14 The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.
In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
Proverbs 14 Commentary
by Hank Workman
There’s much to be said about the choices we make. If we were honest, many times what we gain is what drives our decision. This is evident in every arena of life.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”Proverbs 14:12
So often we look at the black and white results and measure our investment. Outcomes may seem right but what if it’s not? How do we know? This is where the presence of the Holy Spirit is essential in our daily life. He who sits beside the Father right now is interceding on our behalf of things far deeper than we ourselves know. We need more of His discernment in our lives to make the choices that are in God’s will, not our own.
I think how this proverb really sums up a lot when it comes to the contrast between the upright and the wicked. For so much of what Solomon writes as warnings comes down to what we want and what seems “right.” When we keep ourselves solely in the driver’s seat of our desires and wants, we are more apt to choose foolishly based on ourselves.
This becomes evident in the attitudes we have, the decisions of life we make and even our outreach to those struggling. Take time this day to make a change and invite the Holy Spirit to invade your decisions and control your mind and thinking. Invite Him to direct your thoughts and pray for Him to help you take captive every thought. Rely on Him and make decisions today not based on what seems right but what is right based on His guidance.
Proverbs 14 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As we journey through Proverbs, you can really pick out any phrase and focus on its content and meaning. I want to zoom in specifically to 14:3.
“By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.”Proverbs 14:3 ESV
We all know that a person who is prideful and foolish strikes down those around him or her. We witness these types of people every day. However, this verse turns the focus back to the fool. In the mouth of the foolish is a rod for his back. The prideful man not only strikes down others, but he strikes down himself!
The context here is speaking to someone who is hostile to God. I don’t believe it is speaking of the believer who slips up, but rather, the fool who despises God and rebels by using his words and his tongue to take down others. Goliath is a great example of this point. He boasted against God’s people and his words came back to strike him down.
“The words of the fool shape themselves into a rod that is ready for his enemies to use on him. This proverb calls to mind that many people are their own worst enemy; given enough rope, they prepare a noose for their own hanging.”Nelson’s Commentary
The protection offered to the lips of the wise is only because of their status with God. It’s a natural progression. A believer humbly acknowledges their sin, and repents of it. Their standing with God is complete freedom and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, they receive God’s knowledge and are empowered with wisdom to use their words and tongue to glorify God. This is what enables the great promise of protection.
So at the core of this phrase, we find two different responses to God’s plan for sinners. A fool tears others down en route to their own destruction. Those who have been awakened to God’s ways repent, receive grace through faith, and exercise their tongue to the glory of God. Two very different people. Which are you?