He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He that covereth his sins.—As Adam and Eve did, when they had transgressed (Genesis 3:8), as David did to his own loss (Psalm 32:3.)
Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy, and be at once completely forgiven; though he must still suffer the punishment due for his offences (2Samuel 12:14, sqq.), and will, for having yielded to temptation, be the less able to resist it when next assailed by it.Proverbs 28:13. He that covereth his sins — That does not confess them (as appears by the opposite clause) to God, and to men too, when occasion requires it: who, being convinced or admonished of his sins, either justifies, or denies, or excuses them; shall not prosper — Shall not succeed in his design of avoiding punishment by the concealment of his sins; shall not find mercy, as is implied from the next clause. But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them — From a sincere hatred to them, and a fixed and hearty resolution to walk in newness of life; shall have mercy — Both from God, who hath promised it, and from men, who are ready to grant pardon and favour to such persons. Observe well, reader: although the dissembling, or hiding of his sins, is sufficient for a man’s damnation, yet mere confession, without forsaking of sin, is not sufficient for his salvation.That covereth his sins; that doth not confess them (as appears by the opposite clause) to God, and to men too, when occasion requires it; that being convinced or admonished of his sins, either justifieth, or denieth, or excuseth them.
Shall not prosper; shall not succeed in his design of avoiding punishment by the concealment of his sins; shall not find mercy, as is implied from the next clause. Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, by hearty dislike and hatred of all his sins, and by a resolved cessation from a sinful course of life. This is added, to show, that although the dissembling or hiding one’s sins is sufficient for his damnation, yet mere confession without forsaking of sin is not sufficient for salvation.
Shall have mercy, both from God, who hath promised, and from men, who are ready to grant pardon and favour to such persons. Job 31:33; for such a man "shall not prosper"; in soul or body, in things temporal or spiritual; he shall not have peace of mind and conscience; but, sooner or later, shall feel the stings it; he shall not succeed even in those things he has in view by covering his sins; he shall not be able to cover them long, for there is nothing covered but what shall be revealed; if not in this life, which yet often is, however at the day of judgment, when every secret thing shall be made manifest; nor shall he escape the shame and punishment he thought to avoid by covering it, as may be observed in the case of Achan, Joshua 7:11; in short, he shall have no mercy shown him by God or man, as appears by the antithesis in the next clause;
but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy; who confesses them to men privately and publicly, according to the nature of the offences, from whom they find mercy; but not to a priest, in order for absolution, which no man can give; sin is only in this sense to be confessed to God, against it is committed, and who only can pardon it; and though it is known unto him, yet he requires an acknowledgment of it, which should be done from the heart, with an abhorrence of the sin, and in the faith of Christ, as a sacrifice for it; and it is not enough to confess, there must be a forsaking likewise, a parting with sin, a denying of sinful self, a leaving the former course of sin, and a quitting the company of wicked men before used to, and an abstaining from all appearance of evil; as is and will be the case, where there is a true sight and sense of sin, and the grace of God takes place: and such find "mercy", pardoning grace and mercy, or pardon in a way of mercy, and not merit; for though the sinner confesses and forsakes it, it is not that which merits pardon and mercy in God, who is rich in it, delights in showing it, and from whom it may be hoped for and expected by all such persons; see Psalm 32:5. So the Targum and Syriac version, God will have mercy on him.He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 13. - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper. To cover one's sins is either absolutely to disown them or to make excuses; a man who does this is never free from a burden of guilt, as the psalmist says, "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me" (Psalm 32:3, etc.). Whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Confession alone without amendment, or what is called theologically satisfaction, does not win pardon and mercy. It is when the sinner acknowledges his transgression, and turns from it to newness of life, that God heals his backsliding, and turns away his auger and renews the tokens of his love (Hosea 14:4). Confession is made to God, against whom all sin is committed (Joshua 7:19; Job 31:33; 1 John 1:8, etc.): and to man, if one has transgressed against him, or if he be in a position to give spiritual counsel. Thus the people confessed their sins before John the Baptist (Matthew 3:6) and the apostles (Acts 19:18; comp. James 5:16). Among the Jews, the high priest, acting as the mouthpiece of the people on the great Day of Atonement, confessed their iniquities, laying them on the scapegoat; and particular confession was also enjoined, and was part of the ritual accompanying a sacrifice for sin, by which legal purification was obtained (Numbers 5:6, 7, "When a man or woman shall commit any sin... then they shall confess their sin which they have done;" so Leviticus 5:5). And the very offering of a trespass offering was a public recognition of guilt, which was exhibited by the offerer laying his hand on the head of the victim (Leviticus 1:4). Such confession is spoken of strongly by Siracides, "Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, and force not the course of the river" (Ecclus. 4:26); i.e. do not attempt the impossible task of trying to hide them. The LXX. has, "He who sets forth accounts ἐξηγούμενος ἐλέγχους i.e. blames himself) shall be loved." Lesetre quotes Sedulius, 'Carm. Pasch.,' 4:76 -
"Magna est medicina fateri
Quod nocet abscondi; quoniam sua vulnera nutrit
Qui tegit, et plagam trepidat nudare medenti."
T' expose what rankles while 'tis hidden still.
He feeds who hides his wounds and shuns to show
His heart's plague to the good physician."
But he that is a companion of profligates bringeth his father into shame.
We have translated תורה at Proverbs 28:4 by "law;" here it includes the father's instruction regarding the right way of life. נוצר תּורה, according to the nearest lying syntax, has to be taken as pred. זוללים are such as squander their means and destroy their health, vid., under Proverbs 23:20. רעה signifies, as frequently from the idea of (cf. Proverbs 29:3) pasturing, or properly of tending, to take care of, and to have fellowship with. יכלים shall put to shame denotes both that he himself does disgrace to him, and that he brings disgrace to him on the part of others.
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