Proverbs 25:14

Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
– Proverbs 25:14

The word for false means lie, or deception. The first phrase refers to promising something you cannot deliver. Wisdom denounces a deception to gain place or favor. The comparison is to clouds and wind without rain, the promise of a refreshing rain without the benefit of the actual rain. This imagery is used elsewhere in warnings against false teachers (2 Peter 2:17-19; Jude 1:12). Those teaching error can never deliver on their promises because: “Truth leads to freedom (John 8: 32), and error leads to bondage (2 Tim. 2: 25– 26). Truth saves (2 Thess. 2: 10); error destroys (2 Thess. 2: 11). Truth enlightens (Ps. 43: 3; Eph. 5: 9); error deceives (Prov. 12: 17; 2 Cor. 11: 13). Truth gives life (1 John 5: 20); error brings death (2 Sam. 6: 7).” 1

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Notes:

  1. Piper, John. A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness (Kindle Locations 1697-1699). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Proverbs 21:14

A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath.
– Proverbs 21:14

The word for gift means present and the word for reward means bribe. The first is neutral of itself and the second is usually negative. Commentators differ whether the proverb itself is positive or negative. The word for pacifieth means smooth, or sooth. It refers to reducing, or calming, anger and strong wrath. The word for secret means covered, or hidden, and this word gives a tinge of something untoward. The word for bosom means to enclose in the more figurative sense. The figure could also speak of concealment, or it could refer to being at the ready. The second sense would highlight the timing of the gift given more than the hiddenness of it.

Perhaps the difficulty demonstrates the fine line between a good and bad gift. Gifts are always wicked when used to pervert justice (Proverbs 17:23). They are disgusting when used out of vanity to gain favor or place (Proverbs 18:16; 19:6). However, Proverbs praises the wisdom that calms anger and appeases wrath. Gentle words can sooth (Proverbs 15:1). Controlling one’s own anger can calm others (Proverbs 15:18). A well timed word can do good (Proverbs 15:23). So, if we have wisdom and discretion, we can also calm anger with a discreet and timely gift.

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Proverbs 18:16

A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.
– Proverbs 18:16

The word for gift is a general term meaning a present. It differs from the word used in other proverbs that speak of bribes (Proverbs 17:8, 23). The proverb reminds us gifts have good uses, such as appeasing anger (Proverbs 21:14). Jacob hoped to appease anger if any remained in his brother Esau (Genesis 32:20). Bribing or judges or perverting justice is not in view here. The proverb generally states that gifts can open doors, or gain opportunities. The implication is for us to use gifts wisely with understanding that they can be dangerous as well (Proverbs 15:27).

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