What does Proverbs 13:9 mean?
ESV: The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
NIV: The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
NASB: The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked goes out.
CSB: The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is put out.
NLT: The life of the godly is full of light and joy, but the light of the wicked will be snuffed out.
KJV: The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
NKJV: The light of the righteous rejoices, But the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Verse Commentary:
Solomon points out the common-sense observation that godliness tends to keep a person from danger (Proverbs 1:7, 32–33, while sin brings risks that lead to an early death (Proverbs 6:32–33; 11:5, 21; 12:21).

The reference to a "lamp" in this verse alludes to the illumination a person in the ancient Middle East had in his tent. His oil lamp did not stay lit throughout the entire night, and when it went out, everything became completely dark. Similarly, the life of the wicked—his lamp—will not stay lit forever. Shortly, it will be extinguished, and the wicked person will die and be surrounded by utter darkness (Proverbs 11:7). The life of the righteous—his light—will extend not only for a long time on earth but also throughout eternity (John 8:12). Whereas hell is described as a place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:12), heaven is described as a place of brilliant, dazzling light. In heaven, the Lord will be the light of the righteous, and there will be no night or any need for the light or lamp of the sun (Revelation 22:5).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 13:4–11 observes key differences between the rich and poor, the testimony of the righteous and the dismal end of the wicked, the insolence of the wicked and the willingness of the wise to accept advice. This continues the pattern of contrast and comparison used in this section of the book.
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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