v. 1. Every wise woman buildeth her house, literally, "Woman's wisdom buildeth her house," the reference being to the prudence and foresight of the wise housekeeper, who manages well; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands, her mismanagement results in ruin.
v. 2. He that walketh In his uprightness feareth the Lord, for the fear of Jehovah is the guiding principle in the life of the upright; but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth Him, that is, his contempt of the Lord shows in his crooked and malicious conduct, which no amount of outward religious activity can cover.
v. 3. In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride, that is, he bears with himself the rod which will punish his pride, or his pride shows itself in speeches which hurt and injure others; but the lips of the wise shall preserve them, so that no word of folly is spoken by them to the injury of others, 10:13-14.
v. 4. Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, the manger is empty, that is, he who is too lazy or too indolent to use the proper means for acquiring possessions under God's blessings will find that he makes no progress in life; but much increase is by the strength of the ox, although it requires work to keep him.
v. 5. A faithful witness will not lie, he will not utter falsehoods to bolster up a weak case; but a false witness will utter lies, will habitually make use of them in gaining his ends. Pro_12:17; Pro_6:19.
v. 6. A scorner seeketh wisdom and findeth it not, for his mockery of true wisdom, of the truth contained in the Word of God, closes the road of real enlightenment to him, no matter how much superficial culture he seems to possess; but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth, if he is earnestly concerned about knowing the truth of the Word, it is readily given to him.
v. 7. Go from the presence of a foolish man, it being a matter of wisdom for a person to keep his distance from such a one, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge, remembering that lie has never yet uttered a truly sensible word.
v. 8. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, to observe where he is going, to pay close attention to his conduct; but the folly of fools Is deceit, self-deception, since they are willfully blind to the demands of every situation in which they find themselves, and so invite punishment and destruction upon themselves.
v. 9. Fools make a mock at sin, literally, "the sacrifice mocks the fools"; for even if such ungodly people offer up burnt offerings for expiation and atonement, it is useless, it fails of its object, since it is not acceptable to God; but among the righteous there is favor, the relation among the upright being one of mutual good-fellowship and love, which prevents their becoming guilty of gross transgressions.
v. 10. The heart knoweth his own bitterness, it is best acquainted with its own trouble and resents interference; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy, for no outsider is able fully to enter into the feelings of the heart. This saying does not conflict with Rom_12:15, but is directed against officious intrusion and an unsympathetic prying into the affairs of one's neighbors.
v. 11. The house of the wicked shall be overthrown, no matter how permanent they believe it to be; but the tabernacle of the upright, their tent, their temporary dwelling, for they do not regard it as their permanent home, shall flourish, the blessing of the Lord resting upon it.
v. 12. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, the way of sin, at the outset, being apparently straight and smooth, but the end thereof, what it finally leads to, are the ways of death, for transgression invariably leads to mortal ruin.
v. 13. Even In laughter the heart is sorrowful, that is, a person may hide a deep sorrow under a superficial joyousness; and the end of that mirth is heaviness, for trouble will invariably cut short such outward manifestations of joy and bring sorrow in the end.
v. 14. The backslider in heart, he who is of a perverse, malicious heart, who has departed from God in his heart, shall be filled with his own ways, he will be surfeited with the consequences of his own perverseness, he will have to suffer the ruinous results of his sinful acts; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself, literally, "out of himself," his good conscience affording him the satisfaction of knowing that his behavior is in agreement with the demands of true piety.
v. 15. The simple, the inexperienced, believeth every word, without examining its truth, be is driven to and fro without any judgment of his own; but the prudent man looketh well to his going, watching every step, not attempting anything without the most careful consideration.
v. 16. A wise man feareth and departeth from evil, dreading its power and preferring to keep his distance; but the fool rageth, in carnal presumption and insolence, and is confident, foolishly believing himself to be able to avoid the consequences of his sinful folly, rushing wildly into his own destruction.
v. 17. He that is soon angry, losing his temper at the slightest provocation, dealeth foolishly, working only folly, with evil consequences to himself; and a man of wicked devices is hated, since he, with his malicious craft and hypocritical subtlety, is even more dangerous than he who flies into a passion at the slightest provocation.
