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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 14

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-35

(δ) With reference to the relation between the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, masters and servants

Chap. 14

1          Woman’s wisdom buildeth her house,

but folly teareth it down with its own hands.

2     He that walketh uprightly feareth Jehovah,

but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.

3     In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his pride,

but the lips of the wise preserve them.

4     Where there are no oxen the crib is clean,

but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

5     A faithful witness cannot lie,

but a false witness uttereth lies.

6     The scorner hath sought wisdom, and findeth it not,

but to the man of understanding is knowledge easy.

7     Go from the presence of the foolish man;

thou hast not found (with him) lips of knowledge.

8     The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,

the folly of fools is a deception.

9     The sacrifice maketh sport of fools,

but to the righteous there is favor.

10     The heart knoweth its own bitterness,

and let no stranger intermeddle with its joy.

11     The house of the wicked is overthrown,

but the tent of the upright shall flourish.

12     There is a way that seemeth right to man,

but the end thereof is the ways of death.

13     Even in laughter the heart will be (perchance) sad,

and the end of joy is sorrow.

14     He that is of a perverse heart shall be satisfied with his own ways,

but a good man (shall be satisfied) from him (E. V. “from himself”).

15     The simple believeth every word,

the wise giveth heed to his way.

16     The wise feareth and departeth from evil,

but the fool is presuming and confident.

17     He that is quick to anger worketh folly,

and the man of wicked devices is hated.

18     The simple have secured folly,

but the wise shall embrace knowledge.

19     The wicked bow before the good,

and sinners at the doors of the righteous.

20     The poor is hated even by his neighbor,

but they that love the rich are many.

21     Whosoever despiseth his friend is a sinner,

but he that hath mercy on the poor—blessings on him!

22     Do not they go astray that devise evil?

and are not mercy and faithfulness with them that devise good?

23     In all labor there is profit,

but mere talk (leadeth) only to want.

24     The crown of the wise is their riches,

the folly of fools (is evermore) folly.

25     A true witness delivereth souls,

but he that uttereth lies is a cheat.

26     In the fear of Jehovah is strong security,

and to His children He will be a refuge.

27     The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life,

to escape the snares of death.

28     In the multitude of the people is the king’s honor,

but from want of people (cometh) the downfall of the prince.

29     He that is slow to wrath is great in understanding,

but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

30     The life of the body is a quiet spirit,

but passion the rottenness of the bones.

31     He that oppresseth the poor hath reproached his Maker,

whosoever honoreth him hath had mercy on the poor.

32     By his wickedness is the wicked driven forth,

but the righteous hath hope (even) in his death.

33     In the heart of a man of understanding doth wisdom rest,

but in the midst of fools it maketh itself known.

34     Righteousness exalteth a nation,

but sin is a reproach to any people.

35     The king’s favor is towards a wise servant,

but his wrath against him that is base.


Proverbs 14:1.—Read חָכְמוֹת, as in Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 9:1, and not חַכְמוֹת (fem. plur. constr.), as though “the wise ones among women” (comp. Judges 5:29) were to be here designated (so the LXX, Vulg., Luther). [So substantially the E. V., Noyes, etc., distributing the plural on account of the singular of the verb. Fuerst regards חַכְ׀ as merely another form of the abstract noun. Bött. does not admit the possibility of this, but explains the form in the text as an indef. or distributive plural, holding, nevertheless, that the antithesis with אִוֶּלֶת requires here the usual abstract. §§ 700, c and n. 4, and 702, c, ε.—A.]

Proverbs 14:2.—The וֹ in בּוֹזֵהוּ is one of the few examples in the early Hebrew of the Hholem plen. in emphatic verbal forms beginning or ending a clause. See Bött., §167.—A.]

Proverbs 14:3.—The form תִּשְׁמוּרֵם should probably be changed to תִּשְׁמְרוּם, since the assumption of the lengthening of the vowel (vocal Sheva) in the syllable preceding (he accent seems hardly justified by analogies like Exodus 18:26; Ruth 2:8. Comp. Hitzig on this passage. [Bött. defends the form doubtfully, and regards it as probably an illustration of the speech of the Common people. The fem. form of the verb is indicated only by the prefix, and not by its ordinary termination. See §§ 367, b, 1043, 4 and n. 3, and 1047, e. See Green, § 105, d.—A.]

Proverbs 14:5.—[יְכַזֵּב, one of Böttcher’s examples of the “Fiens licitum,” what may or can bo; § 950, c, β; will not=can not.—A.]

Proverbs 14:6.—[בִּקֵּשׁ a “relative” perfect, like חֵרֵף and חוֹגֵן in Proverbs 14:31; “hath been seeking … and it is not,” “hath already virtually reproached his Maker,” “hath already shown mercy.”—Bött., § 950, 1.—A.]

נָקָל is undoubtedly a neuter participle, = נְקַלָּה, a trifle, a small, easy matter.

