Proverbs 14:26

In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
– Proverbs 14:26

Proverbs begins with the “fear of the Lord” as “the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Confidence and security are particular blessings of that fear in this proverb. We are urged not to misplace our fear, but to put it in the Lord and we will have refuge (Proverbs 3:25-26; 18:10). The second phrase indicates a legacy left by the man who fears the Lord (Proverbs 13:22; 20:7).

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Proverbs 14:25

A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies.
– Proverbs 14:25

True justice is dependent on truth, according this proverb and elsewhere (Proverbs 14:5). Wisdom will not trust in a false witness, for such a witness may benefit in the short term, but it is just as likely to hurt. True righteousness will not rejoice in unrighteousness even if it might benefit them.

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Proverbs 14:24

The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly.
– Proverbs 14:24

The wording of this proverb is difficult. The first phrase speaks of the rewards of wisdom as riches. This is consistent with the call of wisdom and the promise to those who acquire it (Proverbs 3:16; 4:7-9; 8:18). The point of wisdom is not temporal wealth but spiritual riches (Proverbs 11:4). The contrast emphasizes the reward of fools is folly. Foolishness is sown by fools and folly is harvested. The point could be the irremediable nature of the fool in his folly (Proverbs 17:10; 27:22). He is joined to it and always returns to it (Proverbs 26:11).

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Proverbs 14:23

In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
– Proverbs 14:23

Proverbs doesn’t provide a shortcut to riches, but it does consistently assure us there is profit in diligent work. The word for profit means a gain, or increase. The sure way to it is labor, or toil (Proverbs 28:19). The contrast to hard work is idle talk, the talk of the lips. The word for penury means want, or lack. It can indicate poverty. Idle talk can be in many forms, such as excuses (Proverbs 22:13; 26:13), talking rather than listening (Proverbs 26:16), or pursuing quick schemes (Proverbs 28:19). These sort usually have big ideas about what they’re going to do, but it is always going to be done and never done.

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Proverbs 14:22

Do they not err that devise evil? But mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good.
– Proverbs 14:22

The word for err means to go astray and to devise is to plot or plan. The first phrase refers to the outcome of their plans. They go astray because they plan evil. These are not accidentally or carelessly getting into the wrong way, but are plotting and contriving wickedness (Proverbs 3:29; 6:14). The phrase, mercy and truth, speaks of God’s favor and blessing (Psalm 25:10; 61:7). Here it is the outcome or reward that comes to those who devise good.

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Proverbs 14:21

He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
– Proverbs 14:21

The word for despiseth means to treat with contempt or view as worthless. The word used is common in the Old Testament for sin. It means to miss the mark or the way. We infer from the parallel the neighbor is in some way needy, so to ignore or despise him is to miss the way of wisdom and righteous (Proverbs 11:12). It is a direct affront to our Creator (Proverbs 17:5) and a mark of the wicked (Proverbs 18:3). The contrast is to show mercy, which is to bend down in pity to one beneath you. To show mercy is the way of wisdom and righteousness to acknowledge that both alike are created by God (Proverbs 22:2). The merciful thereby honor God (Proverbs 14:31). The merciful will also receive mercy and be happy, or blessed (Proverbs 19:17; 28:27).

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Proverbs 14:20

The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.
– Proverbs 14:20

This proverb is a wise observation of reality. The poor are those without resources and means (Proverbs 10:15; Luke 14:13-14). Consequently, they don’t have so many friends as the rich do. We would call these sorts of friends as belonging to the fair-weather class (Proverbs 19:4, 6).

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Proverbs 14:19

The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
– Proverbs 14:19

This proverb addresses the humbling of the wicked. Circumstances in life often appear to favor the wicked while the righteous seem to be humbled (Psalm 73:3-11; 37:35). The wicked go on in foolishness and pride. They seem to have success but their destruction is coming (Proverbs 18:12; 29:23). Ultimately, the righteous who have wisdom will be exalted over the wicked (Psalm 37:36-40; Proverbs 14:23).

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Proverbs 14:18

The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
– Proverbs 14:18

The word for inherit means to acquire and it speaks of the reward to the simple. The simple man is easily led astray. If not corrected, he progresses in his simplicity until he fully possesses folly (Proverbs 19:25; 1:32). On the other hand, the prudent grow in wisdom until they are compassed with knowledge (Proverbs 3:35; 4:7-9). The word for crowned means to encircle round. It’s uncertain if the meaning is an ornament, but it definitely speaks to the reward of wisdom. The good news is the simple are called upon to come to wisdom (Proverbs 9:4-6). Those who do are prudent and gain the reward of wisdom (Proverbs 9:9-11).

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