Proverbs 13:16

ESV Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
NIV All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
NASB Every prudent person acts with knowledge, But a fool displays foolishness.
CSB Every sensible person acts knowledgeably, but a fool displays his stupidity.
NLT Wise people think before they act; fools don’t — and even brag about their foolishness.
KJV Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
NKJV Every prudent man acts with knowledge, But a fool lays open his folly.

What does Proverbs 13:16 mean?

The term "prudent" here means the same thing as what Jesus commended in Matthew 10:16. The term "shrewd" sometimes comes with negative implications, but the literal meaning is just common sense and effectiveness. A "prudent" person weighs options carefully before acting. Wise people base each decision on their knowledge of a situation. Such a wise person is discerning and acts according to God's will. That wisdom is also reflected in an ability to restrain their speech (Proverbs 13:3).

In contrast, a fool (Proverbs 9:7–12) rushes into situations without any thought to what is right or what the consequences will be. He is full of self-confidence and makes decisions without consulting the Lord (Proverbs 13:10). Their irrationality becomes obvious thanks to these poor choices.

The apostle James warns us not to boast about what we will do. He writes: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'" (James 4:13–15). The uncertainty and brevity of life compel a wise person to consult the Lord before making decisions.
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