Proverbs 14:7.—[Three points come under consideration: 1) the meaning of מִנֶּגֶד לְ 2) the force of the perfect tense יָדַעְתָּ, and 3) the meaning of the connective וְ.On the first, in addition to the arguments of Z. in the exegetical notes, Rueetschi urges (as before cited, p. 140) that with verbs of motion the only natural rendering is “from before,” the לְ being justified by Deuteronomy 28:66 as well as the passage in Judges In regard to the second the simple perfect is easier than a predictive perfect; thou hast not=thou surely wilt not. Z. omits. the connective וְ in his version; “and” might be equivalent to “in case, or where thou hast not,” etc. Rueetschi somewhat more unnaturally renders “otherwise;” he obtains the very forcible meaning “otherwise thou hast not known lips of knowledge”—hast not learned their nature, and art now making this evident. De Wette agrees with Rosenmueller in rendering clause b as a relative clause—“and from him in whom thou hast not,” etc.—A.]

Proverbs 14:10.—[יִתְעָרַב - for - in final syllable under the influence of the guttural, Green, §119, 1; Bött., §§ 378, 1, 1055. In מָרַּת, derived from מָרַר, we have one of the few instances of a doubled ר. See Green, § 60, 4, a, Böttcher, § 392, 2, c.—A.]

Proverbs 14:12.—דֶּרֶךְ is used in the first clause as masc., in the second as fem. In the historical books, Jerem. and Proyerbs, this confusion is common. see Bött., §§ 657, 2; 877, i.e.—A.]

Proverbs 14:13.—The suffix in וְאַהֲרִיתָהּ refers to the following שִׂמְחָה, as in the passages cited above in connection with Proverbs 13:4, To divide וְאַהֲרִית הַשׂ׀ (J.D Michaelis, Hitzig) is an alteration altogether unnecessary in the case before us, where the expression “joy” in clause b is nothing but a repetition of that of “laughter” in clause a.

Proverbs 14:14.—To change to וּמִמַעֲלָלָיו (L. Capellus, Jaeger, etc.), or to מֵעַלָּיו (Elster, comp. Ewald) is plainly needless in view of the simple and obvious interpretation of מֵעָלָיו given in the notes.

[Bött. proposes with great confidence to amend clause b by substituting for אִישׁ the verb יָמִישׁ; §§ 460, 2, a, and. 1143, 6; “good will depart from him.”—A.]

Proverbs 14:15.—[Observe the emphatic change of accent and vocalization in פֶתִי.]

Proverbs 14:17.—In view of the explanation which may be given of the text, attempted emendations appear needless and inappropriate, such, e.g; as Ewald’s, who proposes instead of יִשָׂנֵא to read יְשַׁוֶּא (“he quiets his anger,” “keeps his equanimity”); or that of Hitzig, who to secure the same meaning reads יִשְׁאַן etc. [Rueetschi emphatically defends the received text.]

Proverbs 14:18.—[Observe the change of tense; נָחֲלוּ) “Perfectum repentinum” used of that which is easily and quickly done; יַכְתִּירוּ “Fiens licitum,” are disposed or inclined to wait, etc. Bött., §§ 950, B; 940, 2; 943, c, a.—A.]

Proverbs 14:25.—[יָפִּיחַ as in Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 19:5; Proverbs 19:9, an irregular participial form.]

Proverbs 14:28.—רָזוֹן is a collateral form of רוֹזֵן as עָשׁוֹק of עוֹשֵׁק. The expression hero stands as a parallel to מֶלֶךְ, as the plural רוֹזְנִם often stands side by side with מְלָכִים.

Proverbs 14:30.—[בְּשָׂרִים, plural, probably, on account of the following עֲצָמוֹת. Bött. however (§ 695, 5) explains it as an example of the “pluralis extensivus” used also of the entire, the complete, the large,—“the life of the whole body.”—A.]


1.Proverbs 14:1-7. On wisdom and folly in general.—Woman’s wisdom buildeth her house. [See critical notes]. It is plain that in contrast with this wisdom of the godly we are to understand by “folly” in clause b especially woman’s folly.—With Proverbs 14:2, a, compare Proverbs 10:9; with b, Proverbs 2:15; Proverbs 3:32.

Proverbs 14:3. In the fool’s mouth is a rod for his pride,—lit., “a rod of pride.” [Is this genitive subjective or objective? a rod which his pride uses, for himself, or others, or both, as it has been variously understood,—or a rod by which his pride is itself chastised ? The antithesis commends the latter, which is the view of Bertheau, Kamph., etc., as well as Z. According to S., “pride” is the subject and not, a limiting genitive—A.] Hitzig unnecessarily proposes to understand נַאֲוָה in the sense of גֵו “back,” a meaning which even in Job 41:7 hardly belongs to the word [although given by Aquila, Jerome, etc.] (Comp. Delitzsch on the passage.)—But the lips of the wise preserve them.—For the construction comp. Proverbs 11:6; Proverbs 12:6, etc.; for the meaning, Proverbs 10:13-14.

Proverbs 14:4. Where there are no oxen the crib remaineth empty.—אֵבוּם, “crib,” not “stall” (Umbreit); בָּר, in itself meaning “pure, clean,” is here “empty;” so sometimes ’נָקִי. The drift of the proverb is not quite the same as in Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 13:8 (a commendation of moderate wealth as a means of doing good and as a preservative from spiritual want). Rather is this the probable meaning: “He who will develop his wealth to a gratifying abundance must employ the appropriate means; for “nothing costs nothing, but brings nothing in” (Elster, Hitzig).—With Proverbs 14:5 comp. Proverbs 12:17; with b in particular Proverbs 6:19.

