Thoughts on the Proverbs
[Proverbs 14:21-34]

[The Sin of Contempt]

Proverbs 14:21 -- The one despising his own fellowman is sinning, but happy is he who is showing favor to the afflicted ones.

Translations: NAB he sins who despises the hungry but happy is he who is kind to the poor

Cross References: see Proverbs11:12; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 28:27

NOTE: Surely James 2:15,16 and 1John 3:17 are commentaries on this verse. Jesus may have meditated on this proverb when he taught the words of Luke 6:30,35, 38. This is also the sin of omission as seen in Jesus parable of Matthew 25:31ff.

[Paid in Their Own Code]

Proverbs 14:22 -- Will not those devising mischief go wandering about? But there are loving-kindness and trueness as regards those devising good.

Translations: BER: do they not go astray who plot mischief? Loyal love and stability are for those who plan good; MOF: good-natured men find people kind and true

Cross References: see Genesis 4:12 = Cain

NOTE: An example of a rhetorical question. Devise good or mischief and become a nomad or blessed with loyalty and truth.

[Toil or Talk]

Proverbs 14:23 -- By every kind of toil there comes to be an advantage, but merely the word of the lips [tends] to want.

Translations: BAS: talk only makes a man poor; AMP: in all labor there is profit but idle talk leads only to poverty; JB: hard work always yields its profit, idle talk brings only want KNX hard work is sure wealth; of chattering comes only poverty

Cross References: see Proverbs 12:24 and Proverbs 28:19

NOTE: Action not words makes for success. Though some talk show hosts, super-salesmen, and lecture circuit speakers would disagree with some translations of this verse, it is generally true as the Preacher says, good comes from hard work but those who lay around in the shade idly chatting do not produce anything of value. One sees such men in country after country, gathered in plazas, at corners, in bars, one railing with gestures and loud tongue about the ills of the country while others continue their hard work and bring home a profit. Advantage occurs 22 times in NWT with most (10) in Ecclesiastes. In the Christian Bible in occurs 6 times in the Corinthian letters. There almost appears a variant with Ecclesiastes 3:9 but note the harmony with Proverbs at Ecclesiastes 10:10,11.

[Crown of Dunce Cap]

Proverbs 14:24 -- The crown of the wise is their riches; the foolishness of the stupid ones is foolishness.

Translations: Most agree with the above but note MOF: the crown of wise men is their wisdom; the coronet of fools is their own folly (these tend to incline to the LXX)

Cross References: see Proverbs 27:22 = riches

NOTE: "If you’re so smart why aint you rich?" This proverb is generally true but with the coming of Christ there are those disciples of the Nazarene who have chosen to forsake riches in obedience to the Master’s teachings (Luke12:33) and parables (Matthew 13:44-46) and therefore their "riches" are of a spiritual nature with great "credit" in their heavenly reward. (Compare 1Timothy 6:5-19) Riches or rich. The word-group occurs 183 times in NWT with Proverbs dominating its use 24 times. In the Christian Bible it is Luke who uses it the most, 12 times and Ephesians 5 times. In these books of Luke and Ephesians it is spiritual wealth which is stressed.

[Unyielding Honesty]

[Two Kinds of Witnesses]

Proverbs 14:25 -- A true witness is delivering souls, but a deceitful one launches forth mere lies.

Translations: RHM: a deliver of souls is a faithful witness but he that uttereth falsehoods is a fraud; AAT: a truthful witness saves lives but he who utters lies destroys them; JB: a truthful witness is a saver of lives, he who utters lies is an impostor

Cross References: Proverbs 11:30 and Proverbs 14:5 deceit (Compare Leviticus 5:1)

NOTE: There are two kinds of witnesses here and a similarity to Philippians 1:15-18. A "true witness" delivers souls in a variety of ways: one by honest examination in judicial matters, but also, in truthful and straightforward counsel. (James 5:20) A "deceitful" witness is a liar, whether in a judicial environment or in the public market where rumors are spread by loose tongues.

[Trust Well Placed]

Proverbs 14:26 -- In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence, and for his sons there will come to be a refuge.

Translations: ABPS: strong trust; RHM: strong security; AAT: strong ground of confidence; NAB: strong defense

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 18:10 = name

NOTE: "His sons" are no doubt the father’s who has such confidence in Jehovah. The possibility that "his sons" refer to Jehovah’s is unlikely. The son-father relationship in worship was a rare expression not dominant until the coming of the Nazarene.

[Fear in a Well]

Proverbs 14:27 -- The fear of Jehovah is a well of life, to turn away from the snares of death.

