Proverbs ~ Chapter 13
Contrasting Righteous and Wicked Lives, Chapter 10-15
In this chapter we will continue to contrast the differences between walking in the righteousness of God and the wickedness of Satan’s cosmic system. We will note that the righteous are obedient to God’s Word and Will by being diligent in the intake and application of His Word, while the wicked rebel against God by rejecting both the intake and application of Bible Doctrine.
As is typical, the first verse gives us the context for this chapter. Prov 13:1, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
Every word of the introductory verse calls on the son to listen to his parent’s instructions, which provides our overall context of this chapter that you and I, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, need to listen to every word that our Father, (God the Father), speaks to us in His Word.
This chapter, by way of its subject matter and play on words, has four escalating sub units of instruction:
Vs. 2-6, pertaining to speech, where vs. 1-4 speaks to the use of the mouth and vs. 5-6 to action and reaction regarding our speech.
Vs. 7-11, pertaining to wealth and the ambiguity of riches.
Vs. 12-19, pertaining to longings satisfied, hope fulfilled.
Vs. 20-25, pertaining to blessings or discipline depending on our associations.
It escalates from the implicit admonition for the son to listen to his parents, vs. 1, to an implicit admonition to parents to discipline their sons, vs. 24, a connection reinforced by the catchword MUSAR, “instruction / discipline.”
Section 1: Vs 1-6
As we begin this chapter we note once again that Solomon is waving the warning flag for his children. He is warning them to not reject God’s Word.
Prov 13:1, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
“A wise son accepts his father’s discipline.”
“A wise son” is the Noun BEN with the Adjective CHAKAM
“Father’s” is the possessive Noun AB.
“Discipline” is the noun MUSAR once again that runs the gamut of meaning from chastisement to instruction.
There are no verbs in this phrase so we add “accepts” for context in contrast to the “scoffer” in the second half of this phrase.
So the opening exhortation is to receive Bible doctrine as a wise son will do.
“But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
“But a Scoffer” is WA LETS, where LETS means, “a mocker, scorner, or scoffer,” as we have noted in Prov 1:22; 3:34; 9:7-8.
Scoffers are unable to learn from the warnings, reproof, or punishment of those who are more wise (e.g., Bible Doctrine/God’s Word), Prov 9:7f; 13:1; 14:6; 15:12; 19:25.
Those who act proudly are called scoffers, Prov 21:24, and they are an abomination to all, Prov 24:9.
A good way to remove contention from a group is to evict the scoffer, Prov 22:10.
“Does not listen” is the negative particle LO with the Qal Perfect of the verb SHAMA, which means more than just not hearing something. It means to not apply it either, as in Prov 5:13
Prov 5:13, “I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors!”
“Rebuke” is the Noun GE’ARAH, גְּעָרָה that means, “to rebuke, reproof, or threaten.” This word occurs 14 times in Biblical Hebrew, always in poetic literature, and denotes a protest with moral indignation. It means he does not listen to God’s Word especially when it tells him he is doing something wrong and it has negative consequences. He scoffs or laughs at it and disregards it.
We have seen this opening scene of Solomon warning his son to listen to and apply the word he is giving to him, time and time again, including:
Prov 1:8, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
Prov 3:1, “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments.”
Prov 4:1, “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding.”
Prov 4:4, “Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.”
Prov 4:20-21, “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.”
Prov 5:1, “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding.”
Prov 5:7, “Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth.”
Prov 6:20, “My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother.”
Prov 7:1-2, “My son, keep my words and treasure my commandments within you. 2Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye.”
Prov 7:24, “Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth.”
Prov 8:33, “Heed instruction and be wise, and do not refuse it.”
And so in our verse we have, “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
And we will see it again in:
Prov 15:5, “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.”
Prov 23:22, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Solomon, and therefore God, repeats this message over and over again, “if you want to be wise, pay attention to your father’s instructions, (i.e., Bible Doctrine).” Why is this truth stressed repeatedly? The answer is in the fact that children tend to not listen to their parents, especially in those teen and young adult years.
The same is generally true in the spiritual life. Many times new believers are simply satisfied with the knowledge that they are saved and do not progress beyond that. Also, when some believers reach adolescence in the spiritual life, they tend to think they got it all down and do not need to listen to instruction as they once did, or they get side tracked by the details of life. Other reasons for the child’s rejection of his parents teaching includes; familiarity with his parents, bitterness, a lack of respect, or the arrogance of youth. The same goes in the spiritual life of some believers as well.
As you know, if we are lax in our intake and application of God’s Word, it has the result of producing various kinds of problems and difficulties that tend to stick to our lives like superglue to our fingers. As such, Solomon is trying to help his sons avoid a ton of stupid mistakes and subsequent problems in life, just as God is trying to help you, by giving you His Word.
As God tries to help you avoid these pitfalls, just as there are many children who do not listen to their parents, there will be scorners and fools that will not listen to God’s Word and instead reap the consequences of their stupidity and rebellion. Let us not be in that category lest we too be a fool!
Another reason why some get lax with their intake and application of God’s Word is they tend to drop their guard, and their love and passion for Christ begins to cool off. These believers tend to drift from the Lord because their love for Christ has been replaced with other things. When your love for Christ wanes, the door of temptation is opened wide.
Mat 24:12, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”
The Bible warns us of this attitude, especially in the example of the church at Ephesus that cooled in their love for the Lord, Rev 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
“In a Discipleship Journal survey, 81% of respondents noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God and when they were physically tired (57%).” (Matton’s Treasures – Proverbs)
Therefore, our attentiveness to God’s Word is crucial if we are going to thrive spiritually and mature in Christ. This truth is also affirmed repeatedly in the book of Proverbs and elsewhere in Scripture.
Prov 19:16, “He who keeps, (SHAMAR – guard, watch, protect), the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Notice how similar the words “listening”, SHAMA, and “guarding”, SHAMAR, are in the Hebrew. The two are closely related.
The wise who “keep watch” over the mentality of their soul, tongue, and overt actions to make sure they are in line with Scripture, does well. When we are attentive and put into practice God’s mandates, we take steps that will help preserve our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Eccl 8:5, “He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.”
We keep or guard our soul by listening to, (the intake and application of) Bible Doctrine.
Prov 28:4, “Those who forsake the law, (Bible Doctrine), praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive, (contend) with them.”
When we reject God’s Word, what is “bad” is labeled as good and what is “good” is considered bad. As a result, new criteria for righteousness and morality are created within our souls and our society. Based on this “new way of thinking” the choices we make get us into all kinds of trouble. Likewise, when our nation passes laws that promote and protect perversion and atrocity, our country is disgraced and weakened by its lack of wisdom and godliness.
Prov 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
As a result of our “new moral standards”, we end up making decisions that cause problems and compounds them because of the ripple effects that are created by our foolish decisions.
Yet, attentiveness to God’s Word, (keeping or guarding it in your heart), will cause you to stand for what is truly right and have the courage and confidence to oppose that which is wrong so that you do not enter into sin and folly.
Psa 119:9-16, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. 10With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. 11Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. 12Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes. 13With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Your mouth. 14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. 16I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.”
God’s Word is like a shield. It shields a person against doubt, despair, and foolishness when it is the foundation of your life.
Another reason we should be attentive to God’s Word and keep it is the benefit that wisdom gives to us. God’s Word will give you discernment regarding everything in life including what kind of friends to pick and the people you should avoid, so that you do not shame your father.
Prov 28:7, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.”
That is why we are exhorted in Prov 23:26, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”
When we delight in the way of Christ, we are protected from all kinds of folly and our own self destruction.
“John Henry Fabre, the French naturalist, conducted a most unusual experiment with some Processionary Caterpillars. These caterpillars blindly follow the one in front of them. This is how they got their name. Mr. Fabre carefully arranged them in a circle around the rim of a flower pot, so that the lead caterpillar actually touched the last one, making a complete circle. In the center of the flower pot he put pine needles, which is food for the Processionary Caterpillar. The caterpillars started around this circular flower pot. Around and around they went, hour after hour, day after day, night after night. For seven full days and seven full nights they went around the flower pot. Finally, they dropped dead of starvation and exhaustion. With an abundance of food less than six inches away, they literally starved to death, because they confused activity with accomplishment. Many Christians make that same mistake. Beloved, don’t let the activities of your life cause you to neglect your time with the Lord in His Word. Serve the Lord, do the work of the Lord, but don’t neglect the Lord of the work.” (Matton’s Treasures, Proverbs)
Not only did our earthly fathers want us to be attentive to them, but the Lord wants our attention too. He desires that we give Him our heart.
What does that mean? The word “give” speaks of attentiveness. It is from the Hebrew word NATHAN which means, “to dedicate, to devote, to turn or give over, to stretch out.” The Lord wants us to stretch out our heart to Him in devotion and dedication. He wants us to be attentive and obedient to His ways.
Therefore, believers who are attentive to God respond to His Word in a way that communicates its value to them as they demonstrate its importance to others. And as Prov 13:1 tells us, whoever is wise enough to respond correctly to a rebuke will thereby grow wiser, cf. Prov 19:27, and the scoffer, by refusing to listen in arrogance, increasingly confirms his own opinion, cf. Prov 9:7f; 26:12, and faces destruction, Prov 29:1.
We now turn to Prov 13:2-6 that pertains to speech, where vs. 2-4 speaks to the use of the mouth and vs. 5-6 to action and reaction regarding our speech.
Prov 13:2, “From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence.”
Waltke notes, “By double entendres this proverb, using the metaphor of eating, forms a smooth transition from listening (v. 1) to speaking (v. 3).” (New International Commentary.)
Here we see the contrasting consequences of our speech and actions determined by whether we heeded our Father’s instructions or not.
“From the fruit” is Preposition MIN with the noun PERI.
“A man’s mouth”, are the nouns ISH PEH.
This represents the positive impact of your righteous words spoken to others. It is the result of having God’s Word in your soul which guides your speech that produces Divine Good, the Fruit of the Spirit. It connects the parent’s instruction of vs. 1 with delightful fruit, as noted by our next word “enjoys.”
“He enjoys” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb AHKAL, אָכַל that means, “to eat, consume, or devour.”
Here the righteous man is eating or consuming something. The thing he is consuming is “good” the Adjective TOB (tov) for “good, pleasant, useful, or proper” used substantively to represent God’s blessings.
Therefore, the wise know how to speak so that their words strengthen, heal, and calm others, as we have noted in Prov 12:18; and will see in Prov 15:2, or to rebuke them appropriately and at the right time, Prov 25:11f; 28:23. The wise man’s speech is a source of great blessing to their hearers, and reflects well on them as well. When we are guided by God’s Word in our speech, it has the result of producing Divine Good, and we will receive God’s blessings for both time and eternity.
“But the desire of the treacherous is violence.”
“The desire of” is the Noun NEPHESH, that typically means, “soul, breath, or life.” From its origins, it can also mean, “throat.”
“The idea seems to have been that the throat was associated with the basic needs of life (air, food, and water) and the desires one feels for them. Certain references in the Old Testament may reflect these origins: “throat” in Ps. 69:1 and Isa. 5:14; “breath” in Job 41:21.” In that way, NEPHESH is used to personify the basic desires so that just as the stomach is said to hunger for food, the nephesh—the throat, the organ or passageway of the needs of life and thus the organ associated with what it means to be a living being—hungers and thirsts both for physical appetites and for emotional and spiritual fulfillment (Psa. 42:1f; 107:9; Prov. 2:10; 13:4; 21:10; Isa. 26:8).” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
In our verse, it is used for the desire of the stomach in poetic comparison to the “food enjoyed” by the righteous believer.
“Treacherous” is the Qal Active Participle of BAGAD, בָּגַד that means, “to act deceitfully, treacherously, or faithlessly.” We noted BAGAD in Prov 2:22; 11:3, 16. It conveys the concept of a person acting in an unstable or unfaithful manner in reference to an existing established rule or regulation. It gives us the sense that a person has dishonored or intends to dishonor an agreement (e.g., adultery).
Treachery, which is the opposite of integrity, hates those with whom it deals, looking only for some means by which to entrap or destroy them, Prov 26:23-28; 29:5, as noted in our next word “violence.”
“Violence” is the Noun CHAMAS, חָמָס, that we noted in Prov 3:31; 4:17; 10:6, 11, that refers to violence or an injury incurred due to violence. So this deceitful person has the desire to cause harm to others. The essence of treachery is violence against others, so that the treacherous do not produce good fruit for anyone, including themselves.
Therefore, as the righteous positively affect those around them and reap the reward of their righteous speech, the wicked are filled with a desire to do evil and cause harm to others with the result of causing harm to themselves too, Prov 10:6; 11:27b; 26:6. Recognizing treachery and wisdom, and therefore avoiding the one and seeking out the other characterize the wise believer.
Prov 13:3, “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
“The one who guards” is the Qal Active Participle of NATSAR, נָצַר, “to guard, keep, observe, or preserve.” It is one of two words for “guarding, protecting.” The other is SHAMAR which is used below.
The thing guarded here is “his mouth”, PEH. So to guard your mouth means to speak righteously and restrain yourself from committing verbal sins. If we guard our speech, we will guard our lives as noted in the next two words.
“Preserves” is the Qal Active Participle of SHAMAR, שָׁמַר, that means “to watch, keep, preserve, or guard.”
“His life” is the Noun NEPHESH once again, that means, “soul or life,” that gives us a play on the word between vs. 2 and here. Here it means we will not come under Divine discipline and therefore live a full and satisfied life as we walk in the righteousness of God. So if we guard our mouth, we will guard our lives, and both are made possible by the power of God’s Word and the Filling of the Holy Spirit, Psa 141:3.
Psa 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
This verse is expanded to a full proverb in Prov 21:23; cf. Phil 4:7; James 3:2-3.
Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”
James 3:2-3, “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.”
James 3:12, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”
In comparison to the fool below, by keeping your mouth shut in certain situations or saying right and appropriate words at the right time, the wise secure blessings for themselves. This is possible because the prudent anticipate the consequences of their words and avoid saying things that harm, damage, or inflame others, Prov 15:1; cf. 14:16; 22:3.
As Waltke notes from the apocryphal book Wisdom of Sirach 28:25, a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus, (not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), which is a work of ethical teachings from approximately 200 – 175 BCE written by the Jewish scribe Shimon ben Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira of Jerusalem, “Make balances and scales for your words, and make a door and a bolt for your mouth.”
“The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
“The one who opens wide” is the Qal Active Participle Masc. Singular of PASAQ, פָּשַׂק that means, “to open or spread wide.” Used only here and Ezek 16:25 for Israel acting as a harlot.
The thing opened wide here is the wicked fool’s “lips”, SAPHAH, שָׂפָה, another word used for mouth like PEH above. Here it is the spreading of the lips, as also used for the “babbling fool” in Prov 10:8, 10. And like Prov 10:10 this fool “comes to ruin”, LE MECHITTAH, מְחִתָּה meaning, “to destruction or terror,” as we noted in Prov 10:14-15, 29. This is speaking of the various stages of Divine discipline, culminating in stage 3.
So we see the “reap what you sow” principle of self-induced misery and/or Divine discipline for the wicked babbling fool who is constantly running his mouth with a desire for violence in his heart. This believer or unbeliever delights only in displaying the paltry sum of knowledge he has and constantly brings trouble to himself and others.
In summary, good and bad speech is a matter of life and death. The tight-lipped does not have terror, and the “big mouth” does not guard his life. Whoever guards his mouth guards his soul, for he watches that no sinful, arrogant thoughts rise up in his soul and come forth in words. As a result, he keeps his soul, i.e., himself, safe from the self-destructive consequences of the sins of the tongue, especially its triple compound Divine discipline. On the contrary, the cosmic believer who opens wide his lips, (i.e., cannot hold his mouth), and expresses his words in an unexamined and unconsidered way, by which whatever comes into his mind and gives him delight he speaks; he is destruction to himself.
Prov 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
“The soul” is our word NEPHESH once again.
“Sluggard” is the Noun ATSEL עָצֵל, for “sluggish, idle, or lazy” which we saw in Prov 6:6, 9; 10:26. It is a lazy individual with indolent behavioral patterns who does not like to work or work hard, yet loves excessive sleep, which numbs his motivation to complete his necessary work.
This sluggishness not only applies to his word ethic, (in that he is not thoughtful and does not care what comes out of his mouth), but also his spiritual ethic in that he does not trust the Lord to take the appropriate actions in life; he is faithless in his daily walk.
“Craves” is the Hebrew Verb AWAH, אָוָה in the reflexive Hithpael Particle that means, “he craves or desires.” This is the result of the fools’ sluggard nature; he daydreams and lusts after things that other people have, things that otherwise could have been his if he had some self-initiative and proper motivation from Bible Doctrine in his soul.
“And gets nothing” is the WA Conjunction with the Substantive AYIN that means, “non-existent.” The unqualified, WA AYIN, here refers to everything his human drives, emotions, and appetites aspire to, which in fact are not realized.
Therefore, this phrase tells us that because the sluggard refuses to work and is faithless, his desires remain unfulfilled, Prov 21:25f. As the sluggard desires certain things in life, they will never be realized due to his laziness. As noted above, the sluggard also alludes to being faithless in his walk with God, and therefore whatever he aspires to in the spiritual life will be unrealized because he has not faith-rested in God and His Word, and therefore disqualifies himself from God’s blessings. Yet, as we see the contrast below, it tells us that for the diligent person, he is abundantly satisfied, including his hunger for God, Psa 42:1; 63:1, because of his faith-rest life.
The Contrasting Exhortation!
“But the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
“But the soul” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with NEPHESH once again, used for “life or soul.”
“Diligent” is the Adjective CHARUTS, ,חָרוּץ which we noted in Prov 10:24; 12:24, 27. This is the industrious, faithful worker that is praised throughout the book of Proverbs.
“Is made fat” is the Pual Imperfect of the Verb DASHEN דָּשֵׁן that means, “to be fat, grow fat, become fat, become prosperous, and figuratively to anoint or satisfy.” In the intensive passive Pual stem it means, “to be made fat.” In other words, they receive the action of being made fat which is a metaphor for prosperity; to be made prosperous, and therefore comes to mean to be satisfied. It was also used this way Prov 11:25 for the righteous giver who is blessed due to their generosity.
To be fat is not only a sign of blessing in Scriptures, Prov 11:25; 15:30; 28:25; Psa 23:5, it also stands in direct contrast to the self-afflicted starvation of the lazy, Prov 19:15; 20:4, as it does here too.
