Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 14

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verse 1

Pro 14:1

Proverbs 14:1

"Every wise woman buildeth her house; But the foolish plucketh it down with her own hands."

The hands as used here is a synecdoche for the woman’s total behavior. This writer remembers a young banker, many years ago, whose wife, in public gatherings, such as receptions, habitually made derogatory remarks about her husband, apparently unaware that she was wrecking his career and her own as well. She was an excellent illustration of the second clause here. "If Laban and Potiphar were blessed because of helpful and godly servants, how much more must Providence favor the house that has a wise and faithful wife"?

Proverbs 14:1. People can either build or pluck down. The wise build (Proverbs 24:3-5); the foolish destroy. Owners usually build and take care of things; renters often let everything run down. Rachel and Leah are said to have built the house of Israel (Ruth 4:11). Contrast the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 with the adulterous woman often pictured in the first part of Proverbs with reference to building and destroying.

Verses 1-35

Pro 14:1-35

Proverbs Contrasting the Upright and the Wicked

(Proverbs 14:1-35):

"Every wise woman builds her house; But the foolish plucks it down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1). We shall build the case of the "worthy woman" from this study. As we compile acceptable and unacceptable behavior in an approved woman of God we shall be better equipped to study Proverbs 31:10 ff. Solomon has previously said, "A gracious woman obtains honor..." (Proverbs 11:16). God’s approved woman is kind and courteous to all. The worthy woman will not be wily of heart nor clamorous with her mouth so that she would bring shame to herself and her husband (Proverbs 7:9-12). The worthy woman will be one of discretion rather than acting shameful (see Proverbs 11:22). We have seen that discretion belongs to the wise and the wise are not slothful (Proverbs 6:6 -and neither would she be heard speaking words of gossip or perversion (Proverbs 6:12). This woman will be greatly concerned about the spiritual welfare of her children (Proverbs 10:1). The worthy woman is a "crown of her husband" in that he trust her and is not ashamed of her ways (Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 7:17-20). The godly woman is now depicted as one who "builds her house" as opposed to the foolish woman who "plucks it down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1). Solomon had wrote at Proverbs 9:1 that wisdom builds her house upon seven pillars. The seven "pillars" of wisdom may be identified as truth, instruction, knowledge, understanding, prudence / discretion, a diligent work ethic, and the fear of the Lord. The wise woman will apply these principles to her approach of her house. Again, Solomon later writes, "Through wisdom is a house builded; and by understanding it is established" (Proverbs 24:3). Those who so live will live a life of great reward now and forever (Proverbs 12:28). The foolish woman; however, destroys her house by ignoring the principles of wisdom and bringing great trouble to her home (see Proverbs 11:29; Proverbs 12:7; Proverbs 15:27).

"He that walks in his uprightness fears Jehovah; But he that is perverse in his ways despises him" (Proverbs 14:2). Solomon has precisely identified what it means to "fear Jehovah:" Fearing God means to be wise (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10). It means to depart from all forms of evil (Proverbs 3:7). When one fears the Lord they hate pride, arrogance, evil, the evil way, and a perverse mouth (Proverbs 8:13). Now, Solomon adds that the man who "fears Jehovah" is the man who "walks in his uprightness.” Here is a man that not only claims to know, believe, and love God but he is obedient in all ways to the Lord.

The perverted do not fear God but rather "despise him." The Apostle Peter stated that it is the false teachers who "despise dominion" (i.e., authority)" (2 Peter 2:10). The point is that those who claim to love God yet despise His divine authorized ways are plainly identified as "perverse in his ways." It is obvious that man’s intentions are not measured by God but rather his actual doings.

"In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his pride; But the lips of the wise shall preserve them" (Proverbs 14:3). The fool’s tongue is likened unto a rod that that strikes its audience with words of arrogance and pride. With such language comes trouble to this person’s life (see Proverbs 13:2-3). The wise man preserves peace in his life due to a proper use of the tongue.

"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; But much increase is by the strength of the ox" (Proverbs 14:4). The New International Readers Version Bible translates the verse, "Where there are no oxen, the feed box is empty. But a strong ox brings in a great harvest." The thought seems to be that those who work hard as a strong ox will have food in the feed box. Again, the idea is that of diligence verses sloth.

"A faithful witness will not lie; But a false witness uttereth lies" (Proverbs 14:5).The "false witness" is identified as a liar (Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 14:25) and is one of the seven character traits viewed as an abomination to God (see Proverbs 6:19). The "faithful witness" gives the facts as they are. He does not spruce up a story to make himself look good. Here is one who simply tells the truth and can be trusted.

"A scoffer seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not; But knowledge is easy unto him that hath understanding" (Proverbs 14:6). The "scoffer" (one who speaks words of disdain about others) cannot stand to be told he is wrong (Proverbs 9:7-8; Proverbs 13:1) and he is "simple" (Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 1:22). The scoffer cannot find wisdom because his perception, approach, and attitude toward true wisdom is faulty. Those who want something for nothing generally find nothing. The man of understanding has no problem finding wisdom because he gives diligence, receives instruction, and has an humble approach to life.

"Go into the presence of a foolish man, And thou shalt not perceive in him the lips of knowledge" (Proverbs 14:7). What should one expect when they are in the presence of foolish men? Should we expect a mouth of truth or perversion and lies? Should we expect prudence and discretion or do we expect to see one who is careless with his deeds and mouth? Should we expect this person to have knowledge and understanding or ignorance and carelessness? Solomon tells us what to expect. You should expect to hear and see one whose lips manifest ignorance and foolishness.

"The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way; But the folly of fools is deceit" (Proverbs 14:8). The prudent man is cautious, careful, and exercises forethought. Here is a man who has great vision of the way he is to take in this life. He understand the ways of Jehovah God. The foolish; however, carelessly stumbles through life deceiving any he may with his lies to get by to the next day.

