Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Proverbs (Proverbs 13-15)|
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:3-5
A. Find Out:
1. What does a fool's talk do? v.3a
2. What do the lips of the wise do? v.3b
3. Where is the manger empty? v.4a
4. From where comes an abundant harvest? v.4b
5. Who does not deceive? v.5a
6. What does a false witness do? v.5b
The effects of our speech (v.3). Yet another proverb about speech. Just the shear number of proverbs about our speech should let us know how important our words are. This is also another of those proverbs that speaks about consequences. But more than that is also indicates things about the origins of our speech. First the origin: we are either wise or foolish. That is the starting place. Our words follow our heart. Then the consequences: if we are foolish then our words will bring strife and pain for us. Our words will be careless and uncaring and as such they will stir hostility and even retribution in others against us. If we are wise, our speech will be circumspect, careful, even diplomatic, and as such they will bring acceptance, understanding and respect in others about us. Thus they protect us.
The need for hard work (v.4). For the farmer the Ox was a picture of a beast of labour, useful for pulling a plough or carrying a burden. Without it the manger or the barn would be empty, but it was from its strength that the ground was prepared, the seed sown (in modern times) and the crop harvested. Whatever it is, there is need for hard work if there is to be success. Because of the Fall, work will have to be hard to overcome (Gen 3:17 -19) and to bring success. In any endeavour we need someone who will be an “Ox”. Will that be me?
The nature of testimonies (v.5). We're back to speech again and again we need to look at origins (but consequences are not a part of this particular proverb!). You start with the nature of the person. They are either truthful or false. THAT is the starting place, the heart of the person. The words that come forth will only reflect the sort of person that they are. So, if the person is a truthful person when they tell about what they have seen, you can trust them. If they are a false or untrue person, then the words that come from them are unreliable and are quite possibly lies. It starts with the heart!
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:6-8
A. Find Out:
1. What does the mocker seek and find? v.6a
2. What comes easily to whom? v.6b
3. Who are we instructed to stay away from? v.7a
4. Why? v.7b
5. What do the prudent do? v.8a
6. But what are we told about fools? v.8b
Acquiring wisdom and knowledge (v.6). So often these proverbs show us a type of person, then their actions and then the consequences that flow from those actions. This proverb starts with a person – a mocker. That is their attitude and that is their heart. They are cynical and deride the truth, so when they go looking for it in the form of wisdom, whatever they find, they deride and never accept or receive that wisdom. The contrasting person is the discerning person, the one who distinguishes between right and wrong, good and bad. This person has already learnt a great deal, and because their heart is open and teachable, then they easily receive knowledge.
Beware the foolish man (v.7). The next proverb is a simple warning: stay away from a foolish man. They are foolish because that is the way they have set their heart, and their mind is confused and full of deception and untruth. So, if their heart and mind is like this then what comes from their lips will be similarly confused, deceived and full of untruth, so it's no wonder that Solomon says stay away from this person.
Wisdom and folly in considering life (v.8). The next person to be considered is the prudent person, that person whose heart is set to be careful before God, to be wise and circumspect is what they do. This person is already wise and they express their wisdom in giving careful thought to what they do; that is why they are prudent, and it's an expression of prudence. Yes, it's a circular thing: prudence brings careful thought, which brings prudence. The way we are makes the way we think and the way we think makes us the way we are. So it is when Solomon comes to consider the fool we see the same thing. The fool thinks foolish thoughts (folly) and those thoughts as we said above are confused and untrue and this person is deceived into believing what is untrue, and because they believe what is untrue they are deceived and foolish!
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:9-11
A. Find Out:
1. At what do fools mock? v.9a
2. What is found among the upright? v.9b
3. What does each heart know? v.10a
4. What can no one else do? v.10b
5. What will it happen to the house of the wicked? v.11a
6. What will happen to the tent of the upright? v.11b
Reparation (v.9). When we do wrong (and we all do at some time in life), the way we subsequently act or behave is an indicator of the sort of person we are. The person who IS a fool isn't concerned about their sin and, even worse, they mock the thought of doing something about it and making good. They do this because they ARE a fool and in doing this they confirm their folly. Why is this? Because they will have to account for that sin one day – we all will. More than that sin for which you have not repented is sitting there accumulating dust and rust. Dust and rust means it gathers more dirt! It builds until it destroys!
