Proverbs 21:13

ESV Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
NIV Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.
NASB One who shuts his ear to the outcry of the poor Will also call out himself, and not be answered.
CSB The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.
NLT Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.
KJV Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

What does Proverbs 21:13 mean?

This comment connects to the previous proverb (Proverbs 21:12). That statement indicated that God, "The Righteous One," would ruin those who acted wickedly. Here, we see echoes of the same idea. To ignore legitimate need is a sin (Proverbs 14:31; 17:5; 19:17). Just as those who have no concept of forgiveness prove they are not forgiven (Matthew 6:14–15), showing no sense of grace to those in need suggests someone who has not, themselves, experienced grace (Luke 6:38; John 13:34). Discerning when someone is lazy (2 Thessalonians 3:10) is different from ignoring those who need help (James 1:27). Christians should never turn a deaf ear to those who are in need.

Throughout Scripture God shows compassion for the poor. The epistle of James contends for faith which results in action: producing good works. James 2:8 describes the royal law as, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Verse 13 indicates that "judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy." Acts 2 reports a great turning to the Lord by many who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. The converts included people from all around the Mediterranean world. They stayed in Jerusalem and became members of the church there. However, they had no visible means of support because they had left their homes and jobs. In response to their need, "all who believed … had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need" (Acts 2:44–45).
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