,” “developed,” while the other conception is that it describes what has been “completed, accomplished.” Comp. Proverbs 13:12, b, “desire that hath come,” which is generally understood to be satisfaction. We cannot think that the proverb relates to the pleasure of desiring, but to that of being satisfied. The 2d clause is by H. regarded as an inference, “ therefore,” etc.; E. V, N, S., M. regard it as an antithesis—notwithstanding their certain disappointment fools cling to evil. K. shapes the antithesis differently: “a new desire is pleasant to the soul, hut if it be evil fools abhor to renounce it.” Z.’s view appears in the notes.—A.]

Proverbs 13:20. [For the imper. use of the inf. abs. see Green § 268, 2 and grammars generally. יֵרוֹעַ Niph. Imperf., more distinct than יֵרֵע which might be a neuter Kal. Bött. § 1147, A.—A.]


1. With chap. 13 Hitzig would have a new section commence, extending to Proverbs 15:32, and consisting of three subdivisions of symmetrical structure. The first of these subdivisions would be chap. 13, consisting of four groups of six verses each; the second, chap. 14, five groups of seven verses each; the third, chap. 15, four groups of eight verses each—altogether 91 verses, precisely the same number as the preceding Section (chaps. 10–12) contained.—How arbitrary these assumptions are appears partly from the difficulties, often utterly insuperable, which meet the attempts to point out real divisions at the beginning and end of the several alleged groups of verses. It appears further from the fact that here again it is necessary to stamp as spurious one verse at least (Proverbs 13:23), a violent critical expedient to secure the symmetrical relation of groups that is demanded. Comp. above, Exeget. notes on chap. 10, No. 1.

With respect to the groups of verses that do develop themselves with satisfactory distinctness, and in general with reference to the order and progress of thought in the chapter before us, see the Doctrinal and Ethical notes.

2.Proverbs 13:1-3. Three introductory proverbs, general in their import.—A wise son hearkeneth to his father’s correction.—In this first clause we must supply “hearkeneth” from the second as predicate. The conception of others, e.g. J. D. Michaelis, Bertheau, etc.: A wise son is his father’s correction, i.e. the object of his correction,—is less natural on account of its harshness. Parallel to the milder expression “instruction, correction” (מוּסָר) in clause a, we have in b the stronger term “rebuke” (גְעָרָה, as in Proverbs 17:10).—No rebuke, no threatening, no earnest enforcement of law makes any impression on the “scorner” (Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 9:7), the heedless reviler of religion, who has long ago thrown aside all childlike piety, and reverence for the holy. With Proverbs 13:2, clause a, comp. Proverbs 12:14; with b comp. Proverbs 10:6.—The delight of the ungodly is violence, i.e. the eager desire (נֶפֶשׁ) of maliciously disposed sinners is for violence (חָמָם), which they wish to exercise upon others, and which therefore in turn recompenses them. “Violence,” therefore, stands here with a twofold meaning [active and passive] as in Proverbs 10:6. [See Critical Notes].—Shall be destroyed.—מְחִתָּה, ruina, “destruction,” just as in Proverbs 10:14.—[“Take heed that thy tongue cut not thy throat;” an Arabic proverb quoted by Trapp from Scaliger, Arab. Prov. 1:75.—A.]

3.Proverbs 13:4-12. Nine proverbs relating mainly to the worth and right use of wealth.—The sluggard desireth, but without the satisfying of his desire.—[See Critical Notes].—But the desire of the diligent is abundantly satisfied, literally, “is made fat,” comp. Proverbs 11:25.

Proverbs 13:5. Deceit the righteous hateth.—דְּבַר־שֶׁקֶר appears to be not “word of falsehood,” deceitful language (Umbreit, Bertheau), but a designation of everything falling under the category of the deceitful (דבר being therefore equivalent to πρᾶγμα); comp. Psalms 41:9; Isaiah 44:4; it means therefore lies and frauds, deceit.—But the ungodly acteth basely and shamefully. [See Critical Notes]. יַבְאִישׁ, lit., “maketh offensive, stinking,” stands here as equivalent to יָבִישׁ, “acteth basely, or causeth shame;” comp. Proverbs 19:26. The Hiphil form יַחְפִּיר, which is found also in the parallel passage, here has an active meaning, “acteth shamefully,” while in Isaiah 54:4 it stands as passive: cometh to shame, or is put to shame. [So the E. V., H., N., and M., while S., K., etc., give the causative rendering—A.].