Translations: RHM: the reverence of Yahweh; MOF: shows how to evade the nets of Death; NAB: strong defense

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 19:23 and Proverbs 22:5

NOTE: The unique expression "well of life" occurs only here and one other place in the NWT, Proverbs 16:22. See discussions elsewhere on the benefits of "the fear of Jehovah."

[A King’s Glory]

Proverbs 14:28 -- In the multitude of people there is an adornment of a king, but in the lack of population is the ruin of a high official.

Translations: LAM: in the abundance of population is the king’s honor; NEB: many subjects make a famous king; with none to rule a prince is ruined; RSV: without people a prince is ruined

CROSS REFERENCE: see Psalm 72:8 and Daniel 7:27 = Messiah’s subjects

NOTE: Upon this later principle Satan counted for if he could turn all earth’s inhabitants away from God it would prove Jehovah had no sovereign right to rule because He was without subjects. However, the kingdom of the Son has abounded with subjects since Pentecost and earth will yet team with billions of Messiah’s "people."

[Wisdom of Living Peaceably]

Proverbs 14:29 -- He that is slow to anger is abundant in discernment, but one that is impatient is exalting foolishness.

Translations: BAS: he who is slow to be angry has great good sense but he whose spirit is overquick gives support to what is foolish; AAT: quick-tempered

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 17:27 and Proverbs 25:28 = impatience

NOTE: Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion: "Expressing anger makes you angrier, solidifies an angry attitude, and establishes a hostile habit."

[Reward of Living Peaceably]

Proverbs 14:30 -- A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.

Translations: ASV: tranquil heart; SPRL: benevolent heart; RHM: the life of the whole body is a tranquil mind but a decay of the bones is jealousy; BER: a relaxed mind makes for physical health; JB: the life of he body is a tranquil heart but envy is a cancer in the bones

CROSS REFERENCE: Proverbs 4:23 = safeguard; Genesis 37:4 = Joseph’s brothers; 1 Samuels 18:8 = Saul

NOTE: Jealousy is slow death, like cancer, to its victim while at the same time injuring the object of such envy.

[You, Your Maker and the Poor]

Proverbs 14:31 -- He that is defrauding the lowly one has reproached his Maker, but the one showing favor to the poor one is glorifying Him.

Translations: ABPS: he that honors him has compassion on the needy; NAB: he who oppresses the poor blasphemes his Maker

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 17:5; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 22:2; Proverbs 28.8 and Job 31:15 = fraud

NOTE: This is not the sin of omission but outright fraud against those in need of help. Such a fraud in business is a reproach not only to God but the whole human race. The word group "fraud" occurs about 30 times in the NWT but make special note of Proverbs 22:16 and Proverbs 28:3, 16. See also Leviticus 6:4 and Acts 13:10.

[Final Ruin or Final Refuge]

Proverbs 14:32 -- Because of his badness the wicked will be pushed down, but the righteous will be finding refuge in his integrity.

Translations: KJ: the righteous hath hope in his death; LXX: a wicked man shall be driven away by his wickedness but in his sanctity the righteous is secure

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 2:7 and Proverbs 10:9

NOTE: No matter the course of life integrity is always a refuge and there is no danger in it whereas the badness of the wicked is fraught with danger.

[Where Wisdom is at Home]

Proverbs 14:33 -- In the heart of the understanding one there rests wisdom, and in the midst of stupid ones it becomes known.

Translations: NEB: wisdom is at home in a discerning mind but is ill at ease in the heart of a fool; KNX: in the discerning heart wisdom finds a resting-place; even among fools it can impart understanding; LXX: in the good heart of a man there is wisdom but in the heart of fools it is not discernable

CROSS REFERENCE: see Proverbs 15:28

NOTE: Because wisdom resides in the understanding heart it is capable of revealing wisdom among even the morally senseless. Many a stupid man has been transformed by the wise and understanding heart.

[A Nation’s Stature]

Proverbs 14:34 -- Righteousness is what exalts a nation, but sin is something disgraceful to national groups.

Translations: LB: sin is a reproach to any people; NAB: virtue exalts a nation but sin is a people’s disgrace

CROSS REFERENCE: see Deuteronomy 4:6 = great nation; Deuteronomy 9:5 = wicked nations

NOTE: Though righteousness exalted Israel on occasion in its history in the end it became a reproach to the Gentiles. In modern times certain nations by virtue of the enormity of their sin are still a disgrace among united nations. One need only mention such names as Nanking, Auschwitz, Nagasaki, Cambodia, Rwanda as proof of the lingering shame.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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