"A trespass-offering mocks fools; But among the upright there is good will" (Proverbs 14:9). The reading of other versions may help us understand this verse better. The Bible in Basic English states, " In the tents of those hating authority there is error, but in the house of the upright man there is grace." The New Century Version states, "Fools don’t care if they sin, but honest people work at being right." Again, the New Living Translation states, "Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation." The fool just really doesn’t care if what he is doing is sinful. He feels no guilt for the sin he participates in. The upright; however, care about God’s authorized word and it bothers them when they sin. They are going to do everything within their power to walk according to God’s will and when they sin they will fervently pray to the Lord and make their sacrifices of sin offerings.

"The heart knoweth its own bitterness; And a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy. The house of the wicked shall be overthrown; But the tent of the upright shall flourish" (Proverbs 14:10-11). Each person privately knows the heartaches of their lives and they also know the great joy. Words cannot express such emotions to other people. These experiences thereby belong to you alone. The house of the wicked man is overthrown with the heartaches and troubles that come with a sinful life yet the home of the righteous will experience peace, joy, and love.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12). Jeremiah said that it is not within a man to direct his own paths (Jeremiah 10:23). Man; however, attempts to do the very thing that God said he was not designed to do. When man tries to direct his steps in righteousness with his own ideas and opinions it ends in spiritual death.

"Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; And the end of mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; And a good man shall be satisfied from himself" (Proverbs 14:13-14). The wicked man may laugh at his sinful ways yet when the moment of joy wears off the backslider is heavy in heart due to the trouble he brings upon himself. The upright man; however, shall laugh and be filled with joy over the right things and therein is no end sadness of trouble.

"The simple believeth every word; But the prudent man looketh well to his going" (Proverbs 14:15). The simple is the fool who lacks prudence, discretion, knowledge, understanding, diligence, and instruction. Such a fool believes every word someone tells him. He will be deceived by men who are likened unto him in folly. The prudent man will examine all angles of a matter before making his decision.

"A wise man fears, and departs from evil; But the fool bears himself insolently, and is confident" (Proverbs 14:16). The identity of the wise man is that his attitude toward sin is hatred and when he practices the very things he hates he "fears God and departs from evil" (see also Proverbs 3:7). The consequence of sin is the wrath of God and the prudent man foresees such events and thereby reacts quickly to correct the circumstance. The foolish man; however, has no respect for the authorized word of God and thereby feels no shame or guilt for his wickedness. He is confident to a fault. No matter how confident he may be in his sin; however, truth remains truth and all will be judged thereby (see 2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:19).

"He that is soon angry will deal foolishly; And a man of wicked devices is hated" (Proverbs 14:17). Solomon wrote Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger rests in the bosom of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Those who are quick to blow their top end up saying and doing things that they latter regret. When a man reacts in anger and uses wicked devices he is generally hated by the subjects of his anger and lies.

"The simple inherit folly; But the prudent are crowned with knowledge. The evil bow down before the good; And the wicked, at the gates of the righteous " (Proverbs 14:18-19). The identity of the simple is that which he is adorned with (or inherits). The simple are clothed with folly (reckless stupidity). The attire of the prudent is a crown of knowledge. The wicked will thereby bow down before the wise in that they will be over them in prudence and discretion.

"The poor is hated even of his own neighbor; But the rich hath many friends. He that despises his neighbor sins; But he that hath pity on the poor, happy is he" (Proverbs 14:20-21). Here is one of those factual matters of life. People who are poor, no matter how they obtained that status, are not as well loved as those who have riches of this world. The tendency of people is to hate the needy poor neighbor because of his continual needs. Friends are friends not out of a continual helping of each other but out of common interest. It’s difficult to be friends with one who is always in need. He brings nothing to the friendship except his need for your help. We must be careful to draw the proper conclusion from this verse. Solomon has painted an ugly picture of the sloth who will not work for his food. The apostle Paul said that those who are such are not to eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The poor that receive the neighbor’s pity and benevolence are obviously those who through no real fault of their own have nothing. Those who help the true needy shall find self happiness. It always makes one feel good to do things for others.

"Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good" (Proverbs 14:22). Those that err by devising evil receive only trouble and condemnation. Those who devise good things receive mercy and truth.

"In all labor there is profit; But the talk of the lips tends only to penury. The crown of the wise is their riches; But the folly of fools is only folly" (Proverbs 14:23-24). If a man or woman works hard there is profit; however for the man who only sits around talking rather than working there is only "penury" (indigence and poverty). Those who work hard throughout their lives will have riches but those who exercise folly will have nothing but need.

"A true witness delivers souls; But he that utters lies causes deceit" (Proverbs 14:25). Once again the false witness (liar) is set in contrast to the man who speaks truth. The man who speaks truth and reveals only the facts will give honest help to men whereas the liar does nothing but bring trouble to men’s lives.

"In the fear of Jehovah is strong confidence; And his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, That one may depart from the snares of death" (Proverbs 14:26-27). The "fear of Jehovah" has been clearly identified in this study:

1. Fearing God means to be wise (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10).

2. It means to depart from all forms of evil (Proverbs 3:7).

3. When one fear the Lord they hate pride, arrogance, evil, the evil way, and a perverse mouth (Proverbs 8:13).

4. He who fears God, "walks in his uprightness" (Proverbs 14:2).

5. Now he adds "strong confidence" to the identity of fearing God. This confidence is different than the fool who may have confidence to a fault. This confidence is based in the authorized word of God alone.

6. Lastly, the fear of Jehovah is "a fountain of life." When one is wise, departs from evil, hates sin, and walks in the paths of righteousness with strong confidence there is a "fountain of life." Great things happen not only in this life but in the life to come. It is truly comforting to know that your actions are right as defined by God’s divine standards. This confidence will see one through to the end of life.

The "snares of death" shall not touch the man who fears Jehovah.