Proverbs 13:6. Righteousness protecteth an upright walk, lit., “innocence of way,” an abstract for the concrete, and therefore equivalent to “such as walk uprightly” (comp.Proverbs 10:29; Proverbs 10:29). But wickedness plungeth into sin.—Wickedness (רִשְׁעָה), literally, “perverse, malicious disposition” describes that evil state of the heart which necessarily leads to sinful action (חַטָּאת). The verb, which is here used in its natural meaning, “overturn, plunge into something,” has the end of its action, sin, connected with it without a preposition (comp. Proverbs 19:13). The old versions, and among modern expositors Bertheau, [Fuerst, H., N., M., S.], take the object as an abstract for the concrete, and therefore translate “wickedness overthroweth sinners,” by which rendering a more exact parallelism between a and b, it is true, is secured.

Proverbs 13:7. One maketh himself rich, and hath nothing at all.—Comp. Proverbs 12:9, a maxim, which, like the one before us, is aimed at foolish pride of birth and empty love of display on the part of men without means. The “boasting one’s self” there corresponds with the “representing one’s self rich ” here. Comp. also the similar proverb of the Arabs, in Meidani, III. 429. [The second clause is differently understood; W. interprets it as referring to the “being rich in good works, and sacrificing all worldly things for God and His truth.” So Holden; while Trapp, Bridges, N., S. and M. regard the clause as referring to the deceitful concealment of riches. The parallelism requires this view.—A.]

Proverbs 13:8. A ransom for a man’s life are his riches, i.e. the rich man can and under certain circumstances, as e.g. before a court, or when taken captive by robbers or in war, must, employ his wealth for his ransom.—But the poor heedeth no threatening, i.e. no warning or threatening however sharp (“rebuke” as in Proverbs 13:1) will be able to force anything from him who has nothing the poor is deaf to every threat that aims at the diminution of his possessions, for “where there is nothing, there the Emperor has lost his rights.” The spirit of this maxim, in itself morally indifferent, seems like that of the similar proverb, Proverbs 10:15, to be directed to the encouragement of industry, and of some earthly acquisitions though they be but moderate. Elster is certainly in the wrong, in holding that the proverb depicts, not without a shade of irony, “the advantages as well of great wealth as of great poverty.” Against various other conceptions of the verse, especially of clause b, comp. Bertheau in loco. [Holden construes interrogatively: “Doth not the poor,” etc., understanding it of the helplessness of the poor; N. and M. understand it of the safety of the poor in his poverty; W. of his light-hearted independence; S. of the viciously or heedlessly poor, whom nothing can arouse to virtuous industry.—A.]

Proverbs 13:9. The light of the righteous burneth joyously.—The verb is here intransitive: “is joyous, i.e. burns brightly, with vigorous blaze.” Hitzig rightly directs attention to the fact that the same root (שׂמח) in Arabic signifies to “laugh, or sport.”—But the lamp of the wicked goeth out. The “lamp” of the wicked (נֵר) does not seem to be emphatically contrasted as a dim night lamp with the bright light of the righteous, but is probably a simple synonym of אוֹר determined by the parallelism; comp. Job 28:5-6; Job 21:17; Job 22:28; Job 29:3.

