The Book of Proverbs
We now begin Proverbs Chapter 14. This chapter is part of “Collection II” that begins in Chapter 10 and ends with Chapter 22:16. It continues the Proverbs of Solomon that “contrast righteous and wicked lives” that began in Chapter 10 and ends with Chapter 15.
The overall theme of this chapter is “The foolish will be judged, but the righteous will be accepted by God,” which will be especially noted in the closing verses of this chapter.
The contrasts in this chapter are broken down into four sections:
- Verses 1-7, “Walking in Wisdom vs. Folly.”
- Verses 8-15, “Walking by Faith and Not by Sight.”
- Verses 16-32, “How We Walk in the Sight of Others.”
- Verses 33-35, “The National Impact of Our Walk.”
Section I, Vs. 1-7, “Walking in Wisdom vs. Folly.”
This chapter begins in vs. 1 with a reference to a “wise woman who builds her house” that reminds us of Chapter 9:1-6. There wisdom is personified as a woman, and the woman as “wisdom.” There we noted the benefits of having Bible Doctrine resident within the soul. That theme continues in our new chapter.
Given the similarity of the Hebrew text between Prov 9:1 & 14:1, we understand 14:1 to function as an introduction to a new unit as did 9:1.
The first section of Chapter 14, as do the others, follows a balanced poetical pattern as follows:
A1, Embrace the wise wife (wisdom), and not a foolish one (wickedness), in fear of the Lord, vs. 1-2.
B1, Foolish speech destroys you; wise speech protects you, vs. 3.
C, Use what God has given you, and be industrious in life, vs. 4.
B2, A person’s character determines his speech, vs. 5.
A2, Stay away from mockers and fools, vs. 6-7.
A1 and A2 frame this section by admonishing the believer to embrace wisdom by embracing a wise wife, and not a foolish one. This demonstrates “the fear the Lord”, which is wisdom’s theological foundation, cf. Prov 1:7a, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
A “wise wife” is one who learns and applies Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis. The “unwise” or “foolish” wife is one who operates predominately on her feelings and emotions, just as the foolish husband does. The catchwords of the frame are “wisdom, folly, and fool” in vs. 1 & 6, and “walk/go” in vs. 2 & 7.
The next comparison is the inner core of vs. 3 & 5. B1 and B2 pertain to foolish and wise speech, their destructive and protective effects, vs. 3 and their germination from a person’s character, vs. 5.
Finally, we have the pivot verse, vs. 4, or C. Here we see the application of wisdom leading to industry and the increase of wealth, (i.e., blessings).
Similar to the other contrasting chapters, especially Prov 10:1-16, we will see once again that prudent speech and industry are coupled together as the benchmarks of having “wisdom”, Bible Doctrine, in your soul.
We will also see that vs. 1-3 are linked by the theme of “self-protective” versus “self-destructive behavior,” and vs. 5-7 by the theme of “Who is speaking? Wisdom or folly.”
We begin with:
Verse 1 – A1, Embrace the Wise Wife (wisdom),
& Not a Foolish One (wickedness) in Fear of the Lord.
Prov 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
The first half gives us the positive perspective, “The wise woman builds her house.”
It once again directs the son’s attention to the importance of having a good wife, cf. Prov 12:4; 18:22; 19:14. As we will see, a “good wife” is one who is characterized as having and apply God’s Word to her life consistently.
“Wise” is the Feminine Plural of the Noun CHOKMOTH, חָכְמוֹת that is derived from CHOKMAH that too means, “wisdom.” We noted CHOKMOTH in Prov 1:20; & 9:1. And as we know, this wisdom is speaking about God’s Word/Bible Doctrine in your soul.
Prov 1:20, “Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square.”
“Woman” is the Feminine Plural Noun of ISHSHAH, אִשָּׁה or NASHIYM, נשִׁים that means, “woman, wife, or female.” The plural here means, “women or wives.”
This should read “The wisdom of women.” Waltke translates it, “the wise among women.”
“Builds” is the Hebrew Verb BANAH, בָָּנה in the Qal Perfect. BANAH means to “build, construct” or figuratively “to establish.” It means to build something from something. We saw BANAH in Prov 9:1. It was first used in Gen 2:22 for God’s creation of the woman from Adam’s rib. The Qal Perfect says, “she has built” and focuses on each woman taking individual initiative and responsibility to build up her soul with Bible Doctrine.
So far we have “The wisdom (Bible Doctrine) of women has built.”
“Her House” is the Noun BAYITH, בַּיִת that means, “house or household.” We noted BAYITH in Prov 1:13; 7:6; & 9:1. This verse is not saying that she did the construction of hammering nails to build a home. Here it means she has established a home for her family. She contributes to and regulates the material and spiritual well-being of the household. Her house is established on an immovable foundation of righteousness. And she has provided a place for the family to gather together, be fed, grow, and learn. She has created an environment for the Godly nurturing and love of the entire family.
And in this passage we see that these women have built something from something. They have built a home for themselves and their family, (most likely in reverse order), by means of applying God’s Word that is resident within their soul. Prov 31:10-31, exemplifies how a “wise woman” builds her home and connects her wisdom with “the fear of the Lord.”
“But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”
It begins with the contrasting Conjunction WA and the Feminine Singular of the Noun IWWELETH, אִוֶּלֶת that means, “foolishness or folly.” So we have “But the foolish.” We are talking about a “foolish woman”, one who is devoid of Bible Doctrine in her soul and/or does not apply it on a consistent basis, in contrast to the wise woman above.
Next in the Hebrew is the feminine of BE YADH for “with her hands.” This is a metaphor for accountability. It does not mean she literally takes a sledgehammer to her house to break the wood and beams apart, but means that she is the one who is destroying to her family.
Finally, we have, “tears it down” in the Qal incomplete action, Imperfect, 3rd Person, Feminine, Singular of HARAS, הָרַס. HARAS which means, “to tear down or break through”, which we had in Prov 11:11, for “By the mouth of the wicked it (a city) is torn down.” Here it means, “she keeps on tearing it down”, little by little. It signifies “to ruin or to destroy” her family unit, including their well-being both mentally and physically.
In this contrast, the thing she is “tearing down with her own hands” is her family. Given its meaning and context in Proverbs, and the similar sounding of this Hebrew word to the English word “harass”, we see that more often than not, it is the words that come out of the foolish woman’s mouth that destroy the nurturing and loving home and family, (i.e., her arrogance and incorrigibility, poor speech, hot temper, and lack of self-control bring ruin to her household).
“Fools do not realize that even their construction is destructive.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
She typically will harass her husband and children, rather than loving, teaching, caring, and providing for them as she would if she applied God’s Word to her life on a consistent basis.
Therefore, in the first half, the wise women who have and apply God’s Word in their lives, especially towards their family, will build up their family unit to be one of love and prosperity. But the woman who lacks God’s Word in her soul will be a woman who harasses and attacks her family, with the result of alienating them and causing all kinds of problems within the family unit, and literally will tear the family apart. Cf. Prov 14:11.
Verse 2 – A1, Embrace the Wise Wife (wisdom),
& Not a Foolish One (wickedness), in Fear of the Lord
Prov 14:2, “He who walks in his uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises Him.”
Linked with vs. 1, this verse shifts the focus of attention regarding the household from the mother to the father.
“He who walks” is the Qal Active Participle of HALAK, “to go, walk, or proceed.” It is speaking of your daily life.
“In his uprightness”, is BE YOSHER, ישֶׁר, from YASHAR, that means, “straightness, uprightness, equity”, cf. Prov 2:13; 4:11; 11:24. This means application of Bible Doctrine. “Walking in uprightness” means the application of righteousness which comes from God’s Word resident within your soul. So it is speaking of the application of Bible Doctrine to your daily life.
“Fears” is the Qal Active Participle YARE, יָרֵא that means, “to fear, to respect, to reverence.”
This reverence is for “The Lord” YHVH, יְהָוה. “Fearing the Lord” means honor and respect for His person, but it also applies to the Word of God that is “the mind of Christ”, 1 Cor 2:16, which is respected and honored in your soul.
This half reiterates Proverbs 1 and shifts the focus from the house-wife to the husband. It correlates with vs. 1 to speak to the importance of both the husband and wife to have God’s Word resident within their soul in order to create and maintain a happy home. This also acts as an introduction to the topic to follow in this section, as we will note.
“But he who is devious in his ways despises Him.”
“But he who is devious” is the contrasting Conjunction WA with the Passive Niphal Participle of the Verb LUZ. LUZ means, “to deviate”, which we noted in Prov 2:15; 3:21, 32; 4:21. It means to receive the action of being, “crooked, perverse, or devious.” When you have a lack of respect for God’s Word, you will receive the result of having a mental attitude that is controlled by your sin nature; one that is crooked, perverse, and devious.
“In his ways” is the Noun DEREK for “road, path, or way.” This too speaks of our daily walk, but connected with LUZ here, it means being out of fellowship with God, walking in reversionism; the backslider of vs. 14.
“Despises Him” is the Qal Active Participle of BUZ, בּוּז that means, “to despise or hold in contempt”, with a 3ms ending for “Him” referring to God. Cf. Prov 1:7; 6:30; 11:12; 13:13. This is the person whose negative volition and actions demonstrate their lack of respect for the Lord, which indicates that they despise the Lord. This is reflected in their lack of intake and application of Bible Doctrine and their rejection of their right Pastor-Teacher to teach them the Word of God, as we noted in our previous lesson, cf. John 10:20.
The active sense here is on “despising Him.” The action received as a result of “despising the Lord” is being “devious, crooked, and perverted.” Despising the Lord reveals contempt for correction and instruction, as well as for the Lord’s standards of truth and righteousness. When someone actively does not take in or apply God’s Word, it results in that person performing all kinds of sins, human good and evil. When we operate in sin, human good, and evil, it indicates our lack of respect for the Lord.
The plural for “ways” (DEREK) suggests that the person who despises the Lord has no fixed course in their life, but wanders here and there according to his lusts. Such a person is an abomination to the Lord and can have no fellowship with Him. Yet, the righteous have an intimate relationship with Him as they walk in fellowship with Him each and every day, Prov 3:32, applying His word to every situation of life.
Prov 3:32, “For the devious are an abomination to the LORD; but He is intimate with the upright.”
“The manner of life proves whether one is really walking with God or not. The testimony of the lips is worthless if contradicted by the behavior. The one who fears the Lord will be characterized by godliness and faithfulness.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary.)
1 Sam 15:22, “Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams”.”
1 John 2:6, “The one who says he abides in Him (Jesus Christ) ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
Verse 3 – B1, Foolish Speech Destroys You; Wise Speech Protects You.
We begin the second stanza of this section, B1, where we see that “Foolish Speech Destroys You; Yet Wise Speech Protects You.”
Proverbs 14:3, “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”
It begins with the negative!
“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back.”
“In the mouth of the foolish” is BE PEH EWIYL.
As we have noted EWIYL means, “foolish,” in the sense of one who hates wisdom and walks in folly, despising wisdom and morality. Here it is linked with PEH that means, “edge” and stands for the “mouth.” Therefore, in view are verbal sins or sins of the tongue, that this reversionistic believer habitually performs. It is their way of life.
“Rod” is the noun CHOTER, חֹטֶר that means, “a branch, twig, or rod.” It is used only here and in Isa 11:1. It denotes a new shoot, or a branch, and this metaphor connotes that it sprouts and flourishes and/or that it inflicts punishment, as we will see. In Aramaic, CHOTER can mean a rod, (for punishment).
As you know, Isa 11:1 is a prophecy of Jesus Christ, The Messiah, from the lineage of David. David’s father was named Jesse.
Isaiah 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
Interestingly, in the Akkadian and Ugaritic languages, which are similar to Hebrew, they also have a related word which can mean, “scepter” indicating royalty. This certainly applies to our Lord’s prophecy in Isa 11, and for our verse in Prov 14:3, it has application as well, especially as we compare the latter parts of Chapter 14, vs. 35 particularly, which speaks of a king’s or ruler’s authority to bless or discipline.
As CHOTER literally means, “a sprout or rod”, it also eludes to the discipline of the ruling authority, i.e., that of God. Therefore, Divine discipline and self-induced misery are in view with this word.
In the next word we see the added reason for this discipline. We have already noted that this reversionistic believer operates habitually with sins of the tongue, now we see the genesis of his sins.
“Back” is a metaphorical translation to go along with the discipline theme. The Hebrew word is GA’AWAH, גַּאֲָוה that means, “pride, majesty, or arrogance.” It is derived from GA’AH, which means, “to rise or be high” and occurs nineteen times in the Old Testament. From this word we see the tie-in to “kingly rule and authority”, (cf. Deut 36:26, 29 the first mention of this word in the Bible), but we also note the arrogance of this backsliding believer, (cf. Prov 29:23), who habitually performs sins of the tongue due to the arrogance within their soul. And as a result, they will receive Divine discipline. In other words, he is his own worst enemy.
The fool’s arrogance, displayed in his words, often gets him into trouble, cf. Prov 13:3; 18:6f, because he neither considers the effect of his words before speaking, cf. Prov 12:18; 15:1, nor attempts to control his tongue, Prov 18:2; 20:3.
“But the lips of the wise will preserve them.”
This is similar to Prov 12:6b, “But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.”
Here “Lips” is the Noun SAPHAH, “wise” is CHAKHAM, and “Will preserve them” is the active Qal Imperfect of the Verb SHAMAR, שָׁמַר that means, “to guard or keep.” It means, “it will keep on guarding or protecting them.”
Here we see the protection we receive by walking and speaking righteously on a habitual basis. We will avoid arrogance leading to all kinds of verbal sins, which in turn causes us to avoid Divine discipline and self-induced misery. Righteousness leading to wisdom and good speech, (i.e., application of Bible Doctrine), protects our soul.
The wise understand the power of words, Prov 18:21, and so speak cautiously and appropriately, Prov 25:11, matching their words to the occasion and the needs of their hearers, Prov 25:12. Knowing how (and when) to speak, they guard themselves by their appropriate use of words which sometimes is deemed as being relatively silent, Prov 17:27f; 21:23.
Verse 4 – C, Use what God has Given You, and be Industrious in Life, vs. 4.
We now come to the middle portion of this section, C, that tell us to “Use what God has Given Us, and be Industrious in Life.”
Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.”
We begin with the negative concept.
“Where no” is BE AYIN, and “oxen” is ELEPH, אֶלֶף that means, “cattle or oxen.” It is the lesser used word for oxen or cattle, used only seven times in Scripture, and used only in the plural.
“Manger” is EBUS, אֵבוּס (ay-booce) that means, “manger, crib, or trough.” It is used only three times in the Old Testament, here, Job 39:9 & Isa 1:3 with “donkey” and speaking about Israel’s rejection of God. Interestingly, with the word “manger” associated with the donkey in Isa 1:3, we have another allusion to our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Clean” is the noun BAR, בַּר that means, “clean or pure.”
Here we see the easy road. If you have no cattle you do not have to feed them or clean up after them. Life seems easy. Yet, in the ancient agricultural society oxen were essential for plowing, harvesting and threshing. Therefore, if you had no oxen, you could not plow, harvest, or thresh, and therefore would not be able to provide for yourself or family. The easy road is not the best road to travel.
In the spiritual sense we see the same analogy, when looking at an empty manger, meaning no Christ in your life, as Isa 1 alludes too, just as in farming, it may seem easier to not have to do the day-to- day work, i.e., learning and studying God’s Word. Yet in the end, if you do not put in the initial effort and investment of studying, learning and applying God’s Word, you will have nothing to provide for your physical and spiritual needs. Therefore, having an empty manger, meaning no Christ in your life, may seem easier, but it will cause you to be lacking for that which you need to live and survive.
“But much increase comes by the strength of the ox.”
In this portion we will see that the lesson connected with building or tearing down a house is now applied to prudent work. The wise understand that any enterprise involves costs and benefits and weighs the relative value of each.
“But much increase”, is the contrasting conjunction WA with the adjective RAB (rav) for “great, much, or abundant”, and the noun TEBUAH, תְּבוּאָה that means, “produce or gain” that we noted in Prov 3:9, 14; 8:19; & 10:16.
“By the strength” is BE with the Noun KOACH, כֹּחַ, that means, “strength, power, or fitness”, cf. Prov 5:10.
“Of the ox” is the noun SHOR, שׁוֹר in the singular that means, “ox or bull”, cf. Prov 7:22. There we noted that a rash and foolish youth is like an “ox led to the slaughter,” naively and thoughtlessly going to his death completely unaware of the danger. But here it is used to indicate that oxen are some trouble to clean up after, but they more than pay their way. It is worth the investment of inconvenience to gain the increase that an ox produces. And like other proverbs that reflect Israel’s agricultural economy, its application is not limited to the family farm, cf. Prov 12:10-11; 27:23-27; 28:19, but has meaning to all aspects of economy and life. Therefore, if you put in the effort, there will be a payoff.