Used here for the diligent, hard-working, and righteous believer who will be blessed as a result of doing their job unto the Lord in faith-rest; the blessing is that their righteous desires will be satisfied, as opposed to the wicked sluggard whose lustful, sinful, desires are not satisfied, Prov 28:25.
Now this is the third time we have seen NEPHESH used in the first four verses. Here it stands for the “life,” NEPHEH, of the diligent that grows fat; that is, his life is full and his physical needs are met. However, the treacherous man has an “appetite,” NEPHESH, for violence in vs. 2b, and the “soul,” NEPHESH, of the sluggard remains unsatisfied, vs. 4a, as he has nothing to eat.
So we see the physical application to these verses using NEPHESH, but let us not forget the spiritual aspect too. Those who desire God’s Word and apply it are blessed in both time and eternity, including the reception of more Bible Doctrine in their soul and greater application of that Word, while the sluggard whose soul does not desire God’s Word will not receive it and not be able to apply it, thereby losing out on its blessings in application and the blessing of God for time and eternity. In addition, the sluggard will be a man of violence due to the lack of Bible doctrine in his soul to restrain his sin nature, emotions and temptations from the cosmic system, which results in self-induced misery and Divine Discipline. On the other hand, the righteous have Bible doctrine in their souls, and apply it to their lives and to their relationship with God, as it guards their words and actions leading to the avoidance of self-induced misery and Divine discipline, and instead reap rewards and blessings for time and eternity.
Therefore, for the diligent and faithful believer we note 1 Peter 3:10-13, which is a quote from Psa 34:12-16.
1 Peter 3:10-13, “For, “LET HIM WHO MEANS TO LOVE LIFE AND SEE GOOD DAYS (prosperity) REFRAIN HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING GUILE. 11AND LET HIM TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; LET HIM SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. 12FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” 13And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?”
Summary of vs. 1-4:
Verse 1, giving us the context of this chapter, describes respect for fatherly advice, (i.e., Bible Doctrine), as the key to attaining the satisfaction in life described in vs. 2–4. Those who reject wisdom, on the other hand, are apt to become violent, due to their lack of self-control, and finally achieve only an empty life.
Those who receive parental instruction (Bible Doctrine), vs. 1a, and know when to be silent, vs. 3a, will enjoy many blessings, vs. 2a, 4b. But those who shut their ears and open their mouths, vs. 1b, 3b, become violent and lazy, vs. 2b, 4a, while their desires are never met vs. 4a.
Next we see action and reaction regarding our speech.
Prov 13:5, “A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.”
“A righteous man” is the noun TSADDIQ.
“Hates” is the Qal Imperfect of the verb SANE, שָׂנֵא (saw-nay’). SANE expresses an emotional attitude toward someone or something which is abhorred, disdained, or opposed, and with which a person desires to have no relationship or amiable reconciliation.
“Falsehood” is a combination of two words in the Hebrew. First the noun DAVAR for “word”, and then the noun SHEQER, שֶׁקֶר that means, “lie or deception.”
Here we see that the righteous believer wants nothing to do whatsoever with sins of the tongue temptations within his own soul. Likewise, he wants nothing to do with other people, believers, or unbelievers who constantly commit verbal sins. “Because the righteous loves the LORD, who hates lying lips, delights in faithfulness (12:22), and values people, who are best served by truth, he hates with a passion (see 2:22) any false (see 6:17) word.” (Waltke, NIC)
Instead he has “a heart committed to truth (the application of Bible Doctrine), which is the secret of practical righteousness. The one who is following the way of holiness hates what is false. He has judged iniquity, and he desires to live before God so as to glorify His name in this world, where it has been so terribly dishonored.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
This is another way of saying that the righteous believer separates himself from evil, either mentally or physically.
“But a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.”
“But a wicked man” is the conjunction WA with the Noun RASHA, רָשָׁע for “wickedness or evildoer.”
“Acts disgustingly” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb BA’ASH בָּעַשׁ that means, “to stink, be offensive, or repulsive.” The word conveys the idea of “stench or foul odor” and has the figurative meaning, in personal relationships, of creating loathsome attitudes or abhorrence. Literally it means, “he is caused to smell bad / stink”, which is a metaphor for being disgusting and repulsive to other people. The principle here is that sin or evil is a stench to God and to the righteous, and is a serious disrupter of personal relationships, being offensive or repulsive to others. The wicked man is caused to be that to God and the righteous, as a result of his lack of constraint over his sin nature and subsequent evil ways.
Our definition of the wicked / Cosmic believer does not stop there, but includes being “shameful.”
“And shamefully” is the coordinating Conjunction WA with the causative Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb CHAPHAR, חָפַר, that means, “to dig, to search out, or to be ashamed.” Literally it means, “he is caused to dig a hole for himself”, which is a metaphor for bringing shame to himself.
So the wicked are caused, by their own sin natures, evil words and deeds, to act disgustingly and bring shame to themselves. Due to their selfishness, they poison personal relationships and destroy society. And it all stems from not having or applying God’s Word within their souls.
Prov 13:6, “Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner.”
“Righteousness” is the noun TSEDAQAH, צְדָקָה that means, “righteousness, blameless conduct, and integrity.” The noun describes justice, right actions, and right attitudes, as expected from both God and/or people.
It means walking experientially sanctified, (walking in the light of Jesus Christ), that includes the confession of any known sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:9, with the result of being filled by the Holy Spirit and applying God’s Word diligently within your soul in your thoughts, words, and actions, Eph 5:15-18.
When we do, it “guards” our soul, the Qal Imperfect of NATSAR once again. It means walking experientially sanctified will, “keep, observe, or preserve” your soul from wickedness, evil, human good, and sin.
It also refers to maintaining things entrusted to you, especially to keeping the truths of God in mind, words, and deeds, Psa 119:100, 115. God’s Word is to be kept with your whole hearts, Psa 119:69; and your heart in turn ought to be maintained in a right state, Prov 4:23. It also refers to keeping your speech under control, Psa 34:13; 141:3, based on the Word of God that is in your soul.
Psa 34:12-14, “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? 13Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
“The one whose way is blameless” is the Noun DEREK for “way or path”, (i.e., your daily walk), and the noun TOM that means, “completeness or integrity.” Being “complete” means you have achieved spiritual adulthood and are walking in the righteousness of God on a consistent basis.
So from this first phrase we see that righteousness guards the one who walks in righteousness. That is, the application of God’s Word coupled with the filling of God the Holy Spirit results in spiritual growth that protects your soul so that you keep on walking in the righteousness of God; being experientially sanctified.
“But wickedness subverts the sinner.”
“But wickedness” is the contrast Conjunction WA, plus the noun RISH’AH, רִשְׁעָה that means, “guilt or wickedness.” Cf. Prov 11:5. This word for immorality refers to a wide range of evil, and defines those who are not living according to God’s Word, Ezek 18:20. The context of this passage refers to wickedness as sins of the tongue.
“Subverts” is the causative Piel Imperfect of the Verb SALAPH, סָלַף that means, “to twist or ruin.” Cf. Prov 19:3. It points out how evil twists a person until his way is thoroughly perverted.
“The sinner” is the Noun CHATTATH, חַטָּאת, which we noted in Prov 5:22; 10:16. So here we are reminded that sins of the tongue lead to all kinds of other sins, evils, and perversions.
Therefore, the comparison in vs. 6 shows us that walking in righteousness guards our souls so that we will continue to walk in righteousness, yet if we walk in wickedness, it will twist our soul leading us to walk in further wickedness that leads to ruin within our lives.
Section 2: Vs 7-11
We now turn to Section 2 of Proverbs 13, vs. 7-11, which deals with, “wealth and the ambiguity of riches.” This section escalates from deceptive wealth in vs. 7, to the causes of poverty and enduring wealth in vs. 11. It speaks of wealth in terms of salvation and the faith-rest life or lack thereof.
Proverbs 13:7, “There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.”
This verse is very ambiguous and interpreters have gone in different directions regarding it. Some have interpreted it as a double negative as those who pretend to have wealth but in reality do not, and those who deceptively hide their wealth from the government and do not pay their taxes, which has a detrimental effect on society.
I view this, as others also do, as another comparison between the wicked and righteous, as we will note.
“Pretends to be rich” is the Prefix MIT that is used for “pretend”, and the reflexive-reciprocal Hithpael Participle of the Verb ASHAR, עָשַׁר that means, “to be rich.” This compound word speaks of deception as to your true wealth.
“But has nothing” is the Contrasting Conjunction WA with the substantive use of AYIN for “is non-existent or has nothing”, and KOL for “all or at all.” Together it is, “but has nothing at all.”
This is similar to Prov 12:9; and contrasted with Prov 19:1.
Prov 19:1, “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool.”
This tells us that the one who pretends to be the “big shot”, is deceiving himself and those around him. He is not dealing in honesty and integrity and instead puts up a façade about himself, hiding his true person or identity.
What is interesting about the “reflexive-reciprocal” of the verb is that it means two things, 1) the action performed by the subject has a result back to himself, and 2) the action performed by the subject is done for someone doing the same for him according to an arrangement by which he does something for someone who does the same thing for him. We call this a quid-pro-quo. The Hithpael was also used in vs. 4 for the craving sluggard.
In other words, those who go around acting like the big shot are, 1) deceiving themselves, and 2) have surrounded themselves with others who are also self-deceived.
In the spiritual realm this is the one who talks the talk but does not walk the walk. They play themselves off as if they are holy and pious and loving the Lord, and use their speech to deceive others into thinking so about them, but in reality it is just a show for others and they have no true spiritual life, and no true faith-rest within their lives.
The legalistic, religious types are also seen here, yet in their case, they too are the ones that are deceived. They perform all kinds of rituals and good deeds thinking they are going to please God and thereby gain or ensure their salvation by their works, when in fact they do not, and will not, because they were performed by their human power which God rejects. In both cases they surround themselves with others who are operating in the same manner.
“Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.”
“Pretends to be poor” is the prefix MIT once again with the reflexive-reciprocal Hithpolel, (a variant of the Hithpael), Participle Verb RUSH, רוּשׁ, for “to be poor.”
“But has great wealth” is the Adjective RAB (rav), for “abundant or great”, and the Noun HON for “goods or wealth.”
Here we see the humble man who is not trying to impress others and show off what he has. He is meek and mild mannered, and not pretentious.
Mat 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is the believer who has attained spiritual adulthood, who has a humble heart; knowing when to speak up and when to keep his mouth shut. He does not act superior to others, especially other believers, and does not put on a façade regarding his spiritual life in Christ. He recognizes his true depravity as a member of the human race who has the imputation of Adam’s original sin, coupled with his very own sin nature, who cannot save himself by his human good works, and instead relies completely upon the Lord and God’s grace plan of salvation and subsequent spiritual walk. He is a man without pretense who in fact does have great wealth based on his eternal inheritance by means of his non-meritorious act(s) of faith in the Lord. Cf. Eph 1:11, 14, 18; Col 1:12; 3:24; Heb 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4.
Heb 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
That is why our Lord exhorts us in Rev 3:17-19 to accumulate that which has enduring wealth rather than that which is fleeting.
Rev 3:17-19, “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Proverbs 13:8, “The ransom of a man’s life is his riches, but the poor hears no rebuke.”
This verse contrasts the viewpoint of the righteous and the wicked as to where their inheritance comes from.
“Ransom” is the Noun KOPHER, כֹּפֶר that is derived from the Verb KAPHAR that means, “to make atonement.” KOPHER then means, “redemption or ransom.” It is used as a monetary amount that is able to atone for one’s penalty for a crime, or for standing in the place of the one punished. It can also mean “bribe.” So KOPHER refers to the price demanded in order to redeem or rescue a person, as in Prov 6:35; 21:18. Keeping with our spiritual life analogy, we will translate it “redemption” as in Christ’s atoning purchase of our sins upon the Cross; that by which we are redeemed.
“A man’s life” is ISH, “man” and NEPHESH, “soul or life.” Soul may be the more appropriate translation here.
“His riches” is the Noun OSHER, עשֶׁר that we saw in Prov 3:16; 8:18; 11:16, 28, which is derived from the verb ASHAR that we noted in vs. 7. So OSHER comes to mean, “riches or wealth.”
The scene before us is once again the “rich man” that could be either the pretentious rich man of vs. 7 or just any wealthy person. The analogy here is that they think the redemption for their soul (NEPHESH) is found in their riches, (i.e., “the redemption of a man’s soul is his wealth.”) In other words, they think they can buy their way into heaven, just as those of vs. 7 above believe they can earn their way into heaven by their human good/deeds. Here the wealthy either think they can buy their way into heaven with their money and charity, or that they do not even think about getting into heaven because their earthly riches are their heaven.
“But the poor hears no rebuke.”
“But the poor man” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Noun RASH, which is derived from the Verb RUSH “to be poor”, which we also noted in vs. 7.
Continuing with the theme of vs. 7 that the “poor man” is the humble, spiritually mature believer who recognizes his total depravity to save himself, this poor man also recognizes his total depravity and need for a Savoir.
Whybray notes, “His poverty may be accompanied by moral integrity superior to that of the rich (19:1, 22; 28:6).” (Whybray, Wealth and Poverty, p. 16, n. 1, as quoted by Waltke, NIC).
The moral integrity, Whybray notes, means the righteous believer recognizes his need for a Savior and that he cannot save himself, even if he had all the money in the world.
“Hears no” is the Qal Perfect of the Verb SHAMA, “to listen”, with the negative Particle LO, that actually forms a compound word in the Hebrew with LO coming first. So it means, “He does not listen to.”
Keil and Delitzsch noted Hitzig who defines it, “he does not hear, he has no need to hear.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament).
SHAMA occurs 30 times in Proverbs and denotes “to hear with the heart.” So what is it that this humble mature believer does not hear, does not need to hear, and therefore does not listen to: “REBUKE.”
“Rebuke” is the Noun GE’ARAH, גְּעָרָה that means, “rebuke or threat.”
In other words, because this mature believer does not trust in his riches to save his soul, and instead trusts in the Lord for his salvation and spiritual walk after salvation, he does not receive a rebuke from the Lord that he needs to take to heart. That means he is not disciplined by the Lord because he is walking righteously in the wisdom of God. He does not need to hear the rebuke because he is walking in the righteousness of God, as compared to those who think their wealth can save them, or is the “end all” of life.
This theme continues in vs. 9.
Proverbs 13:9, “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.”
“The light of the righteous” is a compound word made up of the noun OR for “light or lamp”, (Prov 4:18; 6:23), and the noun TSADDIQ, for “righteous.”
“Rejoices” is the Verb SAMACH, שָׂמַח that means, “to rejoice, or be glad” that we noted in Prov 5:18; 10:1; 12:25. It is the outward expression of the +H of God inside your soul.
Continuing in our theme, the righteous believer’s light within their soul rejoices. The light in your soul is first Jesus Christ due to His indwelling of your soul as one of the 40 things you receive at the moment of salvation, John 14:19-20; 17:22-23, 26; Rom 8:10; 2 Cor 13:4-6; Col 1:27. It is also His Word that is resident within your soul, post salvation. So faith-rest in the Gospel and Word of God is once again in view.
Col 1:27, “To whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
In contrast to the wicked in this verse, the righteous person rejoicing means they are shining brightly, while the wicked are snuffed out as we will see.
“But the lamp of the wicked goes out.”
“But the lamp of” is the Contrasting Conjunction WA, with the Noun NIYR, נִיר that means, “lamp or light.”
“The wicked” is the noun RASHA once again.
“Goes out” is the Qal future Imperfect Verb DA’AKH דָּעַךְ that means, “to be extinguished.” So they will be extinguished or snuffed out.
“In every instance of this verb, which basically means, “to be extinguished,” the nuance of a sudden end is implied. It usually refers to the death of the wicked.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
This is another reference to the third stage of Divine discipline. As the believer who is not faith-resting in God for his salvation or his spiritual walk and is instead habitually living wickedly inside of Satan’s cosmic system, will go out under the third stage of Divine discipline, Prov 20:20; 24:20; Job 18:5-6.
Prov 20:20, “He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness.”
Prov 24:20, “For there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”
“This proverb echoes the warning of the prologue (e.g., 8:32-36): wisdom, which yields a righteous life, is the source of life, but the rebellious attitude of the fool, leads only to death.” (Frederic Clarke Putnam, Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Proverbs)
As Waltke also notes, “This proverb contrasts the enduring wealth of the righteous with the extinction of the wicked and implicitly their wealth by contrasting the former’s lamp that shines brightly with the latter’s that is snuffed out.” (New International Commentary).
So from these three verses, we note that we should not put on a false pretense in regard to our spiritual walk because in the end it will do us no good. Instead, we are to maintain a humble heart walking and demonstrating a true faith-rest life. By no means should we ever think that due to our human good works or monetary charity that we can earn our way or maintain our position in heaven. But instead know that when we walk in true faith-rest we will not receive Divine discipline, which is a blessing in and of itself. And as a result, we will rejoice in the outward expression of the +H in our soul that leads to further blessings in time and eternity. Yet if we walk in darkness, we may suffer even the third stage of Divine discipline as the Lord brings that believer home in a dishonorable discharge with loss of reward and blessing for the eternal state.
This verse speaks to the use of the tongue and vs. 11 overt actions.
Proverbs 13:10, “Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom.”
“Through presumption” is the Adverb RAQ meaning, “only” with the Preposition BE meaning, “in, with, by at, etc.”, and the Noun ZADON, זָדוֹן that means, “presumptuousness or pride.” In Prov 11:2 it was translated as “pride”, speaking about how arrogance truly leads to dishonor and shame. This word is primarily used in contexts which describe people whose pride causes them to oppose God and exalt themselves. It stands for self-righteous arrogance, thinking you know more than you really do, and/or thinking you do not need God or His Word in your life. (E.g., Stephen Hawking and his presumed theories that have been accepted by academia as absolute fact, as to how the universe came into being without the need of “God.”)
It “denotes the psychological state of an exaggerated opinion of one’s importance within society and a refusal to accept one’s place within its structure under God.” Waltke, (New International Commentary).
“Whether the subject of this pride is an individual or a nation, the point is that the insolence stems from a lack of recognition of God and of one’s lesser status compared to Him.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary.)