Proverbs 13:10. By pride cometh only contention.—“Only” (רַק) although in the Hebrew put first in the clause, belongs nevertheless to the subject (מַצָּה), and not to the “by pride” בְּזָדוֹן [as in E. V., and Stuart]; as though the meaning were, only by pride (or, only in excitement, ebullition of passion, Umbreit) does one begin strife. Comp. rather as an example of this prefixing of “only” (רַק), Psalms 32:6 [where Hupfeld and others do not admit this explanation “only to him,” etc.]; and for similar hyperbata with גַּם and אַךְ comp. Proverbs 19:2; Proverbs 20:11; Isaiah 34:14. [N. and M. agree with our author. H. takes רַק as a noun, “ignorance” with pride, etc. But if it be objected to the simple and obvious rendering of the words in their Hebrew order, that pride is not the only or chief cause of contention, it may no less be objected that contention is not the only or chief result of pride. Why may not the proverb be interpreted as comparing two dispositions, the proud, self-sufficient spirit, of clause a, and the modest inclination to consult and consider others, of clause b? Only by the former of these two is contention produced.—A.]—But wisdom is with those who receive counsel.—Comp. Proverbs 12:15, b. Instead of נוֹעָצִים, “the well advised, those who hearken to counsel,” Hitzig proposes to read צְנוּעִים, the “modest.” An unnecessary change to correspond with Proverbs 11:2.

Proverbs 13:11. Gain through fraud vanisheth away.—[See Critical Notes]. The הוֹן מֵהֶבֶל is used to describe “gain coming from nothingness, from the unreal,” i.e. secured in an unsubstantial, inconsiderate, fraudulent way (Ewald, Luther, etc.). Or (with Ziegler, Döderlein, Elster, Hitzig) let the pointing be מְהֻבָּל (Pual part.); i.e. a hastily, fraudulently acquired wealth, substantia festinata, Vulg.—To regard מֵהֶבֶל as a comparative, “sooner than a breath” (Umbreit, Noyes and others), has this against it,—that a “vanishing away,” a “diminution” cannot be well predicated of a הֶבֶל, a nothing, a mere phantom, but may be naturally of a possession gained in an unsubstantial or unworthy manner.—But he that gathereth by laborincreaseth it.—עַל־ידָ is either “handful after handful” (Ewald, Bertheau, Elster, etc.), or, “according to his ability” pro portione s. mensura sua (Hitzig). In both cases it describes the gradual and progressive accumulation of wealth, resulting from diligence and exertion, and so is in significant contrast with the impatient dishonesty of the preceding clause.

Proverbs 13:12. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; comp. Proverbs 10:28. The predicate is not a substantive, “sickness of heart” (Umbreit), but a Hiph. partic.—For the figure of the “tree of life” in clause b comp. Proverbs 11:30. [“Desire that hath come,” (Kal part.) is by common consent of lexicographers and commentators desire accomplished. This should be remembered in the exposition of Proverbs 13:19 a.—A.]

4.Proverbs 13:13-17. Five proverbs relating to the value of the divine word as the highest good, and exhorting to obedience to it.—Whosoever despiseth the word is in bonds to it, i.e. the word or the law of God (comp. for this absolute use of the term “word” (דבר) e.g., Proverbs 16:20). The word of divine revelation is here, as it were, personified as a real superhuman power, whose service one cannot escape, and in default of this he comes in bondage to it, i.e. loses his liberty. [The verb according to this rendering describes mortgages, bonds and other such legal obligations; “wird verpfändet,” Z.—A.] Thus Schultens, Ewald, Elster correctly render, while many others, e.g. Umbreit, Bertheau, [K., E. V., N., S., M.] explain “for him is destruction provided, he shall be destroyed.” Hitzig, however, altogether arbitrarily takes the “word” of clause a in the sense of “command,” and the “command” (מִצְוָה) of clause b in the sense of “prohibition,” and accordingly translates “whosoever despiseth the command is seized by it, and whoso avoideth (heedeth) the prohibition is rewarded” (?). For the phrase “he is requited, to him is requital,” comp. Proverbs 11:31.

Proverbs 13:14. The instruction of the wise man is a fountain of life.—Comp. Proverbs 10:11, where the “mouth of the righteous,” and Proverbs 14:27, where the fear of God is described by this figure. In the latter passage the 2d clause of our verse appears again. “Snares of death” an established formula for the description of mortal perils; comp. Psalms 18:5; Proverbs 21:6, and also the Latin laquei mortis, Hor. Od. III. 24, 8.

