Thoughts on the Proverbs
[Proverbs 14:15-20]

Proverbs 14:15 -- "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps."

TRANS: NEB: a simple man believes every word he hears; a clever man understands the need for proof

CROSS REF: Proverbs 27:12 and Acts 17:11 = proof

NOTE: "Trust is a lovely thing but it cannot stand unless it get truth to lean upon." (Arnot p 277) The young and unsuspecting may be gullible and trust the promises of anyone. Older, and more experienced people, know this is not a shrewd thing. Though the shrewd should consider where they walk, the Christian believer should remain guileless in general disposition. It is not spiritually or physically healthy to become a suspicious person, not trusting anyone.

[Self-confident Stupidity]

Proverbs 14:16 -- "The wise one fears and is turning away from badness, but the stupid is becoming furious and self-confident."

TRANS: RHM: but a dullard is haughty and confident; AAT: but the fool is blustering and confident in himself; JB: the wise man sees evil coming and avoids it, the fool is rash and presumptuous

CROSS REF: Genesis 39:12 = Joseph fled; 1 Kings 19:2 = Elijah fled; 1 Samuel 25:11 = Nabal

NOTE: The is a wisdom in fear which keeps the wise in a state of caution when evil is a possibility whereas the fool becomes furious with a wicked threat and his self-confidence in his own ability to handle the matter leads him to catastrophe.


Proverbs 14:17 -- "He that is quick to anger will commit foolishness, but the man of thinking abilities is hated."

TRANS: KNX: the impatient man blunders as surely as the schemer makes enemies; KJ: a man of wicked devices is hated; BER: a man who plans wickedness is hated; LXX: a passionate man acts inconsiderately but a sensible man bears up under many things

CROSS REF: Proverbs 12:16 and Proverbs 16:32

NOTE: There are a variety of approaches to this verse. Generally the hot-tempered person ends up doing and saying things later regretted. There are several types of persons who are publicly or privately "hated" (or, loved less) because of jealousy or envy: the beautiful, the rich, the educated, the wise, and the socially or politically powerful. This jealousy may cause quick anger with regard to the envied person. This hatred may manifest itself in a spiritual or religious environment where there are persons gifted with knowledge of the Bible or influential in church matters. Such persons may become the objects of slanderous hatred in secret conversations.

Reflecting a rather general view is the following quotation from the book The Age of Conformity, by Alan Valentine, pages 105 and 106: "Einstein was another kind of national hero in a more remote way; almost no one understood him but nearly everyone accepted the experts' verdict that he was a tremendous adventurer on the exalted heights of mathematics. But when he began to express opinions on public issues his admirers diminished. To think independently is to challenge the democratic norm, and 'highbrow' and 'theorist' are not complimentary terms. 'I'd rather be a bonehead than an egghead,' is simply the latest slogan to defend the commonplace."

[The Crown of Knowledge]

Proverbs 14:18 -- "The inexperienced ones will certainly take possession of foolishness, but the shrewd ones will bear knowledge as a headdress."

TRANS: SPRL: the foolish inherit folly but the pride shall be diademed with knowledge; NAB: the adornment of simpletons is folly but shrewd men gain the crown of knowledge

CROSS REF: Proverbs 3:22 and Proverbs 4:9

NOTE: The shrewd are clearly visible by their crown of knowledge but those who persist in inexperience will have mere foolishness as their possession. Find foolishness and you find inexperience.

[Evil Pays Homage]

Proverbs 14:19 -- "Bad people will have to bow down before the good ones, and the wicked people at the gates of the righteous one."

TRANS: SPRL: the wicked have to bend low before the good and sinners before the gates of the righteous; LAM: evil men shall prostrate themselves before good men and the wicked shall come to beg at the gates of the righteous

CROSS REF: Revelation 3:9 = vindication; Zechariah 8:23 = bow and kiss

NOTE: "Goodness, however scant its earnings, commonly wins a reluctant or unconscious respect." (Kidner) The Ultimate Outcome is described here. Often "gates" were kept low or small to prevent easy access so one entering such a gate must bow low. The "gates" were also the place where judicial decisions were made and help was rendered to the needy. As much as bad people resent the good there is often a certain hesitant respect the wicked hold for those who have always followed a right course.

[Fair-weather Friends]

Proverbs 14:20 -- "Even to his fellowman one who is of little means is an object of hatred, but many are the friends of the rich person."

TRANS: NEB: the rich have friends in plenty; KNX: of the beggar his own neighbors grow weary, wealth never lacks friends

CROSS REF: Proverbs 19:4, 7 = materialism

NOTE: This friendship to the rich is hypocrisy and serves its own political ends. The rich can seldom trust their friends and the poor are disliked even by their own families. A rich man who looses his wealth will find himself with considerably fewer friends. One can often tell or expose his true friends depending on the checking book balance or the credit card limits. It often amazes the innocent to see someone quickly deserted who has fallen on hard times. The leeches look for blood elsewhere.

Friends of the Nazarene Publishing

Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

Back to Index to Biblical Articles