“A U.S. Air Force transport plane with its captain and five crew members were flying over Alaska in the mid-50s when they entered an unusually fierce snowstorm. The navigator contacted an air base only to be told that he had veered several hundred miles off course. Correct coordinates were given to the navigator, who continued to insist that his own calculations could not be that far off. Soon the plane ran low on fuel. The six men decided to abandon the plane and parachute to safety, but because of the -70 degree Fahrenheit temperature and winds that gusted to 50 mph, they were all frozen within minutes of hitting the ground. The rescue team discovered and retrieved the bodies three days later. As a result of the navigator’s pride, five other people went to their deaths. In Prov 12:15, Solomon warns us that fools will not listen to instruction because they consider themselves to always be “right.” How do you teach someone like this?” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Proverbs, Volume 1.)
“Comes” is the active Qal future Imperfect of the Verb NATHAN that means, “to give,” that has the connotation here of “bringing something to someone.” Here it stands for what arrogance brings to the table, which is….
“Nothing but strife” that is the Noun MATSAH, מַצָּה (mats-tsah), that is derived from NATSAH that means, “to fight,” and therefore comes to mean, “strife, contention, or debate.” It means a verbal fight, wrangling, quarreling, and contention especially brought on by arrogant or insolent attitudes, transgressions, and trespasses.
Prov 17:19, “He who loves transgression loves strife; He who raises his door seeks destruction.”
The believer who thinks that they know better than everyone else and God, will ultimately be prone to verbal wrangling, which results in strife.
2 Tim 2:14-18, “Remind them of these things (the confidence of the faith-rest life), and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle (strive) about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.” (Italic mine.)
2 Tim 2:24-26, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
The workman noted in 2 Tim 2:15 is noted in the second half of this verse and in vs. 11b.
The Contrasting Exhortation!
“But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.”
“But with those who receive counsel” This phrase in Hebrew begins with the contrasting Conjunction WA and the Definite Direct Object Marker ETH (ayth) that usually does not get translated, and the simple passive Niphal Participle of the Verb YA’ATS that means, “to advise, to consult, to counsel, to be advised, to deliberate, or to take counsel”, which we had in Prov 11:14; 12:20.
“It refers to those with the modesty to acknowledge the limitations of their knowledge and the humility to allow themselves to be corrected, criticized, and led to a better plan of action.” (Waltke, Ibid.)
As opposed to the presumptuous arrogant person above, (i.e., those who have an exaggerated opinion of their self-importance, and therefore do not take counsel), these believers understand that they do not know it all and are humble in soul to receive the counsel of God’s Word on a consistent basis, albeit from the Word directly or spiritually mature believers in their periphery.
As a result, the blessing they receive is to have true “wisdom”, CHOKMAH, חָכְמָה. It means they have the knowledge of reality and of right order, and acting accordingly. They will have the mind of Christ.
Comparing strife to wisdom in this verse, they are antithetical to each other. So this verse implies that wisdom is characterized by peace, and that strife is not wisdom. Therefore, the man of wisdom will not bring strife and contention to the conversation, but instead will bring peace, as we noted in Prov 12:20.
“Not only is there wisdom in a multitude of counselors (11:14; 15:22), there is also the peace that accompanies humility (11:2). Only the truly wise recognize that they need advice, and are willing to accept it. The insolent presume the superiority of their own understanding and reject the insights of others. Their arrogance inevitably causes strife, since their plans often fail and since they despise those around them. The Book of Proverbs values life and planning in communion with others, gaining from their wisdom and insights. The lone thinker (or actor) is not a biblical hero.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
So the question we all have to ask ourselves is, “Am I wiser today than I was last year or ten years ago?” And, “How wise will I be next year or the year after?” These are very important questions. The righteous man greatly desires to grow in wisdom, (the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ). He does this by valuing the instruction he received from the Bible Doctrine he is taught from his right Pastor Teacher, and from fellow believers who have reached spiritual adulthood.
The other thing we need to remember is that it is easy to increase wisdom. All you need to do is “listen” to the counsel of God’s Word, either directly from the pages or from wise doctrinal men and woman, and accept their teaching. You need to appreciate and apply the instruction you receive, because what you do today determines what you are tomorrow. So consider your future, and receive good and wise counsel today!
Having noted bad and good uses of the tongue, “fruitless wrangling versus wise counsel” in vs. 10, here we see the contrast in overt actions between the wicked fool and righteous wise.
Proverbs 13:11, “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.”
This verse compares the impermanent wealth of the wicked versus the permanent wealth of the righteous.
“Wealth” is the Noun HON once again, “wealth or riches.” The use of wealth here rounds out the second section of Chapter 13 pertaining to ambiguity of wealth, cf. vs. 7.
“By fraud” is literally the Preposition MIN, “from or by”, and HEBEL הֶבֶל (hevel) that means, “breath or vapor” and figuratively “vanity.” It is often used metaphorically for that which lacks permanence. It is used in Jer 2:5; 2 Kings 17:15 for the worship of idols which is vane. So this passage continues the theme of pursuits by means of arrogance.
This was one of Solomon’s favorite words to drive home the message that “worldly wealth, riches, and pleasure are a fleeting vapor” as noted in Eccl 1:2, “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity”, where HEBEL is used for all four “vanities.”
HEBEL figuratively refers to that which is fleeting or amounts to nothing. It refers to gaining something without working for it or gaining it quickly, (i.e. by gambling, lottery, theft, etc.). Used in the pursuit of wealth, it includes tyranny, injustice, extortion, lies, and windfalls at the expense of others.
As we noted in Prov 11:18, wealth gained in this way is deceptive and has no intrinsic or lasting value as our next word tells us. So this vainly pursued course of action to achieve wealth fraudulently ultimately has a detrimental effect.
“Dwindles” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb MA’AT, מָעַט that means, “to become few or to decrease.” This can mean small in size, Prov 10:20; 13:11, and/or short in duration, Prov 5:14; 6:10. In other words, what you have gained in this manner will soon be lost.
This word is also associated with Divine judgment, where when under the Law, if Israel was in violation of the Law, it could result in the decrease of wealth, Lev 26:22; Psa 107:38; children, Lev 26:22; and numbers, Psa 107:39.
So here we see that vain pursuit of get rich quick earthly riches is pointless as it will soon fail or be removed. As the saying goes, “that which comes easily, slips away easily.” If it is not gained by Divine good production it is not the fruit of the Spirit, and therefore has no lasting value, especially in the eternal state.
Prov 21:6, “The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death.”
The Contrasting Exhortation!
“But the one who gathers by labor increases it.”
“But the one who gathers” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Qal Active Participle of the Verb QABATS קָבַץ (qavats) that means, “to gather or harvest.”
“By Labor” is the Preposition AL for “by”, and the Noun YADH that means, “hand.” It means, “with or by the hand, or handful after handful.”
Waltke notes “in post-biblical Hebrew, it denotes “gradually,” the apparent sense here. A slow, small, steady accumulation of wealth by the handful, not by a “windfall”.” (New International Commentary).
In vs. 4, we note the contrast between the “slack hand” and the “diligent hand.” The diligent hand implies industry and patience as we see here too; therefore, consistent and persistent effort is in view for Divine Good Production that means producing good of intrinsic value that has a lasting reward.
“Increases it” is the causative active Hiphal future Imperfect of RABAH, רָבָה (ravah), that we saw in vs.10 that means, “causes to be numerous or great.”
So literally we have, “the one who gathers (brings in the harvest) by hand causes it (the harvest) to be numerous or great.”
As you know, diligence requires patience that comes from understanding that long-term benefits outweigh short term gains. In an agricultural society in which virtually all work was done by directing human or animal muscle power, this verse implies a contrast between working and trying to gain wealth without working for it. This is a parallel verse to Prov 12:11; 20:21; 28:22.
Prov 20:21, “An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.”
Prov 28:22, “A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth and does not know that want will come upon him.”
Proverbs tells us that the substantial methods of patience, diligence, prudence, generosity, and faith are virtues that have stood the test of time and are virtues that we should be applying in our jobs today too, Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-25.
Eph 6:5-8, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.”
This is the believer who does their job unto the Lord, and thereby produces Divine Good, the Fruit of the Spirit, which has lasting reward for time and eternity, 1 Cor 3:10-15.
So this Proverb argues for the gaining of wealth through virtue, not through get-rich schemes and sin. It is not so much what you end up with at the end of the day, but how you ended up with what you have. Was it gained illicitly by deceit or righteously by honesty and integrity?
“The character and discipline that are gained by daily hard work are treasures in themselves which help a man to succeed at anything he might do. Hard work can lead to authority, abundance, and additional blessings.” (Mattoon’s Treasures Proverbs, Volume 1)
In our spiritual application, we see a contrast of two believers; first we see the one who wants all the glory but does not put in the time or effort to learn and apply God’s Word, thereby having no Divine Good Production, whereas in the second example, we have a believer who does put in the time and the effort with the result of producing the Fruit of the Spirit which is rewardable at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ.
“The principle abides when applied to the true riches, the precious truth of God. Some, like a sponge, readily absorb, but as readily give out under pressure. That which is valued is what has been won by labor. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, brackets added). Wealth such as this is surely worth the self-sacrifice and devotion required to obtain it; and when so obtained, it will abide and increase. See Ziba (2 Samuel 16:4; 19:29), as contrasted with Caleb (Joshua 14:6-14).” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Section 3: Vs 12-19
We now turn to the third section of Chapter 13, which includes vs. 12-19 that pertains to longings satisfied and hopes fulfilled. The contrast in these verses is having a real sense of fulfillment through the application of wisdom (Bible Doctrine) for the righteous that results in happiness, versus frustration through folly (evil and reversionism) for the wicked that results in despair.
Prov 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
This verse contrasts the effects of the unfulfilled expectations of the godless with the fulfilled desires of the godly. We begin with the Negative!
“Hope” is the TOCHELETH, תּוֹחֶלֶת that means, “expectation or hope”, which we saw in Prov 10:28; 11:7. It is used only six times in the Hebrew and is derived from the verb YACHAL, which conveys the idea of “expectant waiting.” It is similar to QAWAH that means, “to wait or hope” and is synonymous to the more frequent word TIQWAH. It is equal to the Greek word ELIPIS.
This may refer to hope in general, though in the light of the other uses of the word in Proverbs, it includes the hope of resurrection to eternal life.
“Deferred” is the intensive passive Pual Participle MASHAK, מָשַׁךְ that means, “to draw off, to drag, to pull up, or to prolong.” Here it means to drawn out regarding your confident expectations that is, delaying your expectations of something happening; dragging out the timeframe of that which you hope for.
Waltke notes, “It does not imply a revised time schedule but a never-ending extension of time.” Therefore, the desire(s) of the wicked fool will never be realized.
When hope is drawn out or deferred, it “makes the heart sick”, which is the Noun LEB for “heart”, (the center from which our physical, psychic, and spiritual energies flow to the rest of our body), with the causative Hiphil Participle of CHALAH that means, “to cause to become weak or sick.” BDB defines it as, “to be or become weak, be or become sick, be or become diseased, be or become grieved, be or become sorry,” which can include physical and/or mental impotence, organic diseases, and/or injuries.
In this passage we see the reversionistic believer who has lost their hope (confident expectation) of the resurrection, (the great wealth in view in this chapter). Because they have their eyes (and hearts), focused on the things of this world, rather than on God, they lose hope in the promises of God. That is why we are exhorted in Heb 12:2 to, “Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
If we do not heed Heb 12:2, we will lose heart, which means we will forget about the doctrine in our souls that reminds and reassures us of God’s promises. We will not have the strength to face the problems and difficulties of daily living here in Satan’s cosmic system, and we will give out under the pressures of life. As a result, we will not live a truly happy life, and certainly will not share in the happiness of God as one of the Problem Solving Devices. No God’s Happiness (+H).
So this passage suggests that the frustrated fool suffers a loss of morale, and with his true longings never satisfied, he stumbles in resignation and despair until his lamp is snuffed out, (his death), cf. vs. 9.
So the perceived canceled expectations of the wicked are contrasted with the accumulated wealth (eternal inheritance) of the righteous.
“But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
As the second half of this verse tells us, with doctrine in our soul, it will give us motivation to continue joyfully day after day, as the fulfilled desires of the righteous are like eating the fruit of the tree of life.
“But desire” is the Contrasting conjunction WA with the Noun TA’AWAH, תַּאֲָוה that means, “longing, eager desire, delight.” It is an aspiration rooted deep in one’s personality that draws him along to a desired state. We noted TA’AWAH in Prov 10:24; 11:23. In the first two usages in Proverbs, it was for good desires, as it is here too.
“Fulfilled” is the Qal Active Participle BO, בּוֹא that means, “to go, to arrive, to bring, to reach an end, etc.,” and here means a desire that is brought to you, which means it is fulfilled. It is commonly used in Proverbs of bringing to realization the consequences appropriate to the cause.
Next we have an analogy for a desire fulfilled. It is said to be like, “is a tree of life”, which is ETS CHAYYIM. Here “a tree of life” is used as something that completely satisfies you, which ultimately is Bible Doctrine in your soul. We noted “tree of life” previously in Prov 3:18 & 11:30.
Prov 3:18, “She (Wisdom – Bible Doctrine) is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” There we understood that Bible Doctrine completely satisfies the hunger for God’s Word in your soul.
Prov 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls.” There we understood that our Divine Good Production completely satisfies God the Father’s desire for our lives, and the righteous man’s desire to serve God.
Here it functions as the antithesis of sickness where the righteous are transferred from the realm of sickness and death, that causes despair, into the realm of health and life that cause inner peace, joy, and happiness, the +H of God, where the fruit of that tree revitalizes energies, renews courage to live and plan for the future, and extends life forever.
The righteous may find their hopes deferred for a while, but their hearts never grow sick, for they know the Lord who upholds his promises, and therefore maintain their confident expectation in them and Him. Though we are tried, we are never disappointed in our faith, cf. Gen 15:3 with 21:3-6; Psa 137 with 126; Luke 2:25-30 with Hag 2:7; cf. Mat 13:16-17; Luke 24:41; Acts 12:12-16.
This sentiment is restated in the companion verse, 19a; but the second half, vs. 19b, asserts that fools will not turn from evil. The implication is that fools will not see their desires fulfilled, as we have here in vs. 12b.
So this proverb is an index of lives that are moving either:
- Toward final despair of every expectation in death, or
- Toward a fulfillment of every desire in the everlasting presence of the Lord, Rom 8:19, 23-25; 1 Cor 15:51-54; 2 Cor 5:1-4; Heb 10:37-38; Rev 22:7, 12, 20.
As I noted previously, “Tree of Life” is used in only three books of the Bible; Genesis, Proverbs, and Revelation. In all three books, the context of this tree is related to the Perfect Happiness of God. In Genesis it refers to the life giving tree found in the Garden of Eden. In Revelation it refers to the tree for “healing the nations” found in the Paradise Garden of the eternal New Jerusalem. In Proverbs it refers to Bible Doctrine in your soul that result in sharing the happiness of God.
In Gen 2:9-3:22 the Tree of Life is associated with perfect environment, life, and happiness in the Garden of Eden, as well as the perpetuation of life in a right relationship with God.
In Gen 3:24, when man sinned and was driven out of the garden, he was cut off from the Tree of Life in the Garden, which gave everlasting life and God’s perfect happiness in perfect environment.
Interestingly, the Tree of Life is not seen again by man until the eternal state, Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19, where eternal life and perfect happiness is possible and reunited. And as you know, that eternal life is made possible by the work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross and our non-meritorious faith in Him, and God’s perfect happiness is made possible by His Word, the mind of Jesus Christ, resident within your souls.
In Rev 2:7, the overcomer is granted to eat once again from the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God.
In Rev 22:2, the Tree of Life will be in the New Jerusalem for the “healing (happiness) of the nations.”
In Rev 22:14, all believers will be able to eat from the Tree of Life.
In Rev 22:19, false prophets will not be allowed to partake of the Tree of Life.
So in the book of Proverbs, when the tree of life is mentioned, it signifies the benefits noted above that are made possible by having wisdom, (Bible doctrine) resident within your soul, which results in the confident expectation of our eternal life and inheritance in Christ and obtainment of the Happiness of God (+H) inside our souls both in time and in eternity.
As in Prov 3:18, the Tree of Life is a metaphor for happiness in time and is related to Bible doctrine in the soul that brings happiness.
In Prov 11:30, it is related to righteousness (Bible Doctrine) applied to all business deals and transactions that result in blessings and +H, for others.
In our verse, Prov 13:12, it is related to positive volition towards God and His Word that results in hopes and desires fulfilled that causes +H.
And in Prov 15:4, it is related to the application of God’s Word in your speech that results in happiness.
So this Proverb gives us the contrast of the life of an unbeliever or reversionistic believer, whose inner longings and desires are never satisfied leading to despair and despondency, whereas the righteous believer (one walking consistently under experiential sanctification) has their hopes and dreams renewed and made fresh every morning and they stand confidently on the promises of God in absolute faith-rest.
2 Cor 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
Lam 3:21-25, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 25The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”
Prov 13:13, “The one who despises the word will be in debt to it, but the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.”
Having noted the effects of frustration versus accomplishment in vs. 12, (despair versus happiness, +H), the next three verses expound on the consequences of rejecting or accepting God’s Word in terms of Divine discipline versus reward. Its design is as follows:
The Negative – 13a
The Positive – 13b
The Positive – 14
The Positive – 15a
The Negative – 15b
Prov 13:13a – The Negative:
“The one who despises” is the Qal Active Participle of the Verb BUZ, בּוּז (booz) that means, “despise, hold in contempt, or hold as insignificant.” The Participle tells us of “the one who” performs the action. We saw BUZ in Prov 1:30; 6:7; 11:2. It is used 12 times in scripture and primarily in the wisdom and poetry books. It is most often used in its negative sense, where the subject who despises is a fool or reversionistic believer who will be the recipient of God’s discipline.
The thing this fool despises is “the word,” DABAR, דָּבָר (davar) which stands here for God’s Word, Bible Doctrine, as found in Scripture or spoken through another.
The reversionistic believer despises God’s Word, that is he wants nothing to do with it, for whatever reasons, as does the unbeliever in their unregenerated state.
The consequence for despising God’s Word is that the fool “will be in debt to it.”
“Will be in debt,” is the simple passive Hiphal future Imperfect 3MS of the Verb CHABAL, חָבַל (chaval) that means, “to bind, pledge, destroy, or travail.” In the passive Hiphal the one who disregards, “it”, (the Preposition LO with the pronominal prefix that stands for Gods’ Word), receives the action of the verb, which means they are bound to it, indebted to it, destroyed by it, or travail from it. Regardless of their thoughts towards God’s Word, they are still held accountable to God’s Word.
