Thoughts on the Proverbs
[Proverbs 14:1-5]

[The Homemaker and Home-wrecker]

Proverbs 14:1 -- "The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."

TRANS: NEB: the wisest women build up their homes; the foolish pull them down with their own hands

CROSS REF: Proverbs 9:13; 24:3; 31:10, 26 = wife

NOTE: This is the only occurrence of the expression "wise woman" in Proverbs. The phrase does occur twice at 2 Samuel 14:2 and 20:16. This proverb demonstrates the influence -- good or bad -- a wife has within the household. A "wise woman" increases family prosperity as Proverbs chapter 31 illustrates. This kind of woman’s center of interest is on the house proper as well as meals and clothing for the children. Additionally, no stronger force for good can be found save in that "wise woman" who is also a mother, teaching her children the law of God and the commandments of the Nazarene.

On the other hand, the opposite woman, a "foolish one" who is egocentric and materialistic, will destroy all the hard work of her husband for she will squander time and money. Such a woman may be identified by her household: a dirty and disordered house and children known in the neighborhood for their bad manners. With her own hands she has destroyed her home and will likely loose her husband in time. Any young man seeking a wife will choose wisely in order to build a Christian home. Of course, wisely, a young woman also looks for godly qualities of wisdom in her intended mate.

[Not Only With Lips]

Proverbs 14:2 -- "The one walking in his uprightness is fearing Jehovah, but the one crooked in his ways is despising Him."

TRANS: NEB: a straightforward man fears the Lord; the double-dealer scorns him

CROSS REF: Job 1:1 = upright; Acts10:35 = every nation; Deuteronomy 32:15 = despised; Luke 10:16 = disregard

NOTE: See above for discussions on "upright" and "fear of Jehovah." "Upright" is a another way of saying "righteous" and stands in contrast to the "crooked" or twisted way, the contorted way, of the one who actually despises God. By his actions the "crooked" -- whether they say so or not -- demonstrate their hatred of God. The "crook" may deceive hapless individuals but Another is watching and will remember on Judgment Day.

[Words Come to Roost]

Proverbs 14:3 -- "The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one, but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them."

TRANS: NEB: the speech of a fool is a rod for his back

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:6

NOTE: Any discipline or rebuke uttered by the haughty has a hidden agenda with pride as its motivation but the wise watch carefully what they speak that no words are out of envy or rivalry, harshness or contention. The haughty freely speak whatever is on their minds as they are sure their opinions are golden. The wise by contrast realize most of the time is it best to remain silent and thus guard arrogant speech.

[Neat but Negative]

Proverbs 14:4 -- "Where there are no cattle the manger is clean, but the crop is abundant because of the power of a bull."

TRANS: MOF: no oxen, no corn; good crops come from work done by the ox; JB: no oxen, no cattle-feed: stout ox, rich crop

NOTE: The verse may be taken two ways as various translations show: a) of course one may brag of the cleanliness of his barn when he has no cattle but then he produces nothing of value. Thus: "Orderliness can reach the point of sterility"; or, "a creative mess is better than tidy idleness." b) On the other hand, the need for a bull to make for productivity is an obvious truth. There are men whose desks are clean, tidy and proper but who produce little; and there are men whose desk is a mess, like a barn, but are very productive.

[Witnesses True and False]

Proverbs 14:5 -- "A faithful witness is one that will not lie, but a false witness launches forth mere lies."

TRANS: The verse is so terse and clean few translations offer an alternative.

CROSS REF: Proverbs 6:19; 12:17; 14:25; 19:5,9; 21:28; 24:28; 25:15 = witness (Compare Leviticus 5:1)

NOTE: Judicial or courtroom testimony. It must not be supposed that all testimonial evidence is truthful. It was dangerous under the law to be a false witness for the punishment that was to be meted out on the innocent befell the lying witness. A person who is known to be loyal and trustworthy is also known never to lie even if his testimony injury him or a dear one.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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