Finally, in our spiritual application, here we have obtained the ox, (The Lord Jesus Christ), that will go to work for us and provide us with tremendous blessings. Yet, now that we have the ox, we have to care for the ox, which means we have to do our due diligence to study, learn, and apply His Word in faith and build our relationship with Him. As we do, it will reap wonderful blessings for both time and eternity.
The first part of this verse suggests the reasoning of the short-sighted fool or sluggard, both physically and spiritually. The second line highlights the industry of the right-minded individual.
1 Cor 9:9, “For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops.”
Verse 5 – B2, A Person’s Character Determines His Speech, vs. 5.
We now turn to the fourth portion of this section, B2 that tells us, “A Person’s Character Determines His Speech.”
Proverbs 14:5, “A faithful witness will not lie, but a false witness speaks lies.”
Here we see the right and wrong ways to use our tongue. It begins with the right way.
“A faithful witness” is the adjective EMUN, אֵמוּן, for “faithfulness or trustworthy”, cf. Prov 13:17, and the Noun ED, עֵד for “witness”, cf Prov 6:19; 12:17.
“Lie” is the intensive causative Piel Imperfect of the Verb KAZAB, כָּזָב that means, “lie, deception, or fraud.” With the negative Particle LO for “not,” it means he “absolutely does not lie.”
This speaks of the protection we saw earlier of having God’s Word resident within our soul and being Filled with the Holy Spirit. When you have God’s two power options working within your soul, they cause you to walk in righteousness and not commit verbal sins, and in this case, to not lie. This person emulates the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true and faithful witness, Rev 1:5; 3:14.
“But a false witness speaks lies.”
This half speaks of one of the categories of verbal sins the reversionistic believer commits. It is nearly identical to Prov 6:19, “A false witness who utters lies”, which is one of the seven abominable sins that the Lord hates.
“The false witness” is the noun SHEQER, שֶׁקֶר for “lie or deception” and the Noun ED for “witness” once again.
“Speaks” is the causative active Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb PUACH, פּוּחַ that means, “to blow.” It is used metaphorically here for speaking. In other words, “he is a windbag.”
The thing this false witness is caused to speak is “lies”, the noun KASAB. He is caused to speak lies because his soul is not controlled by The Word and the Spirit. Instead he is controlled by his Old Sin Nature, which causes him to lie in many situations.
So this passage tells us that character is an issue when it comes to speaking with others. Those to whom lying comes as naturally as breathing are false witnesses, and their testimony should be discounted, whereas those whose deeds and lives have proved the worth of their words should be held as trustworthy people.
Included in this comparison are the “true” versus the “false” witnesses of God’s Word; the one who teaches the truth of God’s Word versus the one who teaches false doctrines. As scripture tells us in 1 Cor 5:6 & Gal 5:9, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Therefore, if someone teaches a false doctrine here and there, it taints their entire witness. That is why we need to be diligent to teach the truth as accurately as possible.
Likewise, the hearer must be able to discern between the truth and the lie so as not to be deceived themselves by the false teacher, because there will be consequences if we do not discern rightly, Prov 14:25, “A truthful witness saves lives, But he who speaks lies is treacherous.”
So this section began with the analogy of building up or tearing down a house, based on your love or hatred towards The Lord and His Word. If you love the Lord, you will speak righteously; if you hate Him, you will speak perversely. If you love Him, you will care for Him by receiving and applying His Word; if you hate Him, it is demonstrated by your lack of intake and application of His Word. The consequence of loving Him means you witness the truth on His behalf; the consequence of hating Him means false witnessing and cosmic viewpoint that you spread to others.
In our next lessons we will see the concluding principles regarding the building of our house, the edification complex of our soul.
Next in verses 6-7, we have the conclusion of Section 1 that instructs us in A2, to “Stay Away from Mockers and Fools.”
Verse 6 – A2, Stay Away from Mockers and Fools.
Proverbs 14:6, “A scoffer seeks wisdom, and finds none, but knowledge is easy to him who has understanding.”
“A scoffer” is the Hebrew noun LUTS, לֵץ or LITS that means, “Scoffer, make mouths at, arrogant talker, scorner, mocker.” Cf. Prov 1:22; 3:34; 9:7-8, 13:1.
“Seeks” is the intensive active Piel Perfect of the Verb BAQASH, בָּקַשׁ that means, “to find, require, or desire.” cf. Prov 2:4; 11:27.
The thing this arrogant speaker seeks is “wisdom”, the noun CHOKMAH. As he has sought after it, the result is “and finds none,” which is WA AYIN for “but there is none” or, “but he does not find what he is seeking for”, i.e., he cannot find the object of his search.
This reversionistic, boastful, arrogant believer desires wisdom, but because he is running his mouth and not listening to the teaching of Bible Doctrine, he will not receive it, and therefore not have God’s Word in his soul, especially in times of need.
“His arrogance prevents him from humbling himself under God’s revelation of that reality through his inspired sages and blinds him to revealed truth about piety and ethics (cf. 9:7; 18:2; 24:7; 2 Tim. 3:7). He lacks the moral seriousness to serve others and not himself. Instead of finding what lies beyond himself in God through inspired teachers and being corrected by it, his exaggerated opinion of his own importance and his desire for social power and exaltation bring him back again and again to himself.” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
This may be the type of believer 2 Tim 3:1-7 is referring to.
“But knowledge is easy to him who has understanding.”
“But knowledge” is the contrasting conjunction, WA, with the noun DA’ATH, for “knowledge”.
Then we have “is easy to him”, which is the simple passive Niphal Perfect of QALAL, קָלַל that means, “to be light” in the sense of “to be easy” as here and 2 Kings 20:10.
“Who has understanding” is LE BIYN, בִּין that is also in the simple passive Niphal that means, “to discern, to perceive, to observe, or to pay attention to.”
The two passives tell us that this positive believer receives the action of gaining or possessing “knowledge.” He does so by first receiving the Word of God as taught by his right Pastor-Teacher, because in non-meritorious faith, he listens to his teaching on a consistent basis. He is not constantly running his mouth in arrogance, but instead in humility he listens, and so he will learn. The learning comes by means of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, (the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit inside of his soul), where this believer receives the action of understanding what has been taught to him. As a result, the doctrine he listened to in faith and was given understanding of by the Holy Spirit, becomes EPIGNOSIS Doctrine within his soul. Now he can use that doctrine to life’s situations, especially in times of need.
Therefore, this verse tells us that wisdom is not a commodity the proud can seize, but only the humble find it.
Verse 7 – A2, Stay Away from Mockers and Fools.
Verse 7 ends Section 1, but also begins a string of three consecutive verses that speak about the fool.
Proverbs 14:7, “Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.”
“Leave the presence” is from the Qal Imperative of the Verb HALAK, that means “to walk”, which completes the frame of this section with vs. 2. It also includes the Adverb MIN for “from” that is translated “leave”, and the Adverb NEGED that means, “in front or before” that is translated “presence.” Altogether they mean, “leave the presence,” or as we might say, “walk away from” or even “do not associate with.”
The one we are to “walk away from” is the “fool” which in the Hebrew is LE ISH KESIYL, or literally “of a man fool” or “a foolish man.”
The rare imperative here is a command to not associate with the fool or foolish. It reminds us of the familiar adage, “bad company corrupts good character” in 1 Cor 15:33.
As we noted in vs. 2, we see the frame of this section with a beginning instruction to “walk in uprightness”, i.e., walk in our experiential sanctification, and here we are instructed to “walk away from the foolish man”, which also means, “do not walk in sin”, because the foolish man is one who has been described throughout this book as one who is devoid of God’s Word in his soul. So if we associate with this foolish man his carnality will rub off on us, and we too will walk in sin rather than in righteousness.
There is no contrast in this verse, but a complementary phrase that adds a warning to this command, “or you will not discern words of knowledge.”
“Or you will not discern” is the connective conjunction WA with the negative of emphasis Particle BAL for “not”, and the Qal Perfect of the Verb YADAH, יָדַע that means, “to know, to learn, to perceive, or to discern.”
Notice the Active Voice here meaning you perform the action of NOT learning, perceiving, discerning, or knowing God’s Word. It represents a volitional choice to disobey God’s command to “not associate with the fool.”
Next we have, “words of knowledge”, which is the noun SAPHAH, שָׂפָה that means, “lip or mouth.” With this is the noun DA’ATH for “knowledge.”
In other words, if you associate with the fool, he will drag you down by cluttering your thinking. His cosmic viewpoint will over run your soul with the result that you will not be able to learn and apply Bible Doctrine. Instead you will become a fool yourself.
Vs. 6 told us that the positive believer has intuitive ability to attain knowledge; while vs. 7 tells us that the fool has inability to teach it.
The warning here is to stay away from those who are not like minded as you; those who do not love the Word of God and instead live filled with Cosmic Viewpoint. Cf. Rom 12:16; 15:5-6; Phil 2:2-5.
Rom 12:16, “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”
Phil 2:2-5, “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Rom 15:5-6, “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Wisdom cannot be leisurely found, and especially not when the heart is essentially opposed to its counsel, Prov 1:24-28.
- Scoffers are bent on rebellion against wisdom.
- We become like the people we associate with, Prov 13:20; 22:24f. And their folly infects us to such an extent that we do not even know that we have begun to listen to, and act, in the same folly as they do, cf. Prov 19:27.
- This is a warning to urge the believer to pursue wisdom now, while you can, and not assume you will be able to later, especially after a period of rebellion and cosmic living. The time is now!
- Wisdom and folly are not changeless; since we are always on one path or the other, growing in insight or becoming increasingly foolish, Prov 12:21; 14:6.
- The wise choose their friends carefully.
Prov 14:7 ends Section 1, but also begins a string of three consecutive verses that speak about the fool.
The word, “fool,” is found in 62 verses of scripture; “fool’s” (possessive) in 7 verses; “fools” in 42 verses; “foolish” in 52 verses; “foolishness” in 20 verses, and “folly” 37 verses.
In Prov 14:7 we are commanded with a rare Imperative in the Old Testament to “leave the presence of the fool.”
In Prov 14:8 we are warned that “the foolishness of fools is deceit / treachery.”
In Prov 14:9 we are told that “fools mock at sin.”
Interestingly in vs. 9, the word “sin” is not the typical Hebrew word for sin which is CHATTAH, but is ASHAM, that means, “sin or guiltiness”, and is mostly used for the “trespass offering” which corresponds to the confession of sins today. We will note this in detail in vs. 9 below. This offering had its counterpart called the “sin (CHATTAH) offering” that was used for known sins, while the ASHAM offering was for inadvertent / unknown sins. So in vs. 9 we could say, “fools mock at the trespass offering”, and for us today in the Church Age we could say, “fools mock at the confession of sins.”
As you know, the Bible warns us about becoming a companion of a fool or fools. Therefore, in order to avoid the fool, we need to know how to identify a fool? The Bible gives us plenty of characteristics of a fool so that we can learn them and, 1) avoid the companionship of fools, and 2) avoid the characteristics of fools, that is, not become one ourselves.
How a Wise Man Recognizes a Fool.
A Fool is Revealed by His Speech.
Eccl 5:3, “For the dream comes through much effort and the voice of a fool through many words.”
- The fool has a surplus of words.
Eccl 10:14, “Yet the fool multiplies words. No man knows what will happen, and who can tell him what will come after him?”
- The fool has slanderous words.
Prov 10:18, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.” (To slander someone is to make accusation against them without verifying that it is true.)
- The fool has scoffing words, Prov 14:6; Psa 14:1.
Psa 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” (An atheist does not truly believe there is no God; he just says there is no God.)
- The fool has swift words, Prov 29:11, 20.
Prov 29:11, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.”
Prov 29:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
- A fool talks without considering a matter first.
Prov 18:13, “Who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.”
One of the most foolish types of programs on television is the average news commentary with two or more people “debating” the issues. They have nearly every characteristic of a fool’s speech that the Bible gives!
A Fool is Revealed by His Steps.
Eccl 10:3, “Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.”
- A fool has stumbling steps.
Eccl 2:14, “The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I know that one fate befalls them both.”
- A fool has sinful steps.
Prov 26:11, “Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”
In the story of the Prodigal son, Luke 15:11-31, the fool was the young man who decided to leave home and waste his inheritance. When he came to himself, he decided to return to the Father’s house. In doing so, he first proclaimed in vs. 18, “I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight”.” Cf. vs. 21. He first confessed his sins. The most foolish thing a Christian does is to reject his Father’s fellowship and go the way of the world.
A Fool is Revealed by His Arrogance.
Prov 14:16, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless.”
- A fool has a haughty / proud mental attitude.
Prov 28:26, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”
Prov 14:3, “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise will protect them.”
A fool promotes himself; a wise man humbles himself and lifts up Jesus!
- A fool is stubborn in his soul.
Prov 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”
- He is not teachable.
Prov 15:5, “A fool rejects his father’s discipline, but he who regards reproof is sensible.”
Prov 23:9, “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”
- He rejects the truths of the Bible about salvation, about service, about sin, and separation.
- A fool is hasty in his ways.
Prov 13:16, “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool displays folly.”
A wise man is swift to hear, but slow to speak, slow to get angry, and slow to make a decision that requires contemplation.
Prov 29:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Prov 19:2, “Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps errs.”
- A fool causes strife, he gets into arguments all the time
Prov 20:3, “Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.”
- A fool has a “short fuse”, he gets angry easily and quickly.
Eccl 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.”
Prov 12:16, “A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor.”
A Fool is Revealed by His Sport.
Prov 10:23, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool, and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.” (Sport is what makes a person happy. It is pleasure.)
- He enjoys mischief.
We think of mischief as a joke, but in the Bible, it’s more serious than that; it is anything that is harmful to another person. That is why it is one of the seven abominations to God, according to Prov 6:18, “A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil.”
- He enjoys meddling in the affairs of others.
Prov 26:17-19, “Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him. 18Like a madman who throws firebrands (missiles or flaming arrows), arrows and death, 19so is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, “Was I not joking?””
- He is willing to lie about others in order to stir up a fight. He is a gossip. He is always talking about others to try to make people angry at them.
Many people are unaware of what marks a fool. Many are companions of fools. Many are foolish in their own ways. Therefore, let us not be foolish ourselves, but wise. Let us be kind and witness to all people, and let us not have fools, but wise men, as our companions.
About the fool Ironside notes, “When it becomes evident that a man is bent on folly with no concern about righteousness, it is best to leave him to himself. To argue or reason with such a one is useless. It is defiling to the wise and only gratifying to the pride of the fool. “From such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). The prudent is given wisdom to guide him well. The fool has no desire for this wisdom. His heart is false and his lips are deceitful. He mocks sin and does not realize its heinousness. He has never realized the need for repentance. Consequently, it is useless to try to turn him from his disobedient course.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – H. A. Ironside Commentary – Proverbs.)
Therefore, for these, and other reasons, we are commanded to separate from the fool!
Section II, vs. 8-15, “Walking by Faith and Not by Sight.”
This section admonishes us to walk as the wise in the ways of revealed wisdom in order to build up our house. It now gives us a warning to not walk as fools, by appearances and so destroy our house, cf. Prov 14:1, 12.
The pattern of this section is:
A1, The prudent and fools, vs. 8.
B1, Making amends for sin, vs. 9.
C1, Secrets of the heart, vs. 10.
D1, The destruction of the wicked versus the prosperity of the upright, vs. 11.
D2, The deceptive way to death, vs. 12.
C2, Secrets of the heart, vs. 13.
B2, Being repaid for sin, vs. 14.
A2, The gullible versus the shrewd, vs. 15.
Verse 8 – A1, The Prudent and Fools.
This is the second of three consecutive verses contrasting the wise and the foolish. This verse introduces our second section and speaks to deception by contrasting the wisdom of the shrewd who take note of the consequences of their ways, with the folly of fools to deceive themselves and others.
Prov 14:8, “The wisdom of the sensible (prudent) is to understand his way, but the foolishness of fools is deceit.”
The first half of this verse speaks to those who have God’s Word resident within their soul. The Hebrew reads, “CHOKMAH ARUM BIN DEREK.” BIN is the Hiphil Infinitive verb to identify causative action. The wise and prudent man is caused to understand what is going on in his daily life. He has insight and understanding to the situations he faces. He has a Personal Sense of Destiny.
In contrast to the fool below, the wise steer clear of deceit, knowing its harmful effects. Because the wise are patient to ponder decisions, they understand and anticipate the consequences of their choices. They are thus able to avoid trouble, cf. Prov 14:15f; 22:3.
“But the foolishness of fools is deceit.”
“But the foolishness of fools” in Hebrew is WA IWWELETH KESIYL.
“Deceit” is MIRMAH, מִרְמָה once again that means, “deceit or treachery”, cf. Prov 11:1; 12:5, 17, 20.
This tells us one aspect of the fool’s mode of operation, as we noted in the Doctrine of How to Identify a Fool. It is part of their sport as they are deceitful and treacherous in their ways, rather than prudent and understanding. In this and prior context, it speaks to their self-deception, as well as their desire to deceive others.