Proverbs 13:15. Kindly wisdom produceth favor. Comp. Proverbs 3:4, where however the שֵׂכֶל־טוֹב expresses a somewhat different idea, viz., passively, “good reputation.” [See Critical Notes].—The way of the ungodly is desolate.—אֵיתָן, perennis, elsewhere descriptive of a brook or river that flows inexhaustibly, seems here to denote either a “standing bog” (J. D., Michaelis, Umbreit), or, which is perhaps more natural, it belongs as an adjective to the noun “way” (דֶּרֶךְ), and characterizes the way of transgressors as “ever trodden,” i.e. altogether hard, solid, and therefore desolate and unfruitful (Bertheau, Ewald, Elster, etc.). [As compared with the more common conception of the hard way as rough, stony (Fuerst, H., S., M., W.) this has the advantage of following more naturally from the radical idea of continuance and permanence.—A.] Hitzig prefers to read יְאַחֵן, makes hateful, produces hatred (?). [This is Noyes’ explanation].

Proverbs 13:16. [See Critical Notes]. For the meaning “the wise man doeth all things with understanding,” comp. Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 15:2.

Proverbs 13:17. A bad messenger falleth into trouble.—A “bad messenger” (lit., “wicked”) is not, as might be thought, one who is indolent, tardy, as in Proverbs 10:26 (so Bertheau), but one who is faithless, not true to his master, betraying him. He “falls into trouble” as a punishment for his faithlessness. Arnoldi and Hitzig unnecessarily substitute the Hiphil for the Kal, and render “throws into trouble.” The antithesis between a and b is at any rate not an exact one.—But a messenger of fidelity, a faithful messenger.—Comp. Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 20:6, and for this participial form of the epithet, Proverbs 25:13.—For this use of “health,” healing medicine, comp. Proverbs 12:18.

5.Proverbs 13:18-25. Eight additional admonitory I proverbs, pointing to the blessedness of obedience to the divine word.—Poverty and shame (to him) that refuseth correction.—The participial clause is to be taken as conditional, “if one refuses correction” (comp. Job 41:18). The connection with the main clause is “not grammatically complete, because intelligible of itself,” comp. Proverbs 27:7 (Hitzig). For the meaning of the verb comp. Proverbs 1:25; Proverbs 4:15; Proverbs 8:33.—With clause b comp. Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 15:32.

Proverbs 13:19. Quickened desire is sweet to the soul.—[See Critical Notes.] “Desire that has come to be” (Niph. part.) cannot be designed to describe “appeased desire” (Vulg., Luther, Bertheau, Ewald, Elster [Fuerst, H., N., S., M., etc.], but, as the import of clause b and a comparison of 12, b suggest, a desire that is just originated, has just attained its development, now first vividly experienced but not yet satisfied (Umbreit, Hitzig). Now that this desire is in many instances directed toward evil, and that this evil desire is especially hard to appease,—this is the truth to which clause b gives expression (comp. James 1:14-15). The second clause is not then antithetically related to the first, but it makes strongly prominent a single side of the general truth already uttered. [To what is said in the Critical Notes Rueetschi’s comment may be added (Stud. u. Krit., 1868, p. 139). He renders clause a like the Vulg., E. V., etc., regarding it as the statement of a general psychological fact, while b supplies a particular case, illustrative and not contrasted. His practical use of the sentiment of the proverb is embodied in the appeal “Therefore see to it that thy desire be a good one in whose accomplishment thou mayest rightly rejoice!” He pronounces Hitzig’s and Z.’s rendering of נִהְיָה as untenable lexically, and false to fact.—A.]

