What does Proverbs 13:16 mean?
ESV: Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.
NIV: All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.
NASB: Every prudent person acts with knowledge, But a fool displays foolishness.
CSB: Every sensible person acts knowledgeably, but a fool displays his stupidity.
NLT: Wise people think before they act; fools don’t — and even brag about their foolishness.
KJV: Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.
Verse Commentary:
The term "prudent" here means the same thing as what Jesus commended in Matthew 10:16. The term "shrewd" sometimes comes with negative implications, but the literal meaning is just common sense and effectiveness. A "prudent" person weighs options carefully before acting. Wise people base each decision on their knowledge of a situation. Such a wise person is discerning and acts according to God's will. That wisdom is also reflected in an ability to restrain their speech (Proverbs 13:3).

In contrast, a fool (Proverbs 9:7–12) rushes into situations without any thought to what is right or what the consequences will be. He is full of self-confidence and makes decisions without consulting the Lord (Proverbs 13:10). Their irrationality becomes obvious thanks to these poor choices.

The apostle James warns us not to boast about what we will do. He writes: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'" (James 4:13–15). The uncertainty and brevity of life compel a wise person to consult the Lord before making decisions.
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.
Accessed 4/13/2024 9:26:03 AM
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