In this contrast we also see that fools do not pay attention to their way, having no doctrine in their souls to learn from, and therefore do not have a Personal Sense of Destiny. Fools deceive themselves into thinking that they understand, and therefore they walk carelessly into the troubles that the wise avoid.
Verse 9 – B1, Making Amends for Sin.
Next we have the third verse regarding the fool, of which we noted prior to the doctrine above.
Prov 14:9, “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is good will.”
The first half of this verse continues with the “fool”, EWIYL, who also “mocks at sin.”
“Mocks” is the QAL Imperfect Verb LUTS / LITS that means to, “mock, scorn, scoff, or speak arrogantly about.”
The thing that they mock, scorn or talk arrogantly about is “sin”, which is not the typical word for sin “CHATTAH”, but is ASHAM, that means “offense, trespass, or guilt.” It is used predominantly for the “guilt or trespass offering” in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, (e.g., Lev 5:15f, 18f, 25; 19:21f; Num 6:12; 18:9), which corresponds to the confession of sins today in the Church Age, cf. Mat 5:23-24.
It is first used in Gen 26:10, “Abimelech said, “What is this you (Isaac) have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife (Rebekah), and you would have brought guilt (ASHAM) upon us.”
In Num 5:7, it is associated with the confession of sin, “then he shall confess his sins (CHATTAH) which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong (ASHAM) and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged.”
This offering had its counterpart called the “sin (CHATTAH) offering” that is used 108 times in the Old Testament, while the “guilt / trespass (ASHAM) offering” is used 35 times. These two offerings are closely related and difficult to distinguish in scripture.
“The Mosaic Law applies the term to inadvertent sin, (Lev. 4:13, 22), to ceremonial uncleanness (5:2), and to moral guilt, including taking false oaths (5:4), stealing, and cheating (6:4[5:23]; cf. Ps. 10:2-11). In that Levitical law, the ASHAM sacrifice, along with other reparations, discharged one’s obligations. Today it is discharged in the sacrifice of Christ, who offered his life as a guilt offering (Isa. 53:10).” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
Isa 53:10, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.”
As you know, we are no longer under the Law, as Christ fulfilled the Law, but we are still commanded to confess our sins to God, 1 John 1:9. When we confess our sins, we are cleansed experientially of “all unrighteousness”, which means the known and unknown, advertent and inadvertent sins we have committed.
This cleansing is not for salvation but for our experiential sanctification, i.e., our walk with Christ and fellowship with God, including His Spirit. Without confession of our sins, we have no walk with Christ.
With this context, Prov 14:9 could say for us today in the Church Age, “fools mock at the confession of sins.”
In the time of Solomon, fools who did wrong and scoffed at the guilt offering would find no Divine or mutual favor and acceptance.
“But among the upright there is good will.”
In Hebrew it is “WA BAYIN YASHAR RATSON.”
RATSON is a Noun that means, “favor, pleasure, delight, or will, as in good will”
In this contrast, with the Mosaic Law of the guilt/trespass offerings in view, the righteous believer will find favor with God and man because they are not persistently sinning against them. They are not causing problems and harm; they do not have a deceitful heart. They know that there is a Divine payday someday. As such, they will have good will with both God and man.
Likewise, if the upright did cause harm to others through the sins they committed, they would confess them, make the appropriation reparation to those offended, and commit the necessary sacrifices according to the Law. For us today, this is the believer who confesses their sins as they are committed, and thereby regains fellowship with God and man according to 1 John 1:7-10.
1 John 1:7-10, “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us, (this is the mocker of sin in Prov 14:9a). 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (this is the upright of good will in Prov 14:9b). 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
Therefore, the contrasts between “fools” and the “upright” and “mockery” and “goodwill”, suggest that the proverb focuses on differences in both spiritual and social relationships between those who reject and accept God’s words of wisdom. It addresses their different attitudes toward sin and injury. Fools mock at restitution, whereas those who are honest strive to honor their commanded obligations.
Verse 10 – C1, Secrets of the Heart.
Prov 14:10, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.”
Here we have two introspective proverbs regarding knowledge of the inner being.
“The heart knows” is LEB, for the right lobe of your soul, with YADAH for “knowledge.”
“Bitterness” is the Noun MORAH, מֹרָה. It is derived from the verb MARAR that means, “to be bitter.” It is used only here and Gen 26:35, where Esau’s parents (Rebekah and Isaac) were “grieved” because he married two Hittite women (Judith and Basemath). So it comes to mean, “grief or bitterness.”
“Its own” is the Noun NEPHESH for “soul” and is used synonymously with LEB here.
So we could translate this, “the heart knows the bitterness of its soul.”
Then we see the comparison, “and a stranger does not share its joy.”
In the Hebrew this begins with the conjunction WA with the Noun SIMCHAH, שִׂמְחָה that means, “joy, gladness, or rejoicing.” Then it reads LO ARAB for “does not share or exchange” using the Hithpael Imperfect of ARAB for reflexive ongoing action. And finally it reads, ZUR that means, “a foreigner, stranger, or unlawful.” It means here anyone but yourself, others.
So we could translate this as, “And its joy is not shared with others.”
This proverb tells us it is impossible to fully communicate the depth of our emotion (from bitterness to joy) or our experiences with anyone else. See vs. 13. The point here is that everyone is a stranger to everyone else’s heart, cf. Ecc 7:3, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy”, and only you know what is truly going on inside your soul.
1 Cor 2:11, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.”
There may be outward circumstances for all to see, vs. 11, but appearances are deceptive, vs. 13.
So this proverb warns us to guard ourselves against thinking, or saying that we understand someone else’s situation or feelings. That depth of understanding is reserved for God alone, which is why the psalmists ask him to search and know them, cf. Psa 7:9; 26:2; 139:23f. It cautions against evaluating others by outward appearances and to be true to our own heart, cf. Job 19:27.
Given that only you and God truly knows what is going on in your heart, should lead you to turn to Him in all situations, 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Verse 11 – D1, The Destruction of the Wicked versus the Prosperity of the Upright.
Prov 14:11, “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.”
In this verse we see the chapter’s main theme once again, in regard to building up or tearing down our house. It also implicitly teaches the disciple to walk by faith, not by sight. It asks the question “are we building up the edification complex of our soul, adorning the temple of God in us, or are we tearing down the ornaments within the temple by walking inside of Satan’s cosmic system of sin, human good and evil?”
“The house of” is the noun BAYITH that literally means, “house,” but also means, “household”, the entire family. This house is the house of “the wicked”, the noun RASHA. Then we have, “will be destroyed”, which is the passive Niphal and future Imperfect of the Verb SHAMAD, שָׁמַד that means, “to be laid waste, to be destroyed, or to be exterminated.” It is used throughout the Old Testament but only here in the book of Proverbs. It refers to God’s judgment against the wicked as David declared in Psa 37:38.
Psa 37:38, “Transgressors will be altogether destroyed. The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.” He indicates that the Lord blesses the righteous man but punishes the wicked who are walking inside of Satan’s cosmic system.
With BAYITH and SHAMAD and in comparison with Psa 37:38, we see that this discipline for the reversionistic believer or Divine judgment on the unbeliever, affects more than just the individual but their entire family. Therefore, we see discipline and judgment by association where the reversionistic believer’s or unbeliever’s judgment affects their family as well.
“But the tent of the upright will flourish.”
“But the tent”, is the conjunction WA with the Noun OHEL, אֹהֶל that means, “tent”. It too is used throughout the Old Testament but only here in the book of Proverbs. In Arabic, the cognate ‘AHL means, “clan,” those who live in the same tent. Likewise, many scholars hold that the Akkadian word for “city,” ALU is the (linguistically expected) contraction of the proto-Semitic root, which becomes OHEL in Hebrew. So we see the meaning is more than just the structure of the “tent,” but like its counterpart BAYITH above means, “the family”, so too does OHEL here. It also is used for the nomadic person who does not have a permanent dwelling place, so it means the humbler of means rather than the riches of a permanent dwelling place.
This household is that of the “upright”, YASHAR once again, which means those who are walking inside of God’s Plan for their life. For us, the Church Age believer, it includes those who are consistently filled with the Holy Spirit and walking under their experiential sanctification.
With OHEL and YASHAR, we see the positive believer living in their Politeuma privileges, as all believers are citizens of heaven, Phil 3:20, and are temporarily dwelling here on earth.
The blessing the positive believers receive is describe poetically of a flower that buds or blooms, “will flourish”, which is the causative Hiphil, and going action Imperfect of the verb PARACH, פָּרַח that means, “to sprout, to bud, to blossom, to break out.” “The metaphor “bud” signifies that their households break forth ever anew with life and prosperity.” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
Here PARACH means, “caused to keep on flourishing.” We noted this word in Prov 11:28, “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.”
Interestingly, in the majority of occurrences, it refers to the bud-shaped ornaments that decorated the Tabernacle or the temple of Solomon, cf. Ex 25:33; 1 Kings 7:26. So our analogy of the adornment of the temple of our soul, 1 Cor 3:15, in building up our house, (the edification complex of the soul), is in view.
This blessing passage means that there will be Divine blessings for the positive believer along with blessing by association to their family.
Regarding this comparison, Ironside notes, “In these verses we read first of the house of the lawless and the tent of the righteous. The house might seem by far the more stable, but it will be overthrown; its foundations will be destroyed because they are built on sinking sand. The upright pilgrim lives in his tent as he journeys through this world that is foreign to his new nature. This tent will abide and flourish until tenting days are over.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary.)
Therefore, this Proverb compares the instability of a house with the fruitfulness of a tent, which gives it an ironic tone; that which is temporary outlasts that which appears solid and enduring. It also continues the comparison of the relative value of wisdom versus wickedness in light of the stability of the righteous and the impermanence of the fool, e.g., Psa 92:12-14; Prov 10:25; 11:3-6; 12:7.
Psa 92:12-14, “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.”
Verse 12 – D2, The Deceptive Way to Death.
Prov 14:12, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
This verse is identical to Prov 16:25, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
We begin with “there is,” which is the Substantive Particle YESH, יֵשׁ that means, “there is or existence.”
“A way” is the Noun DEREK that means, “a way, path, or road,” which we have noted. It means a “direction in life” based on the decisions that you make.
“Which seems right” is the Noun YASHAR for “straight, reliable, upright, level” that we have seen throughout this chapter and in the previous verse for the wise and righteous believer. Here it simply means what is “right or correct” in our own thoughts.
“To a man” is a compound word from the Preposition LE for “to or before”, the noun PANIM that means, “face” and the Noun ISH that means, “man.” Literally it is “before the face of a man.” ISH is used to give us a sharp contrast between God and man in regard to our knowledge and decision making.
This phrase has the connotation of that which is right in front of you. This is where we get part of the title for this section, “walk by faith and not be sight.” It is a warning not to accept everything that you see or hear in this world. It cautions us to use the wisdom of God’s Word to make good, rational, and logical decisions rather than emotional or sinful decisions because of what we see or hear. It also warns that even good, rational, and logical decisions may seem like the right course of action, but if they are made with the absence of Bible Doctrine applied from your soul, and without the filling of the Holy Spirit, they too are wrong decisions.
Many times, because of what we see or hear we make rash decisions and think we are making good and right ones. But in fact it is the wrong decision for us, and it results in further problems and difficulties. This correlates to the second half of Prov 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Therefore, this half of the proverb cautions us against estimating on our own the consequences of our lifestyle, because, as we noted in Prov 12:15a, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”
The corresponding warning is, “but its end is the way of death.”
“But its end” is the coordinating conjunction WA with the Noun ACHARIYTH, אַחֲרִית that means, “end or furthest part,” cf. Prov 5:4, 11. This feminine noun is a derivative from ACHAR and is used in several ways. First, it is used in a locative sense. Psalm 139:9 speaks of dwelling in the uttermost (or remotest) part of the sea. From that we see our tie in with vs. 1 & 11. The second use is to denote rank or standing. In Jer 50:12, the LORD declared that Babylon would be the hindermost (or least) of the nations. In both instances, we see bad consequences of action taken. A third use denotes time, and the fourth use denotes the posterity, destiny, or conclusion of something. In our verse we see it as the end result or consequence of “leaning on your own understanding.” Here it refers to the outcome, that which comes after, the future in the light of which the whole must be evaluated.
“Is the way of death” is also a compound word from the noun DEREK for “way” and MAWETH that means, “death.” Death is the ultimate failure, and this “end” shows that his ways are in reality the opposite of what he thought to be success.
So this death refers to the third stage of Divine discipline, the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:30, “…. and a number sleep.” It correlates to vs. 11a where the “house of the wicked will be destroyed.”
When we choose our own course of action, we are demonstrating our self-will in disobedience to God’s Will and Word, just as Adam and the woman did in the Garden of Eden. We inevitably will be making bad decisions that are counter to God’s Plan for our lives. These willful decisions place us out of fellowship with God as we walk in sin and carnality. As a result, God will discipline His children (believers), in order to correct their ways and get them back into a fellowship with Him; a place of blessing. If the child of God does not rebound and recover from their sinful walk, God will continue to discipline them, which culminates in the Third Stage of Divine Discipline, the Sin Unto Death, where they are brought home to heaven under a “dishonorable discharge.”
Every decision seems right when it is made, especially in the absence of thinking through the consequences with a Divine perspective. Some courses of action, being foolish or sinful, lead to destruction, even though they seem upright at the moment. Therefore, we are warned to “not lean (trust, rely upon) on our own understanding” but to “trust in the Lord with all of our heart.” When we do we are walking by faith and not by sight.
Prov 16:2, states, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives.”
Waltke notes, “The house of the wicked is annihilated because it is built on the flimsy foundation of human epistemology, the relative truth accessible to human sight. Only the omniscient, omnipotent God knows the true road that leads to life, reality as it actually is. Truth is beyond the reach of finite humanity; the LORD himself must reveal the right way through his inspired sage, and the disciple must accept that revelation by faith (3:7; 30:1-6).” (New International Commentary)
Mat 7:24-27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Verse 13 – C2, Secrets of the Heart.
Prov 14:13, “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief.”
Correlating with vs. 10, we once again see that what goes on inside of someone’s soul is typically not known by others.
“Even in laughter” is the Adverb GAM, גַּם that means, “and, even, also, or indeed” with the Preposition BE, “in”, and the Noun SECHOG, שְׂחוֹק that is used in both a good sense of “laughter and joy” or a bad sense of “ridicule or derision”, i.e. a laughing stock. We noted the negative sense in Prov 10:23 for the word “sport” of the fool regarding why they perform wickedness. But here it is the general sense of “laughter.”
“The heart” is the Noun LEB, and “may be in pain” is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb KA’AB that means, “to be sore, to be in pain, to suffer pain, or to grieve.” Here it stands for the heart that suffers emotional pain.
Even though a person may be expressing joy in laughter outwardly, they may be suffering on the inside for some reason; the laughter masking their true feelings. You cannot tell what a person is truly going through by their outward expression. That is why we need to treat them with faith, applying the royal family honor code, with impersonal and unconditional love regardless of what we see being expressed by them.
“And the end of joy may be grief.”
“And the end” is the WA conjunction with the Noun ACHARIYTH, אַחֲרִית for “end,” which we also noted in vs. 12. Here it is the end of or conclusion of a matter; in this case, the end of “joy”, the Noun SIMCHAH, שִׂמְחָה the same word for “joy or rejoicing” as in vs. 10b. Therefore, when the laughter fades and the rejoicing is completed, the true feelings and emotions in someone’s soul “may be grief”, TUGAH, תּוּגָה meaning, “grief or sorrow” as we note in Prov 10:1. Used three times in Proverbs, it is always paired in opposition to some form of the word “joy”, Prov 10:1; 14:13; 17:21.
So once again we note that what you see on the outside is not always what you get. Even when a person may appear happy and is rejoicing, inwardly they may be very sad or down trodden. That is why we must always apply impersonal and unconditional love to our fellow man and not be led solely by our emotions, which are easily deceived. With Impersonal/Unconditional Love, you do not get caught up in the emotions of others and are in a better place to be able to help them with what is truly going on within their soul.
When linked with vs. 12, we see that those who refuse “the way” of Christ, to tread “a way” of their own choosing, find no true joy or confidence. As Rom 10:3 says, “For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Therefore, their way is one of doubt and uncertainty. Though they laugh, the heart is not at rest, and their joy is destined to end in folly. Cf. Judges 17; 18:14-26. Yet, happy are those who refuse man’s ways and turn to Him who is the “Way, the Truth, and the Life!”, John 14:6.
As Rom 10:4 then says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Verse 14 – B2, Being Repaid for Sin.
Continuing the theme of “walking by faith and not by sight” Prov 14:14 gives us another comparison, but here it begins with those who “walk by sight” and ends with those who “walk by faith.”
Prov 14:14, “The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his.”
Correlating with vs. 9a, vs. 14a begins with the negative, “The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways.”