The Uniqueness of our own heart (v.10). What we are on the inside is unique to us. Scientists have recognised that even if you cloned identical twins, years into their lives they will be unique individuals who are made up of not only their genes but also of their experiences, the things they have thought and the responses to life they have made. Thus here Solomon reminds us that being part of the fallen human race, each of us will have his or her own inner pains, hurts, bitterness, anguishes, etc. that are unique to our experience and the way we've coped with that. Likewise, when we have joy, it is because of what we know, what we experience and, although others may see and experience similarly, what we feel is unique to us. This is all about our uniqueness.
The wellbeing of the household (v.11). This is yet another of those proverbs about consequences. The wicked person will do wrong things and those wrongs will eventually rebound on them. When they do, it will mean their downfall and the downfall of their name and sometimes (say through bankruptcy) even the loss of the home. The home of the upright person, the person who lives by godly standards, who is not deceptive or scheming, will actually flourish. This person is not going to be doing anything which will harm others and they will not break the Law, so there is no likely retribution. Instead, blessing!
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:12-14
A. Find Out:
1. What does Solomon next speak about? v.12a
2. What does he say about it? v.12b
3. What may laughter be hiding? v.13a
4. How may joy end? v.13b
5. Who will be fully repaid for their ways? v.14a
6. Who also will be rewarded? v.14b
The way of death (v.12). This is a strange verse at first sight. There is a worldly proverb that says, “All that glitters is not gold”, but this proverb is more profound. Both say that there is a temptation to be fooled by appearances, but Solomon warns against a way of living that may seem good at the time but leads to death. He doesn't say what it is, but the rest of Scripture testifies that it is the godless way. The godless atheist may think they're doing all right, but that is a temporary illusion. Death will come, spiritual and physical with the absence of God and, of course in eternity the absence of God is what we call hell.
Laughter and grief (v.13). Merely because a person is laughing it does not necessarily mean they are happy. Happiness starts on the deep inside, with the secure knowledge of God. Where that is absent a person can outwardly appear great but on the inside there may fears, doubts, anxieties and worries. It is a common human condition. What people so often call joy is just a temporary outward emotion and as such can easily pass. If the inner heart is not reconciled to God then grief WILL be the outworking of the life. A person watching a comedy programme on TV is a classic example. Where this is a person with no relationship with God, then there may be laughter for half an hour but afterwards the aches of life come rushing back in.
Rewards to be reaped (v.14). Yet another of the “consequence” proverbs. If you are a faithless person, trouble will be yours. Faithless can mean two things: first a person without faith, without a relationship with God, and second (as an outworking of that), a person who is not faithful to one way of life, to the fixed standards of God and His ways, and who is therefore flexible, variable, unreliable. This person will reap what they sow (Gal 6:7). The good person, on the other hand, will reap good. Where he blesses, he will be blessed, where he does good to others, that good will come back to him. It's a simple principle!
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:15-17
A. Find Out:
1. What does a simple man do? v.15a
2. What does a prudent man do? v.15b
3. What does a wise man do? v.16a
4. How does a fool behave? v.16b
5. What does a quick tempered man do? v.17a
6. How do people feel about a crafty man? v.17b
Gullibility verses Prudence (v.15). A simple man here is simply someone who takes everything at face value and gives little thought to what he sees and hears. Such a person believes everything and anything, but that of course is not wisdom. The prudent man we've previously described as that person whose heart is set to be careful before God, to be wise and circumspect is what they do, so he gives thought to his steps, where he is going and what he is doing. This is a much wiser position.