All of these words speak to the serious consequences of God’s Divine judgment towards the unbeliever, and Divine discipline for the reversionistic believer who rejects God’s Word in their life. Other proverbs make clear that the debt here is his “physical” life, the 3rd Stage of Divine Discipline for the reversionistic believer, Prov 1:24-27; 19:16; Heb 12:25.
Prov 19:16, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
Heb 12:25, “See to it that you do not refuse Him (Jesus Christ, Bible Doctrine) who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.”
The point is, even though they have rejected His Word, they cannot escape the judgment that comes from it and are still accountable for what it says.
- In regard to The Word’s universal judging power, Heb 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
- For the unbeliever, they are accountable to heed the Gospel or else face The Word’s judgment, John 2:18; 12:48.
John 12:48, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”
John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
- For the believer, they are accountable to The Word’s principles and precept, otherwise they will face Divine discipline, 1 Cor 11:27-32.
1 Cor 11:31-32, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
To “judge ourselves rightly,” we compare our thoughts, words, and action to God’s Word and determine if we are in violation or not. If in violation, then we confess those sins for cleansing, 1 John 1:9. But if we do not judge ourselves rightly and confess any sins then the three stages of Divine discipline kick in.
1 Cor 11:29-30, “For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. 30For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”
“A rotten attitude toward God and His Word will rot your life. Solomon describes the affliction of those who refuse and reject God’s Word with words like calamity, fear, desolation, destruction, distress, and anguish. In 13:13, he says the person who despises the Word shall be destroyed. Folks who consider the Word of God as insignificant, irrelevant, ineffectual, inadequate, insubstantial, and inferior will be heading for heartache, hurt, and harm. They will be “destroyed.” It means “to be broken or ruined, to bind or twist, to spoil or corrupt.” This is a fitting description of people who reject the Word of God. Many times they ruin their lives by becoming bound or addicted by sinful habits that shatter them and their families. Like a rope twisted into a knot, their lives are twisted, tight, and confined. Their passion for freedom to do as they wish, has robbed them of their freedom.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Proverbs, Volume 1.)
“But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.”
“But the one who fears” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Qal Active Participle of the Verb YARE, יָרֵא that means, “to fear, to respect, to have reverence”; cf. Prov 1:7, 29; 2:5; 3:7; 8:3; 9:10; 10:27. This is the believer who has awe and respect for the Lord and His Word, “the commandment”, MITSWAH, מִצְָוה that we noted in Prov 2:1; 3:1; 4:4; 6:20, 23; 7:1-2; 10:8. It stands for God’s Word, Bible Doctrine. So we have the believer who honors and respects God’s Word in their life with the result that they….
“Will be rewarded”, the intensive passive Pual future Imperfect of the Verb SHALAM, שָׁלַם (shalem) that means, “to be complete or at peace.” cf. Prov 6:31; 7:14; 11:31. Here it means to be made whole or repaid, as the believer who walks in God’s righteousness on a consistent basis will be rewarded for their Divine Good Production, 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 2-3. The future intensive passive strongly emphasizes this promise of God in that the wise believer will absolutely be rewarded in time and at the BEMA seat judgment of our Lord in eternity.
1 John 2:28-29, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
2 Cor 5:9-11, “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.”
Psa 119:161-162, “Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of Your words. 162I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil.”
Prov 13:14, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death.”
In this entire verse we have a continuation of the positive message; receiving God’s Word and the benefits it has to the ones who do.
Except for the first two words, this verse is identical to Prov 14:27, and between the two, we see that “the fear of the Lord” is identified with “the teaching of the wise.” It also begins similar to Prov 10:11. So the principle is “how do you fear the Lord? By receiving His teaching!
“The teaching” is the Noun TORAH, תּוֹרָה that means, “law or instruction.” Here, it too stands for God’s Word, Bible Doctrine.
“Of the wise” is the Noun CHAKAM, חָכָם. This is the positive believer going forward in God’s Plan by the intake and application of Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis.
“Is a fountain” is the Noun MAQOR, מָקוֹר that means, “fountain or spring.” We noted MAQOR in Prov 10:11a, in regard to the Word of God spoken and its benefits, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”
“Of life” is CHAYYIM once again.
Here we see that the teaching of God’s Word is a “fountain of life.” In vs. 12, we noted that application of Bible Doctrine is “a tree of life”, which meant that the resultant blessing of Bible Doctrine in your soul is to share in the happiness of God, +H. Now we see that the Word of God to the wise is a fountain of life, which it gives vigor to our life here on earth, as opposed to the destructive nature of sinful living to our bodies here on earth. As such, God’s Word resident within your soul at a minimum avoids Divine discipline and the destructive nature thereof, (i.e., weak, sick, asleep, 1 Cor 11:30), as also noted in the second half of this verse, and to a greater extent provides inner peace, happiness, contentment, vigor, enthusiasm, honor, material and spiritual blessing, etc.
“To turn aside from the snares of death.”
There is no contrasting Conjunction WA here. Instead we have the complementary inclusionary preposition “LE” meaning, “to”, with “turn” in the Qal Infinitive Construct of SUR, סוּר that means, “to leave, to deviate, to turn aside, to go away” that we noted in Chapters 3, 4, 5, 9, 11. In this use, we see another benefit of receiving God’s Word; it spares us from disaster as noted in the next phrase.
“From the snare of death” is the Preposition MIN with the Noun MOQESH, מוֹקֵשׁ meaning, “snare or trap”, and the Noun MAWETH, מָוֶת that means, “death.” In other words, when we receive and apply God’s Word, we are spared of His Divine discipline, including Stage 3, the Sin Unto Death.
“Snares” represent the many deadly agents that capture and kill the uncommitted gullible and stupid fool, like evil / sinful thoughts, speech, and deeds, wicked men and wicked women. When we learn God’s Word, we become aware of these concealed traps that are waiting for us inside of Satan’s cosmic system and are instead fortified to resist them. There is only one fountain of life which is God’s Word (the mind of Christ), but there are many snares leading to death inside of Satan’s cosmic system, cf. 2 Tim 2:24-26. So by learning and applying God’s Word to our lives, we will avoid many of the dangers and pitfalls of sin and Satan’s cosmic system, which in itself is a blessing; not having to endure self-induced misery and/or Divine discipline.
Prov 13:15, “Good understanding produces favor, but the way of the treacherous is hard.”
The positive message continues in the first half of vs. 15.
“Good understanding” is the Adjective TOB (tov) for “good”, and the Noun SHEKEL, שֵׂכֶל that means, “insight, understanding, or wisdom” that we noted in Prov 3:4; 12:8. Here it speaks to the application of Bible Doctrine, and as Prov 23:9 tells us, only fools despise this kind of intelligence.
“Produces favor” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb NATHAH and the noun CHEN, חֵן (khane) that means, “grace or favor.” It signifies God’s blessings on the life of the righteous, including having a sense of fulfillment, vs. 12; a long life, vs. 14, and other various blessings for both time and eternity.
“Good understanding” in Prov 16:22 is likened to a “fountain of life”, suggesting a connection between “good understanding” and “fountain of life” also in vs. 14, as well as “good teaching” and “favor.” Therefore, when we receive the teaching of Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis and apply it in our lives, we will be the recipients of God’s blessings in time and eternity.
“But the way of the treacherous is hard.”
“But the way”, is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Noun DEREK for “journey, way, path, etc.” It speaks of the life style of the wicked in this verse, those who reject God’s Word.
“Of the treacherous” is the Qal Active Participle of BAGAD, that means, “to deal treacherously with, to be traitorous, to act unfaithfully, to betray.” Cf. Prov 2:2; 11:3, 6; 13:2. This is the reversionistic believer who has left their first love, Rev 2:4-5.
Rev 2:4-5, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”
“Is hard” is EYTHAN, אֵיתָן (ay-thawn’) that means, “perpetual, constant, perennial, ever-flowing.” Interestingly this is hard to translate because it seems oxymoronic, and “the way of the treacherous will be perpetual” seemingly similar to the blessing of the righteous. But there are two things here.
- “The view that אֵיתָן (“lasting, perennial”) can here mean, “hard” is unpersuasive. The LXX has ἐνἀπωλείᾳ, “in destruction,” which suggests the emendation אֵידָם, “their calamity” (BHS). Alternatively, G. R. Driver (“Problems,” 181) proposes that the particle אִי (“not”) has fallen out before אֵיתָן due to haplography and reads, “But the way of treachery is not lasting”.” (New American Commentary.)
- “A better translation for “is hard” would be “overflows,” meaning unrepented sin keeps overwhelming the sinner. (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
So whether a typographical error is here or not, it stands in contrast to the blessings of the righteous and means that there are consequences for the actions of the reversionistic believer that are not pleasant. In other words, they will be overwhelmed by their sin and Satan’s cosmic system to perpetually live in it during their time here on earth, which is synonymous with being bound up in their sin and indebted to the Word of God, as noted in vs. 13a.
In contrast Waltke notes, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, and the one who heeds the teaching and drinks from that fountain gains such good moral perception and appropriate action that he wins favor with God and humanity, a desire of the heart, in contrast to the treacherous who perish.” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
As Ironside notes, “The word of instruction brings favor with God and man, as was so abundantly proven by Joseph, Daniel, and a host of others. To despise this law of the wise is to expose oneself to shame now and loss in eternity. But he that fears the commandment, recognizing in it a fountain of life, will be preserved from the sorrowful way of the transgressor and the darkness of eternity. Pharaoh despised the word and fell beneath the avenging hand of the Lord. Saul despised the word and was put to grief before the Philistines. The last three kings of Judah despised the word and learned too late the terrible mistake made. The solemn example of these and many more in sacred and secular history should speak loudly to those bent on taking their own way and ignoring the Lord’s commands. The Lord has said, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”, (Isaiah 66:2).” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary).
Prov 13:16, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly.”
“Every prudent man” is the Adjective KOL that means, “all”, plus the pronominal Adjective ARUM, עָרוּם that means, “clever or prudent.” Although ARUM is used negatively in some scriptures, in the book of Proverbs, it is used positively with the sense of “sensible or prudent.”
“Will Act” is the Qal future Imperfect of ASAH, עָשָׂה that means, “to do, make, execute, or prepare.” Here it is used for the application of Bible Doctrine that is resident within your soul.
In Proverbs we have seen that the prudent man; “overlooks an insult”, Prov 12:16; “keeps his knowledge to himself”, which means he does not gossip and/or seek revenge when wrong Prov 12:23; “acts out of knowledge”, Prov 13:16; and in Prov 22:3, we will see that he “sees danger and takes refuge.”
“With knowledge” is BE DA’ATH, which is used to reflect the application of the Bible Doctrine resident within your soul, as DA’ATH was first used in Prov 1:7, “The fear of Yahweh (Lord) is the beginning of knowledge.” At the same time, “knowledge” reflects the past experiences you have had in which you learned from, in order to apply to the situation today.
So the “Prudent Man” is the believer who has learned God’s Word and applies it to the everyday situations of life, where their past failures and success are also taken into consideration in the light of God’s Word, so that they arrive at the best decision for the moment at hand. This is what the Faith-Rest Drill is all about.
The Faith Rest Drill
The Faith-Rest Drill is one of the Eleven Problem Solving Device of the Plan of God for the Church. The Problem Solving Devices include: The Rebound Technique, The Filling of the Holy Spirit, The Faith-Rest Drill, Grace Orientation, Doctrinal Orientation, Authority Orientation, A Personal Sense of Destiny, Personal Love for God the Father, Impersonal Love for All Mankind, Sharing the Perfect Happiness of God, and Occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ.
The Problem Solving Device have been designed by God for every believer to deal with every adversity and every problem of suffering in this life, but to do so from your own soul, not from someone else’s human viewpoint counseling, and not from the great attacks of legalism among believers.
As a believer you have a choice every time any adversity, prosperity, or situation, which might be detrimental, occurs. It is not a matter of your status quo in life, but a matter of having all the Problem Solving Device on the FLOT line of your soul. The beginning of the Faith-Rest Drill is to believe God when He makes promises to us.
Psa 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.”
Psa 34:19, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
Prov 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
Psa 55:22, “Cast all your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”
Psa 56:11, “In God I put my trust. I will not be afraid. What man can do to me.”
Deut 31:8, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (afraid).”
1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
In spiritual childhood, we reach out with our faith and claim these promises. But the Faith-Rest Drill has far greater implications than just mixing the promises of God with our faith.
There are three spheres of operation involved in the function of the Faith-Rest Drill: Faith Mechanics, Faith Functions, and Faith Execution.
- The first sphere of the Faith-Rest Drill is Faith Mechanics. Faith Mechanics has two stages.
Stage one is mixing the promises of God with your faith.
Stage two is the application of the doctrinal rationales to your experience. The doctrinal rationales include:
- The Essence of God Rationale, i.e., who God is and what He is able to do.
- The Plan of God Rationale, i.e., what God has designed for me and mankind.
- The Policy of God Rationale, i.e., understanding the operation of His Perfect Justice and Righteousness, (e.g. Divine Institutions).
- The A-fortiori rationale, i.e., if God can do the greater, (pay for my sins), He can do the lesser, (help me with this problem).
The second sphere of the Faith-Rest Drill is Faith Function. There are three categories of Faith Function.
- The first category of Faith Function is faith perception. This is the function of the second power option in the Plan of God. It is the intake of God’s Word on a consistent basis with the reality of Bible doctrine circulating in your very own stream of consciousness.
- The second category of Faith Function is the plaintiff function before the Supreme Court of Heaven as a victim of injustice, real or imagined. This means appealing to the Supreme Court of Heaven and avoiding any reaction: complaining, vilification, denial, projection, self-justification, blaspheming, gossip, slander, maligning, judging of others, malice, etc. We can never react to unfairness or injustice in our life without becoming spiritual losers.
- The third category of Faith Function is faith correlation with other Problem Solving Device. This is the key to why the Faith-Rest Drill is a must on the Forward Line of Troops (FLOT) line of your soul. You must relate the problem you are facing with one or more of the Problem Solving Devices (PSD) and then apply that PSD towards your problem.
- The third sphere of the Faith-Rest Drill is Faith Execution.
- Faith Execution demands true humility and the avoidance of self-absorption. Get your eyes off of self and your problem.
- Faith Execution demands professionalism, which is accurate comprehension and use of the Problem Solving Device.
- Faith Execution demands integrity, the spiritual strength to make the right choices, the good decisions from a position of strength in the application of the Faith-Rest Drill.
God is perfect. Perfect God can only create a perfect plan. The Faith-Rest Drill is a perfect Problem Solving Device, but you must use the whole drill. And remember, this perfect plan is designed for imperfect believers to work perfectly in their lives, resulting in having a Relaxed Mental Attitude, (RMA), while you Share in the Happiness of God, +H.
See Faith-Rest slides.
So we have noted that the “prudent man acts from the Bible Doctrine resident within his soul”, which is another way of saying, he applies the Faith-Rest Drill to his life on a consistent basis, as Heb 4 also instructs us to do.
Heb 4:1, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.”
Coming short of the faith-rest life is the life of the “foolish” believer which we will note in the second half of this verse. It is described in Heb 12:15 as coming short of the Grace of God.
Heb 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
Coming “short of the grace of God” means you are not applying His Word to your life on a consistent basis. It means no faith-resting in His person and Word. And as Heb 12:15 tells us, not having faith-rest results in all kinds of mental, verbal, and overt sins.
Heb 4:2, “For indeed we have had good news preached to us (been evangelized), just as they also; but the word (Bible doctrine), they heard did not profit them, because it was not united (mixed) with faith by those who heard.”
Heb 4:2 gets to the heart of the matter, it is one thing to learn the Word of God, but it is entirely something else to apply God’s Word. And application is the key, (i.e., mixing it with faith!)
Heb 4:3, “For we (Church Age believers) who have believed (Bible doctrine as it is taught) enter that rest, just as He has said (Psa 95:11), “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from before the foundation of the world.”
“Believed” here is the Aorist, Active, Participle of the Greek Verb PISTEUO, πιστεύω that means, “to believe or entrust” that is, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, or place confidence in.”
This is how we should be thinking about God’s Word. So the questions are:
- Do you believe God’s Word to be true?
- Do you trust it or do you doubt it?
- Are you persuaded by it in your everyday life, and therefore act upon it?
- Do you give higher credit to God and His Word or give more credit to the situations in your life?
- Do the situations overwhelm you where you are more occupied with them than by God and His Word?
- Do you place 100% confidence in Bible Doctrine?
- Is your confidence in God immoveable or do you doubt?
Rom 4:20-22, “Yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.”
When stage one of the Faith-Rest Mechanics is fully operational you fulfill 2 Cor 5:7, “We walk by faith (the Faith-Rest Drill) and not by sight (human viewpoint).” As Abraham did, even though earlier in His life he doubted from time to time.
So the point is, we must have God’s Word resident within our souls and absolutely and undoubtingly believe in what it says, which is the point of Rom 10:17.
Rom 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing (positive volition) and hearing by the word of Christ.”
There is no system of counseling in this world that can replace the function of the Faith-Rest Drill in your life; the utilization of doctrinal rationales. The Faith-Rest Drill executes Divine mandates such as forgetting those things which are behind (such as child abuse, injustices in life, etc.) and moving on with your own spiritual life. This means that the Faith-Rest Drill has the power to avoid reaction to every injustice, every act of unfairness, and every wrong that has ever been committed against you. It has the power to avoid reaction to all injustices in life by putting them through faith in the hands of the Supreme Court of Heaven, as Faith Perception leads to Faith Function, which leads to Faith Execution. And it all results in having a Relaxed Mental Attitude as you Share in the Happiness of God, +H.
“But a fool displays folly.”
“But a fool” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Noun KESYIL, which means, “fool, stupid fellow, dullard, simpleton, arrogant one, etc.” KESYIL is predominately used in Proverbs but also in Psalms and Ecclesiastes. We noted KESYIL in Prov 1:22, 32; 3:35; 8:5; 10:1, 18, 23; 12:23, and will see it many more times in the rest of this book.
“Displays” is the active Qal, and ongoing action Imperfect of the Hebrew Verb PARAS, פָּרַשׂ that means, “to spread out, stretch, or break in pieces.”