“The backslider.” This is the only time in both the NASB and KJV that the word backslider is used, (although backsliding is used once in Jeremiah in the NASB and 12 times in the KJV (Jeremiah 9 times and Hosea 3 times), with various Hebrew words. Here it is the Qal Active Participle of the verb SUG, סוּג that renders it the subject of this phrase. It means, “to flinch or move back from, to retreat” It is used to mean, “to deviate or to be disloyal”, as its figurative use is to “apostatize.” We use the term “reversionism.”
A backslider or reversionistic believer is one who has given up ground once taken for God. They were going forward inside of His plan for their life, but for some reason have thrown off that plan and decided to follow their own ways, thereby losing the Bible Doctrine they once had in their soul. This is an issue of the heart as our next word indicates.
“Heart” is LEB which tells us the source of his reversionism, the mentality of his soul. Coupled with the active voice of SUG, this also indicates it is his choice and not something that happens to him. Because of his lack of doctrinal intake and the influence of the arrogance of his sin nature, he has chosen to walk in this opposite direction of God’s plan for his life, indicated by the terms MIN DEREK for “his own ways.” He has chosen his own path rather than following God’s will and plan for his life.
What is interesting about this, is that he “will have his fill,” which is the Qal Imperfect of the Verb SABA, שָׂבֵע (saw-bah) that means, “to be satisfied, satiated, filled, or full.” Cf. Prov 1:31; 5:10; 12:11, 14.
For the backsliding believer, Keil and Delitzsch note that “fill or satiated” means, “recompensatively: he gets, enjoys the reward of his wandering in estrangement from God.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament.)
The order of the Hebrew words literally says, “from his ways he will be satiated the backslider in heart.” Therefore, the reversionistic believer will not be full of the necessary things regarding the plan of God, but will be full of himself and his ways. He will have plenty of reversionism in his life to satisfy the lust patterns of his Old Sin Nature.
Click Here to: (See Old Sin Nature (O.S.N.) Diagram)
In our correlation with vs. 9, we see that this backsliding believer mocks at the confession of their sins, and therefore is full of bad decisions and sins in their life, which satisfy the temptations of the lust patterns of their OSN.
“Many a soul gives up in heart long before it is seen in their life. The conscience becomes defiled and if self-judgment does not follow, the truth begins to lose its power over the heart. The sad result of a broken-down testimony soon follows until the backslider is living for himself. It is important, however, to distinguish carefully between backsliding and apostasy. The backslider is one who fails to carry out the truth of his profession into his life. The apostate, on the other hand, gives up the truth entirely, even denying the Lord.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary)
Therefore, they stop confessing their sins, which continues their walk in sin and Satan’s cosmic system, which leads them to self-justification in the arrogance complex of sins. They do not deny Christ as Lord, but their walk in self-will fills their soul with deception.
As Matton states, “The backslider in his heart is filled or has an abundance of getting his own way. His schemes, his plans fill his life and shut out God’s will for his life. Beloved, the habit of constantly, indulging yourself leads to greater selfishness, indifference toward the Lord’s will, and reaping the consequences of selfish, sinful choices. This is the life of the backslider.” (Mattoon’s Treasures – Treasures from Proverbs, Volume 1.)
Therefore, this is the person who “walks by sight” and is led by the arrogance complex of sins. This reversionistic believer has thrown off the truth of God’s Word and instead has determined to chart their own course for life. They self-justify their actions, convinced that their course of action is the right way to go. But as Prov 14:12 noted, “There is a way which seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.” As a result, they are full of themselves and are deceived from the true and right course of action according to God’s Word and will for their lives, as Prov 1:31 notes, “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices.” This is the repayment for their reversionistic lifestyle.
“But a good man will be satisfied with his.”
Correlating with vs. 9b, vs. 14b speaks of the blessing the positive believer “good man / upright” receives.
The Hebrew reads, “WA MIN AL ISH TOB” for “And from by man good” leaves us a bit short for complete context on its own. But in comparison to vs. 14a, and the other passages in this section “will be satisfied” is added. So a literal translation of this second half “and a good man from his own” needs to have added the elided “satisfied with his ways” from the first line, which tell us, “A good man (will be satisfied) from his own (ways).”
The verb “is satisfied” is first used ironically and now here positively. Therefore, we see that both types of behavior (backsliding and uprightness) have consequences; both are “satiated.” As we have noted, those who have turned away from wisdom will be filled with the disaster that results from their self-willed folly, cf. Prov 12:21; 14:12, whereas the wise, who are also therefore righteous, are blessed, cf. Prov 12:3; 14:11. As such, the “way” of a person satiates them; backsliders are filled with whatever they deserve and the good are satisfied with goodness.
“The good man is controlled by a sincere testimony and his life is in harmony with his testimony. He truly lives for God and this brings satisfaction to him. Peter was a backslider in heart long before he fell; so, we may rest assured, was David. In the faithful stand of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we see men whose hearts were committed to divine principles when in seclusion. Therefore, they overcame in public (Daniel 3).” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
Therefore, the maturing believer will be repaid for his faithful lifestyle by being fulfilled in life having inner peace and contentment as they live unto Christ daily.
Verse 15 – A2, The Gullible versus the Shrewd.
Correlating with vs. 8 we arrive back to the opening premises.
Prov 14:15, “The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.”
We begin with the negative: “The naive believes everything.”
“The naïve” is the Noun PETHIY, פֶּתִי. It appears 18 times in the Old Testament: 14 times in Proverbs including Prov 1, 7, 8, 9 that we already noted, 3 times in Psalms and 1 time in Ezekiel. It conveys the idea of “simple ones or young, naive ones,” with the associated concepts of being inexperienced, easily seduced, and needing instruction. Nevertheless, this individual is capable of learning. Here in contrast to the “sensible man” this individual is not prudent in their behavior. That imprudence is shown in the following words.
“Believes” is the causative Hiphil, and incomplete / ongoing action Imperfect of the Verb AMAN, אָמַן meaning, “to support, confirm, be faithful.” Used in a positive way cf. Prov 11:13. But here it is used in a negative way in the Hiphil that can mean, “to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in, or trust.”
The thing the naïve believes in is “everything,” which is made up of LE KOL DAVAR or “to all word” or “every word.” DAVAR which means “word”, can also relate to a “matter, event, or affair.” In other words, they have no discernment whatsoever, and believe everything that they hear or is told to them. They believe everything that they hear or see. Rather than having Divine viewpoint, “walking by faith”, they “walk by sight.”
Therefore, the naïve believer lacks the discernment that comes through experience, and so tend to be too trusting. Unable to distinguish good counsel from bad, they also fail to learn from their experience, and tend to repeat their errors.
“But the sensible man considers his steps.”
“But the sensible” is the contrasting WA with the Adjective ARUM for “prudent, sensible, clever.”
“Considers” is the Qal Imperfect Verb of BIN meaning, “to understand, perceive, consider.”
“His steps” is the Preposition LE, with the Noun ASHSHUR, אַשֻּׁר that means, “step, going, or feet.” Used only 7 times in the Old Testament and only here in Proverbs, it is a derivative of the verb ASHAR that means, “to go (straight), to walk or advance.” It is also a synonym of DEREK for “way.” So this is a play on words for the “walk of the upright.” It is used figuratively for lifestyle. That is, they live in the righteousness of God, (experientially sanctified), rather than just wandering through life and taking everything at face value. Also in Proverbs, a “step” represents the smallest unit of one’s life. So this believer applies God’s Word to every aspect and conversation of their life.
To the metaphor of “way” that is used predominately throughout Proverbs, this proverb adds “each step” to it, cautioning the disciple against gullibility that leads people astray. The prudent believer has learned to weigh carefully every decision, no matter how insignificant it may appear. He tests his way by considering whether each step conforms to true godliness and doctrinal principles, especially the Royal Family Honor Code.
His self-discipline is progressive; progress in his march toward spiritual adulthood, and at first every decision may be weighed, but through experience it reveals which things deserve more attention than others. This believer makes sure steps with his feet, Heb 12:13, without permitting himself to waver and be swayed by every wind of doctrine, Eph 4:14.
This proverb motivates young and reversionistic believers to listen to others critically and to practice their own discernment by labeling the careless as “naïve and gullible” and the careful as “prudent and shrewd.” Given our comparison, we can add to the first half of this verse that the naïve / gullible do not pay attention to their lifestyle, yet the prudent, who keep a wary eye against one false step, do not rely on human opinion. If God puts no trust in even his holy ones, because none is so pure and reliable as to merit His trust, how much less are human beings and their words reliable, Job 4:18; 15:15. In contrast the prudent believer implicitly relies on God, both with reference to his message, Gen 15:6 and his messengers, Ex 4:1-3; 14:31; Num 14:11, though the two are often inseparable, Jonah 3:4; cf. Mat 12:41, and in that light he marks his steps so that he does not go astray.
Conclusion to Section II, Prov 14:8-15:
In our overall theme of adorning the temple of God in us by “walking by faith and not by sight,” we see that the wise and maturing believer:
- Understands the direction of his life by means of Divine viewpoint found in God’s Word, 8a.
- Is not deceived by his sinful actions when they pop up from time to time, 8b.
- Confesses his sins when needed, 9a.
- Is blessed by God and man, 9b.
- Knows the secrets of his heart and shares them with God, 10.
- Is blessed in time and eternity for living in his politeuma privileges as a Royal Priest and Royal Ambassador of the Lord, 11.
- Is not self-deceived, 12a.
- Avoids self-induced misery and Divine discipline, 12b.
- Treats others with Impersonal and Unconditional love, 13.
- Does not live life for himself, 14a.
- Is fulfilled in this life having inner peace and contentment living a life unto Christ daily, 14b.
- Is not deceived by what he hears and the things of this world, 15a.
- Prudently measures his every step to glorify the Lord in his life, 15b.
Section III, Verses 16-32, “How We Walk by Faith in the Sight of Others”,
Contrasting Social Characterizations and Consequences.
The last verse of Section II, vs. 15, along with the next three verses contrast types of decisions and their consequences, forming a small thematic unit (not a poem) closed by vs. 18 describing the prudent and naïve once again.
The Outline for this Section includes three subunits:
- Contrasts in character and ethical behavior, vs. 16-18. It begins by identifying the wise man’s decision making 16a, and ends with the reward for such decisions, vs. 18b. Sandwiched between these two wisdom types, using synonyms, are two sorts of fools, KESIYL vs. 16a, and IWWELETH, vs. 17a, followed by the angry person, vs. 16b, and vs. 17a. the “schemer”, vs. 17b and the gullible fool of vs. 18a. Finally, this subunit encourages the immature believer to join the ranks of the wise.
- Contrasts in consequences of social behavior, vs. 19-24. Van Leeuwen notes that this cluster of sayings is about relationships among people who differ morally and socio-economically. This subunit encourages the young believer to wise, ethical behavior by showing the consequences of good and bad social behaviors.
These first two subunits are framed by reference to the “wise” and “fool,” in the singular in vs. 16 and in the plural in vs. 24, which is also a repetition of the opening phrase of Section II, vs. 8a.
- Contrasts of consequences regarding life or death, vs. 25-32. With the exception of 28, the final subunit combines four characterizations with the consequences of life or death: vs. 25, 26-27, 29-30, & 31-32. This subunit concludes climactically that the wicked will be thrown down in final destruction, but the righteous person will seek refuge in the Lord even in his death.
We begin with….
- Contrasts in Character and Ethical Behavior, vs. 16-18. A Patient Spirit!
As noted above the wise and prudent spiritually mature believer frames this subunit in vs. 16a & 18b.
Prov 14:16-18, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless. 17A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated. 18The naive inherit foolishness, but the sensible are crowned with knowledge.”
We begin with the positive! 16a, 18b. “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil.” and “the sensible are crowned with knowledge.”
The “wise” CHAKAM, (spiritually mature) believer, “is cautious”, the Qal Active Participle of the Verb YARE meaning, “to fear, respect, reverence, to be afraid.” It is typically used in regard to the fear of the Lord. The thing he “fears” here is “evil” RA, and therefore, “turns away from it”, which is the Qal Active Participle of the Verb SUR that means, “to leave, deviate, or turn aside from.” In other worlds, this believer avoids evil things like the plague. To avoid evil things, you first must be able to recognize what is evil and what is righteous. The only way you can distinguish between the two is by having an absolute basis or truth for righteousness and evil. That absolute basis is the Word of God. Therefore, the young or immature believer has to learn the Word of God in order to distinguish between the two and then embrace that which is good and avoid like the plague that which is evil. This is also what is meant by the phrase, “the fear of the Lord,” because you honor and respect God and His holiness and desire to avoid the evils of sin and Satan’s cosmic system.
Unfortunately, in our generation, too many people do not turn to God’s Word for the basis of their moral and ethical standards and instead create their own standards, or more accurately, follow along like lemmings what the world, Satan’s cosmic system, tells them is the basis for ethics and morality. As you know, Satan is ever working to introduce into our society more and more immorality and moral degeneracy. Therefore, it is ever changing. This is called relative morality that means a person’s moral and ethical basis is relative to their own thinking, rather than being absolute based on God’s thinking found in His Word. One of the major problems this causes, is not the types of sins people commit, because we all sin and will continue to do so and Christ has paid for our sins upon the Cross, but that of disunity and division among people; especially in regard to our personal and collective relationship with God. When we personally and collectively function under a standard that is counter to God’s, we are not walking in fellowship with Him; we are not walking in Christ. With so many variants of standards, it causes division and disunity among people; family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, communities, and in our nation.
This was the way of the tribe of Benjamin at the time of Judges 21:25 where, “In those days there was no king, and every man did what was right in his own eyes.” As a result, they committed wicked crimes against the other tribes which led God to discipline them through those tribes and 25,100 of the Benjamites were killed, Judges 20:35. Therefore, we see that evil tears people apart from God and each other. Yet for the wise, (spiritually mature believer), they have an absolute basis for living life which is shared by others who are like minded. As a result, it causes unity amongst them and with God.
Now in vs. 18b, we note the consequences of turning away from evil, “the prudent / sensible are crowned with knowledge.”
“The prudent”, ARUM, (spiritually mature believer), “are crowned,” which is the causative active Hiphil Stem and the incomplete action Imperfect Tense of the Verb KATHAR, כָּתַר that has three different but related meanings. The first is the most common, “to surround.” The second, “to wear a headdress”, and third, “to be patient with” as used in Job 36:2. The thing this mature believer is surrounded with or crowned with is “knowledge”, DA’ATH.
With this interesting play on the word KATHAR, by not surrounding yourself with evil, you will instead be surrounded with righteousness / God’s Word. When you avoid evil “like the plague,” you will be blessed by God by having more of God’s Word resident within your soul which means more and more wisdom and discernment. This also means you will be surrounded with more and more like minded believers who will not be a distraction and hindrance to your spiritual walk, but will in fact enhance it. As a result, you will also reap blessings for time and eternity.
Going back to the third use of KATHAR, “to be patient with”, it provides a contrast to the fool in vs. 17a who is “quick tempered.” Therefore, another benefit of avoiding evil “like the plague” is that you will learn impersonal and unconditional love for all of mankind, thereby learning patients, having grace orientation, and avoiding sinful anger, worry, fear, and anxiety. Patient consideration before acting or speaking, even in the face of provocation averts many disasters. As a result, you will build unity with God and your fellow man. We could translate this portion as “but a thinking man endures provocation.”
Next we note the things the “wise man” avoids! vs. 16b-18a, “a fool is arrogant and careless. 17A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated. 18The naïve inherit foolishness.”
Here we have four descriptive words for the reversionistic believer or cosmic unbeliever: 1) fool, 2) quick-tempered, 3) man of evil devices and 4) naïve.
- “Fool” is the common word we have noted KESIYL that means, “stupid or foolish,” with the sense of “sluggish or dull” and refers to more than mere lack of experience or mental ability. The fool in Scripture is willfully and obstinately walking down the wrong path.
Click Here to: (See our doctrine of the fool for more information.)
- “Quick-tempered” is made up of two words, QATSER, קָצֵר that means, “short”, and APH, אַף that means, “nose or face,” and comes to mean, “anger.” In the English translation, “quick-tempered” is used twice in Proverbs 14, in 17 & 29. In vs. 17, it is used for the person who “easily becomes angry” or is “quick tempered,” and in vs. 29 for the person who is impatient. In Hebrew they used the nose idiomatically to identify the person who is quick-tempered or impatient, just like we do today, using the word “fuse.” Therefore, the “short nosed” or “short fused” person is one who gets angry very easily and often, and is impatient. The “long nosed” or “long fused” person is one described as being calm and having patience even in the face of adversity.
In vs. 17 QATSER is linked with APH for “nose,” and literally means, “short nosed or short of nostrils.” In vs. 29, QATSER is linked with RUACH meaning the person is “short of spirit” or impatient. There it is used in contrast to the AREK APH, “long nosed” person who is slow to anger and patient. So we see that the fool is a quick-tempered man who does foolish things, which we also call “hotheaded” and “reckless”, but a thinking man with Bible Doctrine in his soul endures provocation.
