Proverbs 13
Matthew Poole's Commentary
A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.
Heareth; which word is understood out of the next clause, as is frequent in the Hebrew text.

Instruction; or, rebuke or reproof.

Heareth not rebuke; he hateth reproof, either from his father or from any other man.

A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence.
Shall eat good; shall receive much comfort, and credit, and benefit to himself.

By the fruit of his mouth; by his wise and profitable discourses.

The soul, i.e. the person, as the soul is oft used.

The transgressors; who transgress with their lips, as this general phrase may be restrained from the former clause.

Shall eat violence; shall have that violence and injury returned upon themselves, which they have offered to others in word or deed.

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
He that keepeth his mouth, to wit, to the opening of it; who speaks sparingly, and with due care and caution;

keepeth his life; prevents many sins and mischiefs which others run into. He that openeth wide his lips, that takes liberty to speak every thing which pleaseth him, or cometh into his mind, shall have destruction, from God or men.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
Hath nothing, because he contenteth himself with lazy desires without diligent endeavours.

Shall be made fat; he shall be enriched with the fruit of his own labours.

A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.
Hateth lying, both in himself and in other men, whereby he getteth that good name which is like a precious ointment.

A wicked man; who accustometh himself to lying, as may be gathered from the foregoing words.

Cometh to shame; makes himself contemptible and hateful to all that know him; there being scarce any reproach which men more impatiently endure, and severely revenge, than that of being called or accounted a liar.

Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.
Keepeth him; either from sin, or from that overthrow which befalls sinners, in the next clause.

The sinner, Heb. the man of sin, who giveth up himself to wicked courses.

There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Some men who have little or nothing pretend to have great riches, and carry themselves accordingly; either out of pride and vanity, or with a design to gain reputation with others whom they intend to defraud. Some rich men seem and profess themselves to be very poor, that they may preserve and increase their estates, by concealing them from those who would either desire a share in them, or take them away by deceit or violence.

The ransom of a man's life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
This verse sets forth, either,

1. The several advantages of riches and poverty. Riches enable a man to redeem his life when it is in greatest danger, and poverty preserves a man from those rebukes and injuries which endanger and oft destroy the rich. Or,

2. The convenience of poverty above riches. Riches frequently expose men to the peril of losing their lives by false accusers, or thieves, or tyrants, which they are forced to redeem with the loss of their riches; whereas poverty commonly secures men not only from such kinds of death, but even from rebukes and injuries; partly because such persons are cautious that they may not offend or provoke others; and partly because their persons and actions are neglected and slighted, and they are esteemed objects of pity.

The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
The light; the prosperity or happiness, which is oft called a light or lamp in Scripture, and other authors.

Rejoiceth; shineth with a pleasant and constant brightness and glory; for this is opposed to the putting out in the next clause. Rejoicing is here ascribed to the light, as it is to the sun, Psalm 19:5, both metaphorically, because they would rejoice in it if they were capable of any such passions; and metonymically, because they refresh and cheer men’s spirits. So mountains and trees are said to rejoice, Psalm 65:12 96:12.

The lamp of the wicked shall be put out; their felicity shall have a sudden and a dismal end.

Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
Only by pride cometh contention; which is not to be understood exclusively as to all other causes; for contentions oft spring from ignorance, or mistake, or covetousness, or other passions: but eminently, because as pride bloweth up those coals of contention which other lusts kindle, so ofttimes pride alone, without any other cause, stirreth up strife; which it doth by making a man self-conceited in his opinions, and obstinate in his resolutions, and impatient of any opposition, and many other ways.

With the well-advised, who are not governed by their own passions, but by prudent consideration, and the good counsel of others, is wisdom; which teacheth them to avoid and abhor all contention.

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
By vanity; by vain, or deceitful, or wicked practices. Shall be diminished, because the curse of God attends upon it.

By labour; by diligence in an honest calling.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
Hope deferred; delays in obtaining that good which a man passionately desireth and hopeth for.

The desire; the good desired and expected; acts being oft put for the objects,

It is a tree of life; it is most sweet, and satisfactory, and reviving.

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
Despiseth; disobeyeth it wilfully and presumptuously. The word; the word of God, which is called the word by way of eminency, Deu 30:14, compared with Romans 10:18 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and elsewhere.

Shall be destroyed, except he repent, and return to his obedience.

That feareth the commandment; that hath a reverence to its authority, and is afraid to violate it.

The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
The law; the doctrine, instruction, or counsel; as the word law is frequently understood in Scripture.

Of the wise; of holy men, who are commonly called wise, as sinners are called fools, in this book.

Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
Good understanding; discovering itself by a man’s holy and righteous practices and ways, as appears from the opposition of

the way of transgressors to it; and as words of understanding in this and other books of Scripture commonly include practice.

Giveth favour; maketh a man acceptable both to God and men.

The way; the carriage or manner of conversation.

Is hard; or, rough, as this very word is used, Deu 21:4; offensive and hateful to God and men, as rough ways are to a traveller; fierce, and intractable, and incorrigible.

Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Dealeth, Heb. acteth, or

doth, manageth all his affairs, with knowledge; considerately and discreetly.

Layeth open his folly, by his heady and foolish actions.

A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
A wicked messenger, who is unfaithful in the execution of that which is committed to his charge, as appears by the opposite clause,

falleth into mischief; shall not escape punishment from God, or from them who sent him.

Is health; or, wholesome; procureth safety and benefit, as to his master, so also to himself.

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Instruction; whereby he might have been kept from destructive and dishonourable courses.

He that regardeth reproof, that considers it seriously, receiveth it kindly, and reformeth himself by it, shall be honoured, and enriched, which is implied from the former branch. Not that it is so always, but commonly, and when God sees it good for a man. Or if he do not always gain riches, he shall certainly have honour both from God and men.

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.
The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul; the satisfaction of a man’s desires by the enjoyment of the things desired is very acceptable to him; which may be taken either,

1. Of the desire of fools, which may be understood out of the next clause. So the sense of the verse is, It is sweet to sinners to indulge and satisfy their desires, which are wholly carnal and sinful, and for that reason they love sin, and hate the thoughts of leaving it, because their desires are wholly and fully set upon it. Or,

2. Of good desires, or of the desires of wise and good men, as the LXX., and Chaldee, and Syriac, and Arabic interpreters understand it, by the opposition of

fools in the next clause. So the sense may be this. The desires of good men are set upon what is good, and they rejoice when they attain to it, and are grieved when they fall short of it; but the desires of the wicked are set upon sin, and it is a pleasure to them to commit it, and an abomination to them to be hindered from it. Or rather,

3. Of desires in general. Whatsoever men do earnestly desire, the enjoyment of it is very sweet and grateful to them; and therefore sinners rejoice in the pursuit and satisfaction of their sinful lusts, and abhor all restraint and mortification of them. For this is certain and confessed, that many things are understood in these short proverbial speeches which are not expressed.

But; or, and, as this particle properly signifies; or, therefore, as it is frequently used.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Walketh; commonly converseth and associateth himself.

Shall be wise; shall learn wisdom and goodness, both from their counsels and examples. The design of this proverb is to show the wonderful influence which a man’s society hath upon him, either to save, or to corrupt and destroy him.

Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
Evil; evil of punishment proportionable to their evil of sin, as appears from the next clause.

Pursueth; and sooner or later shall certainly overtake them, albeit they please themselves with hopes of impunity.

Sinners; obstinate and incorrigible sinners.

Good; God’s blessings and true happiness.

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.
Is by God’s powerful providence ofttimes translated to good men of another family, who will be more faithful stewards of it.

Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.
Much food is in the tillage of the poor; poor and mean persons, by their diligent labours in tillage or other employments, and God’s blessing upon them, ofttimes grow rich.

Destroyed; or, consumed, to wit, in his estate, brought to poverty.

For want of judgment; either,

1. For want of discretion and convenient care and diligence in tilling his land, and in managing his affairs, which he neglects himself, and leaves to the care of others; whereas poor men are forced by their necessities to look to their own concerns, and to use their utmost diligence in them. Or rather,

2. By injustice, as this phrase is used, Proverbs 16:8 Jeremiah 17:11 22:13 Ezekiel 22:29. Nor do I find it in any other scripture. By his frauds, rapines, and oppressions, and other unjust and wicked practices, whereby he seeks to enrich himself, as refusing and scorning to get an estate by honest labours. So this agrees with what is said Proverbs 13:11.

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
He that spareth, Heb. withholdeth it from his son when it is due to him,

his rod, that correction which his son’s fault requires, and he as a father is required to give him,

hateth his son; not directly and properly in regard of his affection, but consequently, and in respect of the event. His fond affection is as pernicious to him as his or another man’s hatred could be.

Chasteneth him betimes; either,

1. In his tender years, as soon as he is capable of it. Or,

2. Speedily, before he be hardened and inveterate in sin. God’s favour and blessing gives the righteous man a competent estate, and a heart to use it, and comfort and satisfaction in it; whereas wicked men commonly want either all these blessings, or some of them.

The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.
God’s favour and blessing gives the righteous man a competent estate, and a heart to use it, and comfort and satisfaction in it; whereas wicked men commonly want either all these blessings, or some of them.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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