“Folly” is one of the other Hebrew words for “foolish(ness) or folly”, the Noun IWWELETH, אִוֶּלֶת that we noted in Prov 5:23; 12:23. IWWELETH comes to mean, “imprudency,” and so this man is the complete opposite of the “prudent” man above, who takes in and applies Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis in the faith-rest life. So this stupid fellow demonstrates to all, over and over again, his lack of faith-rest in God’s Word, which can be displayed by, fear, worry, anxiety, anger, revenge motivation, gossiping, etc.
This “imprudent” believer or unbeliever has no faith-rest in their life because they have chosen either to not learn or not apply God’s Word. Therefore, they are left with their own ways and means, motivated from their sin nature, to try to solve the problems in their life, whether they are real problems or imagined ones.
These believers are then left without true strength and true happiness in their lives, and instead are filled with multiple counterfeit and pseudo forms and ways of strength and happiness that are temporary at best and always fleeting.
God does not want His children to be in that predicament. That is why He stresses over and over again to live the faith-rest life and be the “prudent man who acts with knowledge”, (i.e., have Bible doctrine resident within your soul and apply it in faith consistently).
Mark 9:14-29, “When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 19And He answered* them and said*, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22“It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.””
The prayer here noted at the end of this parable is used as a sign of faith, as noted in 1 John 5:13-15, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
Therefore, Jesus’ response to his disciples was reminding them that they did not have enough faith-rest to exercise that demon, a faith-rest that was demonstrated by prayer. So they should have prayed to God to exercise that demon and rely upon His power, but instead they thought they had the power and tried to do it on their own.
What are the demons in your life that you try to exorcise with your own power?
Prov 13:17, “A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings healing.”
“A wicked messenger” is the Adjective RASHA, רָשָׁע that means, “evil or wicked” with the Noun MALAK, מַלְאָךְ that means, “messenger” and is the Hebrew word for “angel.” This is the first time we have seen this word in Proverbs and it will come again in Prov 16:14; 17:11.
Prov 16:14, “The wrath of a king is as messengers of death, but a wise man will appease it.”
Prov 17:11, “A rebellious man seeks only evil, so a cruel messenger will be sent against him.”
MALAK is a human messenger, the one sent by another to deliver a communication. Linked with RASHA this is a reversionistic believer or evil unbeliever who is sent by another, typically Satan, his cosmic system or their own Sin Nature, to deliver evil to others in their words or deeds.
Here we note that the evil this wicked messenger is sent to bring to others actually comes back around onto himself, as he “falls into adversity.”
“Falls” is the Qal incomplete Imperfect of the Verb NAPHAL, נָפַל, that means, “to fall, to lie, to prostrate oneself, to overthrow.” We noted NAPHAL in Prov 1:14; 7:26; 11:5, 14, 28. It sometimes has the connotation of worshipping something. The thing worshiped by the wicked messenger is “adversity.” The Active Qal says that the wicked messenger performs the action of the verb. It is not the passive Niphal or Pual stems that would say he receives the action; it is the active Qal which means he is the one performing the action. So we see intent here on the part of the wicked messenger. The Imperfect says that he will continue to do it, or worship it, or be overthrown by it over and over again.
“Adversity” is the Noun RA, רַע that means, “bad or evil.” So the wicked messenger falls into all kinds of evil and sin within his life. As noted above, what he intended to deliver to others, some form of evil or sin that causes adversity, actually comes back around to him as he actively “falls into” it. This is another way of saying self-induced misery.
“Falls into adversity” once again brings out the principle of The Law of Volitional Responsibility. The wicked messenger actually causes evil upon his own life as he plunges himself into ruin, (self-induced misery), where NAPHAL for “falls” is also used to indicate some kind of death, even violent death. So this verse also alludes to the 3rd Stage of Divine Discipline, The Sin Unto Death, as a result of the believer’s reversionism.
And as we noted in Prov 10:26, which we will see again in Prov 26:6, the “adversity or evil” will also come upon the one(s) who sent this wicked messenger, and potentially the community, state, nation, or kingdom they represent.
Prov 10:26, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him.”
Prov 26:6, “He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence who sends a message by the hand of a fool.”
“But a faithful envoy brings healing.”
“But an envoy” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Noun TSIYR, צִיר that means, “an ambassador, an envoy, or a messenger.” It occurs only six times in the Old Testament.
It describes a person appointed to represent someone else or his nation faithfully in our verse and in, Prov 25:13; Isa 18:2; 57:9; Jer 49:14; Obadiah 1:1. It is a much sought after person.
So this is a contrasting messenger to the wicked one noted above, as the Adjective for “faithful” EMUN, אֵמֻן indicates. It means, “trustworthiness, faithfulness, or dependability.” It is used to signify the rare and beneficial quality of trustworthiness in an individual here and in Prov 14:5; 20:6; the character of a righteous nation, Isa 26:2; and in a negative sense, a fundamental lack of dependability or faithfulness, Deut 32:20.
The faithful ambassador is the one who is an effective witness for Christ.
“Healing” is the Noun MARPE, מַרְפֵּא indicating “health, healing, or a remedy.” It refers to the restoration, cure, or renewal of an illness or sickness. We noted MARPE in Prov 4:22; 6:15 & 12:18, which sets up the application of MARPE here.
Prov 12:18, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
In our verse, there is no verb in this phrase so one can be added for translation, and “brings” is good, utilizing the Qal Imperfect for the active voice and ongoing action. So this faithful messenger is one who continually brings healing, reconciliation, or redemption to others, which results in having the same effect to himself.
Prov 25:13, “Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.”
In summary, the righteous ambassador will be a blessing to those that sent him and to the community, state, or nation he represents; whereas, the wicked ambassador will fall himself into the evil that he lives, along with those who sent him, the community, state, or nation that he represents.
This leads us to the Doctrine of the Royal Ambassador, where we will see that every believer is an ambassador for Christ. If the ambassadors for Christ in any generation are evil (in reversionism), as a majority, they will fall into their own evil as will the community, state or nation they represent. That is if Bible Doctrines are ignored, or even false doctrines are predominately taught in a generation, that whole generation will suffer. But on the other hand, if believers walk consistently in the righteousness of God, they, along with their community, state, or nation will be blessed as they are part of the pivot for that nation.
“The proverb is not concerned with the matter dealt with by the messenger but with the quality of the messenger. The success of the ambassador’s mission depends on his inner stability, integrity, and conscientiousness, the virtues essential for any responsible service, (cf. Job 33:23-26; Acts 20:27; 1 Cor. 4:1, 2; 2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Thess. 2:3-6).” (Waltke, New International Commentary).
Therefore, the believer priest of the Church Age, 1 Peter 2:9, who is also a royal ambassador for Christ, Eph 6:20, must have integrity, honor, inner stability, professionalism, and conscientiousness in order to rightly serve our Lord, (the one they represent), as well as mankind, (the ones they are sent to with the message of Christ).
Eph 6:19, “And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Vs. 17, Contrasts in Ambassadorship!
Prov 13:17, “A wicked messenger falls into adversity, but a faithful envoy brings healing.”
The “messenger” is MALAK in the Hebrew meaning, “angel or messenger.”
The “envoy” here is the Hebrew Noun TSIYR that means, “ambassador, envoy, or messenger.” It indicates a person that has tremendous responsibility in representing the sender to those the TSIYR has been sent to, in order to deliver an important message.
The wicked ambassador will be a disaster to himself, those that he represents, and those he was sent to. The righteous ambassador will be a blessing to all.
Doctrine of Ambassadorship
This reminds us, Church Age believers, of two key positions (royal patents) we have been given and the great responsibility we have in representing God and our Lord Jesus Christ to our fellow members of the human race. Every Church Age believer is a Royal Priest, 1 Peter 2:9, and a Royal Ambassador for Christ, 2 Cor 5:20; Eph 6:20.
2 Cor 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Eph 6:19-20, “And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
The Greek word for Ambassador is the PRESBEUO, πρεσβεύω, (pres-byoo’-o), that means, “an aged person, elder, be an ambassador, or be a representative (for someone).” It is used in classical Greek to denote the activity of an official envoy of a ruler or government who legally represented the authority responsible for sending him. It was used particularly of the legate of the Roman emperor.
It is similar to the Noun PRESBUTES or the Adjective PRESBUTEROS, that means, “older man, ancestor, elder, presbyter.”
The Hebrew utilizes the Noun TSIYR, צִיר that means, “an ambassador, an envoy, or a messenger.”
Definition and Description:
An ambassador is a high ranking minister of state or of royalty sent to another state to represent his sovereign or country. By analogy, we are spiritual aristocracy as members of the Royal Family of God, and Christ is the King who has sent us into a foreign country, the cosmic world.
At salvation, every believer enters the Royal Family of God through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and at the same time we become a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth. Ambassadorship results from the fact that we are in union with Christ, caused by the Baptism of the Spirit, cf. Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27.
Every Church Age believer is part of the Royal Family of God representing the King of kings and Lord of lords during our time on this earth. Therefore, two commissions are given to the believer at salvation: The Royal Priesthood, which is a part of the equal privilege of election; and the Royal Ambassadorship, which is a part of the equal privilege of predestination. We represent ourselves before God and we represent God before men.
Ambassadorship emphasizes that every believer is in fulltime Christian service. However, there are different services. Differences of service depends on differences of spiritual gifts, stages of spiritual growth, historical circumstances (prevalence of positive or negative volition), and environment at any given moment, 1 Cor 12:4.
1 Cor 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Our spiritual gifts, specific gifts, given to each of us that we use distinctly for the common good of our generation. But there are also common functions and services related to our Priesthood and Ambassadorship that the Word commands us to participate in, such as witnessing, prayer, and learning God’s Word, so that there is no confusion between what your spiritual gift demands and those functions which are common to all believers.
In addition to the mandates of Scripture, there are many avenues of expressing your Ambassadorship, such as utilizing the Faith Rest Drill and Impersonal Love as Problem Solving Devices with emphasis on your spiritual growth. Spiritual Self-Esteem, the first stage of spiritual adulthood, becomes the maximum expression of ambassadorship, which is a result of consistent residence inside of God’s Power System under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, and momentum from metabolized Bible doctrine in your soul.
In 2 Cor 5:20, Paul speaks of himself and other ministers of the gospel as “ambassadors for Christ,” commissioned by their sovereign King to engage in the ministry of reconciliation. As official representatives they spoke with the authority of God to the extent that when they spoke the message of reconciliation, it was as though God Himself was doing the talking.
Similarly, in Eph 6:20, Paul described himself as acting as an “ambassador in chains,” the imprisoned representative of Christ. This image conveys both the risk involved for one who acts as an emissary for God, and the oneness the ambassador has with the message he is speaking.
The Prerequisites for the Function of the Royal Ambassadorship:
- He must be saved. Salvation appoints the individual to the status of Royal Ambassador. It is one of the 40+ things we receive at the moment of Salvation. There is no appointment to such ambassadorship until the person has believed in Christ. At that point, you are commissioned as an Ambassador. Therefore, at salvation the believer becomes a member of the Royal Family of God and a Royal Ambassador through the Baptism of the Spirit. Ambassadorship automatically enters the believer into full time Christian service.
- You must be Filled with the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18, by means or 1 John 1:9. To represent God, you must be fully influenced by Him to receive and deliver His message. If you are out of Fellowship, not filled with the Holy Spirit, you cannot function properly in your Ambassadorship.
- The third prerequisite is the daily function of GAP, whereby God’s Word is stored in the human spirit and soul. This requires that the Royal Ambassador must know, understand and consistently apply the doctrine of the Filling of the Spirit, including understanding and consistently applying the Rebound Technique, Gods’ grace means of influencing our soul by the Holy Spirit. With the Filling of the Holy Spirit, we can truly learn and apply God’s Word towards our Ambassadorship function.
- In Rom 12:11 there are two prerequisites for service of the Ambassador: a) he cannot be negligent in applying Bible doctrine, and b) he must be zealous with reference to the Holy Spirit when serving.
- Royal Ambassadorship demands salvation, the Filling of the Spirit, and the residency of Bible doctrine in your soul. Thus, Experiential Sanctification, (i.e., Walking in the Light, abiding in Christ, Fellowship with God, and the Filling of the Holy Spirit), is its prerequisite. On the negative side, the Royal Ambassadorship cannot function when the believer is in the devil’s triangle of sin, human good, and evil. All service in the devil’s triangle is human good and evil. If we fail to apply Bible doctrine, we are in the devil’s triangle.
- The Ambassador for Christ must have integrity, honor, inner stability and conscientiousness in order to rightly serve the Lord, as well as mankind. Therefore, he must know and apply the Royal Family Honor Code, (RFHC).
The Profile of the Ambassador:
- Ambassadors do not appoint themselves. We are appointed by God Himself at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. God also gives us the power and ability to handle the job.
- The Ambassador does not support himself. The Church Age believer, as an ambassador for Christ, is provided by God’s logistical grace blessings.
- The Ambassador’s instructions are always in written form, so he has no doubt as to what he should do. We have the policies, Problem Solving Devices, instructions, principles, doctrines, and concepts in written form in the Scripture.
- The Ambassador does not belong to the country to which he is sent. Our citizenship and home is in heaven, Phil 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” We are also citizens of a client nation to God – the USA.
- The Ambassador does not live in the foreign country for his own personal interest. We live here on earth solely to serve in the interest of our Lord. Therefore, we subordinate all personal interest to the function of our ambassadorship, which includes the development and function of the spiritual skills, including the Filling of the Spirit, understanding of Bible doctrine, and execution of the Plan of God.
Our position as Ambassadors for Christ is in place as of the moment of salvation, but it is not effective until we develop spiritual skills by growing to spiritual maturity.
- The Ambassador does not treat any insult to himself as personal, Prov 12:16b. This is the Royal Ambassador’s function in both Spiritual Self-Esteem and Impersonal Love for All Mankind. We tolerate others and hold no grudges. When we are insulted, treated unfairly, or ridiculed, we have tremendous Problem Solving Devices (PSD) to handle the situation. You recognize that it is God who they are insulting and not you, you apply the PSD’s, and you turn the matter over to the Supreme Court of Heaven in Faith-Rest.
- When an Ambassador is recalled, it means either that his job is done, or it means a declaration of war. This is analogous to our death when our Lord will bring us home as a good servant, Mat 25:21, 23, or the Rapture of the Church, 1 Thes 4:13-18. The Tribulation is analogous to the period of war.
Verse 18: Poverty or Honor, the Choice is yours!
Prov 13:18, “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.”
Similar to vs. 13, this Proverb contrasts those who “neglect” Bible Doctrine with those who “protect” God’s Word within their souls. It exhorts the positive believer who applies the Faith-Rest Life, vs. 16, in the execution of their Royal Ambassadorship, vs. 17, with the blessings and rewards available to him
“Poverty and shame” is RESH WA QALON.
RESH, רֵישׁ is from the root RUSH that means, “to be needy or to suffer want.” The masculine noun RESH simply means, “poverty.” This poverty is the irresponsible kind, uncalled for but received by the headstrong, impenitent, reversionistic believer who could make something successful from his life but refuses to be corrected or taught. Cf. Prov 12:11; 28:19. It also speaks to spiritual depravity as we will see.
Prov 28:19, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty.”
This verse, as does ours when linked with Prov 13:20, includes the companion factor. Therefore, if you hang around with idiots, you too will be an idiot and suffer as a result.
Here the suffering not only includes poverty but also “shame”, the noun QALON, קָלוֹן that we noted in Prov 3:35; 6:33; 9:7; 11:2; 12:16. It means, “shame and dishonor”; the lowering of a person’s social status.
Combined with RESH they come to mean “shameful poverty.” This shameful poverty is twofold; first it is physical poverty of money, food, clothes, shelter, etc., but also poverty of God’s Word in your life. Therefore, all of God’s Logistical Grace Blessings are in view.
Remember that poverty due to moral failure, (as we have here noted by the next two words), brings disgrace. But poverty accompanied with virtue, cf. Prov 17:1; 19:1, such as from injustice, Prov 13:23, is not disgraceful. So poverty alone does not indicate discipline or self-induced misery.
Yet shameful poverty can be the result of:
- Laziness, Prov 10:4, 5; 12:24; 13:4; 15:19; 19:15; 20:4, 13; 21:25.
- The love of pleasure and luxury, Prov 21:17; 28:19.
- A propensity to talk instead of working, Prov 14:23.
- Wickedness in general, Prov 13:25.
- Being mean to, by withholding from others, Prov 11:24.
This proverb points to a more fundamental problem, the refusal, like that of a horse or mule, Psa 32:9, to listen to the instructions (Bible Doctrine) that correct these flaws, as we will see in the next phrase, “neglect discipline.”
The reason this fool receives shameful poverty is because he “neglects”, PARA פָּרַע, Prov 1:25; 4:15; 8:33, the Qal Active Participle of PARA that means, “to loose, let alone, show lack of restraint.” Here it denotes the willful rejection of wise instruction, that is Bible Doctrine when linked with “discipline”, the noun MUSAR, that stands here for God’s Word.
To neglect taking in God’s Word and applying it on a consistent basis can result in shameful poverty. In context, you will not have a “faith-rest” life, and you certainly will not be able to carry out your responsibilities as a Royal Ambassador. Instead, there will be self-induced misery with longings and desires not being met.
“But he who regards reproof will be honored.”
“Regards” is the Qal Active Participle of SHAMAR, שָׁמַר the word used extensively throughout the Old Testament and Proverbs for “to observe, to guard, or to keep.” The underlying idea of this root is, “to exercise great care,” and in Proverbs, it means to diligently learn God’s Word and protect it within your soul. When we do, it demonstrates we hold God’s Word in high regard rather than neglecting it as the fool does.
“Reproof” is the Noun TOKACHATH, תּוֹכַחַת that means, “reproof, rebuke, correction, or punishment.” Here it stands for Bible Doctrine, God’s Word that teaches us corrective behaviors away from sin.
There are two ways we demonstrate high regard for God’s Word:
- The first thing is to ensure we have a place where we can go to learn God’s Word. That means we do everything possible to support and maintain our local assembly and our right Pastor-Teacher, where and by whom we are fed God’s Word, so that we can learn God’s Word through the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP). If we do not, then there is a good chance we will have a lack (poverty) of Bible Doctrine in our souls and lives.
- The second way we hold God’s Word in high regard is to not pollute our soul with sinful cosmic viewpoint. We do so by saying no to sinful temptations from our sin nature and the world, and by not involving ourselves in sinful cosmic living. Of course this is only possible by means of the Filling of God the Holy Spirit, and our non-meritorious positive volition towards God and His Word.
