What does Proverbs 13:21 mean?
ESV: Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good.
NIV: Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.
NASB: Adversity pursues sinners, But the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.
CSB: Disaster pursues sinners, but good rewards the righteous.
NLT: Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous.
KJV: Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon contrasts what generally happens to those who disobey God versus those who honor Him. Those who pursue evil encounter God's wrath, as well as the natural consequences of things like deceit, greed, and violence (Proverbs 12:13; 13:5). Scripture acknowledges that such people may seem to thrive, for a while (Psalm 73:2–3), but there is a terrible end for their rebellion (Proverbs 11:7; Revelation 20:11–15). Romans 6:23 assures us that "the wages of sin is death," and Isaiah 48:22 declares, "'There is no peace,' says the Lord, 'for the wicked.'"

However, the righteous enjoy God's peace. The psalmist testifies: "Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble" (Psalm 119:165). Retribution awaits those who pursue an evil life, but rewards await those who lead a righteous life. Galatians 6:8 teaches that "the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." Knowing this principle of reciprocity, Paul encourages the Galatians not to "grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

While godly, righteous people may experience pain and suffering in the world (John 16:33), that is not the end of their story (Romans 8:18). In general, doing good leads to good outcomes, and sin brings natural, negative consequences. The person who lives an evil life will be forever running from the results of their own actions.
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 3/1/2024 9:55:09 PM
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