"In the multitude of people is the king’s glory; But in the want of people is the destruction of the prince" (Proverbs 14:28). The king who fears God will have a multitude of people to govern due to his prudence and discretion. Where there is few to govern there is a heart of folly behind the scenes.

"He that is slow to anger is of great understanding; But he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly. A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; But envy is the rottenness of the bones" (Proverbs 14:29-30).

The man who does not get upset and angry quickly is one of "great understanding" (see Proverbs 14:7). The Lord is also slow to anger (see Joel 2:13). Rather than getting angry at a situation let us examine all facts of the matter and exercise patience and mercy with all. Those who are slow to anger have greater peace in life. Those quick to be angry and are jealous of others have nothing but rottenness of bones.

"He that oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker; But he that hath mercy on the needy honors him" (Proverbs 14:31). Not all the needy and poor are wicked men and women. Sometimes poverty and need comes upon one not of their own workings. A widow may have lost her husband and she has work that only strong young men can accomplish for her. Others may have come into extreme bad health and cannot work. There may be young children who have lost their parents and they have great needs. There are those who have honest needs. The person who would "reproach" (criticize) these needy poor people may as well be criticizing God. Let the wise man exercise mercy on the needy.

"The wicked is thrust down in his evil-doing; But the righteous hath a refuge in his death" (Proverbs 14:32). No one cares much for the wicked man and he is thrust down due to his deceptive and cheating ways. The righteous man has a refuge even in death because he treated people kindly and with fairness.

"Wisdom rests in the heart of him that hath understanding; But that which is in the inward part of fools is made known" (Proverbs 14:33). The inward parts of the wise man’s heart is understanding (he uses discretion and prudence). That which defines the fool is folly and he generally lets everyone know.

"Righteousness exalts a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). When a nation does what is right and is governed by those who do right there is praise and applause (not only so with individuals but with a nation of people). When a nation conducts itself sinfully that nation bring reproach (disapproval and criticism) by other peoples and lands.

"The king’s favor is toward a servant that deals wisely; But his wrath will be against him that causes shame" (Proverbs 14:35). Those in positions of authority will always be favorable to the law abiding citizen that does right. That man or woman who conducts themselves shamefully bring upon themselves the wrath of that government (See Romans 13:1 ff).

Verse 2

Pro 14:2

Proverbs 14:2

"He that walketh in his uprightness feareth Jehovah; But he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him."

This reveals the true reason for all unbelief and anti-religious activity in the whole world. And why is this? "Men have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil!" (John 3:19). "Those who walk uprightly fear the Lord; but, one who is devious in conduct despises him.” This explodes the satanic lie that `intellectual ability,’ or `higher education,’ or any other desirable thing, causes infidelity. It is now and has never been anything else except corrupt and reprobate conduct.

Proverbs 14:2. This verse deals with two classes of men just as Proverbs 14:1 did with two classes of women. What a wonderful life results for both and for their offspring when “he that walketh in his uprightness” (this verse) marries the “wise woman” (Proverbs 14:1)! When people properly fear God, they keep his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13); when people don’t fear God, evil results (Romans 3:15-18; Genesis 20:11). “Jehovah” is the antecedent of “him” in the second statement. Those who are perverse in their ways pay no attention to God, and “the world is full of” them.

Verse 3

Pro 14:3

Proverbs 14:3

"In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his pride; But the lips of the wise shall preserve them."

We have already had many proverbs which are the equivalent of this; and there are many more. "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). Toy’s translation is: "In the mouth of a fool is a sprig of his pride, but the lips of the wise preserve them.”

Proverbs 14:3. “American Bible Union version” and “Young’s Literal” give, “A rod of pride.” Septuagint: “From the mouth of fools cometh a staff of insolence.” The foolish can have a cruel tongue (“rod”). Other passages compare the wicked tongue to a cutting sword (Psalms 57:4; Psalms 64:3).

Verse 4

Pro 14:4

Proverbs 14:4

"Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; But much increase is by the strength of the ox."

The things that are most desirable always carry with them certain inconveniences. Rearing a family leads to all kinds of obligations, sacrifices, inconveniences and even sufferings and hardships. There’s noise where children are, and there’s uncleanness in the stall of the ox. This rendition of the second clause stresses the benefit of having oxen, even along with the dirty crib. "Where there is abundant produce, the strength of the ox is apparent.” One can keep a very clean, neat office if he isn’t doing anything!

Proverbs 14:4. The ox was used for agricultural purposes then (1 Kings 19:19; Deuteronomy 25:4). A “clean” crib meant an “empty” crib. We, too, talk of the “strength” of an ox in our saying: “As strong as an ox.” Through the wise use of animal power (and now much more of mechanical power), man has been able to increase his agricultural (and other) output. Man shows that he is of a higher sphere than the animal world, for he constantly utilizes the strengths and abilities of lower forms of life to serve him.

Verse 5

Pro 14:5

Proverbs 14:5

"A faithful witness will not lie; But a false witness uttereth lies."

A truism such as this merits no comment. Truthful people don’t lie; liars do!

Proverbs 14:5. The one difference between a “faithful” and a “false” witness: one will lie; the other one won’t. Some are “false” because it is not always easy to tell the full truth. Others are “false” on purpose (for material gain, to ruin others, etc.). The soldiers who guarded Jesus’ tomb lied and were paid for it (Matthew 28:11-14). Men told lies in Jesus’ trial to bring about His condemnation (Mark 14:57-58). Other passages against bearing false witness: Exodus 20:16; Exodus 23:1; Proverbs 6:19; Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 14:25. The apostles would neither lie nor suppress the truth about Jesus (Acts 4:18-20). Such conscientious souls are needed in every age.

Verse 6

Pro 14:6

Proverbs 14:6

The scoffer, the vain and wicked man who recognizes no authority, not even the supreme authority of God’s Word, will never acquire any real wisdom and understanding. "For ever it remains for him far and remote.” To the man of understanding, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it" (Deuteronomy 30:14). Wisdom is as near to the man of understanding as a copy of the Bible.