- “Man of evil devices” is ISH MEZIMMAH, מְזִמָּה אִישׁ. MEZIMMAH means, “thought, plan, or devices.” “Devices” carries the connotation of “evil plans.” So this is the schemer of Prov 12:2, 24:8 who is trying to cause problems in the life of others: family, friends, neighbors, community, etc., typically for their own gain.
- “Naïve” which is the plural form of PETHIY, PETHAYIM, פְּתָאיִם means, “simple ones or inexperienced,” those who are easily seduced and need instruction. This is the immature believer who follows “every wind of Doctrine”, Eph 4:14. In other words, they are easily seduced by Satan and their sin nature to follow along with the crowd and accept the “relative morality” of the day, which causes division between them and God, and them and others in their community.
Therefore, we first see that we are to avoid people who are, 1) willfully and obstinately living counter to God’s Will, Word, and Plan for their lives, 2) hotheaded and reckless in their actions, 3) schemers who are looking to harm others, or 4) those seduced by sinful and common worldly thinking of the day.
Next we note the four consequences for people who act in one or more of the above ways. They: 1) are arrogant and careless, 2) act foolishly, 3) are hated, and/or 4) inherit foolishness.
If they receive these consequences, and we are closely associated with them, we too will suffer these consequences by association.
- “Is arrogant and careless” begins with the reflexive Hithpael of the verb ABAR, עָבַר, for “arrogant” that generally means, “to pass on, through, or over.” The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, (HALOT), notes that in the eight occurrences of ABAR in the reflexive use throughout the Old Testament, it comes to mean, “to show oneself as angry, get excited or flare up.” So the arrogance of this individual causes him to get angry at various situations especially when he does not get his own way, and/or has real or perceived offenses against him, etc.
With this is the Qal Active Participle of BATACH בָּטַח for “careless” that generally means, “to trust or place confidence in”, that is “being confident.” Here it is not the good confidence of trusting in the Lord, but a bad confidence as this person places their confidence in themselves. As a result, they are unconcerned about other people and the harm they may bring to them. As such, they are unconcerned about walking counter to the Plan of God. Jepsen in the TDOT notes that “the participle used absolutely has the meaning, “credulous, self-confident.” Of its uses in Prov 14:16; Isa 32:9-11; 47:8; Jer 49:31; Ezek 30:9; 39:6; Zeph. 2:15 he says, “In all these passages it refers to one who “thinks he is secure,” but is wrong. In other words, they could care less about what happens to others or what they do to others, and they have a false sense of security.
So to be arrogant and careless emphasizes the mentality of this individual’s soul where anger and misguided self-reliance rule the soul. Keil and Deletzsch note, “the fool can neither rule nor bridle his affections (emotions), and without any just occasion falls into passionate excitement. But on the other side he is self-confident, regardless, self-secure; while the wise man avoids the evil, i.e., carefully goes out of its way.” (brackets mine.)
This is noted in the New Testament phraseology, Phil 2:12, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” i.e., to express your salvation in spiritual growth in an active reverence in response to God’s grace. Therefore, you are to avoid those who often get angry and could care less about others, because their mentality could rub off on you.
- “Acts foolishly” is the Qal Imperfect Verb ASAH for “make or do”, and with the Imperfect it means, “continually make or do something.” With this is the familiar noun IWWELETH, אִוֶּלֶת used two times in Psalms and 22 times in Proverbs. It is not used elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is used for “imprudency and moral degeneracy.”
Remember that this consequence is associate with the “quick tempered man” as also noted in vs. 16, Therefore, this reversionistic believer or cosmic unbeliever will “be undisciplined and out of control; this unpredictable and passionate hothead clouds his judgment and robs him of all sense of proportion so that he overreacts, bringing ruin on the community and/or himself.” (Waltke ibid.) The rabbis illustrated the point saying, “When the kettle boils over, it overflows its own sides.” So this person continually is imprudent in their decision making, as they also love asceticism and lust for approbation, bringing self-induced misery to themselves.
- “Is hated” – This is the consequence of the “schemer,” (man of evil devices). “Hated” is the simple passive Niphal and ongoing action Imperfect of the Verb SANE. The schemer here, by contrast to the hotheaded, is disciplined and keeps a tight rein on his emotions. He is purposeful and cool headed that enables him to think clearly with forethought and acts rationally, but in cold blood to disadvantage others for his own sake. As a result, he incurs the enmity of others. Therefore, while the hotheaded fails openly and loudly, the schemer fails secretly and indirectly. Both are antisocial types and are fools, because they harm others and themselves. This sort of fool is gotten rid of by God and/or the community.
- “Inherit foolishness” is the Qal Perfect of the Verb NACHAL נָחַל that means, “take possession of or inherit.” The thing they take possession of is “foolishness”- IWWELETH once again. In other words, all they have to show for their action here on earth is the foolishness they were involved in, and nothing more. They have been repaid in full.
Mat 6:2, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.”
Mat 6:5, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Cf. Mat 6:6:16; Luke 6:24.
The wise and prudent (spiritually mature) believer will avoid entering into the sinful and harmful behaviors of the reversionistic believer, and thereby avoid their pitfalls. Not only does he avoid these behaviors in himself, but he avoids close association with those who function in those ways. By avoiding these things and people, he protects his soul from their harmful effects, and at the same time, allows Bible Doctrine to continue to flourish and grow within his soul. Therefore, by avoiding such evils, he will gain knowledge (Bible Doctrine) and be better equipped to fight future battles of temptation, while continuing to serve the Lord and others to the maximum.
Contrasts in Consequences of Social Behavior, vs. 19-24.
The metaphor of “crown,” in vs. 18 functions as a “janus” linking vs. 15-18 with vs. 19-24. The chiasm and parallel pattern for vs. 19-24 are as follows:
A1: The crowns of wisdom and folly, vs. 18.
A1: The evil bow to the wise, vs. 19.
B1: The poor and rich (treatment of a neighbor), vs. 20.
C1: Scheming and benevolence (treatment of a neighbor), vs. 21.
C2: Scheming and benevolence (reward for kindness), vs. 22.
B2: Wealth and poverty (reward for diligence), vs. 23.
A2: The crowns of wisdom and folly, vs. 24.
In these passages, we see the contrast between the “evil man” and the “good / righteous man”, or the fool vs. the wise, that is, a contrast between the reversionistic believer or cosmic unbeliever, and the positive / growing believer walking in Christ experientially sanctified. It admonishes the believer to lay hold of good ethical behaviors and reject evil because implicitly Providence will reward the former and punish the latter.
Verse 19 – A1, The Evil Bow to the Wise.
Prov 14:19, “The evil will bow down before the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.”
Here we see the notion of the prudent being crowned with knowledge in vs. 18, is now contrasted with evildoers bowing down before good people as to kings.
“The evil will bow down” is the plural of the noun RA, for “evil people” with the Qal Perfect of SHACHAH, שָׁחַח that means, “to crouch or bow down.” Cf. Prov 2:18. It is used in Psa 35:14 for the demeanor of weeping or depression as in mourning, as well as physical weakness in sickness, in Psa 38:6, which illustrates a “sinking down” feeling and humbled physical posture. Also Isaiah depicted the defeated wicked “stooping in humiliation and submission” to God and his saints in Isa 60:14. Therefore, forced humiliation is in view that may occur in time or eternity.
“Before the good” is LE PANIM for “face” and TOB (tov) for the “good” or experientially righteous positive believer.
Ironside notes, “When his wild race is run and his years of recklessness are past, in his feebleness and poverty he will bow to the wisdom of the righteous. He will be forced at last to acknowledge that they had chosen the better part.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
“And the wicked” is WA RASHA, “at the gates of” AL SHA’AR, and “the righteous” is TSADDIQ.
This suggests that the righteous will sit in the place of judgment, “the gates”, and dispense justice, which relieves the oppressed from the oppressors and punishes the guilty for their crimes.
“Although the wicked may prevail (e.g., 28:28; 29:16), making sin appear beneficial, the proverbs unanimously warn the wicked and encourage the righteous by describing their contrasting fates (e.g., 11:31; 12:7; 13:13, 21; 14:11). Nor is this reversal simply a “natural” process. Their folly is self-destructive (14:1), since their decisions and choices will inevitably be characterized by the myopia (short-sightedness) of the impatient and self-assured.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Ross in his commentary on Proverbs says that the proverb is “the ultimate fulfillment of the thought in Phil 2:10.”
Phil 2:10-11, “So that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Verse 20 – B2, The Poor and Rich (Treatment of a Neighbor).
Prov 14:20, “The poor is hated even by his neighbor, but those who love the rich are many.”
“The poor” is the noun RUSH. “Is hated” is the simple passive Niphal, and ongoing action Imperfect Verb of SANE. “Even by his neighbor” is GAM LE REA. REA means, “neighbor, friend, or kinsman.”
This hatred is demonstrated by avoidance. The arrogant want nothing to do with someone that they cannot gain from, so they avoid them all together.
Prov 19:7, “All the brothers of a poor man hate him; how much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.”
The Correlating Contrast!
“But those who love”, is WA plus the Qal Active of AHEB.
“The rich” is the noun AHIYR, עָשִׁיר. It refers to wealthy, well-to-do persons with significant power and influence socially and politically.
“Are many” is the Adjective RAB used substantively. It indicates much, many, abundance, or numerous, referring to the number of people that associate with the wealthy and powerful, because they typically can gain something from them.
This proverb contrasts the rich person who has sufficient material possessions but is morally deficient, to the poor man who is materially deficient but is never represented as morally deficient. It demonstrates the contrast by the number of friends each may have. The poor has few friends if any, and the rich has numerous, cf. Prov 19:4, 6.
Prov 19:4, “Wealth adds many friends, but a poor man is separated from his friend.”
Prov 19:6, “Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.”
Prov 18:24 also contrasts the many fair-weather friends with the few that stick closer than a brother.
Prov 18:24, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
And remember Prov 22:2, “The rich and the poor have a common bond, the LORD is the maker of them all.”
This is why we are told in Luke 14:13-14, “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Verse 21 – C1, Scheming and Benevolence (Treatment of a Neighbor).
Prov 14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor.”
“He who despises his neighbor” is a compound word BAZ-LERE’EHU made up of the Qal Active Participle BUZ meaning, “despise,” cf. Prov 1:7; 6:30; 11:12; 13:13, and the Preposition LE and the Noun REA once again for “neighbor, friend, or kinsman.”
“Sins” is the Qal Active Participle of the Verb CHATA, חָטָא and tells us what hating or despising our neighbor is in the eyes of God; it is sin. The one who despises his neighbor is in fact sinning; rendering him to be out of fellowship with God and NOT experientially sanctified.
The contrast begins in the Hebrew with “but he who is gracious,” which is the WA Conjunction linked to the Poel Participle of the Verb CHANAN, חָנַן that means, “to be gracious, to show favor, or to have compassion.” The Poel is like the Piel, an intensive active. So here it means, “but he that has mercy on” or “is gracious toward.” An interesting fact about the Poel is that when used as a substantive, as it is here in the Participle, it can refer to someone or something as a profession. So here we see that being merciful and gracious is the way of life or the profession of the believer, especially those who function under their Royal Priesthood and Royal Ambassadorship.
This professionalism of mercy or graciousness is directed “to the poor”, which is the Adjective ANIY, עָנִי that means, “unfortunate, afflicted, poor, or humble,” cf. Prov 3:34. The primary thought expressed in this word is of a person suffering some kind of distress. Therefore, when we humble ourselves and get involved in the life of those who are suffering, afflicted, and humble in their own soul, we are blessed with “happiness,” ASHER, אַשְׁרֵי that means, “blessed or happy.” It means you will share in the happiness of God. +H.
This imprecise antithesis implies that “the blessed” is not a “sinner,” and that the sinner has no prospect of future happiness.
“Looking down on someone because of his poverty is sinful because it bases the person’s worth upon his situation. Graciousness is never wrong, regardless of the situation, but it is especially upright when it rises out of a sense of the innate worth and dignity of every human being without considering his station in life. Since this attitude reveals the fear of the Lord and the understanding that He is the Maker of all (cf. 22:2; 29:13), it is blessed, whereas the arrogance that credits itself for its “superior” situation reveals a heart at enmity with God, and therefore with its neighbor.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Therefore, this proverb warns against hating our neighbor and exhorts us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, Lev 19:18; Mat 22:39-40; Rom 13:9-10, by giving us the actionable terms for love, “mercy and grace.”
Verse 22 – C2, Scheming and Benevolence (Reward for Kindness).
Prov 14:22, “Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good.”
The warning and exhortation of vs. 21 continues here. This verse begins with a rhetorical question that begins with, “will they not go astray”, which is a compound word HALO-YIT’U from the Interrogative tag HA, the Negative Particle LO, and the Qal Imperfect of the Verb TA’AH, תָּעָה that means, “to wander or to go astray,” cf. Prov 7:25; 10:17, 12:26. The verb has both literal and spiritual usages in the Old Testament. It is the basic idea of someone “wandering, being lost, or going astray” from known ways. The spiritual application is: just as a person may go off a path and get lost, so may a person move away from God’s righteous path and become lost spiritually.
The ones that do move away from God’s righteousness have gone astray and are lost. As a result, they are those “who devise evil”, which is from the Qal Active Participle of the Verb CHARASH, חָרַשׁ that means, “to cut in, plough, engrave, or devise.” The thing they devise here is “evil”, the noun RA. So we see the devisor of wicked plans once again, but here it escalates the one who despises his neighbor to one who plans evil against him.
“…But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good.”
“But kindness” is from the WA Conjunction plus the Noun CHESED, חֶסֶד that means, “kindness, mercy, grace, loyalty, steadfast love, or loving kindness,” cf. Prov 3:3; 11:17. It is typically translated “mercy” and is synonymous with CHANAN of vs. 21.
“And truth” is the WA Conjunction and the noun EMETH, אֱמֶת for “faithfulness, reliability, truth.” So we could say “but lovingkindness and faithfulness.”
“Will be to” is in italics and added for English context. “Those who devise good” gives us the contrast which is from the Qal Active Participle of the Verb CHARASH for “devise”, with the Adjective TOB for “good.”
Therefore, this rhetorical question pulls us into the proverb, asking, in essence, “Don’t you agree?” It contrasts those who are wandering about lost inside of Satan’s cosmic system with those, who by seeking good, find faithfulness and truth inside the Plan of God for their lives. It also escalates the one who shows favor to his neighbor, to one who plans good towards him. Likewise, it tells us we reap what we sow; a lost and wandering life for those who devise evil towards others, and lovingkindness and faithfulness, or grace and truth, to those who devise righteous plans to serve God and their neighbor.
Finally, this is an example of the Christ-like nature that has developed within our soul as God too treats us with lovingkindness and faithfulness, in Ex 34:6, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.”
Verse 23 – B2, Wealth and Poverty (Reward for Diligence).
Prov 14:23, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
“In all labor” is BE KOL for “in all”, and the Noun ESTEB, עֶצֶב (estev), that means, “toil, pain, or sorrow,” cf. Prov 5:10; 10:22. In regard to “pain,” it is either hurtful or offensive words as in Prov 15:1. But here it is “strenuous labor or toil”, as in Psa 127:2, but utilizes the “pain” analogy as a play on words with “poverty” in regard to the second half of the verse. So working diligently is in view regarding labor or doing your job, as this proverb also derides too much talking and not enough action while on the job.
But here, working diligently “is profit”, from the Qal Imperfect of the Verb HAYAH, הָָיה that means, “to happen, to be, or to become,” with the Noun MOTHAR, מוֹתָר that means, “advantage or profit.” It denotes what is left over, the sense of excess. Therefore, the one who works diligently will benefit by his work. Through hard, honest labor we are rewarded with material blessings as part of God’s logistical grace blessings.
“…but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
“But mere talk” is from the Conjunction WA with the Noun DAVAR for “words or talking” and the Noun SAPHAH for “edge or lips.” Combined, it literally means, “but words of lips.” This is the person who runs their mouth all the time rather than doing the task or job at hand. Fools, who love to hear themselves speak and talk endlessly, as noted in Prov 18:2, 13, destroy their own lives, because they ultimately waste a lot of time in talking with no action and, as we have seen, reject advice preferring their own “wisdom”, as the next verse tells us.
“Leads to poverty” is from the Adverb AKH, אַךְ for “only”, with the Preposition LE for “to” and the Noun MACSHOR, מַחְסוֹר that means, “want or lack,” cf. Prov 6:11; 11:24.
Therefore, when there is too much talking and not enough action, it leads to lacking in the necessities of life causing want. Without action, talk is like the sluggard’s daydreaming of Prov 13:4; 21:25f, which accomplish nothing.
There is a time for discussion and planning, Prov 15:22; 19:2, but wise counsel does no good unless it is followed. The wise recognize when it is time for talk and when it is time to turn to work.
Eccl 3:7b, “A time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Eccl 3:9-10, “What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.”
Eccl 3:11a, “He has made everything appropriate in its time.”
