Proverbs 14:9

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor.
– Proverbs 14:9

The wording here is difficult with various interpretations. The general sense comes out in the antithetical parallelism of the two phrases. The word for sin means guilt or an offense. The word for favor means delight or acceptance. Both words are used elsewhere in reference to sacrifices, but that seems beyond the scope of the interpersonal relationships suggested in this proverb and the Proverbs as a whole. So fools scoff at guilt, or the sense of personal offense (Proverbs 10:23; 26:18-19). They see no need of reconciliation or making right any action (Proverbs 30:20). The word for righteous means straight or upright. It’s a term often describing a man’s relation to another as being a just one. The contrast is the righteous have a sense of wrong done and strive to maintain a good conscience (Proverbs 12:2; 13:15; Acts 24:16).

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Proverbs 14:8

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
– Proverbs 14:8

Wisdom is to understand, which means to separate mentally. The prudent shows wisdom in examining his way. He considers well and chooses carefully his way (Proverbs 2:9; 14:15). The word for deceit means a fraud or treachery. This is the way of fools (Proverbs 11:18). They search for short-cuts and back doors. They are quick to use deceit to gain their ends, so they go in a false way.

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Proverbs 14:7

Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
– Proverbs 14:7

Proverbs are designed to teach us wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-7). Discernment, which is being able to distinguish and analyze properly, is part of wisdom. We need to discern people, to see their character underneath the surface. Solomon does not teach us to make rash judgments, but rather to consider, be thoughtful, and deliberate as we proceed (Proverbs 14:8, 15). This proverb warns us about who we allow to speak into our life and affect us. Once we discern a lack of wisdom in one, we must not allow them to teach us (Proverbs 9:6; 13:20; 19:27).

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Proverbs 14:6

A scorner seeketh wisdom, and findeth it not: but knowledge is easy unto him that understandeth.
– Proverbs 14:6

The scorner is a special type of fool in Proverbs. The word means to mock and includes the idea of arrogance. His disdain of correction is a chief obstacle in finding wisdom (Proverbs 9:7-8), and it is why he will not go to the wise (Proverbs 15:12). He fails to find wisdom, not because it cannot be found, but rather because he despises instruction and does not fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). Ultimately, the scorner comes to judgment (Proverbs 3:34; 19:29). The word for easy in the contrasting phrase means lightness and trifling. To have understanding is to have discernment. Here it is to find, or acquire, knowledge (Proverbs 8:9; 17:24).

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Proverbs 14:5

A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
– Proverbs 14:5

Truth telling is the character of a faithful witness, just as deceit is of a false witness (Proverbs 12:17; 13:5). The word for utter means to breathe out and the picture is one a habitual liar. A faithful witness will not lie and cannot be bribed to. The false witness needs no incentive, but lies readily. The lies of a false witness are an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:19).

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Proverbs 14:4

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
– Proverbs 14:4

This proverb is straightforward. We might say, “You can’t be productive without having messes to clean up.” Keeping the barn, or the crib, clean is far easier and longer lasting when there are on oxen. The problem is apparent because a clean crib is not the point. Applications of this proverb are numerous. Many want a clean house and life and therefore want no children. Many want a clean church and restrict evangelism. God created man to work productively and make a gain in the earth (Genesis 1:27-29). Jesus reinforced this principle in the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:12-27). That servant who tried to keep his master’s money clean was called a “wicked servant.” I suppose we can add a clean crib to the sluggard’s excuses for avoiding work (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13).

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Proverbs 14:3

In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
– Proverbs 14:3

The phrase, rod of pride, is difficult with various interpretations. The words, mouth and lips, are here put for speech, so the proverb is speaking to the fruits of our speech. In that light, the rod of pride speaks of some hurt that comes to the foolish for their foolish speech. Solomon wrote foolish words call for punishment (Proverbs 18:6) and that punishment will be reaped (Proverbs 22:8). The wise shall be kept or delivered from trouble through wise speech (Proverbs 12:6).

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Proverbs 14:2

He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.
– Proverbs 14:2

Fearing the Lord produces uprightness in our walk. The word for uprightness means straight and has obvious moral implications. Walking in uprightness means departing from evil (Proverbs 16:17) and it is more valuable than earthly riches (Proverbs 28:6). In the contrast, despising the Lord produces perversity. The word for perverse means crooked, or to turn aside. In the context, it is a departing from the upright way in the fear of the Lord. Because they do not fear the Lord, they despise wisdom and instruction that comes from him (Proverbs 1:7) and they hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:29). Because they do not fear the Lord, they do not depart from evil but rather pursue it (Proverbs 3:7; 16:6).

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Proverbs 14:1

Chapter 14 continues the second major section of Proverbs. It is also part of the first subsection of Chapters 10-15, which are primarily two-line, antithetical proverbs on various topics. The proverbs in this chapter touch on the use of words, contrasts of folly and wisdom, wisdom at home, friends, etc.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
– Proverbs 14:1

The contrast in this proverb is the result of the qualities of wisdom and folly. The wise woman is the woman who possesses wisdom and walks in wisdom. This is no statement on her physical appearance or domestic skills. She understands a house is built and continues through wisdom (Proverbs 24:3-4). The stability of the home centers on the woman. Her wisdom starts with her husband where she can be a source of good (Proverbs 18:22; 19:14), even to being a crown to him (Proverbs 12:4), and his safe counselor (Proverbs 31:11). She is one with her husband in the teaching, training, discipline, and correction of their children (Proverbs 1:8-9; 4:3; 6:20; 23:22). A child that does not heed the instruction and pursues folly instead is equally dishonorable to mother and father (Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 17:25; 19:26; 20:20). However, the children who rise in wisdom bless her (Proverbs 23:25; 31:27-28). And so her house is well established.

The contrast is the foolish woman. The word used here describes an obstinate silliness. Foolishness describes one who will not stretch to wisdom (Proverbs 24:7) and her words are destructive (Proverbs 10:14). She is quick tempered (Proverbs 12:16) and argumentative (Proverbs 20:3). This fool despises “wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7), runs on at the mouth rather than listen to wise counsel (Proverbs 10:8), and is a know-it-all (Proverbs 12:15). It is no surprise that such a foolish woman ruins her husband (Proverbs 12:4), and he would be better off on a roof or in a desert (Proverbs 21:19; 25:24). She neglects to care for her children and inherits shame (Proverbs 29:15). Thus, her house is destroyed by her own hands.

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