Wise Restraint (v.16). Here we have again two opposites. The first is wise man and the other is the fool. The wise is the person who has a healthy respect for the Lord, and as a result of this stays clear of evil. THAT is wisdom. The fool disregards the Lord, has no concern for right and wrong and therefore gives full reign to his emotion and is hot headed, which means he lacks restraint and does what his emotions tell him – and they are based on self. He is careless about outcomes and doesn't bother about consequences, he is reckless. That's the fool!
Quick tempered and crafty (v.17). Here we have two negatives instead of two contrasts. The quick tempered man is another expression of the fool of the previous verse, and is someone who just responds hastily and without thought to their self-centred emotions. The result is that the things he does are foolish, silly, or stupid. As other proverbs tell us, they will get him into trouble! Then there is reference to a crafty man. That's an interesting description and the first time we've come across it in Proverbs. A crafty man is one who is devious and deceptive and scheming, doing things for his own benefit to the cost of others. The truth is that such a person will be seen for what they are and because all their activities are based on self and opposed to others, they will engender dislike, opposition and even hatred in others. Set yourself against others and they will set themselves against you!
Chapter: Proverbs 14
Passage: Proverbs 14:18-20
A. Find Out:
1. Who inherit what? v.18a
2. Who are crowned with knowledge? v.18b
3. Where will evil men bow down? v.19a
4. Where will the wicked bow down? v.19b
5. Who are shunned by who? v.20a
6. But what about the rich? v.20b
Inheritance (v.18). It's a strange thing to say that the simple “inherit” folly. If you inherit something it's passed on to you, something you're given, it's something that comes naturally without effort. So it is, says Solomon with the simple. Simple means those who will not think or consider, who will not weigh up and assess life. These people go ahead with little thought to anything. Thus they go astray, thus they are deemed foolish, so folly will come to them as automatically as a son inherits from his father. The prudent, on the other hand, who we've previously described (in v.8 & 15) as that person whose heart is set to be careful before God, to be wise and circumspect is what they do, this person is clearly seen to be a person of knowledge, what who has thought and studied and searched for wisdom and in so doing has found knowledge.
The end of wickedness (v.19). Many of us will struggle with this verse. Evil men, the wicked, will bow down before the good? So often we see evil men prospering, so how can this be? Because God has decreed it, so therefore it is merely a matter of time before their get their just deserts! It may come sooner (in the near future) or later (at the end of their lives), but they will bow down, they will be brought low, God will deal with them. If there is delay it is just that God is giving them opportunity to repent. They will either repent and bow down in humility, or they will be judged and be brought down by God. It will be!
The rich and poor (v.20). Here is another of those proverbs that just describe how it is. Because of the sinfulness of mankind, we tend to want to avoid those who are poor. We blame them and judge them and want to hold them at a distance. It takes grace to reach out to the poor – but that's exactly what Jesus did. For similar reasons we like to know those who are well off. We feel flattered if we are invited to their homes and we enjoy reaping some of their benefits. It's natural for mankind but not for God!
A. Find Out:
1. Who sins? v.21a
2. Who is blessed? v.21b
3. Who go astray? c.22a
4. Who find love and faithfulness? v.22b
5. What brings profit? v.23a
6. What leads to poverty? v.23b
Outlooks on People (v.21). This proverb is challenging and very much ‘in your face'. To despise your neighbour is sin! That's a bit forthright! Perhaps your neighbour deserves to be despised by the way they live? So why does God through Solomon say it is sin? The answer is in God's outlook on individuals. God is love (1 Jn 4:8,16) the Bible tells us, and so every desire of His is love based. So even those who are foolish, He wants us to help to change. He sees them as needy, hence He blesses those who help the needy. Love is always outward looking, so the Lord has designed us to be loving and caring for others; it is only sin that stops us doing it.