Eccl 3:12-13, “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.”
Verse 24 – A2, The Crowns of Wisdom and Folly.
Prov 14:24, “The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools is foolishness.”
Continuing the discussion of poverty vs. wealth that began in vs. 20, here we see the association of the talker in vs. 23 with the fool, and the diligent with the wise. We begin with the wise.
“The Crown” is the Noun ‘ATARAH, עֲטָרָה that means, “garland, diadem, crown,” cf. Prov 4:9; 12:4. It is different from “crowned”, KATHAR in vs. 18 that meant, “to surround or a headdress” that emphasized patience. ATARAH’s root means to surround, but comes to mean a crown or wreath. Glory is emphasized here. So it elevates profit and abundance of vs. 23 to a crown of glory here.
This crown belongs to “the wise”, the Noun CHAKAM, which “is their riches” the Noun OSHER that means, “riches or wealth,” and speaks to material blessings in conjunction with the “profit”, MOTHAR, of vs. 23 and the discussion of wealth begun in vs. 20. Remember also, that in the spiritual realm, the believer’s riches include our eternal inheritance being in Union with Jesus Christ, Eph 1:11-18; Col 3:23-24; 1 Peter 1:3-4.
This is made up of two of the three Hebrew words for “fool”, IWWELETH KESIYL IWWELETH, for “foolishness of fools is foolishness.” This is another way for Solomon to say, “vanity of vanities all is vanity,” Eccl 1:2; 12:8.
It speaks to the action and consequences of the fool. It denotes the boomerang effect of moral insolence that fools afflict on themselves, Prov 14:8, 18; 16:22b. If they sow foolish things they will reap foolish things, and that is all they will have to show, with the result of being classified as a fool.
The point of this verse is the moral condition, more than material well-being or poverty. “Whether poor or wealthy in this world’s goods, the wise are always rich because they possess treasure that can never fade away. The fool, whatever his possessions, is only filled with folly, and nothing will profit him in the end.” (H.A. Ironside Expository Commentary – Proverbs.)
For the reversionistic believers, vs. 19-24 notes they:
Vs. 19, Will be laid low before the good and righteous believer.
Vs. 20, Hate the poor and loves the rich.
Vs. 21, Despise their neighbor and withholds from the poor.
Vs. 22, Go astray by being ungracious towards others and lying.
Vs. 23, Talk and exaggerate too much.
Vs. 24, Enter into foolish folly and lose out on rewards and blessings.
For the positive believers, vs. 19-24 notes they:
Vs. 19, Will be raised up in the sight of the wicked.
Vs. 20, Treat everyone equally. (See New Testament passages)
Vs. 21, Love their neighbor and is gracious to the poor, bringing +H to his soul.
Vs. 22, Give and receive kindness and goodness.
Vs. 23, Do their job unto the Lord and receive His blessings.
Vs. 24, Are blessed in both time and eternity.
Billy Sunday noted, “Your reputation is what people say about you. Your character is what God and your wife know about you.”
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Further Contrasts in Character and Consequences Regarding Life or Death, vs. 25-32.
In this third subunit of Section III we have three topics regarding; a) An honest witness, vs. 25, b) The fear of the Lord, vs. 26–27, and c) National security, vs. 28–35.
Within this unit we have: Five characterizations with the consequences of life or death: vs. 25, 26-27, 29-30, & 31-32.
- Comparing the honest witness versus the false witness, 25.
- The consequences of being a God-fearer, escalating from the individual in 26a, to family in vs. 26b, and to others in vs. 27.
- Comparing the soul winner vs. reversionistic believer, 28.
- Comparing the patient with the impatient person, 29-30.
- Comparing righteousness and wickedness in social behavior in 31 and their eternal consequence in vs. 32. This final pairing points to the Lord explicitly in vs. 31, and implicitly in vs. 32, as the Upholder of the moral order. This returns to the theme of the oppressor of the poor versus the person who is kind to them as we noted in vs. 20-21.
We begin with:
Verse 25 – Comparing the Honest Witness versus the False Witness.
Here we have a contrast in character regarding our speech once again. It appears to have legal proceedings in view.
Prov 14:25, “A truthful witness saves lives, but he who utters lies is treacherous.”
This verse is similar to vs. 5. In vs. 5, we see the character of the faithful and false witness. Here we see the consequences of their character on the lives of others.
We begin with the positive, “A truthful witness,” which is the Noun EMETH that means, “faithfulness, reliability, firmness, or truth,” which we noted in vs. 22 and previously in Proverbs for “truth or faithfulness.” Its root is the Verb AMAN, just as in vs. 5, where EMMUN for “faithful” had the same root. With this is the Noun “ED” meaning, “witness,” as we also noted twice in vs. 5.
So what does the “faithful” or truth speaking witness do? He “saves lives”, which is the causative active Hiphil Participle Verb NATSAL, נָצַל that means, “to save, extricate, or rescue.” With this is the Noun NEPHESH for “soul, breath, or lives.” Therefore, he saves lives or saves souls.
In a court of law, it is vital that people tell the truth so that justice can be served. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, it is vital that you tell people the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save their souls. We see the opposite in the second half of this verse.
This is similar to Prov 12:17b. “But he who utters” is the WA Conjunction prefixed to the Hiphil Imperfect of the Verb PUACH that means, “to blow,” as we also noted in vs. 5, and in Prov 6:19 as one of the seven abominable sins. It is used in Prov 12:17 for the one who “speaks” the truth. Here it is used for the one who “lies”, the noun KAZAB, (kasav), כָּזָב meaning, “lie, deception, or fraud.” In the Hiphil Imperfect these reversionistic believers or immoral unbelievers are continually caused to lie because of locked in arrogance within their soul, as they are continually led by their sin nature.
The consequence this liar has on others is that he “is treacherous,” the Noun MIRMAH, מִרְמָה meaning, “deceit or treachery”, which we noted in vs. 8 for the “folly of fools”, and in Prov 11:1; 12:5, 17, 20.
We see that the liar deceitfully destroys the innocent by not allowing justice to be served in regard to the truly guilty, where they may be set free to cause further harm on others. On the other hand, the liar may also falsely accuse an innocent person rendering a false verdict of guilt on them. That is why honesty, especially in a court room, is not a mere fine point of law; people’s lives depend upon it. That is also why in God’s Law, Deut 19:15, it tells us that someone cannot be found guilty unless two or three witnesses agreed. This helps to eliminate the impact of one liar.
As you know, the Pharisees tried to get false witnesses against Jesus to condemn Him, but they could not agree. Later, two people came forward and they used that information to condemn Him.
Mat 26:59-61, “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’”
Likewise, in the spiritual realm, false doctrine does not allow the sinner to go free, as they are continually held in the bondage of sin and Satan’s cosmic system. But the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ allows the sinner to go free, having received a pardon from God the Father through non-meritorious faith in the work of Jesus Christ paying for their sins upon the Cross.
John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Therefore, deceit and treachery are in the heart of the liar, and in contrast to the truthful witness who saves lives, the treacherous take lives including their own.
Verse 26-27 – The Fear of the Lord
The consequences of being a God-fearer, escalating from the individual in vs. 26a, to his family in vs. 26b, and to others in vs. 27.
Prov 14:26-27, “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge. 27The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.”
In the beginning of both vs. 26 & 27, we have “Fear the Lord” that is from the noun YIR’AH יִרְאָה that means, “fear, awe, or respect,” and the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHVH, יְהָוה (ya’wah) that is translated “Lord.”
Interestingly, the first use of the phrase “the fear of the Lord” is found in 2 Chron 19:7, 9 regarding going to court with a warning to “fear the Lord” in all proceedings.
“Fear of the Lord” is synonymous with the worship of Him, which leads to the avoidance of sin in our lives, cf. Ex 20:20, Job 28:28, and having “joy”, the +H of God, within our lives, Isa 11:1-3, as we walk by faith and not by sight.
As we noted in Prov 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” which “wisdom” is based upon having God’s Word resident within your soul, which enables you to:
- Live righteously, Jer 32:40.
- Do not economically oppress the weak, Neh 5:9.
- Show hospitality to the stranger, Gen 20:11.
- Show kindness to friends, Job 6:14.
As a result, we are blessed by Him, which includes:
- Receiving long life, Prov 10:27.
- Avoiding trouble, Prov 16:6.
- Riches, honor, and life, Prov 22:4.
Back in vs. 26-27, we receive four benefits when we “Fear the Lord.” We will receive:
- “Strong confidence.”
- “A fountain of life.”
- “Avoid the snares of death.”
- The first benefit is having “strong confidence,” which is the Noun OZ, עֹז that means, “strength or power,” that which is firmly fixed and inviolable, Prov 10:15. With that is the Noun MIBTACH, מִבְטָח that means, “confidence, trust, or security”, which is derived from the verb BATACH that means, “to trust.” Therefore, when we fear the Lord, we have strong confidence or trust in Him and His Word that leads to having security within your soul. It stems from having eternal security in your salvation that leads to confidence in God’s strength and power in your life each and every day. It is absolute confidence in God and His Word!
- The second benefit is; “His children will have refuge,” is the noun BEN for “son or descendants”, (i.e., his offspring), and the Qal Imperfect verb HAYAH, “to be or become”, with the Noun MACHASEH מַחֲסֶה, that means, “refuge.” It speaks to our “hiding place.” In 18 of the 20 occurrences in the Old Testament, it refers to YHVH as the figurative refuge of the righteous. Jesus Christ is the Rock to which we cling to for salvation and our daily walk. He is our hiding place, Psa 32:7; 119:114. Therefore, this speaks to our offspring or children who too will be blessed by association, as we pass down our spiritual heritage to them and they receive Christ just as we did.
Heb 6:18-20, “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The “two unchangeable things” are God’s two witnesses that do not lie and provide for our strong confidence in Him. Those two are:
- His oath, “for God cannot change,” 17.
- His promises, “for God cannot lie,” 18.
God’s oath and promises are absolutely true because He cannot deny His own righteous character. It does not change. The result of God’s oath and promises is our “strong confidence.” The unchanging character of God assures the believer of the fulfillment of everything which He has promised. The believer is admonished and encouraged to endure in the midst of current trials and sufferings. The unchanging Word of God and the unchanging Person of God are all we need to assure us that we are saved and kept in this life for eternity. We have a “hope” to anchor our souls, and this “hope” is Christ Himself, Heb 7:19-20; 1 Tim 1:1.
Deut 10:20-21, “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. 21He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.”
- The third benefit is, “a fountain of life,” the nouns MAQOR and CHAYYIM, Prov 10:11; 13:14 which told us that the Word of God spoken or taught is a fountain of life. Therefore, when we receive the teaching of God’s Word, it adds vitality to life. In this verse the “fear of the Lord” is a “fountain of life.” Therefore, to fear the Lord also means to receive the Word of God, (i.e., diligent study of the Scriptures), along with practical application, which means we learn and apply His Word. When we do, it becomes a “fountain of life” that means, it sustains and gives vigor to life. The Word of God will give “pep to your step” as you rely upon Him in all situations. You will master the details of life, have a relaxed mental attitude, and be at peace within your soul. That will lead to sharing in the happiness of God, +H that will also sustain you through the storms of life. You will have mental stability and spiritual self-confidence as you walk in God’s will and plan daily. At the same time, it will cause you to avoid the problems and difficulties of sin and Satan’s cosmic system, as compared to in our last benefit. All combined you will have quality and quantity of life, being satisfied and fulfilled in all that you do. It is the essence of being “filled up to all the fullness of God”, Eph 3:19.
- The fourth benefit is, “That one may avoid the snares of death.” This refers to the “others” of our opening outline that includes everyone, not just your family members. “Avoid” is the Qal Infinitive Construct of SUR, that means, “to leave, deviate, turn aside, or go away.” With this is the phrase, “snares of death”, the Nouns MOQESH and MAWETH. The exhortation here is that walking confidently in God’s righteousness, by having His Word resident within your soul, will cause you to avoid the pitfalls of sin, human good, and evil inside of Satan’s cosmic system. As such, you will say no to the temptations of sin from your sin nature and Satan’s cosmic system. You will avoid being negatively affected by sin in your life, including self-induced misery and the three stages of Divine discipline, 1 Cor 11:30, up to and including suffering under the 3rd Stage of Divine discipline – the Sin Unto Death, “sleep.” Therefore, you will avoid the consequences of your sins, “the snares of death.” As you know, the way of sin leads to death, but the way of the Lord leads to life.
Therefore, the “Fear of the Lord” is both security from the storms of life and refuge for our souls, vs. 26 acting as a kind of early warning system against the sinful traps that confront us, vs. 27. And when we have that kind of fear in our lives, it becomes a fountain of life as we live with joy and peace in our souls daily in faith, hope, and love, confidently waiting for the promise of our eternal glory.
Verse 28 -The Soul Winner verses the Reversionistic Believer.
Comparing righteousness and wickedness in social behavior in vs. 31 and their eternal consequence in vs. 32.
Prov 14:28, “In a multitude of people is a king’s glory, but in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin.”
This is the first of many royal sayings in the Collections, and, significantly, it is only one of several that have been placed in close proximity to proverbs about the LORD: 16:1-15; 20:26-28; 21:1-14; 22:11-12; 25:2-7; 29:12-14. Whybray suggests: “The main purpose of such juxtaposition seems to be to stress that obedience to Yahweh is particularly important for kings, in whose hands are the lives of all his people.”
So this verse may seem out of place and should rather be with vs. 34 & 35. But Solomon is talking to his son, the heir to the throne, just as God is talking to you and I, the heirs to the kingdom of heaven as Royal Priests and Royal Ambassadors of God. He is giving his son and us an exhortation and warning in regard to applying the doctrine He has taught him. Here we see further consequences for applying or not apply his instruction, God’s Word.
First is the Exhortation!
“In a multitude of people” is the compound word BERAD-‘AM in the Hebrew from the Preposition BE, “in,” the Noun ROB, “multitude or abundance” and the Noun AM, “people, kinsman, relatives.”
As our Lord has been instructing us in the previous passages and the entire book of Proverbs on how to interact with people in society, here He tells us of the fruit of our labor. When we apply the principles of God’s Word towards others, we will win souls. Winning souls means a multitude of people in the kingdom of God.
“King’s glory” is the Nouns MELEK and HADARAH. MELEK, מֶלֶךְ is the Noun for “king” and HADARAH, הֲדָרָה is a Noun that means, “adornment or glory.” It comes from the verb HADAR meaning, “to honor or to adorn” and is related to the noun HADAR, meaning majesty. In four of the five occurrences of this word in the Old Testament, it occurs in the context of worshiping the Lord, “the beauty of holiness”, (KJV) or “in holy array/attire”, (NASB), 1 Chron 16:29; 2 Chron 20:21; Psa 29:2; 96:9. But in our verse, as you know, man is not to be worshipped, so it expresses the glory kings received by having a multitude of people in their kingdom.
Therefore, being members of royalty, the more we evangelize, the more glory we will receive. This alludes to one of the four crowns the Church Age believer can receive at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ. Each crown is an indestructible crown that will last forever, is fire tested and linked with living for the gospel of Christ, 1 Cor 9:23-26.
1 Cor 9:23-26, “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. 24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim…”
The Crowns the Believer can Receive:
- The Crown of Rejoicing for the soul winner, 1 Thes 2:19.
1 Thes 2:19-20, “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20For you are our glory and joy.”
This is the crown in view here in Prov 14:28. As Paul said, “for you are our glory.” He was speaking of himself and the others with him, Silas and Timothy, who first brought the gospel to the Thessalonians. As a result of soul winning, it brought joy and happiness to their souls knowing that these people where saved and will be in heaven. As a result, at the BEMA seat, they will, along with all soul winners, receive the Crown of Exultation.
- The Crown of Life – Rev 2:10. This is one of two major awards. The other being the Order of the Morning Star, Rev 2:28. The Crown of Life is given for living the spiritual life inside God’s Power System, bringing maximum glorification to God. It is awarded to invisible heroes for maximum production of Divine good through the execution of the Plan of God with emphasis on invisible impact while persevering under trial, James 1:12.
James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
- The Crown of Righteousness is given to the one who has loved His appearing, which means it is a decoration for the attainment, perpetuation, and activity of spiritual maturity. This crown is presented to those believers who advance through the three stages of spiritual adulthood, 2 Tim 4:8.
2 Tim 4:8, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
- The Crown of Glory for being willing to feed the flock of God, 1 Peter 5:1-4.
In addition, there is The Order of the Morning Star – Rev 2:26-28 – which is the highest decoration for living the Christian life. This is awarded for the ultimate in impact through the application of Bible doctrine. The name is derived from the title of our Lord. In His strategic and tactical victory, He is called, “The Morning Star.” Cf. Num 24:17; 2 Peter 1:19. Those who are granted this reward will be given authority to rule in the Millennium and beyond, Rev 2:26-27, 20:4.