If you allow sin and Satan’s cosmic viewpoint to penetrate your soul, it will drown out the Word that is in your soul and replace it. The one who does so is a neglector of God’s Word, because they are not guarding and protecting it within their soul. They are careless in their intake and careless in their daily walk, with the result that they will lose (let escape) the Doctrine that they once had, or could have had, in their soul. Yet, the diligent believer protects his soul by protecting the communication of God’s Word and by resisting the temptation of sin and Satan’s cosmic system by “taking every thought captive”, 2 Cor 10:5.
The righteous wise believer knows the importance of having Bible doctrine in their soul with its power and strength to live each day unto the Lord. Therefore, they do everything possible to ensure its availability to enter their souls, as well as its retention within their souls. And all is accomplished by the power of the Filling of God the Holy Spirit and building the Edification Complex of your soul.
For the believer who holds God’s Word in high regard, they “will be honored”, which is the intensive passive Pual and future Imperfect of the Verb KABED, כָּבֵד (kaved), that means, “to honor, to glorify, to be heavy, or to be rich.” So we can say, “he will receive high honor.” Honor here, as elsewhere, entails the wealth that gives one high social status, cf. Prov 3:9; 4:8; 8:18, but more importantly it signifies being blessed and glorified by God in both time and eternity.
In this one word, we see the dual blessings associated with diligence towards God’s Word, in contrast to the two-fold self-induced misery of the fool who neglects it; for the fool – shame and poverty, for the wise – honor and riches. The incorrigible reversionistic believer ends in shameful poverty, no blessings and rewards, while the teachable is lauded heavy with honor and wealth, Cf, Prov 3:16, 35; 8:18; 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Prov 3:35, “The wise will inherit glory, but shame will be the promotion of fools.”
The human heart in its folly ignores or rejects the suggestions and counsel of others and especially that of Bible Doctrine, having already determined for itself what is right, Prov 16:2, 25; 21:2. Yet, response to correction, especially from God’s Word, is an important condition in determining relative success or failure in life, Prov 1:23, 25, 30; 3:11f; 5:9-14.
“He who rejects the admonition and correction of his parents, his pastor, or his friend, and refuses every counsel to duty as a burdensome moralizing, such a one must at last gather wisdom by means of injury if he is at all wise: he grows poorer in consequence of missing the right rule of life, and has in addition thereto to be subject to disgrace through his own fault. On the contrary, to him who has the disgrace to deserve reproof, but who willingly receives it, and gives it effect, the disgrace becomes an honor, for not to reject reproof shows self-knowledge, humility, and good-will; and these properties in the judgment of others bring men to honor, and have the effect of raising them in their position in life and in their calling.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament – Volume 6: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.)
So the choice is yours. Which would you rather have? Shameful poverty or honor and rewards for both time and eternity!
Prov 13:19, “Desire realized is sweet to the soul, but it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.”
Vs. 19a presents psychological facts and vs. 19b ethical ones; due to the contrasting nature of this proverb, the former affects and emphasizes the latter. That is, what goes on in the mentality of your soul affects and emphasizes what you do. If you have God’s Word in your soul, you will share in the Happiness of God, +H. But if you reject God’s Word, your desires will not be realized.
We begin with the Exhortation!
“Desire realized is sweet to the soul.”
“Desire” is the Noun TA’WAH, תַּאֲָוה that means, “longing, eager desire, lust, or delight”, Prov 10:24; 11:23; 13:12. Here it is the good kind of desire, longing for the things of God, His Word and righteousness. TA’WAH, is also found in vs. 12, and therefore frames this 3rd section of Proverbs, as well as encouraging the righteous in their desire for what is good.
“Realized” is the simple passive Niphal Participle of HAYAH, הָָיה, that means, “to happen, to be, to become, to fulfill, etc.” So it means when your desires come to be, are fulfilled, or are realized. The Passive means you receive the action of desires fulfilled. The assumption is that these desires are of the righteous and ethical kind. God will not fulfill your sinful lusts and desires. That’s what the god of this world, Satan, tries to do.
“Is Sweet” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb ARAB, עָרַב (arabe), that means, “to be sweet, pleasing, or pleasant.” It asserts that something is acceptable, desired by someone, or satisfying.
Here “desire realized” is pleasing “to the soul”, NEPHESH, נֶפֶשׁ.
For context, we compare it to the second half of this verse, where the wicked do not want to depart from the evil that they are living in. Apparently, that “evil” gives them some form of satisfaction that temporarily fulfills their evil / sinful desires. So here, the wise that walk in righteousness see their righteous and ethical desires realized which is very satisfying to their souls. When your soul is satisfied, it is content and happy. So here we see the righteous believer who has inner peace, happiness, and contentment, the +H of God, which all men truly desire. For these believers, their desire is met and it is sweet to their soul.
“But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil.”
“Abomination” is the Noun TO’EBAH, תּוֹעֵבָה (to’evah) that means, “a disgusting or detestable thing, an abomination.” It is something loathed or hated. This is one of 21 times TOEBAH is used in Proverbs. Typically, the word is used for that which is an abomination to the Lord, Prov 6:16, or righteous believers. But here it is used to indicate what the “wicked fool” loathes or hates.
“Fools” is the Adjective KESIYL, כְּסִיל used substantively that means, “fool or stupid one”, which we have seen throughout Proverbs. See our previous study on the Doctrine of Fool’s in Proverbs Chapter 12
“Depart” is the Qal Infinitive of SUR, סוּר that means to keep on “leaving, deviating, turning aside, or going away.” The thing that the fool hates to turn away from is, “evil.”
“From Evil”, is the Preposition MIN plus the Noun RA for “evil, bad, wickedness, etc.”
Therefore, the fool is disgusted to turn away from disgusting things!
When you say SUR MIN RA quickly you will hear, “Sermon of RA” or “a sermon of evil.” Therefore, evil is what the fool learns and applies to his life daily, and he absolutely does not want to turn away from it.
In other words, the last thing the reversionistic believer or immoral believer wants to do is turn from the evil they are living in and resume or begin living the spiritual life that God has for them. This tells us of the extreme difficulty it is, though not impossible, for the apostate believer to perform the 3 R’s, “Repent, Rebound, and Recover.” Their sin and sin nature have such a strong hold over them that it seems foolish to them to change their way of life. They are deceived into thinking that their way of life is the correct course, and that it satisfies their wants, needs, and desires, when in fact they are only temporary solutions, at best, that create ever increasing pain, sorrow, suffering, and poverty, (spiritual depravity), each day.
Therefore, in contrast to the happiness of God, +H, that is a blessing for the righteous believer, as nothing is as nice as obtaining something you have desired for a long time, the foolish believer or unbeliever will not leave their evil ways to obtain God’s +H. Instead they wallow in their mire under the frantic search for happiness, chasing down one immoral thrill after another. They cut off their nose to spite their face, and would rather live with unrealized hopes and desires than to admit they are wrong and leave their wickedness, whereby they could share in God’s Happiness, +H.
Only fools prefer:
- Death to life, 14.
- Destruction to favor, 15.
- Protection to exposure, 16.
- Injury to healing, 17.
- Disgraceful poverty to social dignity, 18.
The “fools” nature to despise the wise person’s corrective inspired Word alienates them from having an experiential relationship with the Lord; they have no fellowship with God. The only relationship that is truly gratifying and life-sustaining is one with the Lord, Psa 17:15; 42:1. If the foolish, reversionistic believer would just change their attitude toward God and His Word, recognize their sins and confess them to God the Father, 1 John 1:9-10; Luke 15:18; Psa 32:5; Prov 28:13; Jer 3:13; Dan 9:4-5, 20, etc., they would also turn from their morally repulsive behavior toward humanity, Prov 3:7; 16:6, and then share in the blessings of God including inner peace, happiness, and contentment; the +H of God that is “sweet to the soul.”.
The wise believer experiences the pleasant joy of having their desires fulfilled, whereas the foolish believer never finds their appetites gratified, for they will not forsake their evil to attain this joy, the +H of God. The righteous believer consistently learns and applies God’s Word in the Faith-Rest life under the filling of God the Holy Spirit, Eph 5:18, seeing its benefits and blessings realized in their life, while the fool does not and instead remains in his sinful ways, refusing to leave them.
As this Third Section of Chapter 13 has told us, the wise understand the benefits of accomplishing their goals, (growing to spiritual maturity), vs. 13b, 14a, working diligently to realize them, (consistent intake and application of Bible Doctrine in the Faith-Rest life), vs. 15a, 16a, and to fulfill any obligations that they have to others, (Ambassadorship), vs. 17b, which results in blessing for both time and eternity, vs. 18b.
My good friend, Pastor Bill Wenstrom, emailed me a note the other day that speaks to this regarding the conversion of some Muslims to Christianity.
“Dr. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic Studies… aware that throughout the world Muslims have been turning to Christ, was curious about the reasons why — especially in countries where the cost of converting is so high. To find the answer, he created a detailed questionnaire. Over a 16-year period, some 750 Muslims from 30
countries filled it out — and the results are eye-opening. The number one reason Muslim converts listed for their decision to follow Christ was the lifestyle of the Christians among them.”
Therefore, overall, this verse, which ends the warnings and exhortation of Section 3, vs. 12-19, exhorts us to turn from evil and sinful ways where desires go unfulfilled, and instead turn to God and His Word, which has many beneficial and lasting blessings and rewards for both time and eternity.
Summary and Conclusion of Section 3, vs. 12-19:
In summary of Section 3 of Proverbs 13:12-19, we have seen many contrasts between walking in the righteousness of God, (being filled with the Holy Spirit, Experientially Sanctified), versus walking in carnality, (sin, human good, and evil – The Devils Triangle, resulting in not being in fellowship with God).
This section is framed by the Hebrew word for “desire”, TA’AWAH, תַּאֲָוה that means, “longing, eager desire, or delight”, which is applied to the believer who is in fact going forward inside of God’s Plan for his life. This believer: respects God’s Word, vs. 13; that causes him to turn away from sin and evil, vs. 14; resulting in honor and blessings from God, vs. 15, because He is living the Faith-Rest Life, vs. 16, and fulfilling his Royal Ambassadorship, vs. 17.
This Divine Good Production results in yet further blessings and rewards for both time and eternity from God, vs. 18, which causes him to receive God’s Happiness (+H) in both time and eternity, vs. 19.
As vs. 19 tells us, the wise righteous believer will have his desires gratified, (sweet to the soul), which means the +H of God, where desires fulfilled are a tree of life, vs. 12, an euphemism for Sharing the Happiness of God, (+H).
To enjoy the fruit of Happiness you must have a prior thirst for Bible Doctrine, which is the “fountain of life”, vs. 12.
Therefore, the wise believer who has a healthy thirst and appetite for God’s Word and righteousness is rewarded with life, vs. 12b, 14a, and healing, vs. 17b. But the sick appetite of the fool brings irremediable disgrace and death, vs. 14b, 15b.
The “inspired word” and “commandment”, vs. 13, are further defined as “the teaching of the wise”, vs. 14a. Whoever accepts it is “prudent”, vs. 15a, and “sensible”, vs. 16a, living the Faith-Rest life, but whoever despises it is “treacherous”, vs. 15b, and a “fool”, vs. 16b who is known as such to all.
The former (wise believers) are repaid with the desires of the heart, (inner peace and happiness that comes from the security of eternal life), vs. 12b, 13b; favor with God and people, vs. 15a; protection, vs. 16a; and honor, vs. 18b.
But the latter, (foolish apostate believers), fall into deadly snares, vs. 14b; destruction, vs. 15b; public disgrace, vs. 16b; shameful poverty, vs. 18a.
So the choice is yours, would you rather have the sweet life of desires fulfilled with the happiness of God in your soul, or would you rather vehemently refuse the counsel of God’s Word and obstinately remain in your evil and frantic search for happiness that result is destruction?
Rod Mattoon notes: “In eastern Africa a troop of about 50 baboons made themselves at home right next to a farm. The baboons were amusing at first but soon wore out their welcome. Before long they were ravaging the corn and other crops and helping themselves to anything they could get their hands on to eat. The frustrated farmers in the area made plans to have the animals destroyed. To do this they set up cages with food in them. Their plan was to capture the baboons and then kill them once they were trapped.
Baboons, however, aren’t stupid animals. Sensing that the cages were dangerous, they refused to go in, but the farmers were patient. After several days, one of the hungry baboons ventured into the cage and sampled the food. It was good, very good, and nothing bad happened. The next day, the same baboon returned for more food. Other baboons soon followed. After a few days, the entire group of baboons was going into the cages to feast on the food that had been put there by the farmers.
Rather than being afraid of the cages, the baboons started to like them. For several weeks, the baboons went into the cages every day to get their food. One day, however, the food was tied to the door latch. When the animals grabbed the food, the doors of the cages slammed shut. The baboons were spooked at first, but quickly went back to finishing their meal. They showed no real concern for the fact they had been trapped in a cage.
Sinful habits are a lot like those baboon traps. Down deep you know they can harm you, but just like the food in those traps, the sin looks pretty good, and you’re hungry! That’s the sin nature. You may try to resist temptation and do the right thing at first, but then you start to see other people indulging themselves without anything bad happening to them. And just like the baboons, you start to believe that you can get away with your sinful lifestyle.
The devil, however, is very patient. He’ll let you get away with sin for a while—maybe even a long time. Then he’ll slam the door shut, and your life will be destroyed. Fortunately, our story has a happy ending. The baboons didn’t die. A wildlife biologist found out about the farmers’ plan to destroy the baboons and rescued them. The foundation that supported the rescue effort actually paid the farmers for their losses and the expenses they incurred to trap the baboons. The baboons were then transported by truck to a remote location in the wild and set free. In the same way, God sent his Son Jesus to rescue us from sin. We couldn’t rescue ourselves, so Jesus came and paid the price for our salvation. Paul said, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Beloved, God has given us His Word to help us avoid choices or decisions that harm us. If we reject His commands and cautions, then we will plow head long into mistakes that will entrap and scar us. If we obey His Word, we will find His blessings.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
Psalm 19:11, “Moreover, by them (Principles of Doctrine), Your servant is warned; yet, in keeping them there is great reward.”
Psalm 119:165, “Those who love Your law (Bible Doctrine) have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.”
Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law, (Bible Doctrine).”
The word “vision” is from the Hebrew word CHAZON, חָזוֹן (khaw-zone’), which refers to revelation from the Lord or communication from God’s prophets.
James 1:25, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law (Bible Doctrine), the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
Section 4: Vs. 20-25
Pertaining to Blessings or Discipline Depending on Our Associations.
We begin the last section of Chapter 13 being reminded of the importance of our associations. If we associate professionally, recreationally, or spiritually with those who walk in righteousness and are full of the wisdom of Bible Doctrine, then we too will walk in righteousness and be wise. Yet, if we do not, and instead associate with wicked fools, we will cause all kinds of problems for ourselves. In the first verse, we will see that we are blessed or disciplined by associating with others, and in the following verses we will either be a blessing or the cause of harm for others.
Prov 13:20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
“Walks” is the Qal Infinitive of HALAK, הָלַךְ, that means, “to go, or come, walk, act, etc.” The infinitive means ongoing action. It is used here to mean, “association or companionship with others”
Next we have both the Adjective and Verbal use of CHAKAM, חָכָם, חָכַם for “wise.” The verb is in the Qal Imperative, which is a rare command usage for Proverbs. So this verse could read, “Walk with the wise and be wise.”
Therefore, if we associate with those who are wise by means of God’s Word resident within their soul, we too will be wise. If we associate with the Pastor-Teacher who is teaching the truth of God’s Word, we will walk in the truth of God’s Word. The opposite is true as noted in the second half of this verse.
“But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
“Companion” is the Qal Active Participle Verb RA’AH, רָעָה that means, “to graze, to pasture, or shepherd.” We noted this verb in Prov 10:21 for the word, “feed.” Throughout the Old Testament, nearly half of its usages are in the masculine participial form, employed as a substantive for “shepherd” as it is here. So the false teacher is in view here as the wrong type to be associated with.
In addition, the word is also used metaphorically in a number of passages, most often describing those who lead and care for groups of people. Kings in the ancient world were sometimes referred to as shepherds for their people. And finally, as we have here, it can mean, “to associate with.” So it stands for any Pastor, leader or associate who is not walking inside of God’s Plan for their life. It does not necessarily imply a deep intimate relationship, but does involve more than a casual involvement.
“Fools” is KESIYL once again, identifying the wrong type of believer to be led by or in association with; the reversionistic or apostate kind.
“Suffer Harm” is the passive Niphal and incomplete action Imperfect of the Verb RA’A, רָעַע that means, “to be bad or evil.” Cf. Prov 4:16; 11:15. It is used for those committing sins against God, 1 Sam 12:25; 1 Chron 21:17 and the participle means “evildoers or the wicked” in Psa 37:1, 9; Prov 24:19. The passive means they receive the action of verb, and it could be used reflexively, since they decided to associate with these knuckleheads in the first place. Self-induced misery is what is in view here. The Imperfect means they receive the action on a continual basis; as long as they are associating with these idiots!
Notice the similarity in the Hebrew for “companion” and “suffer harm” using the root RA in both, and the double use of CHAKAM, both adjectively and verbally. These form a typical pun in the Hebrew.
From these definitions we see that this type of association means that someone is leading you into harmful behaviors and actions that lead to many problems. In fact, Proverbs uses RA’AH to warn of the danger of becoming associated with:
- Fools, our verse.
- Prostitutes, (false teachers), Prov 29:3.
- Angry persons, Prov 22:24.
- Those living a gluttonous or riotous, (reversionistic) life, Prov 28:7.
Anyone who remains involved with such sinners will also participate in the earthly judgment that comes to them, i.e., “suffer harm.”
These harmful believers or unbelievers could be those in authority over you, your Pastor-Teacher, the leaders of your town, state, or nation, your peers, or even subordinates. So the positive believer is exhorted to be wise as to the kind of people you decide to associate with; stay away from the fools that lead to problems and associate with the wise that lead to blessings.
Therefore, this verse warns us once again of the need to choose friends and companions wisely, since those with whom you spend time with are a powerful force for either good or disaster in your life, Prov 14:7; 27:5f, 17; 28:7. Your companions do have an effect on your behavior and your basic outlook on life, for better or worse. Do you associate with those who have Divine viewpoint, or do you associate with those that have a cosmic view point?