Proverbs 13:20. Walk with wise men and become wise.—So according to the K’thibh: an infin. abs. [used as an imperative] followed by an imperative instead of a consecutive clause,—which is to be preferred to the K’ri [which is followed by LXX, Vulg., E. V., H., N., S. and M.]. The latter makes the language less spirited and needlessly assimilates it in form to the 2d clause.—But whosoever delighteth in fools becometh base.—In the Hebrew there is a play upon words: he who tendeth fools (רֹעֵה) showeth himself base יֵרוֹעַ. [This might be thus imitated in English: he who allendeth fools tendeth to folly]. For this use of the verb רעה, to follow or attach one’s self to some one, sectari aliquem, to cultivate intercourse with one, comp. Proverbs 28:7; Proverbs 29:3; Jeremiah 17:16. From this is derived רֵעַ “friend, comrade.”

Proverbs 13:21. To the righteous God repayeth good.—As subject of the verb we should supply in this instance not the indefinite subject, “one,” man, but rather Jehovah (unlike the instances in Proverbs 10:24; Proverbs 12:12). Hitzig needlessly substitutes as an emendation יְקַדֵּםְ “meeteth,” suggested by the καταλήψεται of the LXX. For the meaning comp. Proverbs 10:25; Proverbs 11:3; Proverbs 11:5, etc.

Proverbs 13:22. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children. For this absolute use of the Hiph., “causeth to inherit, transmitteth his estate,” comp. Deuteronomy 32:8. For the sentiment comp. Job 27:17; Ecclesiastes 2:26.

Proverbs 13:23. The poor man’s new land (yieldeth) much food. The noun נִיר according to Hosea 10:12; Jeremiah 4:3, describes “newly broken, newly ploughed land,” i.e. a field newly cleared, and therefore cultivated with much effort (Vulg. correctly novalia: Luther less exactly “furrows” (Furchen). If such a field nevertheless yields its poor possessor “much food,” he must be a devout and upright poor man, and so possess the main condition of genuine prosperity, which is wanting to the man mentioned in clause b, who is evidently a man of means, a rich man, who in consequence of his iniquity (lit., “by not-justice”) is destroyed.—Hitzig on the ground of the phraseology, which is certainly somewhat hard and obscure, pronounces the verse corrupt, and therefore reads נִיב instead of ניר, and so gets for clause a the meaning “A great man who consumes the income of capital” (!). Furthermore he pronounces the whole verse spurious, and thinks it originally formed a marginal comment on Proverbs 11:24 (!!) but then by the mistake of some copyist was introduced into the text just at this point. [Rueetschi (as above quoted) interprets clause a in like manner of the righteous poor man’s newly cleared land, which, although wrought with difficulty, abundantly rewards the labor. The יֵשׁ of clause b he regards not as a verb “there is,” but as a substantive (comp. Proverbs 8:21), with the meaning “substance, wealth.” This is destroyed where there has been unrighteousness.—A.]

Proverbs 13:24. He that spareth his rod hateth his son. See Proverbs 3:12; Proverbs 23:13-14; Proverbs 29:15; Sir 30:1.—But whosoever loveth him seeketh it, correction. The suffix of the last verb here, as in Proverbs 13:22, refers to the object immediately following, and this noun is here used actively in the sense of “chastisement, discipline which one employs with another.” Others take the suffix as the indirect object, equivalent to לוֹ, “for him;” he seeketh for him (the son) correction. This, however, is hot grammatically admissible. Hitzig maintains that the verb is here to be taken after the analogy of the Arabic in the sense of “tame, subdue,” and that the noun is a second accusative object (?),—and that we should therefore translate “he restraineth him by correction.” So also Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, 377 (follows him up with correction). With Proverbs 13:25 comp. Psalms 34:10 (11), Proverbs 10:3, etc.


