What does Proverbs 12:12 mean?
ESV: Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit.
NIV: The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers, but the root of the righteous endures.
NASB: The wicked person desires the plunder of evil people, But the root of the righteous yields fruit.
CSB: The wicked desire what evil people have caught, but the root of the righteous is productive.
NLT: Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.
KJV: The wicked desireth the net of evil men: but the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.
NKJV: The wicked covet the catch of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit.
Verse Commentary:
According to this verse, wicked people are never content with what they have. They are even jealous for what other evil people are able to gain. One could imagine this person being like a weed or a parasite that exists only to suck the life out of others. In contrast, the person who follows godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) is like a healthy root that supports a fruit-bearing plant or tree. The truly righteous person is content with what the Lord provides.

Jesus taught us not to obsess over material goods on earth. Rather, we should focus on building up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19–33). The wicked person strives to obtain treasures on earth. To him life consists only in worldly goods; he has no interest in what is eternal (Luke 12:15–21). The righteous person, on the other hand, sees life in the perspective of eternity. He lives to honor the Lord, and he does not worry about material things. He seeks "the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (Colossians 3:1). His life is fruitful because he walks by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22–23).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 12:12–23 continues Solomon's contrast of a wise righteous person and a wicked fool. In this segment, he focuses mainly on their different speech patterns. He points out that the words of a liar are an abomination to the Lord, whereas the Lord delights in the words of a wise person.
Chapter Summary:
Proverbs 12 contains a series of contrasts between lifestyles, comparing those who honor God to those who reject His wisdom. The results of those decisions are also compared. This repeats several common themes from the book of Proverbs, such as the self-destructive nature of sin and God's distaste for those who lie.
Chapter Context:
Proverbs 12 continues Solomon's wise sayings. A large portion of the book of Proverbs includes these short, common sense pieces of advice. After a series of introductions and lessons in chapters 1—9, chapter 10 began a long list of individual statements. In this chapter he continues to contrast the righteous and the wicked, showing that the life of the righteous is far better than the life of the wicked. This pattern will continue, covering the same basic theme, through chapter 15.
Book Summary:
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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