Foolish friends do stupid things that can get you into all kinds of trouble because you are doing stupid things with them. As the philosopher Forest Gump once said, “stupid is, what stupid does.”
Foolish friends will also give you bad advice if you are seeking solutions to difficult problems. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with wise people who will be up front and honest with you, those who have the wisdom of God’s Word resident within their soul. Wise men will help you cope with the changes and challenges that come with everyday life. So make it a habit of spending time with wise men who are filled with God’s Word.
Prov 13:21, “Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.”
Verse 20 spoke of choosing human companions wisely and the consequences thereof, now vs. 21 takes it up a notch and speaks of the “misfortune” and “prosperity” that will follow, respectively.
Waltke notes that, “this Proverb looks at it from a different angle. Typically, we have a doer who does something, but in this proverb the things, “adversity” and “prosperity”, are personified as the doers, and the objects are personal, “sinners” and “the righteous”.” (NIC)
We begin with the negative!
“Adversity” is the Noun RA’AH, רָעָה that means, “evil or disaster.” It stands here for the problems that the reversionistic believer or unbeliever cause in the life of those who follow them.
“Pursues” is the intensive active Piel and continuous action Imperfect of RADAPH, רָדַף that means, “to pursue or persecute.” Cf. Prov 11:19; 12:11. It basically means, “to follow,” but involves more than ordinary following, rather, it is used of actions requiring more intensity of effort and purpose. So it means to intensely chase after someone or something.
“Sinners” is the Noun CHATTAH, חַטָּא and means, “sinful or sinner.” This identifies the culprit(s), those in carnality and reversionism.
The KJV translates this part, “Evil pursues sinners.”
This tells us that problems, due to our sins, do not just happen, but that they pursue us vehemently. It warns of the dangers of self-induced misery found in the reversionistic life. That is self-induced misery hounds them.
“But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.”
“The righteous” is the typical word for the positive believer in Proverbs, TSADDIQ.
“Will be rewarded” is the Noun TOB (tov) for “something good, beauty, property, or blessing.” Here the blessing aspect is in view.
“With Prosperity” is the passive Piel Imperfect of SHALAM, שָׁלַם that means, “to be complete, to be at peace.” It has been used for “repay or paid” thus far in Proverbs, cf. Prov 6:31; 7:14; 11:31. In fact, the most common use of this verb is in the Piel stem meaning, “to pay what is owed.” This can be positive, such as the reward for good deeds or a righteous life, as we have here and in, Ruth 2:12; 1 Sam 24:19. So TOB and SHALAM are complementing each other here, we are “repaid, (for our wise choices and Divine Good Production), with blessings.”
Ruth 2:12, “May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
The action of being repaid is in view, and the passive Piel means you receive repayment, (i.e., God’s blessings), for the “righteous” actions you perform. You reap your escrow blessings in time by means of God’s Grace Pipeline.
The KJV translates this part, “But to the righteous good shall be repaid.”
Finally, this verse continues the warning and exhortation to consider how choices affect life in vs. 20, and gives us an encouragement to choose wisely. The next verse gives a specific example of this principle.
Prov 13:22, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
This verse begins with the Adjective TOB, for “good”, this time describing a certain type of person, “a good man”, which stands for the positive mature believer going forward inside of God’s Plan for his life.
“Leaves an inheritance” is the causative Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb NACHAL, נָחַל that means, “to receive or take property as a permanent possession, to take possession of or inherit.” Cf. Prov 3:35; 8:21; 11:29. The verb was formed from the noun NAHALAH, which refers to a possession or inheritance. So here it means to cause an inheritance, or better, “to leave an inheritance.”
“To his children’s children” – In the Hebrew this is a compound word; the doubling of the word for “son” BEN, with the second word in the plural that reads in the Hebrew, “BENE-BANIM.” So literally it is “son’s sons.” These “grandchildren” are the recipients of the blessings God is able to pour out on the positive / mature believer. This tells us of the principle of “blessing by association.”
Blessing by Association
“Blessing by Association” is the overflow of Divine grace blessings given to the spiritually mature believer by God, through His Grace Pipeline, to those who associate with the believer being blessed by God.
Most every mature believer has people associated with them, some believers and some unbelievers. Due to the simple fact that those people are associated with the mature believer who is being blessed by God, they too receive a portion of those blessings just because of being in close proximity to the mature believer. As a result, they receive some of the overflow of the outpouring of escrow blessings to the mature believer.
Heb 6:7, “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God.” Cf. Luke 6:38
Prov 8:18. “Riches and honor are with Me, enduring wealth and virtue-righteousness.”
Psa 23:5-6, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup (of blessings) overflows. 6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life (escrow blessings for time), and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (escrow blessing for eternity).”
As a result of their association with the positive / mature believer, they receive the “overflow” of those blessings.
Those who receive “blessings by association” do not earn or deserve these blessings. But through the simple fact of associating with a positive believer, they receive blessings too. Just as all believers receive salvation and eternal life with an eternal inheritance because of our identification with the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work upon the Cross, Eph 1:11-14, 18; Col 1:12; 3:24; Heb 9:15; 1 Peter 1:3-4.
Blessings by association is also one of the reasons why the wicked seem to prosper, especially when God is blessing the nation or company or family that they live in.
The source of blessing by association is God who directs the blessings of the positive believer to the person(s) in association with that believer. In addition, there are “indirect blessing” from God where the positive believer provides blessings from his own prosperity to others in giving and benevolence, in fulfillment of Rom 12:13, “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” The wise and righteous believer gives to others of his time, talent, treasure, success, love, etc., or whatever the category of his prosperity might be.
Those Who Benefit from Blessing by Association:
- In our passage of Proverbs 13:22, we see that our children and grandchildren can benefit from the blessings God provides to us. Likewise, our entire family can benefit: wife, husband, mother, father, etc.
- Your local assembly can benefit by the blessings God bestows on you, as you look to serve your church and those within your church.
- Those you have contact with professionally including your school system, coaches, teachers, students, administrators; hospital system; business associates; military organization; or any service organization.
- Any business association you have including partnerships, corporations, an investor, your management, or subordinates.
- Those you have contact with socially including friends. And as Prov 13:20 warns us, be careful that you do not associate with the wrong crowd and get led astray. You will find your true friends among like-minded believers. Stick with them. Do not consistently associate with unbelievers, because they are going in a different direction than you are.
- Those you have contact with geographically including your neighborhood, city, county, state, or nation. This is the Pivot analogy of blessing by association.
- Enemies of a mature believer are blessed by association with him as he exercises objectivity and impersonal love in the Christian way of life. Rom 12:14-21, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
As Prov 13:22 tells us, there is a heritage factor of blessing by association. That is, when the positive / mature believer dies, he is still a blessing by association to those left behind after his death. Those left behind may be taken care of throughout their lifetime by God with the blessings He provided to the positive believer, even if they are antagonistic to Bible doctrine or are unbelievers, because God continues to bless the bereaved loved ones, friends, and relatives.
“The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”
“The wealth of” is the Noun CHAYIL, חַיִל that means, “strength, wealth, or army.” We noted CHAYIL in Prov 12:4 for the “excellent” or “virtuous” wife.
“The common denominator for all the nuances of CHAYIL is “power.” There are a variety of forms of power in all societies. Generally, one finds the nuances associated with power, as physical strength denotes one type of dominance over others, wealth another form, and military (and thus, political) dominance another form of power. Often these concepts are intertwined in societies throughout the world, as economic dominance almost invariably leads to political dominance.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Therefore, it is not only monetary blessings but all categories of blessings that empower a believer.
“The sinner” is the Qal Active Participle of CHATA, חָטָא that means, “to miss, go wrong, or sin.” Here it is used for the reversionistic believer.
“Is stored up” is the Qal Passive Participle of TSAPHAN, צָפַן that means, “to hide, conceal, or store.”
“For the righteous” is the Preposition LE with TSADDIQ, speaking of the positive / mature believer going forward inside of God’s plan.
This tells us that God will actually take the escrow blessings designed for one believer and give them to another or others. This is a related application of the general principle contained in the preceding verse, “the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity”, where this verse warns that the righteous will in fact receive a double portion, (their own and that of the wicked), the portion of the firstborn, cf. Deut 21:17. This corresponds with the parable of the “talents”, Mat 25:14-29.
Mat 25:28, ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”
Job 27:17, “He may prepare it, but the just will wear it and the innocent will divide the silver.”
Other proverbs tell us that the treasures of wickedness do not endure, Prov 11:29; 13:11; 15:27. Yet, this one warns that the wealth will not be passed on to the descendants of the wicked, but to others walking in God’s righteousness, cf. Prov 28:8.
Prov 28:8, “He who increases his wealth by interest and usury gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor.”
As Keil and Delitzsch note, “connected with vs. 22 there now follows two proverbs regarding sustenance, with one intervening regarding education.”
We begin with vs. 23.
Prov 13:23, “Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, but it is swept away by injustice.”
“Abundant food”, is the Adjective RAB, רַב (rav), with the Noun OHKEL אֹכֶל.
“Is in the fallow ground” is the Noun NIYR, נִיר that means, “new or untilled ground.” This word is used only three times in the Old Testament. Here and in Jer 4:3, Hos 10:12, although BDB uses it for Prov 21:3, which others see as a similar spelling for the word “lamp.”
In both Jeremiah and Hosea, it addresses the reversionistic heart that needs to be broken up in order to regain experiential righteousness / sanctification, but here it stands for the land “of the poor” that has the potential to produce abundant food, even though it is yet to be tilled.
Although illogical, the Lord provides abundant food for all as He watches over the poor and righteous, cf. Prov 10:3; 22:22f; 23:10ff, as He promises and gives logistical grace blessings to all his children / believers.
But here we are talking about the abundance of spiritual food, Bible Doctrine, which is made available to all believers. Food is used many times in Scripture as an analogy for God’s Word, cf. Ex 16; Deut 8:2; Psa 19:10; 119:103; Isa 55:10; Mat 4:4; John 6:27, 55; 1 Cor 10:3; Heb 5:12-14; Rev 10:10.
“Of the poor” is the Noun RUSH, רוּשׁ (roosh), meaning, “to be poor, be in want, or lack”, Cf, Prov 6:11; 30:8. We noted its cognate RESH in vs. 18 as part of the construction for “shameful poverty.” So this passage continues that thought and includes why there is poverty here.
It tells us that there is plenty of food available in the field that is untilled. In analogy, the untilled field represents God’s Word, The Bible! The parable of John 16 tells us that God the Father is the gentlemen farmer / landowner and indicates that He is the farm land itself, and that the vine, representing the Lord Jesus Christ, grows from that land, and the branches, believers, produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit as a result of being connected to the vine.
Therefore, the first half of this passage tells us that there is an abundance of Bible Doctrine available to all, including the shameful poor, (reversionistic believers), who have no excuse for the lack of God’s Word in their life. God always makes His Word available to all, but not all desire it. This passage shows the grace of God, in that He provides for all, even those who do not desire His provisions.
The second half of this passage tells us one of the reasons why the abundant food of Bible Doctrine is not enjoyed or received by those it was provided for.
“But it is swept away by injustice.”
“Swept away” is the passive Niphal Participle Verb SAPHAH, סָפָה that means, “swept away or carried off.”
It first occurs in the account of Abraham pleading with God on behalf of the righteous people living in Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of his nephew Lot, Abraham pleaded with God to not “sweep away” the notoriously evil cities, Gen 18:23f. He began by pleading to the Lord that if 50 righteous existed He should not destroy it. He bargained all the way down to 10. Though God ultimately destroyed the cities because there were not 10 righteous in the cities to be destroyed, angels warned Lot to take his righteous family and quickly leave Sodom, or else they too would be swept away when God’s wrath was poured down, Gen 19:15.
This word is also used in a similar situation when Moses warned the Israelite community to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, because they were about to be “swept away” due to their rebellion against Moses’ leadership, Num 16:25-35. We also see it used with David regarding Saul being “swept away” and destroyed due to his reversionism in 1 Sam 26:10.
Here the sweeping away is of the “abundant food”, (Bible Doctrine), “of the poor”, (reversionistic believers). How is this food swept away?
“By injustice”, which is made up of several words; first we have BE and LO for “in, with, by, etc.” and “not or no” respectfully. Then we have the Noun MISPHAT that means, “judgment, justice, or ordinance.” Literally we could say, “by no justice” or as translated, “by injustice”, which is the opposite of justice. Likewise, when defining “ordinances” we understand it to be Bible Doctrine. So these people are also “without God’s Word” in their souls. If you do not have Bible Doctrine in your soul or in society, you also do not have true justice!
We will see that the condemnation of having “no justice” is especially prominent in the later chapters of Proverbs, e.g., Prov 17:15, 23, 26; 18:5; 19:28; 24:23-26; 28:21; 29:7, 12, 14; 31:4-9.
Here the “injustice” represents the evil perpetrated by men who consistently reside inside of Satan’s cosmic system. This would be the foolish companions of vs. 20, who lead the susceptible fool, (shameful poor), into all kinds of evil, sin, and human good, which results in their own personal reversionism, as they lose the doctrine they once had in their soul. Similarly, they miss out on gaining new doctrine as it is taught. Therefore, sometimes God’s Word is swept away due to injustice, (i.e., lawless people who are without God’s Word in their soul.)
As a result, Bible doctrine, (abundant food) is swept away; and with it goes their escrow blessings and rewards that were stored up for them. As vs. 22 told us, those blessings are redistributed to the positive mature believer who is walking in the righteousness of God on a consistent basis performing Divine Good Production. Therefore, in the spiritual analogy, we see that “Bible Doctrine is taken away by those who are without Bible doctrine.”
“Swept away by injustice” also alludes to the false teacher of false doctrine. It refers to the plentiful food for the spiritual life that is available inside of the Bible, cf. John 6:27, 55; 1 Cor 10:3; Heb 5:12-14, yet because these pastors are not teaching the Bible, or from the Bible, its rich food is not found in those who follow them, i.e., the spiritually poor / reversionistic believer, in this analogy. Therefore, Pastors who are not teaching the Bible, or from the Bible, deprive their congregation of its rich food.
American Bible Society Report:
“The lack of spirituality is not the result of a lack of time to cultivate the things of God; rather it indicates one’s failure to use the opportunities presented. “No time for God” generally means “No heart for God,” if the full truth were told. The diligent soul will make time. He often proves that a small portion of Scripture or a few minutes of prayer bear rich fruit, when heart and conscience are truly exercised. See the prayer of Jabez, (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Seeking wisdom is the path to righteous living and reward; cf. Prov 8:17; 11:27; 13:24. Those who do not honestly seek it will not find it, Prov 1:28. And those who do not teach it will not see its fruits in their students.
Prov 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
“He who withholds” is the Qal Active Participle of CHASAK, חָשַׂךְ that means, “to keep back, withhold, refrain, or spare”, cf. Prov 10:10; 11:24.
“His rod” is the noun SHEBET, שֵׁבֶט, for “staff, stick, rod, etc.” It stands for an instrument for disciplining a child or criminal. Prov 10:13 indicated the rod as a form of discipline for the rebellious child who does not have the wisdom of Bible Doctrine in his soul. The Bible is also called a “rod” in Psa 23:4; Rev 11:1-2, as it is our #1 discipline of study in life that also leads us to a disciplined life unto God.
“Hates” is the Qal Active Participle of SANE, שָׂנֵא. We noted this in Prov 6:16 as the sins that God hates, and 13:5 where a righteous man hates lies or lying. Here it is speaking of a parent who does not like to discipline his children or in our spiritual context, the one who hates to teach the truth of God’s Word, and instead teaches false doctrines.
“His Son” is the Noun BEN for the child of a part, and in analogy the student of the Pastor-Teacher.
Therefore, the one who withholds physical discipline from a rebellious child in essence “hates” the child because he does not care whether the child acts righteously or wickedly, and receives the resultant consequences of either, as noted over and over again in this book.
“Loving parents (see 1:8; 10:1) seek to correct the faults of their children because, as the preceding unit showed, their children’s lives, favor, protection, healing, dignity, and prosperity are at stake. Unloving parents turn their backs on them and hand them over to death, social ruin, public exposure, calamity, and shameful poverty (13:14-18).” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
“The proverb is based on several assumptions. First, that the home is the basic social unit for transmitting values, cf. Ex 20:12. Second, that parents have absolute values, not merely valuations. Third, that folly is bound up in the heart of the child, Prov 22:15; cf. Gen 8:21. Fourth, “that it will take more than just words to dislodge it.” The English proverb, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” is biblical and has stood the test of history.” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
In the sense of our application of the spiritual life, if the Pastor withholds the teaching of Bible Doctrine from his congregation, in essence he hates his congregation, because Bible Doctrine is necessary for “correction and reproof” in the spiritual life. Paul noted this in the pastoral epistle to the young Pastor-Teacher Timothy in 2 Tim 3:16-17.
2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
As we noted in Prov 7:15, stupidity (unrighteous living) is personified as an adulterous woman (false teacher), who seeks those whom she can destroy. Not teaching the truth of God’s Word destroys a congregation; just as not disciplining a child will lead to the child having a destructive life.
“But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”
“But the one who loves him” is the contrast Conjunction WA with the Qal Active Participle of the Verb AHEB, for “love.”
“Disciplines him” is Noun MUSAR that we have seen throughout this book.
“Diligently” is the intensive active Piel Perfect of the Verb SHACHAR, שָׁחַר that means here, “to seek.”
“The verb has the nuance of “to seek diligently” for something, normally in search of Yahweh.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
It can also mean from its root for the word, “black”, to look for something early, as you look for the dawn of the morning. Therefore, it alludes to young children or even new believers.
With the Piel it means, “to intensely seek after him”, or “diligently seek.”
So for the loving parent – child relationship, we see that the parent will provide the appropriate measure of discipline at the appropriate time.
As for the Pastor – student relationship, the loving Pastor will diligently teach God’s Word, to his congregation.
As Paul stated in Gal 4:19, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you.”
As John stated in 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
And for the loving church – congregation relationship, the church will apply the appropriate discipline to the reversionistic congregant.