Plans and Purposes (v.22). Verse 21 was about thinking about people who are neighbours; this verse speaks about thinking about how we deal with people generally. There are those who plot and scheme what can only be described as evil or bad for others. Those people go astray and get into a mess. They are bad news! But then there are those who simply plan good. Is this not the Christian perspective? Is this not what we should be doing constantly, planning good for others. When we do that we will experience and express love and that quality called here, faithfulness, an ongoing reliability, stick-ability, constancy, that brings order and purpose.
Work Ethics (v.23). This is another of those somewhat obvious proverbs about consequences. Having said that, we do live in a society where many dream of getting ‘something for nothing'. Solomon is quite realistic. If you want to be wealthy (apart from wining it [unlikely] or inheriting it [unlikely]) then you are going to have to work hard for it. That's just how things are in this Fallen world (Gen 3:19). If you sit around just talking about doing things, you'll never actually do them and you'll never earn anything. Result? Poverty!
A. Find Out:
1. What is a crown to some? v.24a
2. What does folly produce? v.24b
3. Who saves lives? v.25a
4. Who is deceitful? v.25b
5. Who has a secure fortress? v.26a
6. Who also will be so affected? v.26b
The effects of wisdom and folly (v.24). We may be tempted to think sometimes that such things as wisdom and folly are passive characteristics so we don't know who is a wise person or who is foolish, but that is not the message from Solomon. He says that the fruit of wisdom and the fruit of folly is clearly seen. For the wise person, prosperity or success is a visible thing. Now that “wealth” may not be money (although it can be); it could be sheer goodness in its many forms, but whatever it is, says Solomon, it will be visible, like the crown on the head of a king is. And when you come to a fool, their fruit is just ongoing folly, they will keep on doing stupid things. Folly breeds folly.
True & false witnesses (v.25). We saw the point of this proverb in the similar one in verse 5. The truthful witness speaks the truth and justice is able to be done and the innocent are saved. Just remember that a false person is likely to give you a wrong testimony! Why because their heart is like that, untrue, not committed to truth. It starts with their heart determination.
The fear of the Lord (v.26). Our starting place for this person is that they have this reverential respect for God. Such a person realises God's greatness and His holiness and His righteousness and all of those things make him realise that he falls far short of God's standards. This makes him (or her) rely upon the Lord for His mercy and salvation. This person knows they owe everything to the Lord's mercy, and as they come to realise that, they also realise that the Lord is there for them, a loving heavenly Father, who is there to provide and protect. Suddenly the Lord becomes like a secure fortress, the one security in life. More than this, this person's children will also know this security and will learn from their parent that God is a refuge in an unstable and often unkind world. If the parent knows this and lives it, the child will also know it (even if they don't take advantage of it!)
A. Find Out:
1. What is a fountain of life? v.27a
2. What does it do? v.27b
3. What is a king's glory? v.28a
4. How is a Prince ruined? v.28b
5. Who has great understanding? v.29a
6. Who displays folly? v.29b
The fear of the Lord (v.27). Solomon has already made reference to the ‘fear of the Lord' in 10:27, 14:2,16,26, the awesome respect for God that comes from realising who He is and who we are in comparison. This creates that reverent respect or awesome fear. Where it is, it produces a flow of life. In God alone is life and the one who relates to God well, receives that life as a daily supply, and by its very nature this awesome respect keeps us from evil and from the things that would bring us to death. The respect in relating to God brings life and keeps us from death.
The role of kings and princes (v.28). Paul (Rom 13:1-3) says that all authority comes from God. Rulers in whatever form are God's design for maintaining order and bringing blessing to the peoples of the world. Where there is a large body of people submitting to a ruler that is an indication of his ability or greatness, his glory. A bad ruler will be rejected or overthrown but a good one gathers people to him. A prince is simply the next generation of ruler and if the previous generation has been bad then there will be few people accepting the prince when he comes into a position of authority. In modern language a good leader draws people to follow him and that is a sign of his leadership capabilities.
