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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 14

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Every wise woman buildeth her house.—This should be rendered, “The wisdom (literally, wisdoms; see above on Proverbs 1:20; chokhmôth should probably be read here, as there, not chokhmôth) of women buildeth (for each) her house, but (their) folly plucketh it down,” &c.

Buildeth her house.—Each person and each good work throughout the household grows, as it were, under her fostering hand. (Comp. Ephesians 2:21.)

Verse 2

(2) He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the Lord.—Rather, He who fears the Lord walketh in his uprightness. (Comp. John 14:21.) And likewise, “he that despiseth Him is perverse in his ways.” The fear of God and its absence are clearly seen in the outward conduct.

Verse 3

(3) In the mouth of the foolish (self-willed) is a rod of pride.—He has to smart for his ill-judged sayings; or, he punishes others with them. But this does not agree so well with what follows.

But the lips of the wise shall preserve them (the wise) from the difficulties into which the foolish come by their rash talk.

Verse 4

(4) Where no oxen are, the crib is clean . . .—A proverb which may be taken in various ways. Some have seen in it an exhortation to kindness towards animals in consideration of their great usefulness. Others, that labour has its disagreeable aspect, but also brings its reward, whether material prosperity (“much increase”) or a more enduring reward. (Comp. Galatians 6:9.)

Verse 6

(6) A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not.—Because “God resisteth the proud” (1 Peter 5:5), and none can give wisdom but He who alone has it (1 Corinthians 2:11); but He teaches him that “feareth the Lord” (Psalms 25:11).

Verse 7

(7) Go from the presence of a foolish man—(khesîl)—i.e. a dull, stupid one, when the time comes that you see you can do him no good; for “evil communications corrupt good manners.” Thus Samuel “came no more to see Saul,” when he saw that remonstrances were unavailing with him, though he continued to “mourn” for him, remembering from what high estate he had fallen.

Verse 8

(8) The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way.—To look to it carefully that it is such as God would have it; but “the folly of fools (stupid persons, as Proverbs 14:7], is deceit;” it shows itself in trying to cheat others, though they are sure to be detected at last.

Verse 9

(9) Fools make a mock at sin.—Rather, perhaps, sin mocks fools (they miss the gratification they expected from it); or, the sin-offering mocks them. God does not accept it, and so they have the trouble and cost of offering it for nothing; “but among the upright there is favour.” God is well pleased with them.

Verse 10

(10) The heart knoweth his own bitterness . . .—None Can perfectly sympathise with the sorrows or joys of others, except the ideal Son of Man, who came to “bear our griefs and carry our sorrows” (comp. Hebrews 4:15), yet could join in the marriage feast at Cana.

Verse 11

(11) The house of the wicked shall be overthrown.—Observe the contrast between the “house” and “tabernacle” (tent); the slighter one shall stand, while the more strongly built one shall perish. (Comp. Proverbs 3:33.)

Verse 12

(12) There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, and yet he will be punished if he follows it, for his perverted conscience may arise from his desertion of God, and his refusal of the light He offered. (Comp. Romans 1:28, sqq.)

Verse 13

(13) Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful.—By this God would teach us that nothing can satisfy the soul of man but Himself, and so would urge us to seek Him, who is the only true object of our desires. (Comp. Psalms 36:8.)

Verse 14

(14) The backslider in heart—i.e., who turns away from God. (Psalms 44:19.)

Shall be filled with his own ways.—(Comp. Proverbs 1:31, and Matthew 6:2, &c: “They have their reward.”) They get to the full what they look for, though it is but swine’s husks, instead of food fit for God’s children.

A good man.—See above on Proverbs 13:22.

Shall be satisfied from himself.—His own work. (Comp. Isaiah 3:10.)

Verse 15

(15) The simple.—See above on Proverbs 1:22.

Believeth every word.—And so, having no fixed principles by which to go, often takes a wrong step; while the prudent man considers well (Proverbs 14:8) whither each step will lead, and therefore does not go astray.