The idea which appears in the very first verse, of salutary discipline, or of education by the word of God and sound doctrine, also reappears afterward several times in a significant way (Proverbs 13:13-14; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 13:24; comp. Proverbs 13:6; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 13:20-21); it therefore to a certain extent controls the whole development of thought throughout this Section, so far as we may speak of anything of the kind. We have also here again as in chap. 4 (see above, p. 74,) a chapter on the true religious training of children. Only it is here specifically training to the wise use of earthly blessings (so in particular the group Proverbs 13:4-12), and to the knowledge of God’s word as the chief blessing (so especially in the 2d half, Proverbs 13:13-25); this is urged by most of the proverbs that are here grouped. Hence the frequent allusions to the blessing of constant diligence, and patient labor in one’s earthly calling in reliance upon God (Proverbs 13:4; Proverbs 13:11; Proverbs 13:23; Proverbs 13:25); also to the great value of earthly possessions gathered under God’s gracious help, as important instrumentalities for the fulfilment of the spiritual duties also involved in one’s calling (Proverbs 13:8; Proverbs 13:11-12; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 13:22); further to the hateful and harmful nature of pride and vanity (Proverbs 13:7 a, Proverbs 13:10, Proverbs 13:16, Proverbs 13:18); to the evil consequences of unfaithfulness, since it necessarily “smites its own lord” (Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 13:5; Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 13:17); to the importance of good company, and of a decided abhorrence of that evil companionship which corrupts the morals (Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 13:6; Proverbs 13:20; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:33), etc.

Therefore, in the homiletic treatment of the chapter as a whole, we have as a subject “The true Christian education of children.” 1) Its basis: God’s word (Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 13:13-14); 2) its means: love, and strictness in inculcating God’s word (Proverbs 13:1; Proverbs 13:18; Proverbs 13:24); 3) its aim: guidance of the youth to the promotion of his temporal and eternal welfare (Proverbs 13:2 sq., Proverbs 13:16 sq.) Or, on the right use of God’s word as the basis, the means, and the end in all human culture. Or, on the word of God as the most precious of all possessions (comp. Matthew 6:33; Matthew 13:44-46; 1 Peter 1:23-25).—Stöcker:—The wise man’s discipline (Disciplina sapientis). 1) Wherein it consists (1–10); 2) What qualities the well-trained wise man possesses, viz. chiefly, a) Moderation and prudence in the use of earthly good; b) Humility and modesty; 3) What is the blessing of a wise training.

Proverbs 13:1-3. Starke:—No one is born pious; every one brings sin with him into the world; therefore from the tenderest childhood upward diligence should be employed with youth that they may grow up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:2). There are spirits that from merest infancy onward have their jests at everything that belongs to virtue and piety (Genesis 21:9); to improve such always costs much work and prayer.—(On Proverbs 13:2-3): If words spoken heedlessly before a human tribunal are often so dangerous that they can bring one into the greatest misfortune, how can evil words be indifferent in the view of God the Supreme Judge (Matthew 12:36)?—Wohlfarth:—On what does the happy result of education depend? 1) On the side of parents, on the strictest conscientiousness in the fulfilment of their duties as educators (Proverbs 13:1); 2) On the side of children, on their thankful reception of this training (Proverbs 13:2-9).

Proverbs 13:4-12. Starke (on Proverbs 13:5):—The natural man shuns lying and deceit on account of the outward shame and reproach; the pious abhors them with all his heart for God’s sake.—(On Proverbs 13:7): A man’s condition may not be with certainty inferred from the outward appearance: “all is not gold that glitters” (Ecclesiastes 8:4; 1 Samuel 16:7). The spiritually poor who feels his inward poverty stands in the right relation, in which he can become truly rich in the grace of God.—(On Proverbs 13:8): The poor man may have many advantages over the rich, in case he knows how to use his poverty aright.—(On Proverbs 13:11): That many men of means become poor is caused by the fact that they do not wisely apply what is theirs, but waste it on all manner of useless things.—(On Proverbs 13:12): If thou hast made some promise to thy neighbor, defer not long me fulfilment of the promise. He who gives promptly gives double.—[Bridges (on Proverbs 13:5):—It is not that a righteous man never lies. Nor is it a proof of a righteous man that he avoids lying. But true religion brings in the new taste—conformity to the mind of God.—Trapp [on Proverbs 13:9):—A saint’s joy is as the light of the sun, fed by heavenly influence, and never extinct, but diffused through all parts of the world.—(On Proverbs 13:11): Ill-gotten goods fly away without taking leave of the owner.—(On Proverbs 13:12): We are short-breathed, short-spirited. But as God seldom comes at our time, so He never fails at His own; and then He is most sweet because most seasonable.—Arnot (on Proverbs 13:12):—If the world be made the portion of an immortal spirit, to want it is one sickness, to have it is another. To desire and to possess a perishable portion are only two different kinds of misery to men].—J. Lange (on Proverbs 13:12):—Children of God must often hope long under the cross for their deliverance. Yet when this comes at length, it is so refreshing and joyful, that they begin as it were to live anew.—Zeltner (on Proverbs 13:12):—Set thy hope not on the vain, uncertain and transient, but on the imperishable and eternal, on God and His word, 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:17.