Proverbs 14:6. The scorner hath sought wisdom, and findeth it not,—lit., “and it is not,” comp. Proverbs 13:7. The bearing of this proverb is plainly directed against that superficial, trivial, seeming culture of the scoffers at religion, (who, in the perverted sense of the word, are “the enlightened”), which lacks all genuine earnestness, and for that very reason all really deep knowledge and discernment.—But to the man of understanding is knowledge given.—See critical notes.

Proverbs 14:7. Go from the presence of the foolish man.—So Luther had already correctly rendered; also De Wette, Bertheau, Elster; for מִנֶגֶּד [from the front, from before] does not describe motion directly toward or at one (Ewald, comp. Umbreit), but remoteness from him, as Isaiah 1:16; Amos 9:3; and for the connection with לְ which, it is true, is unusual, comp. Judges 20:34. [See critical notes].—Hitzig, following the LXX and Syr. vers., writes the first word of the verse כֹּל instead of לֵךְ, and in clause b reads כְּלִי־דַּעַת instead of בַּל יָדַעְתָּ, from which the meaning is obtained “The foolish man hath every thing before him, but lips of knowledge are a receptacle of Understanding” (LXX: ὅπλα δὰαἰσθήσεως). But the idea of the second clause experiences in this way no possible improvement, but only an injury (observe the tautological character of the expressions “lips of knowledge” and “receptacle or vessel of knowledge”), and for this reason we should retain the meaning given above for the first clause also.—In clause b the verb is a proper perfect, “thou hast not known or recognized lips of knowledge,” this is, if thou soughtest any such thing in him. [W. is wrong in rendering “over against,” and “wilt not know.”—A.]

2.Proverbs 14:8-19. Further delineation of the wise and the foolish, especially with reference to their contrasted lot in life.—The wisdom of the wise is to understand his way,—lit., “observe his way.” For this use of the verb with the accusative, in the sense of to “observe or consider something,” comp. Proverbs 7:7; Psalms 5:2. For the sentiment of the verse comp. Proverbs 13:16, and Proverbs 14:15 below.—The folly of fools is deception.—“Deceit” here in the sense of self-deception, imposition on self, blindness, which is at last followed by a fearful self-sobering, a coming to a consciousness of the real state of the case (comp. Psalms 7:15; Job 15:35).

Proverbs 14:9. The sacrifice maketh sport of fools,i.e., the expiatory sacrifice which ungodly fools offer to God is utterly useless, fails of its object, inasmuch as it does not gain the favor of God, which is, on the contrary, to be found only among the upright (lit., “between upright men,” i.e., in the fellowship of the upright or honorable, comp. Luke 2:14). Thus Bertheau, Ewald, Elster [Stuart and Wordsworth], etc., while the majority, disregarding the singular member in the verb, translate “Fools make a mock at sin” [E. V., M., N., H.] (“make sport with sin,” Umbreit, comp. Luther). [Hodgson, rightly conceiving the grammatical relation, but making both subject and object concrete, renders “sinners mock at fools”]. Hitzig here again proposes violent emendations, and obtains the meaning “The tents (?) of the foolish are overthrown (??) in punishment; the house (?) of the upright is well pleasing.”

Proverbs 14:10. The heart knoweth its own bitterness,—lit., “a heart knoweth the trouble of its soul,” i.e., what one lacks one always knows best one’s self; therefore the interference of strangers will always be somewhat disturbing. If this be so, then it follows that it is also not advisable “to meddle with one’s joy,” and this is the point that is urged in clause b. A precept applicable unconditionally to all cases is of course not designed here. The author of our proverbs will hardly be put in antagonism to what the Apostle enjoins in Romans 12:15. It is rather a hard and intrusive manifestation of sympathy in the joy and sorrow of one’s neighbor, that is to be forbidden.—With 11, a, comp. Proverbs 12:7; Job 18:15; with b, Isaiah 27:6.—With Proverbs 14:12, a, comp. Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 16:2.—But the end thereof are ways of death,i.e., the way of vice, which at the beginning appears straight (the way is not directly described as the way of vice, yet is plainly enough indicated as such), at length merges itself wholly in paths that lead down to mortal ruin; comp. Proverbs 14:4; Proverbs 7:27.—The same verse appears again below in Proverbs 16:25.Proverbs 14:13. Even in laughter the heart will be (perchance) sad.—The Imperf. of the verb here expresses a possible case, something that may easily and often occur. The contrasted condition is suggested by Ecclesiastes 7:4 : “Though the face be sad, the heart may yet be glad.” [Notwithstanding Holden’s observation, that “though sorrow may be occasioned by laughter, it does not exist in it,” it is a deeper truth, that in circumstances producing a superficial joyousness, there is often an underlying, profounder sorrow.—A.]—And the end of joy is sorrow [not by a mere emotional reaction, but] in such a case as this; the heart, which under all apparent laughter is still sad, feels and already anticipates the evil that will soon have wholly transformed the gladness into grief.