v. 18. The simple inherit folly, that is the portion of those who will not learn wisdom, who will not be guided by the experiences of others; but the prudent are crowned with knowledge, they embrace, they accumulate, knowledge as a precious possession.
v. 19. The evil bow before the good, humbling themselves as a result of the punishment which they incurred for their sins, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous, like beggars humbly praying for some gift of charity.
v. 20. The poor is hated even of his own neighbor, for the loss of wealth immediately changes the attitude of false friends, who now find their impoverished neighbor obnoxious; but the rich hath many friends, such as profess friendship for him as long as they partake of his bounty.
v. 21. He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth, that is, he who neglects a friend to whom he owes love, especially if he is in need; but he that hath mercy on the poor, showing true compassion to the poor and wretched, happy is he, since he himself may expect benefit from his act.
v. 22. Do they not err that devise evil, who foolishly go astray and bring misfortune upon themselves? But mercy and truth, in the favor of God and the fulfillment of all His promises of love, shall be to them that devise good, always planning how they may be of assistance to such as are in need.
v. 23. In all labor there is profit, if a person is really diligent and earnest in his work, results will show; but the talk of the lips, idle talk, not backed up by honest toil, tendeth only to penury, brings the one who practices it to want.
v. 24. The crown of the wise is their riches, their possessions, gained by dint of hard work, serve to honor them; but the foolishness of fools is folly, no matter how much show and pomp he makes, how anxiously be strives to offer a magnificent appearance.
v. 25. A true witness, one who fearlessly utters the truth, delivereth souls, from the death which threatened them as a result of false charges brought against them; but a deceitful witness, one full of crafty malice, speaketh lies, constantly breathing them out.
v. 26. In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, it gives a strong security, a safe reliance; and his children shall have a place of refuge, for since they follow the upright conduct of their parents, the Lord protects them in like manner.
v. 27. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, the source of all true spiritual life, to depart from the snares of death; for where there is no fear of God, there is transgression, and transgression leads to everlasting death.
v. 28. In the multitude of people is the king's honor, it serves for his glory, for the establishment of his name, if he reigns wisely and successfully over a large nation; but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince, where the people of a country are few and scattered on account of some weakness in the sovereign's rule, such a condition brings about the downfall of the ruler, his reign will soon come to an end.
v. 29. He that is slow to wrath, he who is able to control himself, who has himself well in hand at all times, is of great understanding, he will always have a clear mind to discriminate properly; but he that is hasty of spirit, rash and quick-tempered, exalteth folly, is bound to carry foolishness to excess, to make a fool of himself.
v. 30. A sound heart is the life of the flesh, literally, "life of the members is a heart of composure"; for it is the tranquil spirit which is able to judge calmly and correctly, weighing all factors dispassionately; but envy the rottenness of the bones, for every form of passionate, violent seal sets aside calm consideration, indulges in foolish acts, and results in harm to the quick-tempered person's health and spiritual well-being.
v. 31. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker, mocks God Himself, who is the Champion of the poor and downtrodden; but he that honoreth Him, having the proper regard for the Lord, hath mercy on the poor, this being the natural result of the fear and love of Jehovah. Pro_17:5; Pro_19:17.
v. 32. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, that is, if misfortune, ruin, and death strike the ungodly person, he is swept away suddenly, thrust out of this life violently; but the righteous hath hope in his death, he is confident even in the hour of death, for the future beyond the grave holds no terrors for him, since he places his trust in the mercy of the Lord alone.
v. 33. Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding, it is quietly safe there, and the wise person carefully guards and increases it; but that which is in the midst of fools is made known, they are always eager and loud in giving their opinion, since they believe themselves to be wise, but they thereby reveal their lack of true understanding, they make known the emptiness of their minds.
v. 34. Righteousness exalteth a nation, the exercise of true moral uprightness in every department of a nation's activity will set such a nation up on high, tend to give it material prosperity, for God rewards civil righteousness in such a manner; but sin is a reproach to any people; if it is openly countenanced in a nation, the consequence is shame, disgrace, injury, decrease, destruction.
v. 35. The king's favor is toward a wise servant, he will naturally prefer and reward one who is discreet and prudent in his work; but his wrath is against him that causeth shame, it will strike the base and give him his well-merited punishment.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany