Proverbs 14
Proverbs 14 Kingcomments Bible Studies

Building or Tearing Down a House

The contrast in this verse, indicated by the word “but”, is between wisdom and folly in regard to a house. Wisdom builds up the house, but foolishness tears it down. “Her house” is not the building in which the wise woman lives, but her family. It refers to everything she manages.

“The wise woman builds her house” in the fear of the LORD. She looks at her house with His eyes. She wants it to respond to His purpose with it, and that is that it reflects heaven on earth and that in her house the peace of heaven is enjoyed. The wise woman’s aim is to manage her family and household in such a way that God feels as much at home there as in heaven. She creates an atmosphere of love that determines the interrelationships among the household members.

A woman who is “foolish” leads her family to ruin. She does not care how her family is doing. There is no fear of the LORD with her. What she does is so bad that she is called “foolish”. Without any sense of responsibility, she lives for her own pleasure. She pursues pleasure while wasting her time doing things she enjoys. She thinks only of herself and thus tear down her house with her own hands.

The importance of the woman’s role in the family is emphasized throughout Scripture. A stable family requires not only a wise father, but also a wise mother. It is necessary to point this out again and again among other things because of the folly of feminism that portrays this role as backward. The woman must make a career, she must stand up for herself. For feminists, wise women are foolish women. For them, the wise woman who builds her house is building a prison. This representation comes from the devil, who always turns things upside down.

To Fear the LORD or to Despise Him

Here is the contrast between one who fears the LORD and one who despises Him. The life a person leads proves whether he walks with God or not. From a person’s walk, that is, his whole way of life, one can determine what his relationship to God is like (cf. Lk 6:43-44; Mt 7:20; Mt 12:33). It is about a habit, a constant behavior, and not an occasional, passing event.

“He who walks in his uprightness” does so because he fears God. There is no uprightness of walk without the presence of reverence and awe for God. No water flows without a spring. Grace in the heart is the source of a sincere walk. Samuel is an example of the first line of verse and Saul of the second (1Sam 12:1-5; 1Sam 15:22).

“He who is devious in his ways”, that is, deviates from the ways he should go, shows that he does not fear God but, on the contrary, despises Him. To deviate means to depart from keeping the commandments of the LORD. It concerns all his ways, whatever he does, wherever he goes, whatever he thinks and says. He determines it all by himself, without in any way considering God. Again, this is not an occasional occurrence, but an ongoing behavior that shows a constant despising of God. It does not matter whether he is aware of it or not. He who lives his own life despises God Who gave him life to live for Him.

The Mouth of the Foolish and the Lips of the Wise

By “the mouth of the foolish” are meant the words spoken by a fool. In all his words, his “pride” resounds. He thinks himself great. In what he says, “a rod” is hidden. The contrast with the second line of verse clarifies that his words come back to him like a boomerang as “a rod”, for what the wise say or do not say brings protection for them. Here, the rod of the fool’s words affects not others but himself. By what he says, he brings misery upon himself. The idea is that a fool’s words are the instrument through which he himself suffers (cf. Psa 64:8a).

By “the lips of the wise” is also meant the words they speak. In their words there is no rod that would turn against them. They are guided by their wisdom in what they say or do not say. Their wisdom is that they pray: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psa 141:3). As a result, they know what should go out through the door of their lips and what should not.

If we want to have “lips of the wise” acting as guards, we would do well to pray this prayer regularly. Only the Lord can keep us from speaking words that we will later be confronted with and be ashamed of or even bring us into great trouble.

A Clean Manger or Much Revenue

To be productive, one must use adequate means. For the farmer, oxen are indispensable. The wise farmer will see to it that his cows or oxen are numerous and in good condition. The grain yield runs parallel to the work done by his oxen. A clean manger is convenient, though. If he doesn’t buy cows, he doesn’t have to fill the manger with food. It also doesn’t get dirty in the stable, so he doesn’t have to clean anything (cf. Amos 4:6a). This thought may be attractive to the sluggard, but it is a silly thought for those who are after results.

This verse indicates that much revenue can be realized with a small investment. An investment in the right means or tools will pay for itself twice over. Likewise, efforts to maintain those means or tools will be reflected in their operation and ultimately in the revenue. Therefore, a productive ox is far preferable to a clean barn.

“Much revenue” means a multitude of income from the field after it has been worked by the ox as a plowing animal. And what is the revenue of the ox’s efforts? Food, life. That is the reward of tending the oxen. Obtaining a good result takes time, money and effort.

The same is true of obtaining spiritual food. We don’t get that without effort and time, and acquiring and reading Bible study books, which (sometimes) costs money. Walking by faith sometimes causes difficulties. It doesn’t all come naturally.

The ox is a picture of someone doing spiritual work (1Cor 9:9-11). For such a person, fellow believers should take good care. If spiritually speaking there are no oxen, all is desolation and barrenness. In a broader application, it is about using the available strength that each believer has. ‘Troublesome’ believers should not be shunned or even discarded, but care should be given to them. The goal is for them to go back to work for the Lord by passing on the gospel or encouraging those who belong to God’s church.

A Trustworthy Witness or a False Witness

This saying is about “a trustworthy witness” and “a false witness” (Pro 6:19; Pro 12:17). It discusses the age-old problem of false witnesses in court delaying the finding of truth. It is not just about the correct or distorted representation of the facts, but about a person’s character demonstrated by his testimony. Being trustworthy and lying do not belong together.

A trustworthy witness cannot be bribed or influenced by promises or threats to deviate from the truth. You can trust him at his word. He is clear and transparent in his testimony. This can only be said of one who has the Divine nature. God cannot lie. It is not in His nature and therefore not in the believer’s new nature that he has been given. Indeed, “no lie is of the truth” (1Jn 2:21).

In contrast to this is the false witness; he is a real child of the father of lies and exhibits his character (Jn 8:44; 1Kgs 21:13). He “utters lies”, literally breathes out lies. His spiritual lungs are full of lies. What he exhales are lies. He lies with the naturalness of his breathing. A person’s breathing you don’t notice, it doesn’t stand out. What a person exhales spreads unnoticed and in all directions. This is how a false witness works. But the “breath test” of God’s Word manifests his falsity.

The Lord Jesus is called “the faithful witness” (Rev 1:5). We are called to be faithful or trustworthy witnesses, as in regard to the message of salvation. We show this not only in our words but also in our deeds. Our example should be a testimony of Him whom we serve (1Tim 4:12).

A false witness distorts the truth of the gospel (Gal 1:7). The soldiers guarding the tomb of the Lord Jesus had been bribed to be false witnesses by breathing out lies about the Lord’s resurrection (Mt 28:11-14). Thus there were many false witnesses in the trial of the Lord (Mk 14:56-58). False witnesses were also used to get Stephen convicted (Acts 6:13).

Scoffers and Fools

The contrast in Pro 14:6 concerns “a scoffer” and “one who has understanding”. A “scoffer” is intellectually arrogant and therefore lacks any serious interest in wisdom. He does want to seek wisdom, but he does so in a superficial way. His concern is to impress others with his wisdom.

A scoffer who seeks wisdom does not find it because he is looking in the wrong place. It is because he lacks the fear of God. He does not want, so to speak, to receive the kingdom of God as a child. He is hindering himself. He is one who is always learning to become wise, but never comes to the knowledge of the truth (2Tim 3:7). Therefore, the wisdom he seeks is nowhere to be found for him.

“One who has understanding” on the other hand, has a relationship with God. As a result, he is in connection with the Source of all knowledge and can easily acquire it. He moderates nothing and takes the position of a child. With the ease or receptivity with which a child learns, he acquires knowledge. He sets no preconditions, but submits to God’s teaching program to become wise.

The eunuch was one who had understanding. He read the Word of God and was taught by Philip, acquiring knowledge about Christ (Acts 8:26-29). This was not a difficult work for him, but it went “easy” because he had understanding to see that he needed Christ. He who has no understanding believes he can go his way without Christ (Rom 3:11).

It is impossible to increase in knowledge when dealing with a fool (Pro 14:7). The first line of verse commands one to leave the presence of a fool. The second line of verse gives the reason. The verse teaches people to leave fools because they do not receive knowledge from what the fools say. We should not associate with people who, although they talk a lot, have nothing to say. Such people will not make you any wiser. Nothing comes from nothing.

Paul instructs Timothy to turn away from people who hold a form of godliness but have denied its power (2Tim 3:5). Likewise, he calls to come out from the midst of people who mix truth and falsehood (2Cor 6:17). Besides being a waste of time, it is also dangerous to keep oneself in a company of foolish men. We will save ourselves much disappointment if we heed this verse.

“The wisdom of the sensible” gives him understanding of how to live (Pro 14:8). By his wisdom he arranges life so that it is good, that it is in accordance with God’s thoughts. Therefore, he must know how God thinks about everything. God’s thoughts are in His Word. Therein is everything necessary for a life in a world that is full of pitfalls and resembles a labyrinth.

The fool looks only at the here and now. That is his folly. Materialism determines his life. That is his lie god. He is not guided by the principles of God’s Word, but by deceit. The fool does not notice that his own folly brings him down because he thinks his own way is right, while he has no understanding of it. He lives in falsehood and deceit.

Understanding our way only comes through fellowship with the Lord Jesus and listening to God’s Word. Christ understood His way perfectly through His fellowship with the Father, through listening to Him. If we follow Him in this, we will not be people who go back and forth and up and down with the changing circumstances of life. It will also keep us from disappointment.

Fools do not take sin seriously (Pro 14:9). They “scoff at sin”, literally “scoff at guilt offering”, meaning that they nip in the bud any guilt both in themselves and in anyone else. Any admonition is met with rejection: ‘I have done nothing wrong. In any case, it means nothing if you compare it to what others do. There are a lot of people far worse than me. Besides, who decides whether something is wrong or not?’ On the contrary, fools finds sinning an entertaining activity. They will never apologize, but will always justify or explain away sin as if it were not a sin.

If we deny guilt, if we deny that we have sinned, we make God a liar (1Jn 1:10). It is in picture scoffing at Christ’s vicarious atoning work, of which the guilt offering speaks. We find this reflected in our time when many scoff at Christ’s atoning work.

“Among the upright” is “good will” on the basis of the guilt offering which the fools mock. The upright are not innocents, but people who have confessed their guilt and whose guilt has been forgiven by God as a result. They know the value of Christ’s offering. In Him they have been accepted by God in good will. In that good will, the upright also accept and deal with one another. Each one is of good will to the other.

The Own Bitterness and Joy

There is “bitterness” and there is “joy” that cannot be communicated to someone else and cannot be shared with someone else, no matter how much understanding and compassion that other person might have. This is about a person’s deepest emotions, emotions of bitterness and emotions of joy. They are emotions understood only by the person who has them (cf. 1Cor 2:11a).

This proverb warns against all unnatural or forced attempts to express empathy. We should not try to follow the other person to the bottom of their emotions, for this is not possible. Emotions belong to human beings, but the experience of them is very personal. There are limits to participating in someone else’s joy or sorrow.

Only for God, there is no such limit. He is the One “Who knows the hearts of all men” (Acts 1:24). In Christ, Who has been tempted in all things as we are, except sin (Heb 4:15; Isa 63:9), He can reach it completely. No one has been able to share in the bitterness of the Lord Jesus, but He knows the heart of every person and also its bitterness.

If sometimes we don’t even know how to express certain feelings, run out of words for them, and can only sigh, God’s Spirit comes to our aid and puts into words before God what we feel (Rom 8:26-27). The text “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15), can only be put into practice by us through the Holy Spirit Who enables us to do so. Heaven is heaven among other things because there we all share in the same joy in a perfect way.

Appearances Are Deceiving

There are three contrasts in Pro 14:11: “house” – “tent”; “wicked” – “upright”; “destroyed” – “flourish”. The wicked live in a house. This gives the picture of permanence, safety and comfort. The upright live in a tent. That gives the picture of a home that can be blown over just like that and offers little safety or comfort. Here appearances deceive, for the house of the wicked will be destroyed, while the tent of the upright will flourish.

It is about what characterizes a house or also household. A house seems strong and permanent, yet it falls. A tent seems weak and temporary, yet it flourishes. It is not about the material so much as the occupant. A house exudes wealth, a tent poverty. The house of the rich seems to survive many generations; the tent of the poor seems to have the short existence of only one generation. But it is the other way around. The reason is that the wicked have no regard for God and His laws, while the upright do and thereby honor God. Those who honor Him, He will honor.

Pro 14:12 is repeated in Proverbs 16 (Pro 16:25), which underscores its importance. The first line of verse does not say that the way which seems right is a wrong way, but the second line of verse clarifies that. The picture used is that of a traveler following a straight road. He seems to be on the right way, but he is on the wrong way because it is literally a dead end. That way leads him to death.

It is noteworthy that Solomon in the second line of verse literally speaks of “ways of death”, plural. It indicates that the way that seems straight leads to numerous other ways and that all those ways have one destination and that is death. Therefore, it is important to leave the way that seems right before it is too late.

An example of a way that seems right to someone but ends in death is the way of good works, as taught by the roman-catholic church, for example. Another example is doing works of the law in the expectation of being saved thereby. After all, life is attached to keeping the law (Lev 18:5). But no one can keep the law. The law turns out to be a ministry of death and of condemnation (2Cor 3:7; 9).

Paul also believed he was on the right way when he persecuted Christians, but it was a way to death (Acts 26:9; Jn 16:2). If Christ had not stopped him on that way, he would have ended up in eternal death. The hypocritical Pharisees and scribes in the time of the Lord Jesus boasted in their own righteousness. They thought they were walking on the right way, but Christ pronounces “woe” against them (Mt 23:13; 15; 16; 23; 25; 27; 39).

Pro 14:13 says that in superficial joy there is sometimes underlying pain. In those cases, the joy disappears someday, but the pain is still present. People laugh in the company of others, but when they are alone at home, the pain of sorrow gnaws at them. A person can appear happy and smiling, while his heart is in pain. What we see does not always reflect the deeper reality. We do not know what is going on inside someone. We are led astray when we rely on appearance.

Pain, due to any cause, cannot be laughed away. If there is no solution to the pain, grief is the end of that kind of joy. For the wicked, the end of joy is always grief. That joy is finite and turns into infinite grief. The joy of those who live in fellowship with God has no end, but is perfect and eternal (1Jn 1:3-4).

God is the God of hope. He can fill the believer with a joy that does not hide anything, but that can go along with grief (Rom 15:13; 2Cor 6:10). Pain and grief will be no longer there when there is a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:4-5).

A Backslider or a Good Man

A backslider is someone who first went the way of faith, but returns to his former state of unbelief. This return may be out of fear of suffering, but also because of the flat pleasure in which he used to be absorbed. In any case, he has had enough of what he sees as the narrowminded things of God. He returns to a life of sin, as the dog returns to its own vomit and the sow to wallowing in the mire (2Pet 2:22).

The final saturation of those ways will be a saturation of misery. The Israelites became backsliders in heart when they became tired of the manna and longed to return to Egypt. Backsliding in heart arises when trust in God is abandoned because we do not understand His ways with us. Then we go back to our own ways, believing that they are better. The disillusionment will be great.

The good man clings to God and continues to trust Him, even when things are adverse. Such a person will be abundantly satisfied because of the choice he has made for God. God gives him the deep inner satisfaction of the right choice. He experiences that satisfaction again and again in everything he does. What he does is good because he is good. He is good, not by himself, but because he has chosen a life with God.

The Naive or Sensible Man

This verse contrasts “the naive” and “the sensible man”. A naive is one who is not exercised to discern things, while the sensible man has the ability to make critical distinctions. The naive is inexperienced and believes everything he is led to believe. Someone says that he is his friend, wants to borrow from him and that he will definitely pay it back. Without any guarantee, the gullible one lends the money. He also attaches faith to the silliest statements, because he tests nothing against the Bible. We can think of the current news presented to us every day. It is foolish to just swallow everything.

The sensible man, however, considers every step he wants to take. He walks carefully, he gropes and walks cautiously because he realizes that he is walking in a minefield. He is cautious because he lives in fellowship with God. As a result, he is aware of how untrustworthy people can be and that he cannot let them guide his life.

It is about having or not having fellowship with God. He who does not live in fellowship with God is open to the most foolish ideas. It makes him easy prey to teachings of demons and of men (cf. Rom 16:18). Lack of trust in God leads him to trust those who are not worthy of trust. You cannot fully trust unbelieving scientists in the results of their research because they ignore the Bible. Many who reject the Bible as a book of fables believe the greatest follies and fables.

The sensible man one has learned through training “discern both the good and the evil” (Heb 5:14). He “examines everything” and “holds fast to which is good” (1Thes 5:21). Similarly, he examines who is behind the words by testing the spirits “whether they are from God” (1Jn 4:1). We must examine and test by the Word of God whether what is said is in accord with it (Acts 17:11; 1Cor 14:29). Then we will watch our steps and know on what way to set our feet.