Proverbs 14:14. He that is of a perverse heart shall be satisfied with his own ways, i.e., he who has departed from God (lit., “he that is turned aside in heart,” comp. Psalms 44:19) is surfeited with his own ways, partakes of the ruinous results of his sinful action; comp. Proverbs 12:14; Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 28:19.—But a good man (shall be satisfied) from him, i.e., the good man solaces himself in the contemplation of the wicked and his fate (Proverbs 29:16; Job 22:19; Psalms 37:34; Psalms 58:11); or, it may be, the upright man enters into the possession of the good which the other loses (comp. Proverbs 11:8; Proverbs 11:29; Proverbs 13:22). מֵעָלָיו, strictly “from with him,” expresses here this idea,—“from that which belongs to him as its foundation” (Hitzig), and therefore “from his experience, from the sorrowful occurrences of life in which he is deservedly involved.” [E. V., H., N., M. render reflexively “from himself,” and make the experiences parallel; each shall be satisfied “with his own ways,” or “from himself.” The third pers. suffix has this reflexive meaning after מֵעַל distinctly in 1 Samuel 17:22; 1 Samuel 17:39; Jonah 3:6. The suffix in clause a is reflexive, “his own ways,” and we must regard the same construction as the simplest and most natural in b—A.]

Proverbs 14:15. The simple believeth every word,—Elster: “every thing.” But as objects of belief, it is, in the first instance and most directly, words alone that come under consideration, and reference is made here precisely to the unreliableness of words as used by men, as in Proverbs 6:1 sq.; Proverbs 10:19; Ecclesiastes 5:1 sq.; Psalms 116:11, etc.—With clause b compare above Proverbs 14:8 a.

Proverbs 14:16. With clause a compare Proverbs 16:6; Proverbs 16:17.—The fool is presuming and confident.—Comp. Proverbs 21:24; Proverbs 28:16. The latter of these descriptive terms unquestionably describes a false security, and carnal arrogance, which is the opposite of the fear of God. The former epithet means “self-exalting, bearing one’s self insolently,” or it may be (like the Kal conj. of the same verb in Proverbs 22:3) “boldly rushing on, overriding” (Hitzig, comp. Luther, “rushes wildly through”).

Proverbs 14:17. He that is quick to anger worketh folly.—Strictly, “he who foams up quickly, who flies into a passion, “contrasted with the man who is “slow to anger,” Proverbs 14:29. [אַפַּיִם, the nostrils, then the breathing, which by its quietness or its excitement, marks the state of the temper].—And the man of wicked devices is hated.—Literally, “the man of shrewd reflections, well contrived counsels” (comp. remarks on Proverbs 1:4, and also Proverbs 12:2; Proverbs 24:8; Psalms 37:7), who is not here set as a contrast, but as a counterpart to the passionate man; the crafty and subtle man, who, in spite of all his show of mildness, is still as thoroughly hated as the irascible and passionate man. The relation of the two clauses is accordingly not antithetic, but that of a logical parallel. With one manifestation of an evil disposition another is immediately associated, with a suggestion of the results which are in accordance with it; comp. Proverbs 10:10; Proverbs 10:18.

Proverbs 14:18. But the wise shall embrace knowledge.—יַכְתִּירוּ (comp. Ps. 142:8), literally, “surround, enclose,” cannot here mean “they crown themselves, or are crowned” [the verb is not reflexive] (Umbreit, comp. Luther [De W., E. V., H., N., S., M., W.]), but, as the parallel verb in clause a indicates, must convey simply the meaning of “laying hold upon,” i.e., gathering, accumulating [so Fuerst, Bertheau, Kamph., etc.].

Proverbs 14:19. And the wicked at the doors of the righteous,i.e., they bow there (the verb is to be repeated from the first clause). The figure lying at the basis of this representation is that of the ambassadors of a conquered people, who, kneeling at the doors of their conqueror’s palace, await his command. For the general sentiment comp. Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 13:22; also Psalms 37:25, etc.

3.Proverbs 14:20-27. On riches and poverty in their causal connection with wisdom and folly.—The poor is hated even by his neighbor.—Comp. Proverbs 19:4; Sir 6:7 sq.; Proverbs 12:8 sq. Numerous parallels from classic authors (e.g., Theognis, V. 621, 697; Ovid, Trist., I., 9, 5, 6), and also from Rabbinical and Arabic authors, may be found in Umbreit’s Commentary in loco. “Is hated,” i.e., “is repelled as disagreeable, is obnoxious” (comp. Deuteronomy 20:15; Malachi 1:3). How this may come to pass, how former friendship between two persons may be transformed into its opposite on account of the impoverishment of one of them, is impressively illustrated by our Lord’s parable of the neighbor whom a friend asks for three loaves (comp. Luke 11:6-8.)

Proverbs 14:21. Whosoever despiseth his friend is a sinner, i.e., he who neglects a friend that has fallen into destitution (comp. Proverbs 14:20 a), who does not render him assistance, sins just as surely as his act is praiseworthy who is compassionate to the poor or wretched (read עֲנִיִּים with the K’thibh). With the benediction in clause b compare Proverbs 17:20.

Proverbs 14:22. Do they not err that devise evil?—The figurative expression “carve evil” (comp. Proverbs 3:29; Proverbs 6:14) has as its counterpart in the second clause the kindred figure “carve out good,” i.e., contrive or devise good (bona machinari). Instead of יִתְעוּ “they err, or go astray ” (comp. Job 15:31) Hitzig reads יֵֹדְעוּ (from רעע): “Ought it not to go ill with them that devise evil?” But the language of the text characterizes with sufficient strength and clearness the unsettled and disastrous condition of those who have departed from God’s ways.—And are not mercy and truth with those that devise good?—The interrogative particle affects the second clause as well as the first (so Umbreit, and doubtless correctly, in opposition to most modern interpreters [e.g., E. V., De W., Bertheau, H., M., S., K, while Noyes agrees with our author]). The construction is like that in Proverbs 13:18.—“Mercy and truth” are probably God’s manifestations of Himself toward them, as in Genesis 32:11; Psalms 61:7, and not human attributes, as above in Proverbs 3:3 (see note in loco), or as in Proverbs 16:6; Proverbs 20:28. [So Trapp and others, while M. and S. make them human,—M. making these the experience, and S. the action of those who devise good.—A.]