Proverbs 14:6. A “scoffer” is strong on his own ideas and reluctant to take the word of others. Learning is not gullible, but there is still a strong element of trust involved in learning, which the scoffer does not have. Therefore, he cuts himself off from some wisdom that he could have if he were otherwise in attitude. But it is much easier for an humble man of understanding to increase his knowledge, for he has no barrier of pride. One who has understanding easily picks up additional knowledge from what he reads, hears, studies, and is instructed in, for he can understand and comprehend what he comes in contact with. See Proverbs 9:9; Proverbs 17:24.

Verse 7

Pro 14:7

Proverbs 14:7

"Go into the presence of a foolish man, And thou shalt not perceive in him the lips of knowledge."

"Stay away from foolish people; they have nothing to teach you.” "Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” The same thing may be said in many ways.

Proverbs 14:7. There is some doubt as to which rendering is correct. The “King James” has: “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.” The “American Standard” gives a truism (the foolish man has nothing to give you by his presence), but the “King James” tells you what to do about it (depart from his unprofitable presence). Enroll under teachers who know what they are talking about; doctor with those who know what they are doing; listen to religious teachers who accurately know the Bible. People would save themselves much disillusionment if they would regard this instruction.

Verse 8

Pro 14:8

Proverbs 14:8

"The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way; But the folly of fools is deceit."

"Shrewd men are wise in grasping their affairs, but the folly of a fool leads him astray.”

The first clause here is the Hebrew counterpart of the Greek, "Know thy way," or "Know thyself." "The highest wisdom is for a man to know his own way. The fool, on the other hand, whose specialty is that of deceiving others, is (in the second clause) led astray, because he has deceived himself"!

Proverbs 14:8. The prudent wisely watch every aspect of their lives (Proverbs 14:15). They do not jump and then look for a place to land. They do not shoot and then investigate whether it was a deer or a man. They do not sign the contract and then study to see what they signed. And spiritually they are just as careful (Ephesians 5:15). The foolish foolishly suppose they can deceive others, but seldom are they successful in their attempt.

Verse 9

Pro 14:9

Proverbs 14:9

"A trespass-offering mocketh fools; But among the upright there is good will."

"A trespass-offering (or any kind of worship) mocks all worshippers who are willfully wicked. Expecting God’s favor, they do not get it.” In the second clause, the American Standard Version marginal reference changes `there is good will’ to `there is favor of God.’

Proverbs 14:9. A trespass-offering was ordained of God if properly offered (Leviticus 6:1-7), but if one thought he would “pull the wool over” God’s eyes by such an offering when he intended to keep on in the trespass, he was mocked—not God (Galatians 6:7). For this reason God did not accept the acts of worship mentioned in Isaiah 1:11-17. The “upright” gain the good will and favor of God by their honest dealings with themselves before Him.

Verse 10

Pro 14:10

Proverbs 14:10

"The heart knoweth its own bitterness; And a stranger doth not intermeddle with its joy."

There is here revealed a strange and terrible secret of human life. "The most sorrowful of all our experiences, and the most inward of all our joys, we must possess altogether alone. There is no such thing as a perfect fellowship among mortals. No human fellowship can give salvation, but only the fellowship with God, whose love and wisdom are capable of shining into that most secret sanctuary of human personality. Every human being is a little world to self alone, a world which only God sees and understands.” "Who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is within him"? (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Proverbs 14:10. There is a portion of each person’s inner-self that no one else can fully enter into. After others have sought to assuage our grief with their words lovingly administered, there is still a portion that they have not touched not known. On the other hand after we have sought to share our joys with others, we have probably enlisted their polite ears more than we have their hearts’ feelings. We cannot fully communicate our joys, nor can they fully enter into our joys.

Verse 11

Pro 14:11

Proverbs 14:11

"The house of the wicked shall be overthrown; But the tent of the righteous shall flourish."

This is the perpetual theme of Proverbs. The good prosper; the wicked fail and suffer. The Christian should understand all such promises in the higher light of the New Testament. It is written that. "We must through many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). It is in the eternal sense alone, that such promises as this, must be understood; although in a lesser and secondary sense, they are fulfilled literally in this present life.

Proverbs 14:11. A triple contrast: “house” vs. “tent”; “wicked” vs. “upright”; and “shall be overthrown” us. “shall flourish”. This verse blends the material found is Proverbs 14:1-2; study it until you can see this fact.

Verse 12

Pro 14:12

Proverbs 14:12

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death."

Literally and eternally true, this proverb stands as one of the Lighthouses of Proverbs. It was true of Absalom and Ahithophel; and it is true of many a worldly and irreligious man today.

Proverbs 14:12. Proverbs 16:25 gives the identical statement. The importance of the truth may account for its double appearance in the book. Men are often talked into things that do not end as they expected. Sometimes people do the wrong thing when they think they are doing the wise and desirable thing—like mice eating bait on a trap or fish eating bait on a hook. This is even true religiously (John 16:2; Acts 26:9; Romans 10:1-3). False teachers may look like sheep even though they are ravening, devouring wolves (Matthew 7:15). Counterfeits are made to resemble the genuine. So the devil pawns off denominations started by men for the church started by Christ.

Verse 13

Pro 14:13

Proverbs 14:13

"Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; And the end of mirth is heaviness."

"Like many other Proverbs in our English version, this one cannot be taken as universally true. The first clause is often rendered, and perhaps should be, "Even in laughter the heart may sorrowful." "There are two kinds of laughter and mirth. There is an innocent and proper mirth; and there is an guilty and sinful mirth.” There is also sometimes a heavy and disconsolate heart that disguises its sorrow by a show of joy and laughter.