Proverbs 13:13-17. Tübingen Bible (on Proverbs 13:13):—It is very great wisdom gladly to receive correction when one has erred; but it is folly to be angry when one is warned against everlasting destruction.—Geier:—Faithful discharge of the duties that devolve on us secures a good conscience and reward from God and men.—[Trapp (on Proverbs 13:15):—Natural conscience cannot but do homage to the image of God stamped upon the natures and works of the godly.—Arnot:—It is far-seeing mercy that makes the way of transgressors hard; its hardness warns the traveller to turn that he may live].—Starke (on Proverbs 13:16):—If thine act and project are to prosper, begin with prudence and good counsel, and so continue till thou hast done.—Wohlfarth:—Wisdom as the fountain of true life. Its correction like its counsel is health and blessing; its yoke is soft and light, because it urges us to act and to walk simply according to our destination.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 13:13 sq.):—A despiser of God’s word involves himself in its penalties, he falls sooner or later under its chastisement: while on the contrary his reward never fails the righteous.—(On Proverbs 13:17): While the wicked messenger prepares misfortune for himself as well as for his master, the faithful makes good even his lord’s mistakes.

Proverbs 13:18-25. Berleburg Bible (on Proverbs 13:18):—Where one finds a spirit that can tolerate no correction, is always excusing and defending itself, or throwing the blame on others, from such a one there is no good to be hoped.—(On Proverbs 13:20): It is very profitable to cultivate friendship and familiar intercourse with spiritually-minded men, because one is in general wont easily to take to one’s self the spirit of those with whom one associates.—Zeltner (on Proverbs 13:20):—If thou shunnest an infected house, how much more shouldst thou shun the company of the ungodly, that thou mayest not be touched by the poison of their sins and vices.—[Arnot:—The issue to be decided is not what herd you shall graze with a few years before your spirit return to the dust; but what moral element you shall move in during the few and evil days of life, till your spirit return to God who gave it.].—Starke (on Proverbs 13:21):—Sin evermore draws after it God’s wrath and judgments as the shadow always closely follows the body.—[T. Adams (on Proverbs 13:22):—The usurer lightly begets blind children that cannot see to keep what their father left them. But when the father is gone to hell for gathering, the son often follows for scattering. But God is just].—Melanchthon (on Proverbs 13:23):—It is better to possess small means, but use them well, and enjoy them with pious and contented mind, than to heap up great treasures, that pass not away without offences of many kinds.—Osiander (on Proverbs 13:23).—God gives to a pious man who is poor nevertheless nourishment enough if ho only labor diligently in his calling and forsake not prayer.—J. Lange (on Proverbs 13:24):—A good father follows his children unweariedly with prayer, correction and counsel, that he may not be forced afterwards bitterly to deplore omitting correction at the right time.—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 13:24):—A loving father strives to correct his child early; he docs not wait’ till urgent need forces him to it.—[John Howe:—Fond parents think it love (that spares the rod); but divine wisdom calls it hatred.—Bridges:—The discipline of our children must commence with self-discipline. Nature teaches us to love them much. But we want a controlling principle to teach us to love them wisely. The indulgence of our children has its root in self-indulgence].

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 13". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/proverbs-13.html. 1857-84.
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