Proverbs 14:23. In all labor there is profit, but idle talk (leadeth) only to want.—(Comp. Proverbs 11:24; Proverbs 21:5); in the latter passage “profit” and “want” are contrasted precisely as here.—“Idle talk;” in the Hebrew literally, “word of the lips;” comp. Isaiah 36:5; Job 11:2; Job 15:3. The sentiment of the entire verse is moreover plain: “One should beware of idle talk more than of the hardest toil” (Bertheau). Comp. Matthew 12:36.

Proverbs 14:24. The crown of the wise is their riches, i.e. the well-earned possessions of the wise become his honor, are a real adornment to him, for which he is with good reason praised. “The folly of fools, on the other hand, is and continues folly,” though ho may ever so much parade and swell with it, though he may in particular studiously employ any riches he may chance to possess in splendidly decorating himself, and giving himself a magnificent appearance by all manner of outward trifles and finery (comp. Bertheau, Umbreit, Elster on this passage). [Trapp: “Why, was it not foolishness before they were rich? Yes, but now it is become egregious foolishness”].—Hitzig has here again needlessly felt constrained to amend. He reads in clause a “their prudence,” עָרְמָם, and in clause b, as the subject, “ostentation,” אוּלַת instead of אִוֶּלֶת; so he obtains the meaning, “The crown of the wise is their prudence (?); the pomp of fools is—drunken (??).”

Proverbs 14:25. A true witness delivereth souls, i.e. from the death involved in some false charge brought against them before the court, and which therefore threatens them in case a truthful witness does not clear them and bring their innocence to light.—But he that uttereth lies (comp. Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 6:19) is a cheat.—Compare Proverbs 12:17, where, however, “deceit” מִרְמָה is object of the preceding verb “showeth forth,” and not predicate. Here the abstract “deception” stands emphatically for the concrete, “a deceitful man, one without substance or reliableness;” comp. above Proverbs 14:8, b. [Rueetschi (as above, p. 142) would simplify the construction by retaining מַצִּיל as the common predicate of both clauses, and would give to the second object the meaning “wrongful or unrighteous possession,” citing as a parallel Jeremiah 5:27. We cannot commend the suggestion.—A.] Hitzig instead of “deceit” (מִרְמָה) reads מְרַמֶּה “he destroyeth” (i.e. souls), in order to obtain as exact an antithesis as possible to the “delivereth” in the first clause.

Proverbs 14:26. In the fear of Jehovah is strong security, or, the fear of Jehovah is strong security, is a sure reliance; for the preposition may properly stand before the subject as the בְּ essentiæ, as in Isaiah 26:4; Isaiah 57:6 (so Hitzig).—And to His children He will be a refuge.—“To His children,” i.e. doubtless to His worshippers, those faithful to Him, who for that very reason are His favorites and objects of His care (comp. Deuteronomy 14:1). This reference of the suffix to Jehovah Himself is unquestionably more natural than to refer it to the pious, an idea which must first be very artificially extracted from the “fear of Jehovah” (contrary to the view of Umbreit, Ewald, Bebtheau, Eister, [H., N., M., S]). Hitzig reads לְבֹנָיו “to its builders,” i.e., to them who seek to build up that strong fortress, that “security” of the fear of Jehovah (?). With Proverbs 14:27 comp. Proverbs 13:14. [Rueetschi (as above, p. 142) supports the idea rejected by Zöckler, that the divine protection extends to the children and the children’s children of such as honor God. Although not without grammatical warrant for the construction, and conveying beautifully a precious scriptural truth, we must regard the rendering as here somewhat forced.—A.]

4.Proverbs 14:28-35. Continued parallels between the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor—with the addition of the closely related comparison of masters and servants.—From want of people (cometh) the downfall of the prince. “People” (לְאִֹם) as in Proverbs 11:26. Whether in the choice of the word rendered “prince” there is a hidden allusion to the ordinary meaning, “consumption” (Hitzig, comp. Umbreit). must remain in doubt. For this use of מְזִמָּה, downfall, ruin, comp. Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 13:3.

Proverbs 14:29. He that is slow to anger is great in understanding.—Literally, he that is long or slow in anger, βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν, James 1:19; therefore, the forbearing, the patient. “Great, i.e. rich in understanding” (comp. “great in acts,” 2 Samuel 23:20); comp. the Latin multus prudentia.—But he that is hasty in spirit (quick-tempered) oxalteth folly, i.e. makes much of it, carries it to excess. Thus Hitzig, and doubtless correctly, while the majority take the verb in the sense of “to exalt before the view of men,” manifestare, declarare, for which idea however the parallel passages Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16 are by no means conclusive [H., S., M., W. all take this view].