Proverbs 14:13. Fun and sorrow are found in both statements. Many who laugh may have inward sorrows they are either trying to suppress or cover up (first statement). Some who laugh easily cry just as easily. An old saying: “Laugh before breakfast, and you will cry before night” (probably superstition). Mirth sometimes precedes heaviness, like Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel 5:1-6) and loose living (Proverbs 5:4).

Verse 14

Pro 14:14

Proverbs 14:14

"The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; And a good man shall be satisfied from himself."

"A fool shall be filled with his own ways, and the good man shall be above him." Cook wrote concerning the second clause here that, "The words `satisfied from himself’ are not in the original (Hebrew)," rendering the passage, "He who falls away from God in his heart shall be filled with his own ways; and the good man shall be filled with that which belongs to him.”

Proverbs 14:14. A backslidden life is no longer filled with God’s ways but with one’s own. A backslider is one who has returned to selfish living. Clarke: “Who is the backslider? 1. The man who once walked in the ways of religion but has withdrawn from them. 2. The man who once fought manfully against the world, the devil, and the flesh but has retreated from the battle or joined the enemy. 3. The man who once belonged to the congregation of the saints but is now removed from them and is set down in the synagogue of Satan.” One backslides “in heart” before he does in his “ways”: people cease enjoying the assembly before they actually quit attending; they lose their touch with God in prayer before they drop the practice of prayer; etc. A “good man” (contrasted with the backslider) will be satisfied from himself because he is actually filled with God’s good and holy ways which bring blessings and satisfaction.

Verse 15

Pro 14:15

Proverbs 14:15

"The simple believeth every word; But the prudent man looketh well to his going."

He is a simpleton indeed who believes everything that he hears, or for that matter, everything that he reads in the newspapers. This also applies to many a religious pulpit. It is always the part of a wise man to weigh with the utmost care and attention the messages that are continually being shouted at him from all directions.

Proverbs 14:15. Such are like children (Ephesians 4:14). Older people often amuse themselves by taking advantage of an innocent child’s gullibility by telling him all kinds of yarns and tales. And some people grow up and never doubt anything they hear. In contrast “the prudent man considers whither the advice given will lead him; he always acts with deliberation” (“Pulpit Commentary”).

Verse 16

Pro 14:16

Proverbs 14:16

"A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil; But the fool beareth himself insolently and is confident."

Frankenberg and Toy give various readings here: "The wise man guards himself anxiously against evil, but the fool lightly takes part therein"; or, "The wise man is cautious and avoids misfortune, but the fool is arrogant and confident.”

Proverbs 14:16. A wise man does not take dangerous chances, but a foolish man will (Proverbs 22:3). Joseph was a “wise man” who feared God and “departed” from the evil in which Potiphar’s wife would have ensnared him (Genesis 39:9-12).

Verse 17

Pro 14:17

Proverbs 14:17

"He that is soon angry will deal foolishly; And a man of wicked devices is hated."

As this stands, "The proverb compares two bad dispositions by their outcome and by their impression upon others"; but by a slight emendation (which some current translators accept), we get, "A person who becomes angry easily does foolish things, but a wise person is patient.” Either way the proverb is true.

Proverbs 14:17. The Bible is against quick-temperedness: Titus 1:7; James 1:19; Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 16:32. An angry man will deal foolishly because anger momentarily blurs one’s judgment (a good reason for not losing one’s temper). Jokingly, keep your temper—nobody wants it. A man of wicked devices is hated of God (Proverbs 12:2), but two human groups who hate or abhor him are those who are hurt by his devices (like people who get robbed or cheated by some slick maneuver) and those who do not approve of them (Revelation 2:2).

Verse 18

Pro 14:18

Proverbs 14:18

"The simple inherit folly; But the prudent are crowned with knowledge."

"The simple acquire folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge." Tate rejected the emendation by which the RSV gave this translation, writing that, "Acquire here is not likely to be correct. The simple are the immature, untutored people, who already have folly as a part of their nature.” There are many other renditions, which we are citing merely for the sake of showing the different viewpoints, which are also subject to serious questions as to their accuracy. After all, as F. F. Bruce, head of the department of Biblical and Patristic Greek at the University of Manchester, in England, noted; "The most accurate of the versions for purpose of detailed study is the American Standard Version of 1901" (This is the version we are using).

Proverbs 14:18. Those at the low end of wisdom (the simple) participate or know only folly (foolishness) (Proverbs 18:2; Ecclesiastes 7:5-6); those at the top end (the prudent) are blessed with knowledge (Proverbs 9:9). A Stoic saying: “The wise is the only king.”

Verse 19

Pro 14:19

Proverbs 14:19

"The evil bow down before the good; And the wicked at the gates of the righteous."

"We have identical parallelism here, based upon the doctrine that moral goodness must in this life triumph externally over wickedness.” This was the doctrine that dominated the Book of Job, and which was strongly advocated by all of Job’s friends. It should be understood in the light of what is written there. "This describes the humbling of the wicked by the punishment of their sins.”

Proverbs 14:19. “Pulpit Commentary”: “The final victory of good over evil is here set forth. However triumphant for a time and apparently prosperous the wicked may be, their success is not lasting; they shall in the end succumb to the righteous even as the Canaanite kings crouched before Joshua’s captains (Joshua 10:24) and, hurled from their high estate, they shall stand humbly at the good man’s door begging for bread to support their life (1 Samuel 2:36). The contrast here indicated is seen in our Lord’s report of the rich man and Lazarus when the beggar is comforted and the rich man is tormented, and when the latter urgently sues for the help of the once despised outcast to mitigate the agony which he is suffering” (Luke 16:24). When troubles hit the wicked and ungodly (those who never go to church;, they often turn to the righteous for sympathetic help and comfort (a preacher, the church, or some good Christian). Ultimately the wicked will bend (Daniel 3:24-26; Daniel 3:28-30; Daniel 5:13; Daniel 5:16; Revelation 3:9).

