Proverbs 14


1 The wise woman builds her house,
       but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

The words “wise woman builds” are the exact same words as found in 9:1:                                                

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; She has sent out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. . .”

builds her house” refers to regulating the affairs of a home and keeping the house in good condition.  Building refers to the management of the physical affairs and the moral conduct. The opposite is seen in 14:1b.

In chapter 13 we mentioned the father and discipline.  Here we see the importance of the role of the woman in a home and in the house.  A man is important, but we see many times in the scriptures that a great man can only be great when there is a great woman with him in his home.  Think of all the mothers and wives whose sons and husbands would have completely collapsed with out the wise woman in the home.

The wise woman is absolutely necessary not just for the home but for the survival of human society. 

The opposite is also true though of women as is seen in the second half.  A woman can destroy her home, house, children, husband and society with her own foolishness. 

    2 He whose walk is upright fears the LORD,
       but he whose ways are devious despises him.

The focus of this proverbs is the individuals view of the LORD (Yahweh)                                                             

(In the NIV the Hebrew word YHWH is translated “LORD” and the Hebrew word Adonai is translated “Lord.”  The they appear Adonai YHWH it is translated “Sovereign LORD.”)

Someone who fears YHWH will walk upright.  Someone who despises him lives in devious ways.                                   

Once again, what you know and what you believe to be true will direct your thoughts, words and deeds.

Outward conduct shows the inward attitude.

This proverb gives insight into why and how the Lord can separate the sheep from the goats in Mt.25 based on             their actions.  What they believed reflected in what they did.  They are not saved by works but their             works reveal the faith that they have.

    3 A fool's talk brings a rod to his back,
       but the lips of the wise protect them.

rod” is the word “choter” and means “branch, twig, rod”.  The only other occurrence is in Isaiah 11:1:                           

            “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”

The translation “rod to his back” involves making small but unsupported changes to consonants and vowels.

Other translations:

NASB- “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for {his} back, But the lips of the wise will protect them.”

KJ— “In the mouth of the foolish [is] a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them. “

NKJ— “In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.”

Noah Webster (1833)— “In the mouth of the foolish [is] a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them”

Robert Young (1898)— “In the mouth of a fool [is] a rod of pride, And the lips of the wise preserve them”

John Nelson Darby (1890)— “In the fool's mouth is a rod of pride; but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”

Gregory the Great   (pope from 590-604, he initiated the reform in the church’s liturgy that became known as the Gregorian chants) understood it as a rod of pride.  He saw it used by foolish preachers who know better how to reprove than how to sympathize.  He said:

            “It is the way of haughty preachers that they are more desirous of strictly reproving their hearers even      
            when distressed than they are to cherish them in a kindly manner.  For they study more to chide and         
            reprove faults than to encourage goodness with praise.  They are anxious to appear superior to other       
            people, and they are better pleased when  anger raises their feelings than when love makes them               
            equal.  They always want to find something to smite sharply with reproof.   S

The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures from around 100 BC) says:                                                    
            “From the mouth of fools cometh a staff of insolence.”

The question then comes when you combined the two halves.  Each half of the proverb is a reflection into the other.  If the first half refers to the fool beating others with their words, who is the lips of the wise preserving? If the wise are preserving themselves then the fool is beating himself.  If the fool is beating others then the wise is preserving others.  Both halves read into the other half.  Is the wise person preserving:                                    

            a)  themselves, the speaker of the wise words                                                                                   

            b) the wise man who has to hear the fools belittling words                                                              

            c) the people who have been beaten by the fools words

If the fool’s arrogant words are the rod of pride that beat the listeners then the wise man has words that will preserve himself from the ridiculous,  arrogant words of the fool, but he will also be able to preserve those beaten by the rod of pride coming from the mouth of a fool.

Paul tells Timothy to be the wise man and to live and teach wisdom in order to save both himself and those who hear his words and see his life:                       “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”     1 Tim.4:16                               - “doctrine” refers to teaching and to that which is taught or the body of material taught.                     
                        - “save” is sozo and means to rescue or to save.                                                        

  4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
       but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Orderliness has its place, but during times of growth and production, orderliness is secondary.

To get the work effort of an ox you have to be willing to deal with the mess of an ox. The same is true of having children, dealing with people, being part of a growing church, etc.

This can be tied into faith and good works.  Only through good works is there an abundant harvest in your faith. James says,                                                                  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  In the same way,                    
                         faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have                        
                        faith; I have deed.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I                   
                        do.” . .You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless.?           
                                                                                                            James 2:14-20

An empty manger has no oxen, so an empty manger produces no harvest.

    5 A truthful witness does not deceive,
       but a false witness pours out lies.

The is no such thing as a single lie.  To keep a lie hidden you must lie again and again.                              
So the proverb: a false witness pours out lies, or a person who bears false testimony once will have to pour out lie after lie.

A truthful witness does not deceive even once.  If they did they would have to lie constantly.

