Proverbs 20:14

It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
– Proverbs 20:14

The general tenor of Proverbs teaches to weigh speech carefully and look beyond the face value of what is said. The line may seem fine between shrewdness in dealings and deception, but the line certainly exists. This proverb presents a sample transaction where the buyer talks down the value of what he wants to purchase. The word for naught means bad, or of little worth, in this context. The buyer appraises the object at little worth in order to drive down the price. The contrast is after the purchase when he boasteth, or makes a show of what he has. The object has suddenly become much more valuable, and he clever because he got it, “for a song.” While many traders love the thrill of negotiation and getting a good deal, we must remember there is a line between shrewd and deceptive. The line crossed is the same as a diverse weight and false balance (Proverbs 11:1; 16:11; 20:10, 23).

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