Verse 20

Pro 14:20

Proverbs 14:20

"The poor is hated, even of his own neighbor; But the rich hath many friends."

"This sad but true picture of human nature is not here mentioned approvingly, but merely stated as a fact.”

This verse flings wide the gates of memory in this writer’s life. We children were all small, and our father read this chapter before the evening prayer. That was my brother David’s fifth birthday, and our father had just given him ten silver half-dollars for his birthday. Another brother (Robert), a little older than David, requested a loan of a half dollar. David reversed the clauses of this verse, saying, "The rich hath many friends, but the poor is despised by his neighbor. I won’t let you have it"! As Deane noted, "This verse should be taken with the one which follows, because together they teach that it is a sin to despise and shun a man simply because he is poor.”

Proverbs 14:20. There is a certain shame and disgrace to extreme poverty that causes even neighbors not to be associated with such in people’s minds. This is why people are often ashamed of their poor relatives (Proverbs 10:7), their clothes, their car, their home, their ways, etc. But people are usually glad to claim relationship and friendship with the financially successful (a saying: “Success makes false friends and true enemies”). The rich have many friends, especially if they are generous ‘with their gifts or have powers and offices to bestow.

Verse 21

Pro 14:21

Proverbs 14:21

"He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth; But he that hath pity upon the poor, happy is he."

The great glory of Christianity is that it regards and honors the poor, who, alas, constitute the vast majority of mankind. "Blessed are ye poor! Blessed are the poor in spirit!" These are the words of Christ, who, "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Proverbs 14:21. But we are not to despise our neighbor (even if he is poor, as in Proverbs 14:20). Some have no sense of respect or honor, seemingly despising, belittling, and running down everyone continually. Let us not thus violate the “second commandment” (Mark 12:31), but let us have pity upon the poor (Galatians 2:10; Matthew 25:35-36), for those who do will be blessed of God (Psalms 41:1; Acts 20:35; Proverbs 19:17; Luke 14:13-14).

Verse 22

Pro 14:22

Proverbs 14:22

"Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good."

"Do not wicked schemers go astray, while affection and trust are theirs who seek good?”

Proverbs 14:22. Such a question is an emphatic way to state truth. The man who invented the atomic bomb went out of his mind after it was used on the Japanese, and the widow of the man who invented television is extremely remorseful because of the evil it has become associated with and promotes. This verse speaks of two devisings (evil and good). Some are devising evil (the wicked), and some are devising good (the godly). What are you devising? Mercy and truth belong together (Proverbs 3:3; Psalms 61:7; John 1:17; 1 Timothy 1:2).

Verse 23

Pro 14:23

Proverbs 14:23

"In all labor there is profit; But the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury."

This proverb contrasts the talker with the worker. A recent rendition of the second clause is, "Mere talk leads only to poverty.”

Proverbs 14:23. There is often a difference between being a talker and a worker. It is not those who talk about what they are going to do but those who go out and get it done that counts. Sometimes children come to look down upon their lazy, wind-bag, good-for-nothing dads who are always talking about the trip the family is going to take, the house they are going to build, etc. but who never get any of it done. This verse has two contrasts: “talk” vs. “labor” and “penury” vs. “profit”. “Penury” means to want or to suffer need.

Verse 24

Pro 14:24

Proverbs 14:24

"The crown of the wise is their riches; But the folly of fools is only folly."

There is a purely earthly sense, of course, in which this is true; and it is exactly the type of proverb that should have been expected of him who was the richest man of his entire age; but the true crown of a rich man is not his money, but his integrity and his faithfulness to God. The Book of Proverbs becomes a little monotonous with its constant emphasis upon getting rich.

Proverbs 14:24. Notice “folly” all the way in this triple contrast: “The crown” vs. “the folly”; “of the wise” vs. “of fools”; and “is their riches” vs. “is only folly”. Pulpit Commentary: “Decorate folly as you may, deck it out in gaud and ornament, it is still nothing but folly and is discerned as such, and that all the more for being made conspicuous.”

Verse 25

Pro 14:25

Proverbs 14:25

"A true witness delivereth souls; But he that uttereth lies causeth deceit."

"A witness saves lives when he tells the truth; when he tells lies he betrays people.” "All liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 21:8). "The witness has it in his power to save or murder either life or reputation.”

Proverbs 14:25. Proverbs 14:5 of this chapter speaks of the faithful witness and of the lying witness mentioned in this verse. A true witness “delivereth” souls or persons from their false accusers in court; a false witness, on the other hand, will tell lies of deceit in order to bring about one’s condemnation. This verse has a ready application today to the true gospel preacher who delivers souls from the clutch of sin and the doom it would bring upon him and to the false teacher who utters falsehood deceitfully (Ephesians 4:14). The tongue of man is either a mighty instrument for good or a mighty monster for bad (Proverbs 18:21).

Verse 26

Pro 14:26

Proverbs 14:26

"In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence; And his children shall have a place of refuge."

It is the godly man, of course, who fears Jehovah; and "his children" in the second clause are those of that godly man.

Proverbs 14:26. This and the following verse both refer to the “fear of Jehovah”. The “fear of Jehovah” here is that reverence for Him that causes one to commit one’s whole self to Him, and when this is done, both he and his children are blessed: he has strong confidence or assurance that God will take care of Him (Hebrews 13:5-6; Psalms 23:1-6), and his children (brought up to live the same way) will be likewise blessed.

Verse 27

Pro 14:27

Proverbs 14:27

"The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, That one may depart from the snares of death."

The snares of death are not merely the pitfalls and dangers of our present lives on earth; they include the unspeakable terrors of the "second death." The only possible escape from that reward of the wicked which shall accompany the termination of human probation is revealed in the first clause. The only hope of rebellious humanity is in the "fear of Jehovah." James Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible, 1929, indicated this by capitalizing the word Death. "Reverence for the Eternal is a fount of life; it shows how to avoid the nets of Death.”