Proverbs 14:30. The life of the body is a quiet spirit.—Lit., “life of the members (see Critical Notes) is a heart of quietness” (מַרְפֵּא not meaning here “health,” but composuic, a tranquil condition, as in Proverbs 15:4; Ecclesiastes 10:4).—But passion the rottenness of the bones.—Comp. Proverbs 12:4, and for this use of קִנְאָה, “passionate zeal,” violent excitement in general (not specifically envy or jealousy) Job 5:2.

Proverbs 14:31. With clause a compare Proverbs 17:5, with b, Proverbs 19:17 a, and above Proverbs 14:21.

Proverbs 14:32. By his wickedness is the wicked driven forth, driven forth, i.e.,. from life; he is by a violent death swept away from this earthly life (comp. Psalms 36:12; Psalms 62:3),—But the righteous hath hope (even) in his death. Ho “is confident,” viz. in Jehovah; comp. Psalms 17:7, where the same absolute use of the participle “trusting” occurs (the “trustful” in general, believers). As in Proverbs 11:7, and if possible even more distinctly than in that passage, we have expressed hero a hope in the continuance of the individual life after death, and a just retribution in the future world. Hitzig, to avoid this admission, reads in accordance with the LXX (ἐν τῇ ἑαυτοῦ ὁσιότητι) בְּתֻמּוֹ, in his uprightness, “but in his innocence doth the righteous trust.” But may not this divergent reading of the LXX owe its origin to the endeavor to gain an antithesis as exact as possible to the “in his wickedness” of the first clause? [Rueetschi (as last cited) preserves the recognition of a hope of immortality and also the poetical parallelism, by giving to the word “evil,” רָעָה, a physical rather than an ethical meaning: “in his misfortune (or adversity) the wicked is overthrown, but the righteous has confidence even in his death.” For the wicked all hope is gone. This seems to us a happy reconciliation of the grammatical and spiritual demands of the two parts of the verse.—A.]

Proverbs 14:33. In the heart of a man of understanding doth wisdom rest, i.e. quietly, silently; comp. Proverbs 10:14; Proverbs 12:16; Proverbs 12:23, and for this use of the verb 1 Samuel 25:9.—But in the midst of fools it maketh itself known, i.e.,. not “fools draw out the wisdom of the wise,” which is naturally quiet, in opposition to them and their folly (Hitzig), but, fools carry their wisdom, which is, however, in fact, only folly, always upon their tongues, and seek most assiduously to make it known (comp. Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 15:2). The expression is pointed and ironical, and yet not for that reason unintelligible, especially after expressions like those in Proverbs 14:8; Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 14:24, etc. It is therefore unnecessary with the Chaldee version to supply the noun “folly” again with the verb.

Proverbs 14:34. Righteousness exalteth a nation. Righteousness, צְדָקָה, is here used with a very comprehensive import, of religious and moral rectitude in every relation and direction, and is therefore not to be restricted, as it is by many recent commentators (Umbreit, Hitzig, etc.), to the idea of virtue. Just as little is the idea of “exalting” to be identified with the idea of “honoring” (as Elster, Hitzig, etc., would have it); it is rather a general elevation and advancement of the condition of the people that is to be indicated by the term; comp. above, Proverbs 14:29.—But Bin is a reproach to the people.—For the Aramaic term חֶסֶד, “shame,” comp. Proverbs 28:22 (also Proverbs 25:10), and Job 6:14. And yet in this national reproach and disgrace there is to be included the corresponding injury and misery of other kinds, so that in this view there is a certain justification for the Vulgate’s rendering, “miseros facit” (which however rests upon the different reading וְחִסַּר; comp. the LXX and the Syr. vers.), and for Luther’s “Verderderben,” destruction.

Proverbs 14:35. With clause a comp. Proverbs 16:12.—But his wrath will find out the base,—lit., “his wrath will the base be;” comp., e.g., Proverbs 11:1, where “his abomination” means the object of his abhorrence. To supply the preposition “to,” לְ, from clause a, is therefore needless (in opposition to the view of Umbreit, Bertheau).


The representation of the entire chapter is plainly shaped by the contrast between the wise and the foolish, and it is only toward the end (Proverbs 14:20 sq.) that the kindred contrast between the rich and the poor, and at the very last (Proverbs 14:27 sq.) that between rulers and servants, is added.—Ethical truths to which a significant prominence is given, are contained especially in the following proverbs:

Proverbs 14:1. The building of the house by the wisdom of woman. “Only the characteristic wisdom of woman (not that of the man) is able to ‘build itself a house,’ i.e., to make possible a household in the true sense of the word; for the woman alone has the capacity circumspectly to look through the multitude of individual household wants, and carefully to satisfy them; and also because the various activities of the members of the family can be combined in a harmonious unity only by the influence, partly regulative and partly fostering, of a feminine character, gently but steadily efficient. But where there is wanting to the mistress of the house this wisdom attainable only by her and appropriate to her, then that is irrecoverably lost which first binds in a moral fellowship those connected by relationship of blood—that which makes the house from a mere place of abode to become the spiritual nursery of individuals organically associated.” (Elster).

Proverbs 14:6. The impossibility of uniting a frivolous disposition and jests at religion with true wisdom and understanding. “It is not by a one-sided action of the thinking power, but only by undivided consecration of the whole nature to God, which therefore involves above all other things a right relation of the spiritual nature to Him, that true knowledge in Divine things can be attained. The wise man, however, who has found the true beginning of wisdom, in bowing his inmost will before the Divine, not as something to be mastered by the understanding, but as something to be simply sought as a grace by the renunciation of the very self,—he can easily on this ground which God’s own power makes productive, attain a rich development of the understanding.” (Elster.)