Therefore, in Prov 14:28, “In a multitude of people is a king’s glory,” it means that by applying the principles of God’s Word in Impersonal and Unconditional Love towards all of mankind, we will be winners of souls, filling up the kingdom of God with a multitude of believers, who will be our eternal kinsmen and friends. As a result, we will bring maximum glorification to God, where in turn, He will bless that believer with the glory of the Crown of Rejoicing that he will adorn for all of eternity.
“But in the dearth of people is a prince’s ruin.”
This is the loser believer who is not bringing glory to God by not living the spiritual life unto Christ and who does not win souls. This is presented in the phrase, “dearth of people” where “dearth” is the Noun EPHES, אֶפֶס meaning, “ceasing, end, extremity, or naught,” and “people” LE’OM, לְאֹם meaning, “nation or people.” EPHES is used essentially in three ways meaning ceasing, nonexistence, and no effect. Here the “nonexistence” is in view in comparison to the multitude of people in 28a. This means no soul winning, no filling up of heaven due to lack of walking in Christ. It carries the connotation of an ending or cessation which means, at the end of it all, alluding to the end of our walk here on earth, when we can no longer produce Divine Good. At the end, the believer will stand before the BEMA seat of Christ, 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10, at which time our works will be judged, and this believer will not receive the Crown of Rejoicing because they did not build up the kingdom of God with souls while here on earth.
Instead, this “prince”, (the Noun RAZON, רָזוֹן used only here in the Old Testament meaning, “dignitary or princes”, is still a member of the Royal Family of God, but is a loser (of rewards) believer and will be brought to “ruin”, the Noun MECHITTAH, מְחִתָּה meaning, “terror or destruction.” We have noted MECHITTAH in Prov 10:14, 15, 29, 13:3. It speaks to the third stage of Divine discipline. It speaks to the worthless ruler who does not walk in God’s plan and win souls to Christ. Instead, he is in reversionism, living for himself, and could care less about others. This believer will lose out on the blessings he could have had in the eternal state.
So Solomon’s exhortation here is to be a winner of souls and build up the kingdom of God by applying the doctrines of God’s Word towards your fellow man in impersonal and unconditional love and receive glory in the eternal state.
Comparing the Patient with the Impatient Person, vs. 29-30.
Next we have two proverbs related to our emotions. Here we see how the believer walking in righteousness controls their emotions, while the reversionistic believer does not, and the subsequence consequences of both. Vs. 29 characterizes the patient versus the impatient, and vs. 30 escalates the consequences of patience and impatience to matters of life and death.
Verse 29 – The Patient verse the Impatient.
Prov 14:29, “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.”
Here we see our “slow to anger” believer which in the Hebrew is a “long nosed” believer, AREK APH, that is a Hebrew idiom for one who possesses patients, cf. Prov 15:18; 16:32. Remember, we noted this idiom in vs. 17, where we saw the “quick-tempered”, QATSER APH, or short-nosed believer.
For the “long-nosed” believer who is patient and long suffering, they will be blessed with “great understanding” RAV TEBUNAH, meaning they have great wisdom, understanding and insight to the situation at hand. This believer utilizes the doctrine in their soul, has faith-rest and trusts in the leading ministry of the Holy Spirit. Rather than having knee jerk reactions to the various details or situations of life, they have insight and understanding and function consistently in the application of Bible doctrine as they live the faith-rest life. This is seen in their calm demeanor, and smooth and eloquent speech.
The “quick-tempered” man, which is not QASTAR APH this time but, QASTAR RUACH that means, “short spirited or short breath.” It has the connotation of reaching the limits of one’s endurance against social injustice so quickly that it brings about sin. This is the impatient person. In other words, they are not utilizing their human spirit to understand the spiritual phenomenon of God’s Word to apply to the situation at hand, nor are they relying upon God the Holy Spirit to lead them in decision making, 1 Cor 2:13. Instead, this believer is “short-spirited” meaning they are run by the emotions of their soul, have emotional revolt of the soul, and jump to the quick in decision making with constant knee jerk reactions to the situations of life. Being “short breathed” they huff and puff regarding the situations and people they are confronted with. That means that instead of applying God’s Word from a position of strength in a calm, cool, and collected manner, they instead rely upon their emotions to make decisions with anger, jealousy, bitterness, and hatred, which is a position of weakness.
The consequences are that their emotions lead them to “exalt folly,” RUM IWWELETH where RUM is in the causative HIPHIL stem meaning their emotional revolt of the soul leads them to making stupid and bad decisions on a consistent basis. They show the greatest folly. In other words, their emotional reactions to the situations of life are nothing but absurdity, silliness, idiocy, and senselessness. There is no wisdom or Doctrine applied, and the whole matter is foolishness and stupidity in the eyes of God and others. This is the person who has a lack of common sense, because they either have no doctrine to apply in their soul, or they do not apply the Doctrine they do have. Either way, it is a lose-lose situation for them. They lose out in time by not having peace and happiness within their soul that comes from the Faith-Rest Life, and they lose out on blessing in the eternal state because of their sinful, emotional reactions.
Waltke notes, “He creates folly and becomes its prey, (cf. 14:17). In his unbelief he impiously and rashly lashes out to seek revenge, and in so doing he harms himself, as Rehoboam learned, (1 Ki. 12:1-24; cf. Genesis 34).” (New International Commentary.)
Likewise, those associated with this type of believer lose out because they typically get the brunt of their anger or are left in the wake of their path of destruction. As C. S. Lewis said, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats. It only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill tempered. It only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.”
Therefore, this proverb admonishes patience over and above impatience because the former functions in their soul with great insight to the moral order, whereas the latter causes one to commit and exhibit the moral insolence to the highest degree. The patient person maintains a relaxed mental attitude (RMA) when wronged and controls his emotions to think and act according to righteousness and God’s standards for ethics. He is not prodded or goaded into overreacting to avenge himself and does not seek revenge. Rather, in Faith-Rest he trusts in the Lord. As a result, the person who slows down his anger is not only a winner or overcomer, he also demonstrates common sense or understanding, his behavior is a characteristic of a wise person. This is the one who exhibits the Christ-like nature as he operates like God who’s longsuffering and patience prompted Him to camp in the midst of the sinful Israelites, Ex 34:6-7, and not to bring disaster on the repentant Ninevites, in Jonah 4:2. Patience gives space to the sinner to repent and to renounce his wrongdoing, Prov 28:13.
Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
Verse 30 – Comparing the Patient with the Impatient.
Prov 14:30, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.”
We begin once again with the positive believer. Continuing the comparison of right emotions. This proverb escalates the facial countenance of patience to its inner calm and tranquil disposition. This is the believer whose “heart”, LEB, is “tranquil” MARPE. MARPE, which we noted in Prov 4:22; 6:15; 12:18, 13:17, means, “health, healing, or remedy.” It also refers to the “restoration, cure, or renewal” of an illness or sickness. In addition, it indicates, “peace and calmness,” and refers to a state of “security, stability, or relaxation.” A tranquil heart then means having a relaxed mental attitude, RMA.
A heart of peace has the sense of keeping calm amid tension and anger in Eccl 10:4, and here is said to be a source of “life to the body”, CHAYYIM BASAR. It means it brings health to the body, especially in avoidance of emotions that bring sickness to the body. So “life to the body”, is used in contrast to physical death, as shown by the qualifier “in the entire body” here, whereas in the contrast to follow “bone” is in the plural meaning the entire body as well.
“…but passion is rottenness to the bones.”
“Passion” is the Noun QIN’AH קִנְאָה that means, “zeal, jealousy, or non-sexual passion.” It stands for emotional revolt of the soul.
Prov 6:34-35 noted, “For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35He will not accept any ransom, nor will he be satisfied though you give many gifts.”
But here the emotional revolt of the soul leads to “rottenness to the bones,” RAQAB, רָקָב that means, “decay or rottenness,” cf. Prov 12:4, with ETSEM in the plural that means, “bones” and stands for the entire body.
Here we have an idiom that means a decline in health. It has the connotation of cancer or gangrene to the bones that rot the firmest components of the body and shortens a person’s life. It tells us of the consequences of anger and the emotional revolt of the soul. It tells us the results of not having a peaceful heart, soul, and spirit. It tells us that sickness and illnesses and even premature death are the consequences of not having control over the emotions of your soul.
Principles of Patience:
- The real character of our faith is determined by our patience. A patient person is willing to wait upon the Lord and will be slow to anger, Prov 14:29.
- Patience with others will help you resolve and reconcile differences, Prov 15:18.
- Patience gives the believer fantastic strength under pressure, Prov 16:32.
- Patience will enable you to be discrete and overlook the sins of others, Prov 19:11.
- The Pastor/Teacher is told that he must have extreme patience with members of his congregation, 2 Tim 4:2.
- When you are patient with others, you do not hold them accountable for the wrongs they have done against you, because you recognize that everyone has an old sin nature (OSN) and that you must forgive them as God has forgiven you of all your sins.
- Patience allows us to rest in the Lord and let the Supreme Court of Heaven handle any unfair or unjust treatment, Psa 37:7.
- Patience gives us the strength and power to handle undeserved suffering and maltreatment and bring glory to the Lord, 1 Peter 2:19-20.
- The slow to anger have a tranquil heart while the quick tempered are run by their emotions.
- The positive believer has great wisdom and understanding that brings life to their body, while the reversionistic emotional believer exalts folly that brings rottenness and decay to his bones.
- The patient believer with a calm or tranquil heart has a relaxed mental attitude towards the details of life, while the impatient, quick to anger, and emotional believer is a slave to the details of life that cause all kinds of mental and physical ailments.
- Having Bible doctrine in your soul and the Faith-rest drill tested in your life gives you patience. God has made many promises to us, and we all need patience when it comes to claiming the promises of God, Eph 4:1-3; Heb 10:36.
Eph 4:1-3, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Heb 10:36, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”
Real patience IS: Waiting on God, waiting on His perfect timing, waiting on His perfect will, waiting on His perfect plan without complaining. It means that we know He is there, that He is able, and that He will take care of us because He ALWAYS keeps His promises.
Comparing Righteousness and Wickedness in Social Behavior in vs. 31,
& Their Eternal Consequence in vs. 32.
Continuing the theme of vs. 20-21 in regard to how we treat our neighbors of which some may be poor, as well as continuing the theme of the hot-tempered versus patience person of vs. 29-30, we see another aspect of our good or bad treatment towards the poor or lower class people in our periphery. We will also see that how we treat the poor speaks volumes about our relationship with or respect for the Lord, as this final pairing points to the Lord explicitly in vs. 31, and implicitly in vs. 32, as the Upholder of the moral order.
As Waltke notes, “The fervid person’s hot passions caused by his rivalry with his neighbor now spill over into oppressing and/or slandering the defenseless poor and in so doing impugning God’s name and reputation.”
Verse 31 – Comparing Righteousness & Wickedness in Social Behavior.
Prov 14:31, “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.”
“He who oppresses” is the Qal Active Participle of ASHAQ, עָשַׁק that means, “to oppress, to wrong, to extort, or to abuse.” That is, “to oppress” by the abuse of power or the burdening of a perceived lesser class. It can come in the manner of social injustice, where the weak have no way of defending their rights. It also means to verbally abuse or slander them, that is, to denigrate the significance, worth, and/or ability of someone or something; to “scoff at” gives meaning here too.
The ones who are oppressed here are “the poor,” the Noun DAL, דַּל that means, “poor or weak.” It speaks of deprivation in three ways:
- Describing the appearance and emotional state of one who is deprived.
- Those who experience financial deprivation.
- Those whose societal influence is minimal or lessened, and so are deprived of cultural or political standing.
In Prov 14:20, poor was the Noun RUSH that means, “to be in want or need, or poor” and in vs. 21, it was “ANAB” meaning, “poor, afflicted, or weak.” In the second half of this passage, we will see another word for “poor.”
So this passage warns those who are in power to not oppress the poor or lower class within their society because it is a sin against God to do so, i.e., they “taunt his Maker.”
“Taunts” is the causative active Piel Perfect of the verb CHARAPH חָרַף that has three root meanings, “winter, taunt, or engaged.” Here it is the second that means, “to taunt, reproach, or abuse verbally.” Literally, this verb means to, “say sharp things against.”
“Maker” is the Qal Active Participle of the Verb ASAH that means, “to make or do.” As a Participle, it means, “Maker,” and speaks of God the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Therefore, “taunts his Maker” implies their refusal to recognize an authority beyond their own power. And deriding the poor entails reviling or blaspheming God.
The Contrast! The Positive.
“But he who is gracious” is the Qal Active of the verb CHANAN, חָנַן that means, “to be gracious toward, to favor, pity, have compassion towards, or to have mercy on.” We noted this in Prov 14:21. The action of this verb is directed towards “the needy.” So it means you esteem the recipient worthy of favor, you accept him actively, and do acts of kindness for him.
“Needy” here is the Noun ABYON, אֲבְיוֹן that means, “poor or needy,” signifying that a person is in want or need of material goods.
“Honors Him,” as noted above the causative active Piel Participle of KABED that means, “to honor or glorify,” which means you glorify God by being gracious and compassionate toward the poor or lower class individuals, especially by not oppressing them.
When people “reproach” someone or something, they are doing the exact opposite of honoring and respecting them. In our verse, the person who oppresses the poor “reproaches” God Himself. The person who is gracious to the needy honors God through his actions.
In this passage, the person who oppresses the poor “reproaches” God. To deal harshly with those in poverty is to reproach God who made both rich and poor. Here CHARAPH stands opposite in this comparison to the KABED that means, “to honor or respect.” Therefore, the one who is gracious to the needy honors their Maker, but the one who abuses him is disrespectful to God. The gracious believer will value the privilege of ministering to the poor as he is able, thus showing the kindness of God. Prov 17:5 reiterates this principle by saying, “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker.”
Other Proverbs that commend generosity toward the poor include, Prov 19:17; 22:9; 28:27, are addressed to anyone who is able to help the destitute and save them from starvation.
Verse 32 – The Eternal Consequence of the Righteous & Wicked in Social Behavior.
Prov 14:32, “The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies.”
Here we see more negative and positive consequences of our actions regarding the poor. We begin with the negative, “the wicked,” RASHA, “is thrust down”, the simple passive Niphal Imperfect of DACHAH, דָּחָה meaning, “to push” or “to overturn,” with the connotation of pushing someone down, intending to harm them.
In the Passive Voice, the action of being thrust down or overturned is received by the wicked person “because of his wrongdoing”, BE RA’AH, or “by his evil.”
Therefore, as a person treats others badly, especially the poor, he will receive the same himself. In other words, this is the reap what you sow principle in giving. Because he has not been gracious towards others, he will lose what he has and become just like them, poor or destitute. That is why it is so important to be gracious towards others when you have the means, so that God can continue to bless you in time with material blessings. But if you treat the poor harshly and turn a blind eye towards them, you may lose what you have. Given the comparison in this passage with “the righteous who has a refuge when he dies”, it also tells us this believer will lose out on blessings in the eternal state.
The Contrast! The Positive.
“But the righteous” is WA TSADDIQ once again, for the positive believer going forward in the plan of God.
“Has refuge” is the Qal Active Participle of CHASAH, חָסָה that means, “to seek refuge, to take shelter, or to trust.” Here it means to find protection in their own integrity. In other words, the righteousness within your soul will protect you, and lead you to act righteously with the result of eternal blessings and rewards, as noted in the last phrase, “when he dies”, BE MAWETH. Therefore, your internal righteousness protects your eternal blessings.
Both in time and eternity there are positive and negative consequences for believers. If we are gracious in time, God will be gracious to us in time and bless us with rewards in eternity. But if we are oppressive or taunting to the poor and needy in time, God must withhold from blessing us materially in time and the Lord will withhold blessings at His BEMA seat judgment, 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10.
Verses 33-35, “The National Impact of Our Walk.”
Prov 14:33, “Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, but in the hearts of fools it is made known.”
This is both a conclusion to Chapter 14 and an introduction to Chapter 15.
As a conclusion, it calls us to remember the doctrines we have just learned and apply them diligently in our lives as, “wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding,” CHOKMAH NUACH BE LEB BIN.
“Rests” is the Qal Imperfect of NUACH that means, “to settle or rest.” It tells us what “wisdom” CHOKMAH will do “in the heart”, LEB, (right lobe) of our soul. It will enter our souls and live there peacefully. This affect occurs to the one who has “understanding,” the simple passive NIPHAL Participle of BIN that means, “to understand or perceive.” It stresses the intake of Bible Doctrine, God’s Word in your soul.
Therefore, the one who perceives Bible Doctrine through the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) will have a godly rest (peace and contentment, +H) within their soul along with the wisdom of God to apply to everyday situations. This rest comes from having a clean conscience; knowing that you are walking in God’s righteousness on a consistent basis, and therefore walking in His plan for your life.
The Contrast! The Negative.
“But in the hearts of fools it is made known”, which in the Hebrew is BE QEREB KESIYL YADAH.
QEREB, קֶרֶב is used figuratively for “heart”, as it means the, “inner most part.”