Proverbs 14:27. This verse and Proverbs 13:14 strongly resemble. Also compare it with Proverbs 14:16. One who fears Jehovah departs from evil that he may escape the “snares of death” (this verse), which characterizes him as “wise” (Proverbs 14:16). Instead of death he is drinking of the fountain of life. Because Adam and Eve sinned, they were banned from the tree of “life”, and they brought “death” upon themselves (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:22-24).

Verse 28

Pro 14:28

Proverbs 14:28

"In the multitude of the people is the king’s glory; But in the want of people is the destruction of the prince."

"A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.” The proverb is also true if interpreted to mean that, "The want of people (the hunger or destitution of people) is the destruction of the prince." It is true both ways!

Proverbs 14:28. To be too small in number was to invite invasion, and the rule was that the lesser-in-number lost to the greater-in-number. This is why the men of Gideon’s army were so fearful (Judges 6:33; Judges 7:3). In somewhat a different thought Pulpit Commentary says, “This maxim is not in accordance with the views of Oriental conquerors and despots, who in their selfish lust of aggrandizement cared not what suffering they inflicted or what blood they shed...The reign of Solomon, the peaceful, gave an intimation that was and conquest were not a monarch’s highest glory; that a happy and numerous people, dwelling securely and increasing in numbers, was a better honor for a king and more to be desired” (1 Kings 4:24-25; 1 Kings 4:20).

Verse 29

Pro 14:29

Proverbs 14:29

"He that is slow to anger is of great understanding; But he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly."

A variation of this is: "A meek-spirited man is a healer of the heart, but a sensitive heart is a corruption of the bones.” Nothing is any more dangerous than association with a person of quick and violent temper, who may become offended on the slightest of pretexts. Such persons are sometimes said to have "a chip on their shoulder." They can even become violent upon the most trivial of excuses.

Proverbs 14:29. Proverbs 14:19 of this chapter deals with the man who is “soon angry” while this verse deals with one who is “slow to anger”. The quick-tempered man will “deal foolishly” (Proverbs 14:17), while the calm-headed man is of “great understanding” (this verse). The man of understanding does not burst into a rage, for to do so is to exalt “folly”, for an angry man will say and do things before he thinks, which are both unwise and often disastrous. Compare Proverbs 16:32 and James 1:19 with this teaching.

Verse 30

Pro 14:30

Proverbs 14:30

"A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; But envy is the rottenness of the bones."

"Bodily health comes with a tranquil mind, but passionate feelings are like rot in the bones.” However, it is wrong to limit the application of this to the physical body. The great Christian ideal is, "A quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty" (1 Timothy 2:2). 1 Peter 3:4 and Acts 19:36 also echo the thoughts of this proverb.

"Calmness of spirit gives room for the development of all the virtues and graces of the Christian life.”

Proverbs 14:30. There is nothing better for the health of one’s body than a tranquil, calm, and peaceful heart. Oh, the health disturbances that are brought on through a distraught mind and heart! All the doctor’s prescriptions and all the doctor’s operations cannot put one’s health together again. God wants us to live right that we might be at peace with Him (Numbers 6:24-26. He wants us to live at peace with our fellowmen (Hebrews 12:14). When our consciences are void of offence toward both God and men: (Acts 24:16), what a blessing of peace follows (Colossians 3:15; Philippians 4:7; Romans 8:6) Psalms 37:37) 1 Peter 3:11), one of which is “the life of the flesh” (this verse). Proverbs 12:4 also speaks of “the rottenness of the bones”. When one’s very framework is thus deteriorated, one’s health is in an extremely bad way.

Verse 31

Pro 14:31

Proverbs 14:31

"He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker; But he that hath mercy on the needy honoreth him."

There are three classes of the poor: (1) those, who through lack of ability, have never been able to make a living, (2) those who were once affluent, but have been brought down by affliction, and (3) those who, though not actually in want, are able through diligent and constant toil to supply the barest necessities of life but do not know any of the luxuries of ease or wealth. "Oppression of any or all of these is an insult to God. To oppress class (1) is to increase the affliction of them whose condition is not their fault, any more than is the color of their skin; to oppress class (2) is to add to an affliction that God has permitted to fall upon them; and to oppress class (3) is to oppress those who make up the vast majority of God’s kingdom.” The oppression of any poor man is an insult to God.

Proverbs 14:31. One’s action toward the poor and needy is here judged in relation to God (Matthew 25:44-45), who is the Maker of the poor as well as any other (Proverbs 22:2). Proverbs 17:5 speaks of mocking the poor, which also results in reproaching their Maker. Proverbs 14:21 of this chapter speaks of having pity on the poor which he does by having mercy upon him (this verse). People of Job’s day understood this teaching (Job 31:13-15). In life there are some who help make people poor (like the thieves in the Good Samaritan parable, Luke 10:30) and others who help the needy (like the Good Samaritan himself, Luke 10:33-34); and then there are also many (like the priest and levite of that parable) who neither made the man poor nor help him get better (Luke 10:31-32). In which class are you?

Verse 32

Pro 14:32

Proverbs 14:32

"The wicked is thrust down in his evil-doing; But the righteous hath a refuge in his death."

Keil’s translation of this is: "When misfortune befalls him, the godless is overthrown; but the righteous remains hopeful in his death.” What is this hope that the righteous have in death? It is the hope of eternal life with God. This proverb teaches that, "There is a deep and essential distinction between the deaths of the godless and the righteous.” There is a glimpse here of that life and immortality which are brought to greater light in the holy gospels!

