What does Proverbs 13:17 mean?
ESV: A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful envoy brings healing.
NIV: A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.
NASB: A wicked messenger falls into adversity, But a faithful messenger brings healing.
CSB: A wicked envoy falls into trouble, but a trustworthy courier brings healing.
NLT: An unreliable messenger stumbles into trouble, but a reliable messenger brings healing.
KJV: A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
NKJV: A wicked messenger falls into trouble, But a faithful ambassador brings health.
Verse Commentary:
An earlier proverb noted the trouble that comes to those who don't fulfill their assigned tasks (Proverbs 10:26). An "envoy" is something like an ambassador. When such a person is reliable, their work is valuable and of great benefit to others (Proverbs 25:13).

While the literal terms of this proverb apply to those carrying messages, the basic principle can be applied to any person employed or tasked by others. The person who "slacks off," accomplishing little, is something like a "wicked messenger." He may spend hours lounging at fellow employees' stations or hanging around the coffee machine or taking an extended lunch break. This translates to a lack of productivity that hurts his employer, and others who work in that environment. This may lead to his getting fired.

By contrast, those who diligently accomplish what's expected contribute to everyone's success and safety. A trustworthy employee fulfills his assignments, exceeds his employer's expectations, and makes wise use of his time and resources (Colossians 3:23). He contributes to the health of the company he works for and enjoys a respectful relationship with his employer. When the employer is fair, this can lead to many benefits.
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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