Proverbs 14

Introduction

‘The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.’ Proverbs 14:1

The Wise Woman

How many married men come home after a hard day’s work only to be given grief from their wives?

Solomon says the wise woman should work on being constructive and they should understand that most men often receive enough criticism at work without getting it at home too, Ephesians 5:22-23 / Colossians 3:18.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘By her prudent and industrious management, she increases property in the family, furniture in the house, and food and raiment for her household. This is the true building of a house. The thriftless wife acts differently, and the opposite is the result.’

‘Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways. A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.’ Proverbs 14:2-3

What does devious mean? It means to be sly or cunning, to be twisted, they have an evil mind which actually hates God, Luke 19:14 / John 3:19. Solomon says that the fool’s talk gets them into trouble, Matthew 12:37.

‘Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.’ Proverbs 14:4

When a farmer has no oxen for ploughing the fields, his food trough for his animals will be empty. Some people don’t want to get down to real work and get their hands dirty but what they don’t realise is that that very dirt is providing their income.

If we don’t have other people in our life then our life becomes empty and meaningless. We should serve others and share our faith.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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!’

‘An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.’ Proverbs 14:5-6

An honest witness has no need to deceive anyone, Acts 1:8. An honest witness never lies, whereas a false witness does.

Why does a mocker who seeks wisdom never find any? Simply because they are not serious about wisdom, Deuteronomy 30:14 / Psalm 111:10.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Such may seek wisdom; but he never can find it, because he does not seek it where it is to be found; neither in the teaching of God’s Spirit, nor in the revelation of his will.’

‘Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.’ Proverbs 14:7

Have you ever listened to someone’s worldly idea of wisdom? Most of the time it doesn’t make sense. Solomon says it’s a waste of time to stay in the presence of a fool because they will never say anything worthwhile, Proverbs 13:20.

‘The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright.’ Proverbs 14:8-9

Why don’t many people become Christians? They don’t realise they have a problem with sin and so because of that, they don’t feel they have to deal with their sin, Proverbs 1:29 / Proverbs 8:13. God is pleased with those who are serious and sober when it comes to their sin, they deal with it!

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘A trespass-offering (or any kind of worship) mocks all worshippers who are willfully wicked. Expecting God’s favor, they do not get it.’

What does goodwill mean? It’s thinking the best about others. For example, when someone shouts at you or crashes into your car, how do you react?

‘Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.’ Proverbs 14:10

There is an inner self which understands its own bitterness as well as its own joy, 1 Corinthians 2:11.

Outsiders cannot understand what we are experiencing, this is why we don’t always have to say, ‘I know what you are going through’. We should say this only if and when we have gone through the same thing. If we haven’t, we don’t know!

‘The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.’ Proverbs 14:11-12

People are always looking for shortcuts in life and even religion, many people rely on their feelings and emotions to guide them in life and religion. A way which, at the time seems like the very best way to go, may end up in death, Proverbs 16:25 / Matthew 7:13-14.

Life has its inexplicable aspects, this is why we always need God’s directions, Jeremiah 10:23 / Matthew 7:21-22.

‘Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief. The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good rewarded for theirs.’ Proverbs 14:13-14

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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 ill-timed, guilty and sinful mirth.’ There is also sometimes a heavy and disconsolate heart that disguises its sorrow by a show of joy and laughter.’

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘What is implied in being filled with his own ways? Having his soul saturated with folly, sin, and disappointment.’

Cook, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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.’

Someone with no faith isn’t dependable or consistent, their actions will return to haunt them, Galatians 6:7-8.

‘The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. The wise fear the LORD and shun evil, but a fool is hot-headed and yet feels secure.’ Proverbs 14:15-16

A naive person is a simple person who lacks the caution and logical abilities of a prudent man. The arrogant and careless person is only concerned about their own talents and abilities.

What does it mean when it says that a fool will be reckless? It simply means they will make a lot of mistakes. Do Christians make mistakes? Yes. So, what’s the difference? Not as many.

‘A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated. The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous. The poor are shunned even by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends.’ Proverbs 14:17-20

Here Solomon gives an observation on the reality of life. It’s not the way it ought to be but is the way it often is, Luke 15:11-32.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The words, quick tempered person is ‘Ketsar appayim, ‘short of nostrils:’ because, when a man is angry, his nose is contracted, and drawn up towards his eyes.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verse 19.

‘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.’

‘It is a sin to despise one’s neighbour but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy. Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.’ Proverbs 14:21-23

These are basic truths, we shouldn’t despise our neighbour but be a blessing to them, Leviticus 19:18 / Matthew 22:39.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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.’