Verse 16

(16) A wise man feareth.—(Comp. Proverbs 3:7.)

The fool rageth.—Gives way to passionate excitement, and “is confident” in his own wisdom; he has no “quietness and confidence” (Isaiah 30:15) in God.

Verse 17

(17) Dealeth foolishly.—Does silly things, and makes himself an object of ridicule, but not of hatred; whereas the “man of (wicked) devices” is hated for his cold-blooded malice.

Verse 18

(18) The simple inherit folly.—As weeds spring up in unoccupied soil, so “simple” (Proverbs 1:22) persons, whose minds are unoccupied with good, often become self-willed; while the knowledge which the “prudent” gain by looking well to their steps (Proverbs 14:15) adorns them as a crown.

Verse 19

(19) The evil bow before the good.—(Comp. 1 Samuel 2:36.) That this final retribution is certain is implied by the tense employed, though it may be long delayed till the “awakening” (Psalms 73:20) of God and man to judgment. (Comp. Wis. 5:1, sqq.)

Verse 20

(20) The poor is hated even of his own neighbour.—This sad experience of life is repeated in Proverbs 19:7. The following verse serves as a corrective of this selfish tendency of mankind.

Verse 22

(22) Do they not err that devise evil?—Comp. Wis. 5:6-7.

Mercy and truth.—God will be merciful, and also fulfil His promises of protection and reward to them (Wis. 3:9).

Verse 24

(24) The crown of the wise is their riches.—They adorn and set off the wisdom of the wise, and bring it more prominently into notice; but the “foolishness of fools” remains folly. The rich fool only displays his folly all the more from being set in a conspicuous position.

Verse 26

(26) His children.—Either, the children of the man who fears the Lord, as the blessing of Abraham (Genesis 17:7-8) and David (Jeremiah 33:20-21) descended to their children; or the pronoun may refer to God’s children, i.e., those who look up to Him as a father, an expression which occurs in the Old Testament (e g., Psalms 73:15), but is brought forward more prominently in the New Testament.

Verse 27

(27) Fountain of life.—Comp. Proverbs 13:14 and John 4:14.

Verse 28

(28) In the multitude of people is the king’s honour.—Not in ambitious wars. In these words speaks the “man of rest” (1 Chronicles 22:9). (Comp. the description of Solomon’s kingdom in the days of his prosperity; 1 Kings 4:20.)

Verse 29

(29) He that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly—i.e., brings it into view, or shows himself highly foolish. Or it may signify, “he takes up and carries away folly as his portion,” as Proverbs 3:35 may be translated, “fools receive shame for their portion.”

Verse 30

(30) A sound hearti.e., one in healthy condition, of which the passions and emotions are under control.

Verse 31

(31) Reproacheth his Maker.—For having placed him in such a lowly condition. The equality of all men, as being all of them the work of God, is taught by Genesis 1:27; Job 31:15; Proverbs 22:2. The duty of aiding the poor is in Matthew 25:40 based on the still higher ground of the union of Christ with His people, which makes Him regard good done to them as done to Himself.

But he that honoureth him . . .—This would be better rendered, but he that hath mercy on the poor honoureth Him.

Verse 32

(32) The wicked is driven away in his wickedness.—Or, is overthrown in his misfortune, i.e., when it comes upon him (comp. Psalms 34:21), for he has none to aid or comfort him.

But the righteous hath hope in his death.—Comp. Job’s confidence (Job 13:15 and Psalms 23:4). The gravest troubles do not terrify him.

Verse 33

(33) But that which is in the midst of fools is made known.—“Wisdom” is the subject of this as of the former half of the verse. “Wisdom rests in the heart of him that hath understanding;” he does not care to drag it out and exhibit it, but the fool cannot keep to himself anything which he thinks he knows.

Verse 34

(34) Righteousness.—See above, on Proverbs 10:2.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/proverbs-14.html. 1905.
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