Proverbs 14:10. The disturbing influence of an uninvited interference in the sorrow and the joy of one’s neighbor. “Every one has his own circle of sorrows and joys, which his neighbor must leave to him as a quiet sanctuary for himself. For in the liveliest sympathy of which one may ever be conscious, it will still often be altogether impossible to enter into the peculiarity of others’ sensibility with such a participation as is really beneficent. Therefore a Turkish proverb (in Von Hammer, Morgenl. Kleebl., p. 68) also says ‘Eat thine own grief and trouble not thyself for another’s’ ” (Umbreit).—Comp. above, our exegetical notes on this passage.

Proverbs 14:12. The self-deception of many men in regard to their courses, imagined to be healthful, but in reality leading to eternal ruin. Comp. Melanchthon: “The admonition relates to the mistiness and weakness of man’s judgment, and his many and great errors in counsel, for it is manifest that men often err in judging and in their deliberations. Now they are deceived either by their own imaginations, or by the example of others, or by habit, etc., and being deceived, they rush on all the more fascinated by the devil, as is written of Judas in John 13:27.”

Proverbs 14:14. The fool ever accumulating nothing but folly, and the wise man gaining in knowledge. Like Proverbs 14:24 this proverb is especially instructive with respect to the deep inner connection that exists on the one hand between foolish notions, and a poor, unattractive, powerless earthly position, destitute of all influence,—and on the other hand between true wisdom and large ability in the department both of the material and the spiritual. Von Gerlach pointedly says, “There is a certain power of attraction, according as a man is wise or foolish; the possessions also which the one or the other attains, are in accordance with his disposition.”

Proverbs 14:28. A sentiment directed against feeble princes who nevertheless array themselves with disproportionate splendor; and this, as also Proverbs 14:34, is designed to call attention to the principle, that it is not external and seeming advantages, but simply and solely the inward competence and moral excellence, whether of the head or of the members of a commonwealth, that are the conditions of its temporal welfare.

Proverbs 14:31. Compassion to the poor is true service of God; comp. James 1:27. Since God has created both rich and poor (1 Samuel 2:7), since He designs that they shall exist side by side and intermixed (Proverbs 22:2), since the poor and lowly man is in like manner a being created in His image (James 3:9), therefore he who deals heartlessly and violently with the poor insults that Being Himself who is the Maker and Ruler of all. The compassionate, on the contrary, discerns and honors His disposition toward His creatures, and the love which he manifests toward them, even the humblest and most unworthy, is in fact manifested toward God Himself; comp. Matthew 25:40.

Proverbs 14:32. The confidence which the righteous man possesses even in his death. Compare the exegetical explanation of the passage.


Homily on the entire chapter: The wisdom and folly of men considered in their respective foundations, natures and results; and 1) within the sphere of domestic life (Proverbs 14:1-7); 2) within that of civil life (Proverbs 14:8-25); 3) within that of political or national life (Proverbs 14:26-35).—Stöcker: Of human wisdom as the fruit of a right culture,—and 1) of the wisdom of domestic life (prudentia œconomica, Proverbs 14:1-25); 2) of the wisdom of public life (prudentia politica, Proverbs 14:26-35). Starke: The results of piety and ungodliness 1) in the household, and in social life generally (1–25); 2) in the relations of rulers in particular (26–35).

Proverbs 14:1-7. Berleburg Bible:—That wise women build their house, is to be understood not so much of the edifice consisting of wood, stone, plaster, as rather of the family and the household economy, which a wise woman always strives to keep in good condition and to improve. Psalms 127:1.—Tübingen Bible (on Proverbs 14:3): He who is wise keepeth his mouth and still more his heart, that he may not in connection with outward consideration and high dignities fall into pride.—(On Proverbs 14:4): He that doth not work also shall not eat; the poverty of many springs from this, that they lack industry and diligence.—Starke (on Proverbs 14:6): He who in seeking wisdom has for his end pride and ambition, will never attain true wisdom, unless he changes his views.—(On Proverbs 14:7): Evil one always learns more quickly and easily than good; therefore avoid evil company.—[A. Fuller (on Proverbs 14:6): If our inquiries be influenced by a spirit of pride and self-sufficiency, we shall stumble at every thing we meet with; but he who knows his own weakness and conducts his inquiries with humility, shall find knowledge easy of attainment.—Arnot: Those who reject the Bible want the first qualification of a philosopher, a humble and teachable spirit. The problem for man is not to reject all masters, but to accept the rightful One. Submission absolute to the living God, as revealed in the Mediator, is at once the best liberty that could be, and the only liberty that is.—Trapp (on Proverbs 14:6): He that would have heavenly knowledge must first quit his heart of corrupt affections and high conceits.]