The Wise and the Arrogant

“A wise man” is cautious and not reckless (Pro 14:16). The first line of verse says that a wise person fears because he sees the danger around him and also recognizes his own weakness. Therefore, he “turns away from evil”. Since the name ‘LORD’ is not used, it is probably not about fearing God (although he certainly will), but fearing the consequences of willful actions. The wise person is cautious.

Opposed to this is the reckless, confident, arrogant and careless fool. He lets himself go, has no brakes and indulges himself. The fool is arrogant and trusts in himself, whereas of all types of people he should be the most cautious. He trusts his own feelings and pretended wisdom. Such a person was Sennacherib, the boasting king of Assyria (2Kgs 19:28-37). He thought himself perfectly safe, untouchable from any enemy. To him, the LORD was no more than a national idol, just as all nations had their own idols. He deceived himself about that.

In Pro 14:17, two character traits are mentioned that are unpleasant to others. It is about two people. One is quick-tempered or hotheaded, it is someone with a short fuse. The other is cunning. The first makes himself known directly; the other works stealthily, avoiding anything that might make his true intentions known.

Scripture warns not to be quick-tempered, but instead slow to anger (Tit 1:7; Jam 1:19). Being quick-tempered is opposed to self-control which everyone needs, for no one has a fuse of unlimited length. The temperamental person acts foolishly and explodes at the slightest adversity. We should not, when things go wrong, lose our patience, but learn to persevere under evil.

The “man of evil devices” can be the counterpart of the quick-tempered person. He is cunning in his intentions. His victim does not readily realize that he is being wronged. When he realizes he has been victimized, it is too late with the result that he hates the cunning man.

Inherit Foolishness or Crowned with Knowledge

“The naive” don’t have to do anything to be foolish. They are given this by birth; they inherit it from their parents. It is a reference to the original sin, the sinful nature that each one inherits from them by his birth from sinful parents and also passes on himself to the children born of him.

But we are not dealing with a fate. The presence of original sin need not mean that a person remains foolish. A person who repents and believes in Christ and His work receives a new nature, the new eternal life. Then he becomes a sensible one and is “crowned with knowledge”.

He who was foolish before now knows God. Through the knowledge of Him he has been granted “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2Pet 1:3). The knowledge of God enables him to live as a sensible one. He knows how to see all things in life, that is, see them as God sees them.

The Roles Are Reversed

Eventually – because now it is not so in general – “the evil will bow down before the good”, that is, those who do good. “The wicked”, who chased the righteous away from their gates, will come “at the gates of the righteous” to ask him for favor. The picture used here is that of a conquered people kneeling before their victors awaiting their orders.

The brothers of Joseph bowed down before him (Gen 42:6b; Gen 43:26; 28). Although this proverb refers primarily to triumphs in this life (Acts 16:39), we can also think of its certain fulfillment in the future (Phil 2:10; Rev 3:9).

The Attitude Toward Socially Deprived

In Pro 14:20 it seems to be about someone who has become poor. In addition to losing money and possessions, the poor person also loses his friend. That friend was someone of the kind who makes friends only because of the benefit it can bring. As the benefit disappears, so does the friendship. Friendship turns into hatred or contempt.

We observe the truth of this every day. Everywhere we see that possessions determine how popular someone is. People are often ashamed of poor relatives because of their shabby clothes, shabbily furnished house or low education.

“But those who love the rich are many” or, as it also can be translated, “the friends of the rich are many”. Friendship because of wealth is not true friendship. It is about only getting something of the other person’s wealth. Someone who is wise will not be led by that. Rich people seem to be the favorites of heaven, but that is deception.

A friend is someone whom you trust to love you always, in all circumstances. Friendship should be about the person, not about what he possesses.

Pro 14:21 connects with Pro 14:20. We must not despise our neighbor, even if he is poor. To despise one’s neighbor means to sin against him and against God. One cannot sin against a neighbor and enjoy God’s blessings. To despise means to treat with contempt, to discard as worthless. James warns against this (Jam 2:1-9; Job 36:5). Loving God and loving one’s neighbor are inseparable (Mt 22:37-40).

In the second line of verse, the neighbor is supposed to be poor, or at least needy. Opposed to hating one’s neighbor is being gracious to him. He who does so is called “happy”. He will be rewarded by God for it (Psa 41:2-3). The Lord Jesus puts it this way in His Beatitudes: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).