KESIYL is our word for the “fool” or reversionistic believer.
YADAH, means, “to know.”
This incomplete phrase tells us that in their “heart of hearts,” the fool or reversionistic believer knows that they are foolish or acting in reversionism. They know that they are walking outside of the will and plan of God for their lives. Especially because, their conscience condemns them as noted in Rom 2:15; 9:1; 13:5; 1 Tim 4:2; 1 John 3:21.
1 John 3:21, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”
1 Tim 4:1-2, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
Principles of the Conscience:
- Conscience, is from the Greek word SUNDEIDESIS (soon-i-day-sis), “to know with a norm or standard.” It means to have a norm or standard and be conscious of that norm or standard in thinking, motivation, decision making, and action. The English word conscience comes from the Latin word conscientia, meaning joint knowledge; hence, to know with preconceived standards. There is no reference to the conscience, as such, in the Old Testament, but in our passage referring to the “heart”, LEB, (and in 1 Sam 24:5 regarding David’s conscience), and “inner most being”, QEREB, it carries the connotation of the conscience. While the Old Testament does not have a word for conscience, it does tell how the conscience worked in the Old Testament.
Rom 2:14 15, “The law printed (written) in your hearts (right lobes), their conscience confirming the testimony and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending themselves.”
- Conscience is that mental faculty by which one distinguishes between right and wrong, and urges the individual to do what he recognizes to be right and to restrain him from doing that which he recognizes to be wrong.
- The conscience is a sense or consciousness in the right lobe of your soul related to either moral or spiritual goodness of one’s thoughts, motives, decisions, and actions. Therefore, conscience is a faculty, a power, or a principle conceived in the right lobe to determine the quality of one’s thoughts, intentions, decisions, and actions.
- The conscience, bestowed on man by God in creation, stores norms, standards, priorities, and values in life which gives him a moral sense, distinguishing right from wrong. It means knowledge of self in relation to a known law of right and wrong. In the conscience of the believer, the norms, standards, and priorities must originate from Bible doctrine, John 8:9; Acts 24:16; Rom 2:15; 9:1; 13:5; 1 Cor 8:7; 2 Cor 4:2; 5:11; Titus 1:15; 1 Tim 4:2; Heb 9:14.
- The conscience is built on a vocabulary that begins with one word: no or don’t. All consciences are built with negative words which forbid doing something. So the conscience of man is first established by negatives, although eventually there are explanations in both positive and negative terms.
- As you learn Bible doctrine, your norms and standards will change. At every stage of spiritual growth, you have a consolidated conscience so that you regulate your own life on the basis of your own standards.
- Believers in two categories of extended carnality have destroyed their conscience: extended carnality, resulting in life in Satan’s cosmic system; extended carnality, resulting in the believer’s involvement in Christian degeneracy, 1 Tim 1:19-20; 4:1-2.
- False teaching sears the conscience like a branding iron. It destroys the conscience. This searing refers to scar tissue of the soul and cosmic involvement. A great deal of your strength comes from having the proper norms and standards in the conscience of your right lobe. Therefore, it is important to understand how apostasy can destroy the conscience.
Therefore, as we have here in Prov 14:33, it is vital that we discern right and wrong according to God’s divine viewpoint rather than from the world’s, (Satan’s cosmic system), viewpoint. Divine viewpoint says, love your neighbor, cosmic viewpoint says take advantage of them.
When we apply Divine viewpoint, we honor and glorify God, but if we disregard it and act worldly, we blaspheme against God and His righteous moral order.
Section IV, Verses 33-35, “The National Impact of our Walk.”
As we noted, vs. 33 ends the context of Chapter 14 as a bookend with vs.1, but also begins a new section that runs into Chapter 15. One could have put the chapter break between vs. 32 & 33. Nevertheless, we begin a new section of Chapter 14 that relates to “The National Impact of Our Walk.”
Having noted Prov 14:33, “Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, but in the hearts of fools it is made known,” and the importance of having a good conscience, we now turn to vs. 34 & 35 that speak to the impact we can have on our nation.
As you may know, as an invisible hero for God, which means we have grown to spiritual adulthood and are excelling in the spiritual life, we can have a tremendous impact in five areas; personal, geographic, international, angelic, and heritage. We will note these impacts below. But first we note what Prov 14:34-35 says about this.
Prov 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
This verse begins with the broad spectrum, the collective whole, whereas vs. 35 focuses on the individual.
“Righteousness”, TSEDAQAH, speaks to living the unique spiritual life, and especially for the Church Age believer empowered by the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit, (God’s Power System – GPS), to walk in God’s righteousness on a consistent basis. When we walk/live obedient to God’s Word, will, and plan for our lives, it has the added benefit of “exalting a nation” RUM GOY. Here RUM is in the Poel Imperfect. The Poel is like the Piel, an intensive active, and the imperfect is for future or ongoing action. Together it means that the spiritually mature believer will have a tremendously positive impact on his nation. But as you know, it is not just talking about one person here, but the collective righteousness of many mature believers. That is what we call a “pivot.” It is a group of spiritually mature believers through whom God is able to bless an entire nation by association. Therefore, when a significant group of believers are going forward in the plan of God, the nation is blessed by God, raised up, and glorified among other nations, and especially in the eyes of God. This blessing / exaltation comes in the form of honesty, integrity, prosperity, and freedoms in economics, politics, and various aspects of social life, which we will note below.
“But sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Here too we see the collective nature of this group of “people,” which is the plural of the noun LE’OM, that means, “a nation or people.”
“Disgrace” is the Hebrew noun CHESED, חֶסֶד that has the same form as the word for “grace”, but this CHESED has quite a different meaning. It occurs two times in the Old Testament with a clearly negative connotation, here and Lev 20:17, for “disgrace or wicked thing.” That has led some to conclude that it comes from a separate Semitic root. This noun indicates, “shame or disgrace” the opposite of grace, honor, or blessings.
The thing that is shameful or a disgrace to a nation is “sin”, CHATTATH, cf. Prov 5:22; 10:16; 13:6. The complete Bible Library notes regarding CHATTATH that, “God wishes to have fellowship with humankind, but cannot tolerate sin. Sin, therefore, causes a separation between God and the one guilty of sin. But if we confess our sins, He will forgive, 1 John 1:9.” So in view here is an unrepentant group of people within a nation that are not walking in His righteousness and instead are walking in sin and darkness. They are not utilizing God’s Grace of experiential sanctification by confessing their known sins and are remaining in their sins experientially. As a result, it is shameful or a disgrace to that nation. And in our comparison here, God is not able to bless that nation. In other words, there is not a large enough pivot of positive and spiritually mature believers in that nation, whereby God is able to bless the nation. Instead He is unable to bless them and most likely will allow judgment to come against them.
Waltke notes, “Ultimately a nation’s exaltation depends on its piety and ethics, not on its political, military, and/or economic greatness. In its external affairs, a sinful nation among other things breaks treaties, propagandizes, lies, and bullies’ weaker nations. In its internal affairs, it allows its judicial system to break down so that criminals and sluggards are rewarded and good citizens are overtaxed and intimidated.”
The result of these actions and their consequences is a nation disgraced!
Prov 14:35, “The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.”
The focus now shifts from the collective whole to the individual. Like vs. 34, this too begins with the positive.
“The King’s Favor” is MELEK RATSON. MELEK meaning, “king,” and can mean the leader of a nation or even God Himself. In either case, the idea of what pleases a person, what a person wants, desires or expects, is in view, which is granted to them by their leader or more importantly God Himself, as God is the author and provider of all of our blessings, James 1:17.
RATSON is used of the desires of living creatures that God satisfies, in Psa 145:16, and may refer to harmony with God and enjoyment of all the blessings He wants for people in Deut 33:23; Prov 8:35; 18:22. The wrath of God is antithetical to RATSON in Prov 19:12 & Isa 60:10, as well as in our verse with “anger” in the second half contrast.
But here the “king’s favor is toward a servant”, (LE, “to” plus EBED [eved] that is equivalent to the Greek DOULOS meaning, “a slave or servant”), and here denotes a “royal officer.” As you know, all believers are royal officers as Royal Priests and Ambassadors for God. But not all royal officers act wisely. But some do, as noted here.
“Who acts wisely,” is the causative active Hiphil Participle for SAKAL, שָׂכַל that means, “to act with insight, to be prudent, to give insight, to teach, to prosper, to consider, to ponder, to understand, to act prudently, or to act with devotion.” Here we see the description of the mature believer, one who is caused to act with insight, prudence, understanding, and wisdom from having the Word of God resident within their soul and being led by the enabling power of the filling of the Holy Spirit, (GPS).
As you know, all believers are also servants of the Lord, John 13:16; 15:20. As servants, we are to represent Him here on earth as a royal officer, and as we do, His blessings are poured out to us. And as you also know, when we are blessed personally, the overflowing blessings, cf. Luke 6:38, impact those in our periphery and they too are blessed by association with us. Those who would rise inside of God’s Plan spiritually, or in the material realm in the government, or in any organization or corporation should therefore seek to become wise, that they may succeed and not cause themselves or anyone else shame.
So we see that God is able to bless us individually which collectively leads to national blessings, when there are enough mature believers for the blessings to be spread around.
“But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.”
“His anger” is the Noun EBRAH with a pronominal suffix. It refers back to the MELEK, “king”, of the first half of this verse. It is a feminine noun meaning, “wrath or fury.” EBRAH is derived from the word ABAR whose figurative use means to, “step beyond the boundaries”, and thus implies an overflowing anger. This is in contrast to the overflowing blessings for the mature believer, cf. Luke 6:38. This word most often signifies God’s wrath, an attribute people generally fail to properly appreciate, Psa 90:11. Here we have the wrath of a king toward shameful servants that is justifiable as it represents God’s anger towards the reversionistic believer, as noted in the next phrase, cf. Prov 14:34; Rom 13:4.
“Him who acts shamefully” is the causative Hiphil Particle of the Verb BOSH, that conveys the sense of “to put (someone) to shame, to cause (someone) shame, or to act shamefully.” Here because of their shameful / sinful actions, they are caused to receive shame, i.e., God’s discipline.
Therefore, for the individual reversionistic believer, God’s wrath / discipline will come against him. And if there is a large group of reversionistic believers and unbelievers in a nation, God’s discipline / judgment will come against that nation by association.
This leads us to understand:
The Doctrine of the Invisible Hero
In the Old Testament, we have a number of stories of mature believers that we call “visible heroes”, many of which are noted in Hebrew 11. They are called “visible” because we have their accounts noted for us in Scripture. They are “heroes” because of their great demonstrations of faithfulness towards God’s Word and Plan for their lives.
In the Church Age, we are part of the “invisible hero” generation. We are invisible because of the invisible impact in the spiritual warfare that we are a part of, Eph 6:10-18. We too can be “heroes,” if we demonstrate great faith throughout our lives.
The invisible hero is the product of faith application towards Bible doctrine and advances towards spiritual maturity. He executes the Predesigned Protocol Plan of God, and spends enough time inside of Gods Power System (GPS) under the ministry of whomever is his/her right pastor to learn the principles of the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age. Invisible God, plus invisible assets, plus invisible power, equals the invisible hero.
No one can become an invisible hero apart from post salvation renewing of your mind, Rom 12:1-2, which emphasizes consistent exposure to and cognition of the mystery doctrine of the Church Age, through which the believer attains spiritual maturity and provides invisible impact. The great power experiment of the Church Age is designed to manufacture invisible heroes through perception, metabolization, and application (PMA) of Bible doctrine.
Metabolized doctrine plus wisdom results in momentum in the Plan of God. The execution of that plan results in the manufacture of invisible heroes. Because:
- He is generally filled with the Spirit.
- He has already learned the basic doctrines, basic modus operandi, and Problem Solving Devices.
- He has enforced and genuine humility so that he perpetuates perception of Bible doctrine, and thereby spiritual momentum.
- He functions consistently under post-salvation renewing of the mind, Rom 12:1-2.
- He has advanced to spiritual adulthood, where he has attained the 1st stage of adulthood called Spiritual Self-Esteem, which is cognitive self-confidence. He then passes Providential Preventative Suffering, the suffering for blessing and reaches Spiritual Autonomy, the 2nd stage of spiritual adulthood.
- In Spiritual Autonomy, he passes the four parts of momentum testing from cognitive independence.
- Finally, he advances to and attains the 3rd stage of adulthood, Spiritual Maturity. He passes Evidence Testing, like Job did, as a witness for the prosecution (God) in the appeal trial of Satan in the Angelic Conflict. As such, he becomes an invisible hero. As an invisible hero, the believer becomes a part of the pivot of a nation, which is the last stand of any client nation and its only basis for genuine blessing.
The Invisible Hero’s Impact on History.
As noted above, the invisible hero can have impact in five areas: Personal, Historical, International, Angelic, and Heritage. We will address all five.
Personal impact is defined as blessing by association with the mature believer who is both a winner and an invisible hero. Blessing by association with the invisible hero includes the following peripheries.
- Family: husband, wife, mother, father, children, relatives, pets.
- Organizations: businesses, schools, teams, law firms, medical clinics, military organizations, law enforcement, engineering firms, banks, corporations, symphony orchestra, etc.
- Social life, clubs, sports teams, social life in general.
- Church life, mission board, prep school, Christian service organizations, etc.
- Geographical: neighborhood, city, county, state, or nation.
Historical impact is defined as blessing by association to the Gentile client nation through the formation of the pivot of mature believers.
- Through post-salvation renewing, the believer executes the Plan of God and advances to Spiritual Maturity, becoming both an invisible hero and a member of the pivot of the client nation.
- The size of the pivot of invisible heroes becomes the basis of either blessing or cursing to a nation.
- A large pivot of invisible heroes means national blessing, prosperity in spiritual affairs, as well as in the function of government, law enforcement, military, the economy, and the cultural and social life of the nation.
- A small pivot of invisible heroes means the administration of the five cycles of discipline to the client nation, Lev 26:14-38. A large pivot of invisible heroes means the five cycles of discipline are cancelled and the nation is delivered by the grace of God.
- As goes the believer, so goes the client nation to God historically, spiritually, economically, and socially.
- When the pivot shrinks through apostasy, the client nation declines. It is eventually destroyed by the administration of the fifth cycle of discipline.
International impact is defined as blessing by association to a non-client nation through missionaries who have attained spiritual maturity or world-wide ministries.
- The missionary who is an invisible hero has a dual impact of blessing by association.
- The mature missionary is a blessing to the client nation from which he comes.
- The mature missionary is a blessing to the foreign country to which he goes.
- When the invisible hero goes to a non-client nation as a missionary, he becomes a source of blessing by association to that non-client nation, so that it prospers.
- The mature missionary does not interfere with the politics, the culture, or the function of the non-client nation through Christian activism, which is both evil and a part of moral degeneration.
- The mature missionary functions under the indigenous policy and modus operandi. Therefore, his impact is both invisible and spiritual.
- The result of invisible international impact is two categories of blessings by association.
Spiritual prosperity comes from evangelism, the training of national pastors, and the formation of self-sustaining local churches in that non-client nation.
National prosperity without activism, interference, social engineering, civil disobedience, terrorism, or revolution.
Angelic impact is defined as the invisible hero becoming a witness for the prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial during human history. This witness is accomplished by the mature believer passing evidence testing.
- The importance of this invisible impact is based on the fact that the post-canon period of the Church Age is the only prolonged period of human history where the angelic conflict is totally invisible. Angels are visible in every other dispensation except the Church Age.
- But when people become believers in Jesus Christ and execute the Plan of God, they are applauded by the elect angels. Angels cheer when someone becomes an invisible hero.
- Mankind was created to resolve the prehistoric Angelic Conflict. Therefore, angels are now observing human history.
- During Christ’s 1st Advent, angels observed the incarnation of His Hyper-static Union, 1 Tim 3:16.
- In the dispensation of the Church, angels are observing you, 1 Cor 4:9; Eph 3:10; 1 Tim 5:21; 1 Pet 1:12.
- The Church Age therefore has an unusual testimony. Every Church Age believer is a testimony to homo sapiens who are visible and to millions of angelic creatures who are invisible.
- Therefore, the invisible hero fulfills the very purpose for which man was created and confined to planet earth.
Heritage impact is blessing by association with the invisible hero after his death. He is now, “absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord”, in a place of “no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more death; the old things have passed away,” Rev 21:4.
- Therefore, heritage impact is blessing by association to the next generation. It is the continuation of blessing by association after the death of an invisible hero to one or perhaps two following generations.
- Heritage impact is blessing by association on an individual basis only. This means that the loved ones and possibly the close friends and associates of the invisible hero, regardless of their spiritual status, believer or unbeliever, winners or losers in the Plan of God, are blessed by their association with the invisible hero after his death.
- This explains one reason why even the wicked prosper, believer or unbeliever. Both believers and unbelievers prosper in any given generation because of their association with the invisible hero.
- Believers, winners or losers, also prosper on the basis of logistical grace. Since many believers are wicked, they prosper only because of logistical grace.