First Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont'd (Proverbs 13)
17. The Use of the Mouth (13:1-4)
"TYPE: CATCHWORD....A number of words and concepts bind this text together. The 'mocker' corresponds to the one who 'speaks rashly,' while shutting one's mouth corresponds to receiving instruction (vv. 1,3). Verses 2-3 refer to the mouth, and the nepes [or nephesh, referring to one's physical being] is mentioned in vv. 2-4" (NAC).
Proverbs 13:1, concerning a wise son heeding his father's instruction, harkens back to the first of the compact sayings (10:1) and the book's prologue (chapters 1–9).
18. Action and Reaction (13:5-6)
"TYPE: PARALLEL, CATCHWORD....These two proverbs are set in parallel on the basis of 'righteous' and 'wicked' in v. 5 and 'righteousness' and 'wickedness' in v. 6" (NAC).
19. The Ambiguity of Riches (13:7-11)
"TYPE: THEMATIC....The acquisition, possession, and use of money dominate vv. 7-8, 11. Verses 9-10 do not refer to money, but the overall context throws new meaning on these proverbs as well" (NAC).
Proverbs 13:7 is often interpreted to refer to a poor person pretending to be rich and a rich person pretending to be poor. But that is not what is meant here. The New American Commentary rightly states: "There is more to v. 7 than that some people deceitfully pretend to be rich or poor. More profoundly, things are not always what they seem. One person may appear rich (and may or may not have money) and yet on a more fundamental level have nothing, and the reverse is true as well. This is illustrated in v. 8, in which the point is made that although the rich have some protection from their money, the poor have little need for such protection since they have nothing worth stealing [—and they 'hear no threat' (NIV)]. Wealth is thus a prison, and the one who appears rich has nothing enviable. Similarly, if one has not acquired wealth properly, that wealth will soon disappear (v. 11). The apparent wealth of those who acquired money without learning the lessons of financial prudence is fleeting" (note on verses 7-8). Also compare verse 7 with 11:24-25.
Pride has been called "the mother of all sins." It certainly leads to contention, as verse 10 tells us.
20. A Hope Fulfilled (13:12-19)
"TYPE: INCLUSIO....The Bible goes beyond the secular wisdom of relating success to hard work [and trustworthiness] and more fundamentally ties it to the development of a mature, virtuous soul by submission to wise teachers....This text has a general inclusio pattern, but there are many cross-connections.
"Other cross connections include 'tree of life' (v. 12) and 'fountain of life' (v. 14) as well as 'healing' (v. 15). Also 'rewarded' (v. 13), 'wins favor' (v. 15), and 'honored' (v. 18) indicate that the concrete benefits of wisdom are in view. The peculiar bicolon of v. 19 is also significant. By itself v. 19b has nothing to do with v. 19a, but in the context of vv. 13,18 it summarizes the attitude of the obstinate. Surrounding the whole text is the idea of having one's desires fulfilled (vv. 12,19); the point is that the deepest longings of the soul are filled only by integrity and wisdom, not by treachery.
"The structure of the text produces a coherent message. Verse 12 gives the premise that everyone rejoices to see their hopes and aspirations fulfilled. This sentiment is restated in the companion verse, v. 19a; but the second colon, v. 19b, asserts that fools will not turn from evil. The implication is that fools will not see their desires fulfilled. The intervening verses develop the thesis that life and happiness can only be obtained by wisdom.... The whole text [verses 12-19]...teaches that by learning from the wise, one can enjoy a life of fulfilled aspirations" (NAC).
21. Choice Companions (13:20-21)
"TYPE: CHIASTIC....Note...the chiastic structure [—in this case a-b-b-a—] of 'wise' (v. 20a), 'fools' (v. 20b), 'sinner' (v. 21a), and 'righteous' (v. 21b)" (NAC).
Proverbs 13:20 highlights the importance of picking the right friends—as they influence the way you think and act and, therefore, the outcome of your life (compare 12:26; 1 Corinthians 15:33).
22. Provision for the Family (13:22-25)
"Type: Parallel....This text deals with providing for the needs of one's family and is structured as a parallel text.
The inheritance left to children and grandchildren involves much more than material wealth and possessions. As The New American Commentary states: "All people desire to leave a good heritage for their children, and vv. 22, 24 speak, respectively, of providing for the material and moral needs of one's descendants. Proverbs regularly keeps these two in balance. It emphasizes the need for moral training without deprecating the physical needs of family life.
"Verse 23 and v. 25 describe two reasons a family may be impoverished and hungry. On the one hand, it may be injustice in society (i.e., it is not the family's fault, and their hunger points to a need for changes in the system). On the other hand, poverty may be a result of sin in the family. Addiction to alcohol, indolence, and financial irresponsibility are all potential causes of poverty, although the terms 'righteous' and 'wicked' imply divine favor or disfavor as well. Proverbs takes a balanced position: it neither dehumanizes the poor on the grounds that they are to blame for all their troubles nor absolves the individual of personal responsibility" (note on vv. 22-25).
The NIV Application Commentary makes these poignant comments in its concluding summary of chapter 13: "The proverbs of this chapter make clear that we are not called to leave an inheritance of wealth but a legacy that includes so much more, a way of life: 'The righteous eat to their hearts' content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry' (13:25). But there is a caution: As we read, we may take the many contrasts of the chapter too lightly, putting ourselves on the path with the righteous too readily. These polarities are a teaching device, exaggeration to make a point, but we will miss the point if we fail to appreciate the various repetitions that we too are 'prone to wander' and can be tempted to take little shortcuts in order to preserve our accounts or our reputations. To the sages, outright rebellion is not the enemy so much as compromise. The fact that wisdom writers worked so hard to make these contrasts stark and clear shows that human nature often loses sight of their clarity and makes fuzzy choices."
This is important to bear in mind as we read all the chapters of the book of Proverbs.