Series: Digging Deeper into Proverbs
..[learn_more caption=”Proverbs 14 ESV”]
The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7 Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
15 The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
22 Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.
23 In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
24 The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
28 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
35 A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully
Solomon: The Building Church
Proverbs 14:2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
Here is another excellent contrast that deepens our understanding of the “fear of the Lord.” The language is most insightful. The contrast in this place is easy to see – to fear the Lord is to take Him seriously – and to despise Him or treat Him lightly is the opposite course. No one “fears the Lord” by simply carrying out religious rituals and practices. They fear the Lord when they acknowledge that what God says carries weight with them – it influences decisively how they feel and how they understand truth. To call oneself a Christian, and yet to consider God’s Word little more than good advice is in fact to despise Him. And for those who DO fear Him, it will show itself in uprightness of life.
Proverbs 14:5 A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.
We must bear honest witness about Christ. Have we been saved by Him? Is He our redeemer? Have we truly been bought by Him and have become partakers of His salvation? To claim to be a Christian and yet to be unregenerate – to have never been born again – is to bear false witness. It is to say “Christ has saved me” – when He has done nothing of the sort. Do you believe Him? Have you trusted Him as your substitute on the Cross, owning that God’s wrath is what YOU were due, and that He bore it in your place?
A second aspect of this is that must bear honest witness about what Christ has done in other things beyond salvation. He does not need us to make up things about Him. To exaggerate about His goodness or to claim works for Him He has not done – nor to fail to make known His goodness to us. Many think they need to puff Him up in the eyes of others; and then some fail to make Him known at all. Both must repent and bear honest and true witness about Him.
And thirdly, we must bear honest witness about ourselves. We are so unwilling to be seen and thought of as sinners, failures, etc. Christ came to save the lost, not the righteous. If we will not own the truth about ourselves TO ourselves first, and then to others – we seek to be saved by some other means, and we have no true salvation. To need to look a certain way in the eyes of others (irrespective of how we truly are before God) is the height of hypocrisy.
Proverbs 14:6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
The “scoffer” is one who is scornful of others, and never attains to the insight he or she believes they have into the souls of others. Scornfulness is an attempt to elevate self at the expense of the de-elevation of others. So it is the scoffer’s perspective must always be skewed, for their measure of self is all rooted in comparison to others – and others are not the standard – Christ is! As a result, they feel better about themselves as they look down on others, and all the while lose more and more of reality by not looking intently at Christ. Holy Spirit – keep our eyes fixed upon Christ that we might walk in the truth.
Proverbs 14:7 Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
Do not spend time taking up the thinking of people who speak, live and perpetuate nonsense. Fools are practical atheists. They may claim to be deists or even Christians, but in their thinking and attitudes – for all intents and purposes, they reason and live as though there is no God. Leave them. They cannot impart knowledge of a Christ they do not know or worship. Fools say in their hearts (even though they may profess the contrary) that there really is no God. At least not the God of the Bible. Not a God who created all things by the Word of His power; or who rules His creation actively; or who is holy and must judge sin; or who gave His Son as a ransom for human sin, so that all who put their trust in Him might be forgiven and have everlasting life; or who will at last vanquish all of His enemies and consign them to an eternal Hell. For to deny such truths, is to deny God. And fools, deny God.
But as the old Puritan John Flavel once noted: “the most eagle-eyed philosophers [are] but children in knowledge, compared with the most illiterate Christians.” Why? Because to know the truth about who we are in the universe, and the salvation of our eternal souls in Christ – is knowledge that will give us all the glories of God in Christ Jesus for eternity. What a glorious God we serve, who saves the weak, the broken, the deficient – all by His wonderful grace. And bestows His lavish riches upon the meanest of all – simply by grace through faith. Else, none of us would be saved.
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Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.