Proverbs 20:13-17 Business Practices From The Bible

Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
    stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
    then goes off and boasts about the purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
    but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
    hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet,
    but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

Business Practices From The Bible

Does verse 14 advocate deception in business practices?  Perhaps there are different standards when one in negotiating.  Aim at the extreme that you want the seller to move toward and rejoice when they give an inch.  This still raises the question as to whether one should say an item is worth less than it is.  Worth is relative in the business world, a thing is worth what a person will pay for it.  Although prices seem fixed in the western world, we have garage sales, Memorial Day Sales, and negotiations on Priceline.  If we were to get an article at a lower price, we would truly pay that price.  the proverb highlights the exaggerated use of language by boasters and bargainers and points out something of the comedy of the situation.  However, one principle that does hold in business is fortitude in stance and tone. 


  1. What will happen to those who choose to sleep rather than work?
  2. What does the one who claims an item costs too much boast about?
  3. Why do you think the wise person takes a pledge made for a stranger, but Proverbs advises against making such pledges?
  4. How do you think prices are best negotiated?
  5. How does God help a person to negotiate in business?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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