It is easier to tell the truth.  If you always tell the truth you never have to remember anything.

    6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
       but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

A mockers attitude prevents him from gaining wisdom and so changing his life.  He looks for and wants wisdom           
but his attitude and outlook on life (a mocker) can not recognize wisdom.

            Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

“Discerning” is to discern, to understand, to consider                                                                                              
            1) to perceive, discern                                                                                                            
            2) to understand, know (with the mind)                                                                                            
            3) to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider                                                                    
            4) to have discernment, insight, understanding                                                                                             

Job 28:28 “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”                                                    
Psalm 25:8,9   “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
                        He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”

The discerning man then is one who has a fear of the Lord and has a humble heart that wants to follow God.

     7 Stay away from a foolish man,
       for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

KJ— “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not [in him] the lips of knowledge.”
Revised Standard (1947) -  Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.”

Some explain it as “Leave the presence of a fool, and you carry nothing away with you; after all your discussion            with him, you leave his presence without having gained any advance toward true knowledge.”

     8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
       but the folly of fools is deception.

The wise consider and evaluate their lifestyle, their decisions and reflect on their heart before God.                     

The problem for the fool (or, “the folly of fools”) is they will not honestly evaluate themselves but                                  
instead tell themselves what they need to hear to make themselves feel comfortable and not                     
have to change.  The fool’s folly (problem) is that they deceive themselves.

    9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
       but goodwill is found among the upright.

New Living Translation(1996)— “Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.”
KJ— “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous [there is] favour.”
New American Standard— “Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will.”
Hebrew Names Version (2000)— “Fools mock at making atonement for sins, But among the upright there is good will.”
American Standard Version (1901) - “A trespass-offering mocketh fools; But among the upright there is good will

The meaning here could go two ways:
            1)  Either, a fool will not make atonement for their sins before God nor ask forgiveness for their offenses to men.  But the upright man will                                   confess his sin to God and seek to repay the wrongs he has done to men and so wins the favor of God and man.                                                2)  Or, a fool will bring an sacrifice to God or confess his sin to God but it is useless because he is not sincere.  But the upright man finds favor                         because he is sincere in his confession.

     10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
       and no one else can share its joy.

Literally, “The heart knoweth the bitterness of his soul”
No one is as intimate with us as our own selves.  We can not fully share our joys or our sorrows.
“No one knows where the shoe pinches so well as he that wears it.”
An Italian proverb, “To everyone his own cross seems heaviest.”
1 Kings 8:38, “Each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart.”

This shows the impossibility of perfect fellowship with another person.
Yet, our fellowship with Jesus Christ can be perfect in that he does understand. 
Job says concerning this relationship, “I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.” (Job 19:27)
God has placed within the church the gift of mercy.  

     11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
       but the tent of the upright will flourish.

Notice the comparison of the “house of the wicked” with the “tent of the upright.”

The permanent dwelling is destroyed by wickedness.
The temporal dwelling not only endures permanently, but will also flourish.

“Flourish” is an energetic Hebrew word that pictures a tree bursting into flowers.

    12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
       but in the end it leads to death.

A man who follows only his own opinion and the human view point will always take the path that leads to death.
This is speaking about how he plans and conducts his life.  A man makes plans and sets goals and makes decisions but in the end he still arrives at death. 
Do not waste your time fulfilling your ambitions, anticipate your dying moments, council with God.  There is a   way for a man to live that leads to life eternal with a rich inheritance upon his arrival

“Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do these things,            
you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”          
                                                            2 Peter 1:10,11

    13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
       and joy may end in grief.

Revised Standard Version— “Even in laughter the heart is sad, and the end of joy is grief.”
Noah Webster— “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth [is] heaviness.”

The back drop of our life is grief.  Even when we laugh we are laughing through our sorrow.
When that moment of laughing ends (whether it be in a few minutes or even years) we must face our sorrow.
Our joy here on earth is temporal and is passing.

There is another reality greater than our world of death and sorrow.                                                                       
            “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn with the world rejoices,  You will grieve, but your grief                
            will turn to joy. . . .Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and                
            no one will take away your joy.”                                                        John 16:20-22

            “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.”    John 14:27

    14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways,
       and the good man rewarded for his.

    15 A simple man believes anything,
       but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.

    16 A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil,
       but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.

    17 A quick-tempered man does foolish things,
       and a crafty man is hated.

    18 The simple inherit folly,  but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

    19 Evil men will bow down in the presence of the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

    20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors, but the rich have many friends.


    21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

    22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?  But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.

    23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

    24 The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.


     25 A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful.

    26 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

    27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.

    28 A large population is a king's glory,  but without subjects a prince is ruined.

    29 A patient man has great understanding,  but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

    30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,  but envy rots the bones.


     31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
       but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

    32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

    33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning and even among fools she lets herself be known.

    34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.


     35 A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant incurs his wrath.