Proverbs 14:1-9

Proverbs 14:1‑9  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Here it is mainly a contrast between wisdom and folly in varied points of view, with no little instruction for such as fear the Lord and desire abiding fruit.
“The wisdom of woman buildeth the house; but folly plucketh it down with her hands.
He that walketh in his uprightness feareth Jehovah; but the perverted in his ways despiseth him.
In the fool's mouth [is] a rod of pride; but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
Where no oxen [are], the crib [is] clean; but much increase [is] by the strength of the ox.
A faithful witness will not lie; but a false witness breatheth out lies.
A scorner seeketh wisdom; and [there is] none for him; but knowledge [is] easy to the intelligent.
Go away from a foolish man, in whom thou perceivest not the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent [is] to understand his way; but the folly of fools [is] deceit.
Fools make a mock at trespass; but among the upright [is] favor” (vers. 1-9).
If man has his place in authority and external activity, not less real is that of woman, and especially in the “home” of which she is the chief bond. Yet there is even there the need of a better foundation than man can lay: else it will surely fail, and it cannot be the house that the wisdom of woman builds. Keeping at home is good; working at home, as in the critical reading of Titus 2:55To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:5), is still better. And how true that folly plucks down the house with her hands! Though wisdom be not expressly named in ver. 2, yet does it underlie all walking in uprightness. As the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge, so he that walks in his uprightness, which is its fruit, does fear Him, out of whose mouth is knowledge and understanding, as He lays up sound wisdom for the upright. On the other hand, where perversity in ways is will be found despising Him. To lean to our own intelligence is the very reverse of knowing Him in all our ways, who alone can and will make our paths plain.
Then we have to remember how large a part the mouth has in the display of folly as well as of wisdom. “In the fool's mouth is a rod of pride.” Haughty as it may be in its self-indulgence, what retribution for the fool's back! The lips of the wise, as they help others, shall preserve themselves from strife, dangers, and difficulties.
No credit is due to the cleanness which attends idleness and shirking labor. “Where no oxen are the crib is clean “; but what of that? It is mercy, as well as a judgment, that a man is to eat bread in the sweat of one's face. Not only is labor, but sorrow, and suffering, better than sin. Pride, fullness of bread, and careless ease lead to ruin and judgment; as industry, using means, such as the strength of the ox, brings in much increase: so God ordains for man that wisely hears and obeys.
Next, how often a person seeks to be thought wise by his independent spirit and detraction, which constantly expose himself to exaggeration and falsehood! It is folly and mischief all the while. Our own business is to do God's will; and “a faithful witness will not lie” to exalt self or to disparage others. But a false one breathes out lies: a remarkable and frequent phrase in scripture. To breathe out lies is more effective and ensnaring than vehement denunciation, which would arrest attention and insure speedy refutation. But breathing them out spreads the malice effectively and widely too through imposed-on confidants; while the maligned are kept ignorant of the mischief. It is a picture of utter corruption.
A scorner is more boldly evil and presumptuous; he “seeketh wisdom,” but in his own way (which is as far as possible from the Lord), and hence, as is here said, there is none for him. “For Jehovah giveth wisdom” (chap. 2:6); and blessed is he that finds it (3:13). Even God Himself is no exception. “Jehovah by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up, and the skies drop down the dew.” He indeed scorns the scorners and gives grace to the lowly: the wise shall inherit glory; but shame shall be the promotion of fools. Had not Verulam this sounding to his heart, when he wrote, “He that comes to seek after knowledge, with a mind to scorn and censure, shall be sure to find matter enough for his humor, but none for his instruction.” How true on the other hand, “that knowledge is easy to the intelligent!”
What is one to do when in presence of a foolish man “in whom thou perceivest not the lips of knowledge?” Get away. He can do you no good and may do you no little harm. He will receive no reproof, and you risk provocation and loss of temper.
“The wisdom of the prudent” is not in lofty claims or unproved theories, but “to discern his way “; the pretended wisdom but real “folly of fools is deceit.” For as there is no power, it lies in ever changing devices and tricks to evade.
The end, if not beginning, of such a path is that “fools make a mock of trespass,” the road to destruction; whereas “among the upright is favor.” It is the upright only who have true pity as well as horror of transgression. Grace alone made them upright, after being far from God; and they turn to Him, not only for the favor they need and have found, but to seek it for others too insensible to judge themselves.