Proverbs 14:32. The wicked are cut off because of their sins (Psalms 37:1-2), sometimes right while they are committing it (Acts 5:1-10; Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 11:33). The godly have always had the refuge of hope and God’s help in death (Psalms 23:4; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:8). Even wicked men, like Balaam, have wished to die the death of the righteous (Numbers 23:10). “Thus the Christian martyrs went joyfully to the stake, and gentle women and little children smiled on the sword which sent them home. It is natural to See in this clause a belief in a future life, and a state of rewards and punishments” (“Pulpit Commentary”). This verse causes us to ask, “Which is really more important—to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and be rejected and punished of God forever or to live the way that is always right and that will end right?”

Verse 33

Pro 14:33

Proverbs 14:33

"Wisdom resteth in the heart of him that hath understanding; But that which is in the inward part of fools is made known."

We are not sure what this proverb means. The RSV renders it: "Wisdom abides in the mind of a man of understanding, but it is not known in the heart of fools.” Toy’s paraphrase is: "A man of sense, not being anxious to gain applause, keeps it to himself (reserving it for an appropriate occasion); but the fool, anxious to shine, or ignorant of propriety, airs what he thinks is his wisdom at every opportunity.”

Proverbs 14:33. A triple contrast: “Wisdom” vs. “that which is in the inward part of fools”; “him that hath understanding” vs. “fools”; and “resteth” vs. “is made known”. From the contrast we understand the word “rest” as meaning it quietly resides. Therefore, a wise, informed, and knowledgeable person is not always telling all he may know (he couldn’t, and he has no disposition to flaunt his knowledge;. But with fools it is different: they are always talking, and they will tell you everything (Proverbs 29:11; Proverbs 12:16). For the last clause a few Hebrew copies give, “In the midst of fools it maketh itself known.”

Verse 34

Pro 14:34

Proverbs 14:34

"Righteousness exalteth a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people."

The Court House of Grayson County, Sherman, Texas, inscribed these words on their new building in 1929. "This much quoted and penetrating test of national greatness is abundantly attested throughout history." It is precisely this truth which is not receiving the attention that it deserves in America today.

Proverbs 14:34. An oft-quoted verse because its message is pertinent. God sees that righteousness does build up, bless, and make a great nation, and history surely shows that sin deteriorates a nation (many nations have fallen from the inside through moral degradation). Who could better understand this verse than the Israelites themselves who could certainly see that when they had good kings and were following God’s way, the nation was “up”, and that when they had bad kings and were following wickedness, the nation was “down”? This is observable throughout Kings and Chronicles.

Verse 35

Pro 14:35

Proverbs 14:35

"The king’s favor is toward a servant that dealeth wisely; But his wrath will be against him who causeth shame."

"Many kings have erred on this point; and some, like Ahasuerus have been made to see their error. He nourished in his bosom the serpent Haman, and overlooked the faithful services of Mordecai; but when God, through the tender office of Esther, opened his eyes, he destroyed him who had acted shamefully and exalted the preserver of his life.”

Proverbs 14:35. Every leader that Joseph was under (Potiphar, the jailer, and Pharaoh) could see that he was wise, and they respected that wisdom and showed favor toward him (Genesis 39:3-6; Genesis 39:21-23; Genesis 41:39-43). Daniel, too, though a part of a captured people, was in every king’s favor and service that he was under (Daniel 1:19-20; Daniel 2:46-48; Daniel 5:29; Daniel 6:1-3). For the promotion of the wise see Matthew 24:45; Matthew 24:47. Even heathen governments have punished those who did things contrary to its laws and things against its best interest. In this age of softening-punishments (in the government, at work, at school, in the home, etc.) there is a need to return to stricter trials and just punishments

Proverbs of Solomon - Proverbs 14:1-35

Open It

1. When do you tend to act without thinking?

2. What sort of "philosophies of life" are generally represented in television commercials?

3. Why are we tempted to believe the promises in television commercials even when we know they are either untrue or exaggerations?

Explore It

4. What themes did Solomon develop throughout the proverbs in this chapter? (Proverbs 14:1-35)

5. How did Solomon illustrate the differences between the wise person and the foolish person? (Proverbs 14:1-35)

6. On what general areas of life do these verses touch? (Proverbs 14:1-35)

7. How does the fool’s talk contrast with that of the wise? (Proverbs 14:3)

8. What is the difference between a truthful witness and a false witness? (Proverbs 14:5; Proverbs 14:25)

9. What does the mocker seek but not find? (Proverbs 14:6)

10. What is the wisdom of the prudent? (Proverbs 14:8)

11. Where is goodwill found? (Proverbs 14:9)

12. What does each heart know? (Proverbs 14:10)

13. Where does the way that seems right lead? (Proverbs 14:12)

14. What are the rewards of the good person and the faithless? (Proverbs 14:14)

15. To what does the prudent person give thought? (Proverbs 14:15)

16. What does the wise person do? (Proverbs 14:16)

17. What does a quick-tempered person do? (Proverbs 14:17)

18. How should a person treat those in need? (Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 14:31)

19. What do those who plan what is good find? (Proverbs 14:22)

20. What are the results of hard work? mere talk? (Proverbs 14:23)

21. What did Solomon say about the fear of the Lord? (Proverbs 14:26-27)

22. What do a heart at peace and envy do? (Proverbs 14:30)

Get It

23. How might a person’s speech protect him or her?

24. When have loose lips gotten you into trouble?

25. Why would a mocker be unable to find wisdom?

26. What does it mean to give thought to one’s steps?

27. Why is it that many people seem to live their life without giving much thought to what they are doing with their life?

28. How can we reflect on our steps in life?

29. Why is it hard to understand genuinely another person’s heartache?

30. How might the way that leads to death seem like the right way to some people?

31. What are some of the "wrong ways" in life or "false philosophies" that people you know are following?

32. When is it hard for you to exercise prudence?

33. What sort of relationship do these verses suggest there is between mental and physical health?

Apply It

34. What is one way in which you can alter your speech so that your words will protect you this week?

35. What is one thing you can change about your life-style in order to establish better mental and physical health?

36. When this week can you take some time to reflect on the path you are following in life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 14". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-14.html.
 
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