What does Proverbs 13:12 mean?
ESV: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
NIV: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
NASB: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
CSB: Hope delayed makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
NLT: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
KJV: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
NKJV: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
Verse Commentary:
Something "deferred" is put off, delayed, or suspended. The longer a person goes without seeing their hope realized, the more likely they are to become discouraged. Seeing one's hopes coming to pass is uplifting. Many passages in Scripture are pleas to God, asking Him to bring about promises which seem to have been deferred (Habakkuk 1:2–4; Psalm 89:46).

Of course, if hope is something which will never happen, it is false hope. That can only lead to grief. When a person comes to believe his hope is meaningless, he may become depressed. False teachers who claim those who pray and donate money will be rich and healthy are selling false hope. Others, who promote salvation by works instead of by grace, corrupt the hopes of people who believe they will go to heaven by doing good deeds. Those hopes are false, however. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8–9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Paul was so incensed by the false teaching that religious works were necessary for salvation that he commanded the Galatian believers, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). "Accursed" means devoted to destruction.

The hope of heaven that believers have is a sure hope (John 10:28–29). It is sure because it is founded on a perfect, sinless God (Hebrew 4:15; Titus 3:5; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 13:12–25 emphasizes the value of wisdom as true wealth. Solomon writes that whoever reveres God's Word will be rewarded, and he describes how wisdom obtained from the Word applies to several areas of life.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter of Proverbs continues Solomon's wise sayings. He counsels his readers to be sensible and hardworking, as well as honest. This allows a person to be content with what they have, to enjoy life, and to bless their descendants. Laziness leads to trouble and ruin, as does a lack of discipline.
Chapter Context:
Starting in chapter 10, the book of Proverbs records a long series of wise sayings from Solomon. These continue for several chapters. Through chapter 15, a major focus is on issues such as godly living, mostly given in contrast with examples of ungodliness. This chapter emphasizes themes such as work ethic, honesty, and discipline.
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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