Thoughts on the Proverbs
[Proverbs 14:6-14]

[Wisdom Alludes Know-It-All]

Proverbs 14:6 -- "The ridiculer has sought to find wisdom, and there is none; but to the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing."

TRANS: RSV: knowledge is easy for a man of understanding; BAS: the hater of authority, searching for wisdom, does not get it; but knowledge comes readily to the open-minded man

CROSS REF: Proverbs 18:15

NOTE: Who does this one "ridicule"? Those who possess the guidance or experience to direct him on a course of wisdom -- but he not only does not listen to them, he ridicules them and as a result remains ignorant. Knowledge is easy to one with understanding not only for the reasons listed below but also because the understanding one is willing to submissive listen to those longer on the road of life than he.

[Empty Encounter]

Proverbs 14:7 -- "Go away from in front of the stupid man, for you will certainly not take note of the lips of knowledge."

TRANS: BER: leave the presence of a man who is a fool, for you will not discern words of knowledge there; NEB: avoid a stupid man, you will hear not a word of sense from him

CROSS REF: Proverbs 1:29; 13:20

WORD: The word "stupid" occurs 88 times in the Bible with the first occurrence at Deuteronomy 32:6 and the most occurrences in Proverbs, 49 times; it occurs only once in the Christian Bible at Romans 10:19. The word "stupid" occurs 5 times in this chapter: 14:8, 16, 24, 33.

NOTE: There is no use at all of giving a stupid person your audience for despite ridiculous assertions you will never gain useable knowledge. This is wasted time for one to listen or read the pronouncements of an atheistic philosopher. (Psalm 14:1)

[Real Sense and Real Folly]

Proverbs 14:8 -- "The wisdom of the shrewd is to understand his way, but the foolishness of stupid ones is deception."

TRANS: BER: the folly of fools is deceit; SPRL: injurious deception

CROSS REF: Proverbs 11:18 and 14:12 = deceit

NOTE: The wise are shrewd but not deceitful. The stupid are known by their deceit. The godless may use deceit in a self-style Socratic argumentation to prove God does not exist. Paul warns of vain philosophy in Colossians 2:8, "Be careful that nobody spoils your faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. He may set forth some human tradition, or some theory about the nature of the universe, but not the teachings of Christ." (PME, NOR)

[Moral Insolence]

Proverbs 14:9 -- "Foolish are those who make a derision of guilt, but among the upright ones there is agreement."

TRANS: RHM: the foolish scoff at guilt; KNX: fools make light of the guilt that needs atonement and leave honest men to enjoy the Lordís favour; AAT: guilt has its home among fools; good will among the upright

CROSS REF: Proverbs 10:23 and Proverbs 30:20 = unity

NOTE: The foolish deriding guilt stands in contrast to the agreement among the upright. The fool, because of his moral insensibility has no standard by which to judge guilt in himself or others, and therefore ignores -- or is critical of laws -- judicial decisions which would pronounce guilt; whereas, the righteous, by adhering to correct standards have no difficulty in agreeing on what is wrong or guilty.

The upright or righteous must agree as to what is law or rules of conduct for society. Paul puts it, ĎThe law is not formed for the law-abiding, but for the law-breaker.í The righteous need never fear law and thus they agree among one another as to what is truly right and wrong.

[The Inmost Heart]

Proverbs 14:10 -- "The heart is aware of the bitterness of one's soul, and with its rejoicing no stranger will intermeddle."

TRANS: MOF: the heart knows its own bitter misery and no outsider shares its joy; JB: the heart knows its own grief best

CROSS REF: Proverbs 15:13 = sympathy

NOTE: You must walk a mile in anotherís sandals before understanding someoneís grief or joy. 1 Corinthians 2:11 is a good commentary on this verse. Often we say to someone grieved, "I know how you feel," when this is not likely. Better to say, "I sympathize with what you must be going through."


Proverbs 14:11 -- "The house of wicked people will be annihilated, but the tent of the upright ones will flourish."

TRANS: LXX: the houses of the wicked shall vanish but the tents of the upright shall stand

CROSS REF: Proverbs 3:33; 10:2, 3; 12:7; 13:22; 21:12

NOTE: Choose between an annihilated house or a flourishing tent. A house is stationary and generally safer than a tent. People who live in tents are either nomads or poor and they enjoy the freedom of easy movement but their dwellings are liable to storm or damage. It is better to live in an upright tent than a wicked house, particularly one gained by fraud or selfishness. Compare Jesus and Paul in their "unsettled" and homeless states as examples of the above. (1 Corinthians 4:11)

[False Trail]

Proverbs 14:12 -- "There exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward."

TRANS: JB: there is a way that some men think right; AAT: seems straight; NEB: may seem straightforward

CROSS REF: Proverbs16:25 and Proverbs 30:12 = delusion

NOTE: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Have you ever met a person without an opinion? Have you ever met such a person with an opinion who thought the opinion wrong?

[Bitter-Sweet Gaiety]

Proverbs 14:13 -- "Even in laughter the heart may be in pain; and grief is what rejoicing ends up in."

TRANS: SPRL: even in laughter the heart may be sad; LB: laughter cannot mask a heavy heart -- when the laughter ends, grief remains

CROSS REF: Ecclesiastes 2:2 = insane laughter; Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4 = stupid rejoicing

NOTE: "Laughing on the outside while crying on the inside." One must be sensitive and aware to discern the broken heart behind a cheerful smile. Perhaps, after public appearances with a front of laughter, this rejoicing ultimately turns to sadness when in private. Ask a business man how business and he will laugh and assure you it is great; while privately, as soon as you have left, his truly reality settles in. There may also be a hypocrisy behind a wide smile. This false front may mask the pain of jealousy when in the presence of the envied person but returns to inward grief.

[Table for One]

Proverbs 14:14 -- "The one faithless at heart will be satisfied with the results of his own ways, but the good man with the results of his dealings."

TRANS: KJ: backslider; JPS: dissembler; JB: unstable; AAT: perverse; LAM: insolent; KNX: incorrigible

CROSS REF: Proverbs 1:31, 32 = good man

NOTE: The unfaithful are self-satisfied, deluded into thinking their unbelieving course will lead to success whereas the good man, superior to the righteous man, can always be satisfied and happy with the way he has dealt with unfortunates. The materialistís real problem is lack of faith otherwise he would be content with the results of the good man; but, because he doesnít really believe in the promises of God he becomes content with his selfish and materialistic way of life.

"Backsliding begins unseen in the heart. A slipping begins secretly and imperceptibly in his heart, while appearances on the surface are kept unchanged. He ceases to watch and pray. He admits vain thoughts, and gives them encouragement to lodge within him. Having no hunger for righteousness, he neglects the bread of life. When you see a man who was once counted a Christian standing shamelessly on a mountain-top of open impiety, or lying in the miry pit of vice, you may safely assume that he has long been worming his way in secret on the spiral slimy track by which the old serpent marks and smoothes the way of death." (Arnot pp 274-5)

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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