Proverbs 14:1. Every wise woman— See chap. Proverbs 12:4 and Exodus 1:21. Though to build the house is frequently used for increasing posterity, it seems in this place principally to refer to that oeconomy and good management by which a wise woman advantages her family. See Titus 2:5.
Proverbs 14:3. In the mouth of the foolish— Fools often bring upon themselves, by their ungoverned tongues, the correction due to their crimes, their pride, and arrogance.
Proverbs 14:4. Where no oxen are— This verse contains an admonition for the man without doors; as the first for the woman within; that he do not neglect his husbandry, of which, it is well known, oxen were the principal instruments, being not only employed in that country in plowing the ground, and carrying home the crop, but also in treading out the corn.
Proverbs 14:6. A scorner seeketh wisdom, &c.— He that comes to seek after knowledge, says Lord Bacon, with a mind to scorn and censure, shall be sure to find matter enough for his humour, but none for instruction; one reason of which is, that this humour of deriding all things, in men of this kind, springs from a great pride and conceit of their own wit, which disposes them to seek for wisdom, not from others, but wholly from themselves; and so, as the wise man observes, they are not likely to find it where it is not to be had: when he who attributes less to himself, and hath the humility to listen to instruction, in a short time attains to great wisdom. See Advancement of Learning, b. vii. c. 2. and Bishop Patrick.
Proverbs 14:7. Go from the presence of a foolish man— The LXX read, All things are contrary to a foolish man; but wise lips are the arms of understanding. We may, perhaps, read the passage thus: "Depart from the presence of a fool, and one who understands not, or regards not, the lips of knowledge." See Grey.
Proverbs 14:8. The wisdom of the prudent— Lord Bacon renders this verse thus: A wise man is wary of his way; a cunning fool seeks evasion. There be two sorts of wisdom, says he; the one true and sound, the other counterfeit and false; which last Solomon hesitates not to call folly. He who applies himself to the former takes heed to his own ways and footings; foreseeing dangers, studying remedies, using the assistance of good men, and fortifying himself against the wicked: wary how he enters upon a business, and not unprepared for a handsome retreat: attentive to advantages, courageous against impediments, with innumerable other things relating to the government of his own ways and actions. But that other kind is made up altogether of fallacies and cunning devices, and relies wholly upon the hopes of circumventing others, and framing them as it lists. This wisdom the parable rejects, not only as wicked, but as foolish; for, first, it is not in the number of things which are in our own power, nor is it directed by any constant rule; but new stratagems must be every day devised, the old failing and growing useless: and, secondly, as soon as a man hath got the name and opinion of a cunning crafty companion, he hath deprived himself utterly of the principal instrument for the management of his affairs; which is, trust; and so he will find, by experience, all things go cross to his desires: for, lastly, these arts and shifts, however they promise fair, and much please such as practise them; yet they are commonly frustrated, and, which is worse, end sadly. "Crafty and audacious counsels (says Tacitus remarkably) are joyful in the expectation, difficult in the management, and sorrowful in the event." See Advancement of Learning, as above.
Proverbs 14:9. Fools make a mock at sin— Or, according to others, Fools excuse or palliate sin. Houbigant reads the verses The dwelling of fools is guilt, of the just is favour.
Proverbs 14:10. The heart knoweth his own bitterness— "Nobody can know what another suffers, so well as the sufferer himself; and he alone is privy to the greatness of that joy which springs from the happy conclusion of his sufferings." Houbigant renders the verse, He who divulges the trouble of his soul, shall not have another to partake of his joy: i.e. "He who cannot keep to himself his own afflictions, but is continually teizing others with the relation of them, will so weary every one out, as to render them perfectly indifferent to his good or ill fortune."
Proverbs 14:12. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man— This is an admonition of the weakness of men's judgments, and of all human counsels, which mistake much, and lead men frequently into ruin: "Shadows too often cheat us of the reality," says one of the ancient Greeks; against which there is no remedy but the word of God, and invoking his direction.
Proverbs 14:14. And a good man shall be satisfied from himself— And a good man with his own works. Houbigant.
Proverbs 14:15. The simple believeth every word— Bochart observes well upon this verse, that as prudence, without simplicity, degenerates into craft; so simplicity, without prudence, is no better than downright folly. We must follow our Saviour's counsel, and unite the serpent with the dove.
Proverbs 14:17. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly— He who is soon angry will deal inconsiderately: a considerate man will endure patiently. Houbigant. The LXX have it, A hasty man acteth rashly, but a prudent man endureth many things.
Proverbs 14:23. In all labour there is profit— All labour will produce abundance, but garrulity nothing but want. Houbigant. Solomon here separates the fruit of the labour of the tongue and the labour of the hands; as if want was the revenue of the one, and wealth the revenue of the other: for it commonly happens, that they who talk liberally, boast much, and promise mighty matters, are beggars; and receive no benefit by their boastings, or by any thing they discourse of. Nay, rather for the most part, such men are not industrious and diligent in their employments, but only feed and fill themselves with words as with wind. Certainly, as the poet says, Qui silet est firmus; he who is conscious to himself of proficiency in his endeavours, contents himself with inward applause in his own breast, and holds his peace; but he who knows within himself that he only hunts after vain-glory, and hath nothing else to live upon, talks abundantly, and reports wonder unto others. See Lord Bacon as above.
Proverbs 14:24. But the foolishness of fools is folly— But their fortunes are a curse to fools. Houbigant; thus preserving the opposition with the preceding clause.
Proverbs 14:28. In the multitude, &c.— The more subjects a prince hath, the more glorious he is; but so much the more so, as he loves with more tenderness, as he preserves with more care, and as he governs with more mildness, the people under him. The Scripture and the ancients give kings the name of shepherds, to put them in mind of the application they ought to give to the augmenting of their people, and of the compassionate kindness wherewith they ought to treat them. Calmet.
Proverbs 14:29. He that is slow to wrath, &c.— If we considered patience only as a moral virtue, or as a gracious sobriety and temper in subduing and regulating our affections and passions, as an absence of that anger and rage and fury, which usually transports us upon trivial occasions, we could not but acknowledge the great advantage that men have by it. Solomon requires this to make a wise man: He that is slow to anger, says he, is of great understanding; and, indeed, there is nothing so much corrupts and destroys and infatuates the understanding as anger and passion; inasmuch as men of very indifferent parts, by the advantage of temper and composure, are much wiser, and fitter for great actions, and are usually more prosperous, than men of more subtle and sublime parts, of more quickness and fancy, with the warmth and choler which many times attend those compositions.
Proverbs 14:30. A sound heart— A joyful or congratulating heart; a heart which is rejoiced at the prosperity of others, and which derives from thence the greatest satisfaction to itself. This is the import of the word מרפא marpei, which we render sound, according to Schultens; and certainly the contrast to the next clause is thus well preserved.
Proverbs 14:34. But a sin is a reproach to any people— Schultens renders this, And the beneficence of nations is their expiation; which appears to be perfectly agreeable to the Hebrew: nor can there be a more pleasing or a more just observation. According as nations exercise mercy, compassion, and justice, towards others; they will obtain the favour and protection of God. It is agreeable to consider the expression in this view, in an age, when, however defective we may be in the estimate of severer moralists, there can be no doubt that the high virtues of benevolence and humanity shine forth among us with a distinguished lustre; for which we may hope the God of compassions will still look with a favourable eye upon our land, protecting us by his mighty arm, and blessing us with his fatherly kindness. We must here recollect, that nations, as such, must be rewarded or punished in this world. Individuals only will be responsible on the day of judgment, each for himself.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent