Proverbs 17:21

ESV He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.
NIV To have a fool for a child brings grief; there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.
NASB He who fathers a fool does so to his sorrow, And the father of a fool has no joy.
CSB A man fathers a fool to his own sorrow; the father of a fool has no joy.
NLT It is painful to be the parent of a fool; there is no joy for the father of a rebel.
KJV He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

What does Proverbs 17:21 mean?

Solomon observes in this verse that the father of a foolish son has sorrow but no joy. This echoes other statements about how ungodly children bring shame and stress to their families (Proverbs 10:1, 5; 17:25; 19:26; 29:15).

Scripture includes at least two Hebrew root words translated into English as "fool." These are very closely related, with only subtle difference in meaning, if any. The first is kesil (for example, in, Proverbs 10:1, 18; 15:20; 17:10; Psalm 49:10) and can imply either spiritual or intellectual dullness. The second is nābāl (for example, in, Proverbs 17:7; 30:22; Psalm 14:1) which more often refers to spiritual arrogance or a lack of sense. This verse uses both.

When a child is born, the parents rejoice. Later, if the child becomes a disobedient child, teenager, or adult, he not only disappoints his parents but also grieves them deeply. They will not—hopefully—stop loving that son or daughter. But a wayward child causes their parents tremendous pain. King David's son Absalom's name literally means "my father is peace," but Absalom brought David nothing but trouble. He rebelled against David, stole the hearts of the people from David, and tried to overthrow David and take his place as king (2 Samuel 15:10–14). David grieved over this betrayal and sobbed when his son was killed (2 Samuel 18:33). Many godly parents do their best to guide a son or daughter into being someone who loves and obeys the Lord, but they encounter grief when the child goes a different way.
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