Proverbs 14:8-17. Tübingen Bible (on Proverbs 14:8):—Steady watchfulness and attention to one’s self is a great wisdom.—(On Proverbs 14:9): To make sport of sin is the height of wickedness.—Starke (on Proverbs 14:10): He who knoweth the heart alone knoweth the needs of thy heart, which no other besides doth know. He can likewise give thee joy where no other can create it for thee.—(On Proverbs 14:16): Reverence and love to God must be with us the strongest motive to avoid sin.—(On Proverbs 14:17): Between the hasty trespasses of passionate natures, and the deliberate wickedness of malicious man, there is always a great distinction to be made—Von Gerlach (on Proverbs 14:10): How hard it is to console and soothe others, Job’s answers to the discourses of his friends are a signal illustration.—-(On Proverbs 14:12): In connection with the deceptive, seductive show made by impiety, it is important to give more careful heed to one’s way in life.—(On Proverbs 14:17): A man who quickly falls into a passion does indeed commit a folly, but yet is far preferable to the coldly and selfishly calculating villain. One may well be indignant at the first—the last makes himself odious.—[Lord Bacon (Advancement of Learning, Book VIII.), on Proverbs 14:8; Proverbs 14:15 : He who applies himself to the true wisdom takes heed of his own ways, foreseeing dangers, preparing remedies, employing the assistance of the good, guarding himself against the wicked, cautious in entering upon a work, not unprepared for a retreat, watchful to seize opportunities, strenuous to remove impediments, and attending to many other things which concern the government of his own actions and proceedings. But the other kind of wisdom is entirely made up of deceits and cunning tricks, laying all its hope in the circumventing of others, and moulding them to its pleasure; which kind the proverb denounces as being not only dishonest, but also foolish, etc.—T. Adams (on Proverbs 14:9): Mocking is the medium or connection that brings together the fool and sin; thus he makes himself merry; they meet in mockery. Through many degrees men climb to that height of impiety. This is an extreme progress, and almost the journey’s end of wickedness.—Arnot (on Proverbs 14:10): The solitude of a human being in either extremity of the experiences of the human heart is sublime and solemnizing. Whether you are glad or grieved, you must be alone.—(On Proverbs 14:12): The result accords not with the false opinion, but with the absolute truth of the case. There is a way which is right, whatever it may seem to the world, and the end thereof is life. God’s way of coming to us in mercy is also our way of coming to Him in peace.—(On Proverbs 14:15): Trust is a lovely thing; but it cannot stand unless it get truth to lean upon.—John Howe, (on Proverbs 14:14): The good man is not the first fountain of happiness to himself, but a subordinate one a good man is, and so is satisfied from himself—a fountain fed from a higher fountain—by derivation from Him who is all in all, and more intimate to us than we ourselves. But the wicked man is the prime and first fountain of all misery to himself.—Flavel: The upright is satisfied from himself, that is, from his own conscience, which, though it be not the original spring, yet is the conduit at which he drinks peace, joy and encouragement.—R. South (on Proverbs 14:18): 30th of Posthumous Sermons].

Proverbs 14:18-25. Zeltner (on Proverbs 14:19): Bear patiently the pride of the ungodly; it lasts not long.—Starke (on Proverbs 14:20-21): The many promises that God will graciously reward kindness to the poor must make the Christian joyous and willing in labors of love.—(On Proverbs 14:22): Virtue and piety reward those who cherish them, but vices and sins cause nothing but pain and trouble.—Geier (on Proverbs 14:23): Prating and boastful men are like an empty vessel; if one strike it, it does indeed give forth a sound, but for all that nothing goes in.—(On Proverbs 14:25): Be intent upon truth in thy words, gestures, acts, and in thy whole walk.

Proverbs 14:26-35. Starke (on Proverbs 14:28): It is the duty of the lords of the land to see to it that their land be well cultivated, and in particular that “mercy and truth dwell in the land, righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Psalms 85:11).—(On Proverbs 14:29): Impatience opposes the will of God, and is therefore the greatest folly.—(On Proverbs 14:30): Passion and wrath shorten the life, and care makes old before one’s time.—(On Proverbs 14:31): Despise no man, be he ever so humble, for thou knowest not but in that act thou art despising a true child of God.—(On Proverbs 14:32): There is surely a future life to be hoped for after death; otherwise how could the righteous be so comforted in their death?—(On Proverbs 14:34): Sin is the cause of all misery under the sun.—(On Proverbs 14:35): If the fidelity of his subjects is pleasing to a king, how much more will God take pleasure if one serves Him faithfully and with the whole heart, through the strength of Jesus Christ!—[Arnot (on Proverbs 14:25): The safety provided for God’s children is confidence in Himself, the strong tower into which the righteous run.—(On Proverbs 14:31): The necessary dependence of human duty upon Divine faith.—S. Davies (on Proverbs 14:32): 1) Every righteous man has a substantial reason to hope, whether he clearly see it or not; 2) Good men in common do in fact enjoy a comfortable hope; 3) The hope which the righteous hath shall be accomplished.—Saurin (on Proverbs 14:34): As there is nothing in religion to counteract the design of a wise system of civil polity, so there is nothing in a wise system of civil government to counteract the design of the Christian religion. The exaltation of the nation is the end of civil polity. Righteousness is the end of religion, or rather is religion itself.—Emmons (on Proverbs 14:34): It is the nature of sin 1) to lessen and diminish a people; 2) to sink and depress the spirit of a people; 3) to destroy the wealth of a people; 4) to deprive them of the blessings of freedom; 5) to provoke the displeasure of God and draw down His judgments.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Proverbs 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/proverbs-14.html. 1857-84.
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