Proverbs 25:19

ESV Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
NIV Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
NASB Like a bad tooth and an unsteady foot Is confidence in a treacherous person in time of trouble.
CSB Trusting an unreliable person in a difficult time is like a rotten tooth or a faltering foot.
NLT Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.
KJV Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

What does Proverbs 25:19 mean?

Every "proverb" is a statement of general wisdom or common sense. Some of the lessons seem obvious, but there can still be a lesson in hearing them stated. Here, Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) warns against trusting unreliable, disloyal people during challenging times. The reference to "time of trouble" is key; when one is in a crisis, it can be tempting to take risks. That might include putting trust in someone known to be a liar, fraud, or traitor. In those moments, it's important to keep that risk in mind: trusting those who cannot be trusted can lead to disaster.

The comparisons made here point out the frequent suddenness of betrayal. A rotten tooth might seem fine, only to cause sudden pain and misery. "A foot that slips" refers to something unsure, unreliable, unbalanced; in an instant, disaster can strike and what was supposed to provide support instead causes harm. Putting trust in liars and crooks is exceedingly dangerous.

Job expressed disappointment in his neighbors using similar themes. He said, "My brothers are treacherous as a torrent-bed, as torrential streams that pass away, which are dark with ice, and where the snow hides itself. When they melt, they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place" (Job 6:15–17). The friends Job depended on resembled a riverbed. In the rainy season it fills up with water. It runs fast and full, as snow melts and pours into it, but in the heat of summer, when it is most needed, it is bone dry. When Job most need dependable friends, he could not find them. They had vanished.
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