Proverbs 28:13

ESV Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
NIV Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
NASB One who conceals his wrongdoings will not prosper, But one who confesses and abandons them will find compassion.
CSB The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.
NLT People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.
KJV He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

What does Proverbs 28:13 mean?

One of the earliest, most common, and most foolish human errors is the attempt to hide our sins from the Creator (Genesis 3:8–10). There is nothing God does not know (1 John 3:20). There is nothing He cannot see (Hebrews 4:13). Every event is already part of His perfect understanding (Isaiah 46:9–10). Those who believe they can hide from God don't respect His authority; it's a sign of unbelief (Psalm 10:11–13). According to this proverb, the person who pretends to be blameless will be judged, while the one who admits their sin will be forgiven (1 John 1:9–10; Luke 18:10–14).

Several examples in the Old Testament speak to the danger of trying to hide one's sins. Achan violated God's command not to take spoils from Jericho. He confiscated a cloak, silver, and gold, and buried them in his tent. However, the stolen items and his sin were not hidden from the Lord. Achan did not prosper. He was executed for his sin, and therefore did not inherit a single grain of sand in the Promised Land (Joshua 7). Years later, King David tried to cover his sin of adultery, going so far as to have one of his valiant men killed (2 Samuel 11—12). His soul and body suffered relentless pain until he confessed to the Lord. David's words in Psalm 32 attest to his guilt when he tried to hide his crimes, as well as deep relief upon confessing and receiving forgiveness. He exclaims: "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalm 32:1).

This proverb also touches on a cultural truth. In the modern world, influenced by Judeo-Christian thinking, confession is seen more favorably than discovery. A person who admits wrongdoing before they are caught is usually given more leniency than those who tried to hide their sin and failed. A common English expression says, "the cover-up is often worse than the crime." While not taken literally, this reflects the drastic difference between moral error and deeply ingrained wickedness.
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