These verses set forth a basic maxim of life, work produces more than talk does. The wise man believes in work while a fool can talk himself into poverty, Genesis 42:1-2. We need to practice what we preach; we need to help those in need, Matthew 5:21-32 / Matthew 21:28-41.

‘The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly. A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful. Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.’ Proverbs 14:24-27

The true crown of a rich man is not his money, but his integrity and his faithfulness to God.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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’

The fear of the Lord will keep us from fatal pitfalls, disasters and premature death along the road of life, Psalm 46:1. How can we recognise a false witness for Christ? We recognise them by their fruit, Matthew 7:15-20.

Verse 27 of Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible, reads this way, ‘Reverence for the Eternal is a fount of life; it shows how to avoid the nets of Death.’

‘A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined. Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.’ Proverbs 14:28-29

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Here are two maxims in politics, which carry their own evidence with them: 1. That it is much for the honour of a king to have a populous kingdom; it is a sign that he rules well, since strangers are hereby invited to come and settle under his protection and his own subjects live comfortably; it is a sign that he and his kingdom are under the blessing of God, the effect of which is being fruitful and multiplying. It is his strength, and makes him considerable and formidable; happy is the king, the father of his country, who has his quiver full of arrows; he shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with his enemy in the gate, Psalms 127:4 / Psalms 127:5. It is therefore the wisdom of princes, by a mild and gentle government, by encouraging trade and husbandry, and by making all easy under them, to promote the increase of their people. And let all that wish well to the kingdom of Christ, and to his honour, do what they can in their places that many may be added to his church. 2. That when the people are lessened the prince is weakened: In the want of people is the leanness of the prince (so some read it); trade lies dead, the ground lies untilled, the army wants to be recruited, the navy to be manned, and all because there are not hands sufficient. See how much the honour and safety of kings depend upon their people, which is a reason why they should rule by love, and not with rigour. Princes are corrected by those judgments which abate the number of the people, as we find, 2 Samuel 24:13.’

Have you ever seen a forest fire or a house fire? It goes out of control really fast, that’s what some people’s tempers are like today. The wise man knows that anger cripples their ability to make good decisions. People with quick tempers only add more trouble, James 1:19-20.

What effects does anger have on us and the people around us? It divides people, and churches and as a result, we make silly decisions.

‘A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.’ Proverbs 14:30

Does anyone know the modern-day word that doctors and scientists now have to deal with? What causes more time off work than anything else? It’s stress and there is a definite connection between inner peace and good health. A lack of satisfaction destroys good health.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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.’

‘Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.’ Proverbs 14:31

God has always wanted His people to look after the poor, those who have material possessions should always be looking out to help others who have little or none, Matthew 25:31-46.

‘When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death, the righteous seek refuge in God. Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known. Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.’ Proverbs 14:32-34

Verse 32 of Keil’s translation says the following ‘When misfortune befalls him, the godless is overthrown, but the righteous remains
hopeful in his death’.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘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!’

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Observe, 1. Modesty is the badge of wisdom. He that is truly wise hides his treasure, so as not to boast of it, Matthew 13:44, though he does not hide his talent, so as not to trade with it. His wisdom rests in his heart; he digests what he knows, and has it ready to him, but does not unseasonably talk of it and make a noise with it. The heart is the seat of the affections, and there wisdom must rest in the practical love of it, and not swim in the head. 2. Openness and ostentation are a mark of folly. If fools have a little smattering of knowledge, they take all occasions, though very foreign, to produce it, and bring it in by head and shoulders. Or the folly that is in the midst of fools is made known by their forwardness to talk. Many a foolish man takes more pains to show his folly than a wise man thinks it worth his while to take to show his wisdom.’

Righteousness means doing the right thing in any given circumstance, including morals and ethics. Notice that national righteousness and sin are being discussed!

When sin reigns in a nation, bad things are the result. We only have to look at our society today to see that sin is reigning and as a result more bad things are happening.

‘A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.’ Proverbs 14:35

Solomon reminds us that we can’t work on our own, we need each other. Kings need skilled and competent people for difficult national affairs.

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This shows that in a well-ordered court and government smiles and favours are dispensed among those that are employed in public trusts according to their merits; Solomon lets them know he will go by that rule, 1. That those who behave themselves wisely shall be respected and preferred, whatever enemies they may have that seek to undermine them. No man’s services shall be neglected to please a party or a favourite. 2. That those who are selfish and false, who betray their country, oppress the poor, and sow discord, and thus cause shame, shall be displaced and banished the court, whatever friends they may make to speak for them.’

‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Go To Proverbs 15

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