Patience versus quick temper (v.29). A patient man is one who has learnt to be patient. It isn't something that comes naturally, but is learnt. He realises that some things, or people, cannot be rushed. He understands this. By comparison the person who is quick tempered show their foolishness, their lack of understanding. They get angry which, in this case, is a form of self-centredness. They want things to happen for them quickly. They have no appreciation of the slowness of others, or of the circumstances, they lack the understanding, and so they react badly, foolishly.
A. Find Out:
1. What gives life to the body? v.30a
2. What rots the bones? v.30b
3. Who shows contempt for God? v.31a
4. Who honours God? v.31b
5. When are the wicked brought down? v.32a
6. But what security do the righteous have? 32b
Peace v Inner Turmoil (v.30). This proverb tells us something that we have learnt in recent years: that emotions affect our general health. A person whose emotions are in continual turmoil will also find that physically they are suffering as well, a whole variety of symptoms linked to stress. So, says Solomon, when you are at peace you will have health, because that is how God has designed the body to work. At peace it will work as it should. When you have envy gnawing away at you, it will create so much inner tension that your body will start reacting badly.
Care for the Poor and Needy (v.31). How we deal with the poor is a reflection of how we feel about God. The Lord cares for all of His creation, rich and poor, but sees the need of the poor and desires us ot reach out to them. The one who actually oppresses the poor is totally disregarding the Lord, for that is going quite contrary to His heart. On the other hand, when we are caring for the poor and expressing kindness towards them, we are expressing God's love and concern and that honours and blesses Him.
Calamity and Refuge (v.32). In the New Testament, Jesus' parable of the two house builders (Matt 7:24 -27) portrays the upheavals of life. The reality is that living in a Fallen World, things do go wrong, upheavals do occur in life. The wicked have been living life in the belief that they are secure in themselves or in their material wealth or whatever. Then comes the upset, negative circumstances out of their control (and that's what a calamity is!) and suddenly they are brought down and there is nothing they can do about it. When the same calamity comes to the righteous, they have their relationship with the Lord and He provides for them whatever they need to weather the storm. Even in death the righteous have a refuge in God knowing that the worst will mean the best, going to be with Him in eternity, and even in the act of dying His grace will be there for them.
A. Find Out:
1. Where does wisdom repose? v.33a
2. Where doesn't she reside (see alt. page note) v.33b
3. What does righteousness do? v.34a
4. What is sin to a people? v.34b
5. In whom does a king delight? v.35a
6. What does a shameful servant do? v,35b
Wisdom's home (v.33). Wisdom is here again personified and called ‘she'. She is seen as reposing, resting or simply dwelling with the person who is discerning. Discerning means to distinguish between what is right and wrong, good and bad. The person who has learnt to do this has learnt of God, of His ways, His laws, and knows the difference between the ways of God and the ways of the world. In this is wisdom. A simple definition of wisdom is knowing how to do what is right. The discerning person has this knowledge residing within them. They have wisdom. Taking the alternative rendering from the note at the bottom of your Bible page, wisdom is not known in fools. It is simple and obvious. They are the exact reverse of the discerning person.
A Nation's Righteousness or Sin (v.34). When a nation is righteous it will be lifted up and exalted. For a nation to be righteous it must first be godly, and a nation with a genuine relationship with the Lord will be living according to His ways, and as they do so they will be blessed, and as they are blessed so they will be lifted up above other nations that are not the same. God will bless them and that will be seen. They will be a testimony to Him. A nation where sin prevails will be a nation in disgrace. Things will go badly and others will see and comment. The way a nation lives is obvious to others.
A wise servant (employee) (v.35). A king in Solomon's day was the highest person to work for. Let's reduce it, to make it more generally applicable today, to an employee. An employer will delight in a wise employee, for they will be a blessing to their business and will do good in all they touch. But then there is the employee who constantly makes mistakes, who is thoughtless and careless, and constantly get it wrong. This employee brings shame on themselves and anger from their employer. It's a fairly obvious proverb, but one that must leaving us asking, what sort of employee am I?
SUMMARY - Proverbs 14