Proverbs 24:12

12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

Read Proverbs 24:12 Using Other Translations

If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.

What does Proverbs 24:12 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Proverbs 24:12

If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not
The danger the person was in; or the innocency of his cause; or what method to take to deliver him; or that it was in our power to do anything for him; so the Vulgate Latin version, "if thou sayest, strength is not sufficient": or "we knew him not" F11, who he was or what he was; had no knowledge of him, or acquaintance with him, and so did not think ourselves under any obligation to regard his case; such excuses will not do; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider [it]?
he that searches the heart and tries it, and weighs every thought of it, and excuse it makes, considers and understands whether it is a mere excuse or not; though such excuses may appear plausible to men, yet to God that knows the heart they are of no avail; for he knows it to be a mere shift, and that it was unwillingness to help the distressed, and a neglect of their case; and that all that is said on their own behalf is a vain pretence; and he that keepeth thy soul, doth [not] he know [it]?
he that upholds it in life, and whose visitation preserves it, and therefore should be careful of the life of another; and if not, may justly fear the Lord will withdraw his care and preservation of them; he knows perfectly well what regard a man has to the welfare of another, or to the preservation of another man's life when in danger; and whether what he says on his own behalf is well founded: or "he that observeth thy soul" {l}; all the inward motions of it, the thoughts, affections, purposes, and inclinations; he knows whether what is said is true or not; and shall [not] he render to [every] man according to his works?
and behave towards him according to the law of retaliation; the same measure he measures to others, he will measure to him again; and who having shown no mercy in saving the lives of others, when he could have done it, shall have judgment executed on him without mercy, when he is in distress.


FOOTNOTES:

F11 (hz wnedy al) , (ouk oida touton) , Sept. "non noverimus istum", Gejerus; "non novimus hunc", Pagninus, Montanus, Michaelis.
F12 (Kvpn runw) "et qui observat animam tuam", Michaelis, Schultens; "observator animae tuae", Tigurine version, Gejerus.
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