Principles of Family Discipline
“Love” that refuses to correct someone ensures long-term damage for the sake of short-term peace or harmony, because only a love that views life as a process of growth in wisdom and grace or devolution into corruption and self-destruction (cf. 13:1) understands the need to imbue self-discipline before foolish behaviors become bad habits. The need for discipline (cf. 13:1; 19:18; 20:20) is never outgrown (3:11f), so that even this Book’s teachings become God’s means of addressing foolish behavior and attitudes. The “rod” in this and other proverbs represents any type of discipline, not merely corporal punishment.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Family discipline should be patterned after the Divine discipline of Heb 12. It is not love, but the lack of it, that allows a child to go undisciplined. If the child or student is allowed to develop unchecked, tendencies and inclinations will result in future problems, difficulties and sorrow, Prov 13:20b.
Our generation is one of great laxity in regard to all forms of discipline, inside the home and inside the church. As a result, the coming generation will reap the bitter fruit of the absence of restraint.
In the generation of Dr. Spock, (a psychologist who wrote many famous books on parenting that instructed not to spank children, etc.), whose sickly sentimentality, supposedly wiser and more compassionate than God Himself, made it fashionable to denounce the use of the rod as a relic of a barbarous age. But the difference in the character of disciplined children and the well-ordered home certainly proves the truth of Scripture.
So here we have application for the parent to discipline their children in order to lead them to the fruits of righteousness. And in the spiritual application, we see the righteous and wise Pastor-Teacher who diligently seeks righteousness in the lives of his congregation by means of training and discipline through the accurate teaching of Bible Doctrine.
Principles of Church Discipline
Not only does Scripture teach us to provide discipline within the home, but it also gives us instruction for discipline within the church. When control is ignored among Christians on the plea that grace is reigning, with the aversion to judge themselves rightly, 1 Cor 11:31, it has even worse consequences than the lack of discipline within the family. Grace never sets aside restraint. The two principles are not opposed to each other. In God’s Divine plan, grace and restraint work side by side, as they should in the home.
Church discipline is taught in Mat 18:15-18 (although some believe this passage was for Israel and not the church), Rom 16:17-18; 1 Cor 5; 2 Cor 2:6-11; Gal 6:1-3; 2 Thes 3:6-16; 2 Tim 2:23-26; Titus 3:10; 2 John 1:9-11.
The purpose of church discipline is always restoration and not revenge. The discipline is to deliver the offender from sinful patterns of behavior and not to drive him or her away from the fellowship of the church. In disciplining, the church’s attitude is to be one of love and gentleness, Gal 6:1-3.
Warren Wiersbe notes, “Church discipline usually goes to one of two extremes; either there is no discipline at all, and the church languishes because of disobedience and sin. Or the church officers become evangelical policemen who hold a kangaroo court and violate many of the Bible’s spiritual principles.” (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary.)
The following outline on church discipline is based on the doctrine of J. Hampton Keathley III.
Purposes for Administering Church Discipline.
- To bring glory to God and enhance the testimony of the flock to a lost and corrupt world.
- To restore, heal, and build up sinning believers, Mat 18:15; 2 Thes 3:14-15; Heb 12:10-13; Gal 6:1-2; James 5:20.
- To produce a healthy faith, one sound in doctrine, Titus 1:13; 1 Tim 1:19-20.
- To win a soul to Christ, if the sinning person is only a professing and not believing Christian, 2 Tim 2:24-26.
- To silence false teachers and their influence in the church, Titus 1:10-11.
- To set an example for the rest of the body and promote Godly fear, 1 Tim 5:20.
- To protect the church against the destructive consequences that occurs when churches fail to carry out church discipline.
The Manner of Discipline: The above goals or purposes automatically govern the spirit in which all disciplinary action is to be given. Thus:
Discipline must be done by those who are spiritual, truly walking by the Holy Spirit and growing in the Lord, Gal 6:1.
Discipline must be done in a spirit of humility, gentleness, and patience, looking to ourselves lest we too be tempted, Gal 6:1-2; 2 Tim 2:24-25.
Discipline must be done without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality, 1 Tim 5:21.
Those who walk disorderly are to be admonished, warned, and appealed to in love, 1 Thes 5:14-15; 1 Tim 5:1-2; 2 Tim 4:2; Eph 4:15. This admonishing, is not restricted to church leaders, but may be done by any person in the body with another if that person is Spirit controlled and spiritually minded, cf. 1 Thes 5:14 with Gal 6:1.
If there is no response in repentance and obedience, then the sinning believer is to be rebuked publicly and members of the body are to withhold intimate fellowship through the process and procedure of group disapproval and social ostracism as prescribed in the next section; “IV. Procedures for Church Discipline” below, 2 Thes 3:6, 14-15; 1 Tim 5:20; Titus 3:10. This action has a two-fold objective:
- To indicate to the offender that his/her action has dishonored the Lord and has caused a rupture in the harmony of the body. The goal is always restoration and the person is still to be counted as a brother/sister, 2 Thes 3:14-15.
- To create fear in the rest of the flock as a warning against sin, 1 Tim 5:20.
If there is still no response in repentance and obedience, the church is to apply the procedures of excommunication as directed in Mat 18:17.
Several examples of church discipline are found in Scripture. The Corinthian believers were to be “gathered together” in order to take action against the offending brother, 1 Cor 5:4-5; Rom 16:17; 2 Thes 3:6-15; Phil 3:17-19.
This is defined by Paul as “punishment inflicted by the majority”, 2 Cor 2:6. As a protective measure, we also find that the whole church in Rome and in Thessalonica were to take action with regard to the unruly and schismatic, not just a few, 2 Thes 3:6-15; Rom 16:17.
Finally, discipline in the name of our Lord always includes a readiness to forgive. The many or majority who discipline must also be ready and eager to forgive, comfort, and reaffirm their love to the sinning person, 2 Cor 2:6-8.
Reasons for Church Discipline.
In church discipline we must exercise extreme care. Scripture does not warrant the exercise of discipline for an individual’s or a church’s taboos or pet peeves. Scripture, not our opinions or dislikes, must be the guide for what is sin. Further, we must not become hypercritical or “speck inspectors”, Mat 7:1-5.
General Causes: Disorderly conduct, conduct clearly out of line with the prescribed commands of Scripture and which negatively impacts the testimony and unity of the church, 2 Thes 3:6-15.
- Difficulties between members, Mat 18:15-17.
- Divisive or factious people causing divisions in the church, Rom 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-11.
- Immoral conduct; sins of the type mentioned in 1 Cor 5 such as incest, immorality, covetousness, idolatry, abusive speech, drunkenness, swindling, or idle busybodies who refuse to work and run around spreading dissension, 1 Cor 5:1, 11; 2 Thes 3:10-15.
- False teaching; erroneous teaching and views which concern the fundamentals of the faith and not lesser differences of interpretation, 1 Tim 1:20; 2 Tim 2:17-18; also implied in Rev 2:14-16; Phil 3:2-3, 15-19; Rom 16:17-18.
The key concerns that guide us in this are: a) the holy character of God, b) the testimony of the flock, c) the effect upon the unity and purity of the flock, and d) the edification and restoration of the individual.
Procedures for Church Discipline.
The scriptural procedure is clear and specific steps are prescribed for Church discipline as follows. But first caution must be made regarding any discipline. If you see the offense or you have accurate knowledge of the sin(s), please note these cautions:
- Be sure it is an offense which calls for discipline and not merely one of our pet peeves. Again, the Word must be our criterion.
- Remember how we too have sinned in the past and heed the warnings of Mat 7:1-5 and Gal 6:1 against sinful judging and triple compound Divine discipline.
- Bring the matter before the Lord in prayer before the confrontation takes place, 1 Sam 8:6.
- Do not procrastinate. The longer the delay, the more difficult the condition can become.
- Do not gossip or even talk to others about it in the sense of Mat 18:16 until you have talked to the sinning believer privately. We must guard and protect the person and the flock from rumors and a slanderous tongue, Prov 6:19b; 10:19; 11:13; 18:8, 21; 20:19.
Seek private correction and/or reconciliation with the offender, whether the sin is against you or not, Mat 18:15; Gal 6:1.
Mat 18:15, “and if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private.”
- When the problem involves one believer sinning against another, there are two problems that need to be taken care of: reconciliation and restoration, Mat 5:23-24.
- When the problem involves a believer overcome in or by some sin, as was the case in Gal 6:1, the need is restoration.
Therefore, the one offended or who recognizes the offense or sin is to go privately and try to rectify the problem.
Please note these guidelines:
- Begin by expressing your genuine appreciation for the person and their good qualities to show you are genuinely concerned about their welfare. Then and only then bring up the matter which is of concern.
- In some situations, the sin is apparent and there is no question, but we must allow for the possibility that we have misjudged or have wrong information. We must listen to the other person’s side of the story and seek the facts in the interest of truth and fairness.
- If the person fails to respond, warn them that according to the instructions of Scripture, Mat 18:16, you will have to get others as witnesses and return with them to deal with the problem.
If the first step fails, take witnesses to strengthen the effect of the discipline, preferably spiritual leaders, so that if it has to be brought before the whole church, it can be firmly proven and established, Mat 18:16-17; 1 Tim 5:19. The aid of church leadership should be sought if the problem involves an offense that is against the whole body or if it is a threat to the unity of the body.
These initial contacts, private and with witnesses, provide opportunity for loving admonition, correction, and forgiveness. On the other hand, if these first steps do not produce results, it constitutes a warning that further action will be taken and provides occasion for serious rebuke, 2 Tim 4:2; 1 Thes 5:12-13; Titus 2:15; 3:10.
If the second step fails, seek reconciliation and restoration through the whole body. If further action is necessary, it is to be taken before the whole church, 2 Thes 3:14-15; Mat 18:17; 1 Tim 5:20.
This action appears to fall into two stages when we combine 2 Thes 3:14; 1 Cor 5:9-13 with Mat 18:17.
- The body is to exercise group disapproval by way of social ostracism (refusal to have intimate fellowship).
- If this does not work, the local body of believers is to exercise excommunication: removal from church membership, loss of voting privileges, and continuation of the loss of intimate fellowship. This must be approved of and done by the entire congregation, 2 Cor 2:6.
This is, in essence, the Lord carrying out discipline through the action of the entire body under the leadership of the elders or the spiritually mature, 1 Cor 5:4. Similar heavenly authority is seen in the ratification of this disciplinary action as spelled out in Mat 18:18-19.
Procedures for Restoration.
Our final point includes the procedures for restoring the reversionistic believer to fellowship with you and/or the local assembly after any one of the three stages of church discipline is applied. Remember that church discipline can be as simple as one member of the congregation talking to the reversionistic believer about their reversionistic actions, or it can be ostracism either on a one-on-one basis or on a group basis, and can culminate in excommunication from the local assembly.
Restoration should only occur after the reversionistic believer recognizes the sin and hurt that they have committed against you or the local assembly, confess those sins to God, 1 John 1:9, and stop doing the things they once did that are counter to God’s Word. This can occur at any one of the three stages of church discipline as noted above.
This is called the Confession of Sins coupled with Repentance, or what we call Rebound and Recovery. “Rebound” is a private issue between the sinner and the Lord when they name their known sins to God the Father, yet, “recovery” is the visible change in the reversionistic believer’s words, deeds, and actions, where they are now functioning in the righteousness of God.
Genuine repentance will make itself evident by its deeds and attitudes. The repentant person will:
- Freely acknowledge his sin, 1 John 1:9; Prov. 28:13, and confess it privately to the Lord.
- Cease the activity for which he was disciplined / spoken to about, or at least seek help if it is a case of life dominating patterns, Gal 6:1f; James 5:19-20. The death spoken about in James 5:20 is the sin unto death, the third and final stage of Divine discipline for the reversionistic believer.
- Make restitution and/or ask for forgiveness from those hurt as it is applicable, Philemon 18-19; Mat 5:23-24.
- He will demonstrate a genuine change of heart, a real concern and godly sorrow over his actions, not in order to be forgiven, but because of the harm caused to the glory of God and the hurt caused others, 2 Cor 7:8-11; Psa 51:17.
- He/she will begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit and a concern for the things of Christ, Gal 5:22f.
(The Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), association also uses these guidelines for the recovering alcoholic.)
How do we know when repentance is genuine? What is our responsibility when the sinning party acknowledges their wrong and claims repentance? The following two passages answer this for us.
Luke 3:8, when they “. . . bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance.”
Acts 26:20, “. . . that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”
So it is not just words but actions that are in view here. They can say they are sorry, but if their behaviors do not change, there is no true repentance. But with changed behaviors, repentance is visible and forgiveness is called for. When you see this type of change in the heart of the reversionistic believer, then restoration should begin. But if there is no change of heart, then continue with the discipline as prescribed above.
Turn to 2 Cor 2:7.
In keeping with the goal of restoration, the role of the church must change after there is repentance. This means accepting the person and forgetting the past, 2 Cor 2:7a.
This means reaching out to them, assuring them of your support, and encouraging, exhorting, and challenging them to move on, 2 Cor 2:7b.
This means including them, drawing them close, doing for them that which will aid their growth and complete recovery, 2 Cor 2:8. This would include encouraging them to get involved in ministry, Luke 22:31-32. For positions of leadership, there should be a time of testing to demonstrate their qualifications after the analogy of 1 Tim 3:10.
1 Tim 3:10, “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”
Prov 13:25, “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked is in need.”
Now we see the conclusion of section 4 and the entire chapter as we see the conclusion of our earthly and spiritual application of these passages.
We begin with the positive!
“The righteous” is the Noun TSADDIQ once again.
“Has enough” in the Hebrew is really the word for “eating”, the Qal Active Verb AKAL אָכַל meaning, “to eat, devour, consume.” Cf. Prov 1:31; 13:2 – “enjoys.”
“To satisfy” is the Preposition LE, “to” and the Noun SOBA, שׂבַע (sova) that means, “satiate.” It usually refers to the sating of physical hunger. It is used in regard to the Lord satisfying the Israelites’ hunger in the wilderness with manna, cf. Ex 16; Psa 78:25.
“His appetite” is the Noun NEPHESH, נֶפֶשׁ that means, “soul, life, or breath.”
Interestingly, many times in Scripture the actual Hebrew or Greek words for appetite, stomach, belly etc. are used to metaphorically speak of our soul, spirit, or even emotions, cf. Phil 3:19 and the use of the Greek KOILIA. But here the translators reversed it and used a metaphoric English word for the literal Hebrew to continue the analogy of physical food. But we know it to be speaking of spiritual things and spiritual food; i.e., Bible doctrine / God’s Word that truly satisfies our spiritual appetites, our “souls.”
In this portion we see that if you really desire God’s Word it will be made available to you. And if you are walking in the righteousness of God, it will be abundantly provided to satisfy the hunger you have for God’s Word. And that hunger will be satisfying to your physical, spiritual, and emotional drives and desires, as Prov 13:2, 4, 19 have told us.
Prov 13:2, “From the fruit of a man’s mouth he enjoys good, but the desire of the treacherous is violence.”
Prov 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.”
Prov 13:19, “Desire realized is sweet to the soul, but it is an abomination to fools to turn away from evil.”
So we see that these hungers and desires are fulfilled when we diligently pursue God’s Word. And the pursuit of God’s Word means receiving what God has prepared for you. God’s preparation for the Church Age comes in two forms of spiritual gifts for the communication of God’s Word; Evangelist and Pastor-Teacher. The Evangelist is sent to the unbeliever with the gospel message to fulfill the desire to hear and believe upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Pastor-Teacher is sent to the believers of the Church to satisfy their hunger for learning God’s Word.
In regard to the Pastor-Teacher, when a congregation receives their right Pastor-Teacher that the Lord has sent to them, they not only receive the Lord Jesus Christ but also God the Father.
Jesus said in John 10:20, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send, (the Pastor or Evangelist), receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him, (God the Father), who sent Me.”
Therefore, if you receive your right Pastor-Teacher, you will have more than enough Bible Doctrine taught to you to satisfy your hunger for it.
Unfortunately, many believers today are not hungry for God’s Word, which is the example in the second half of this verse.
“But the stomach of the wicked is in need.”
“Stomach” is the Noun BETEN, בֶּטֶן that means, “belly, womb, or inner parts.” Remember that the stomach is the organ that receives and distributes nourishment to the entire body. Here we have the literal Hebrew Word that metaphorically speaks to our soul in this analogy. So the reception and distribution of Bible Doctrine from our soul to the rest of our body is in view, especially as this is in parallel to NEPHESH, or “soul” above.
Ezek 3:3, “He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach (BETEN) and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.”
So that is what we should be doing, but here we see the opposite of that in the following phrase.
“Of the Wicked” is the typical word for wicked, the Noun RASHA.
“Is in need” is the active Qal incomplete action Imperfect of the Verb CHASER, חָסֵר that means, “to diminish, to be empty, to lack.” This is a relatively common verb in the Old Testament occurring twenty-one times, having the general meaning, “to be less”, but is used only here in the book of Proverbs.
In the first mention principle of this word, in the narrative describing the flood in Genesis, the word is used to describe the receding waters after the flood. Literally, the waters began “to lack,” i.e., they “diminished” or “abated”, Gen 8:3, 5.
In the great Shepherd Psalm, David declares that since the Lord is his Shepherd, he will not “lack”, Psa 23:1. Elsewhere, David concludes that while even though young lions might sometimes be hungry; the one who seeks the Lord will “lack” no good thing, Psa 34:10.
As we noted in the first half of this passage, this half also has in view your response to the Pastor-Teacher God has assigned to you. If you reject that Pastor, you will not have the Word of God in your soul needed to overcome the problems and difficulties, and the details of life.
And remember, when you reject the Pastor you are rejecting the One who sent him to you, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father.
This was noted in 1 Sam 8:7, “The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”
Abundance of food indicates a right relationship to the LORD and the community, but a lack of it signifies a failed relationship, cf. Prov 10:3; Deut 28:48, 57; Jer 44:18; Ezek 4:17. (Waltke, NIC)
Therefore, in our passage we see what happens to the reversionistic believer who does not desire God’s Word. It tells us that they most likely once had the Word of God in their souls, but due to their carnality and apostasy, and rejection of their Pastor-Teacher, the Word has receded within them, (i.e., they forgot the doctrines they once knew). As a result, when the famine comes (the problems and difficulties of life), they will not have the necessary sustenance to satisfy their hunger. In other words, they will not have the Bible Doctrine necessary to withstand and overcome the problems of life.
For those who diligently seek God and His Word to satisfy their hunger and thirst for His Word, they will be filled to the brim with all the wisdom of Bible Doctrine they desire, while the wicked fool will find that a time will come when He needs God’s Word and he will not have it to win the day.
Prov 10:3, “The LORD will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the craving of the wicked.”