Proverbs 17:21

He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
– Proverbs 17:21

Two words are used for fool here. The first denotes a dullard or simpleton, and the second denotes wickedness. This proverb is opposite Proverbs 23:24, which acknowledges the joy of having a wise child (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 23:15-16). Life experience and the first nine chapters of Proverbs should convince us we cannot make our children wise. We can instruct, correct, train, discipline, exhort, and even plead like Solomon, but we cannot make a son or daughter have wisdom if they refuse instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 8:33; 13:1; 15:5). A child who refuses correction and instruction is a continual grief to father and mother (Proverbs 17:25; 19:13).

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Proverbs 15:13

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
– Proverbs 15:13

The word for heart is often used in Proverbs and refers primarily to the mind, but the word does mean more generally the inner being of man, involving mind, emotions, will, etc. For cheerful countenance we might say a happy face. The phrase means the inner thoughts and attitudes of a man affects his state of happiness (Proverbs 15:15; 18:14). The word for sorrow in the contrasting phrase means pain or injury. Just as cheerful can point to healthy, sorrow can point to wounded. The thoughts of pain, or dwelling on injury, could also point to harboring bitterness. The effect is to crush the spirit (Proverbs 12:25; 17:22).

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Proverbs 14:13

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
– Proverbs 14:13

This proverb is a wise observation. Our emotional circumstances change, and can change quickly. As we grow in wisdom, we are more aware that joy and sorrow are mingled together (Ecclesiastes 1:18). The wisdom taught here instructs us not to put too much by our present experience. For good or bad, it will change, and probably soon.

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