Devise Evil or Good

The contrast is between “devise evil” and “devise good”. The result of the former is going astray and of the latter is experiencing kindness and truth. “Who devise evil” are consciously working out something evil. Those who do so are wrong and are on the wrong path. Without any doubt, they go astray. God neither devises evil nor works it. He wants to do good to man and He wants people to do good to one another.

Those “who devise good”, who forge good plans, so to speak, show in their actions that they are guided by “kindness and truth”. Both of these characteristics are attributes of the Lord Jesus and God. But they are also reflected in those who are connected to Them (Isa 32:8).

When the Lord Jesus was on earth, the religious leaders did nothing but devise evil against Him. They were always bent on ensnaring Him in a word. How they went astray. The Lord says to the Sadducees who had a snare question for Him: “Do you not err thereby, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God?” (Mk 12:24).

Profit and Riches

To benefit or profit from anything requires labor, hard work (Pro 14:23). Meaningless talk, chatter, only produces poverty. “Labor” means to make effort. But then you have something, and even more than you need. There is surplus to do good to others with it.

What applies to daily work we can also apply spiritually. To learn God’s Word, we will have to labor. The yield is more than sufficient for our spiritual growth. It not only profits us ourselves, but it can also serve others.

People should be more afraid of talk than of hard work. Through endless meetings and always talking, hardly anything comes about. The end result is “poverty” because there is just a lot of talking without knowing the practice. There may be some investment, but the money disappears into a bottomless pit and only debts remain.

“Riches” is a “crown” for those who make good use of wisdom (Pro 14:24). It adorns the wise who are rich that because they are wise, they use their riches to do good to others. In this they are imitators of God, Who with His riches also does only good. He lavished on own according to the riches of His grace in all wisdom and insight (Eph 1:7-8).

The second line of verse seems to say that fools only have their folly. If a fool is rich, that does not make him a better person. The way he handles his riches shows that his folly is incorrigible. Riches of wise men increase their prestige, while fools always remain fools even if they are rich. A pig remains a pig even if a gold ring is put through its snout.

A Savior of Lives or Uttering Lies

“A truthful witness” tells the truth and thereby saves the life of someone who would be killed on false charges. Opposed to this is “he who utters lies”, literally “breathes out lies”. He deceives judges and brings ruin. He is not an occasional deceiver, but the personification of deceit. This is because he is descended from the father of lies, the devil, whose nature he reveals.

A truthful witness is one who brings the gospel. He bears witness to the truth of his own salvation. Whoever listens to his testimony and follows his advice to also go to the Savior is saved by him, as it were. In the gospel he throws to him the rescue buoy. He is not himself that rescue buoy, but he throws it to him. In the fullest sense of the word, the Lord Jesus is the faithful and true Witness and therefore the Savior of lives.

The Fear of the LORD

In these two verses, the righteous are encouraged by pointing out to them two particular characteristics of the fear of the LORD. The first characteristic is that those who fear the LORD, who have reverence for Him, can go their way in “strong confidence” in Him (Pro 14:26). It is about “children of the fear of the LORD”, not children of the LORD. The reverent fear of the LORD is a sure protection against the dangers that threaten on all sides.

The picture is of a fortress, to which the righteous flee and are safe. It is also the picture of a father protecting his children from powers stronger than the child, but not than the father. God is a refuge and strength, a help in afflictions (Psa 46:1). In ourselves we have no strength, but in Him is all the strength we need. His own take refuge in Him for protection from the enemy.

The fear of the LORD not only provides protection. The second characteristic is that reverent fear of the LORD brings life (Pro 14:27). This life is life in its full and infinite duration, for death does not come near it. God is the Source of all life. Those who have a connection with Him by faith live in a living relationship with Him. Outside of Him there is no life. Fellowship with Him is life. As a result, the snares of death, temptations that result in death, are recognized and avoided.

Both characteristics are needed in a world that wants to do us harm and in which we want to live to the glory of God. Here we see preservation against the two aspects of evil: violence and temptation. The devil attacks us with violence or he wants to tempt us with his wiles. This corresponds to his two manifestations. He comes to us “as a roaring lion” (1Pet 5:8) or “as an angel of light” (2Cor 11:14).

Glory or Ruin of a Ruler

The power of a king depends on the number of subjects his kingdom has. This statement is generally true for kingdoms. From a human point of view, political power is based on the number of people who are members of the party. The first line of verse is not about power or influence, but “a king’s glory”. This presupposes a king who rules to the blessing of his subjects. His people are numerous because every subject is eager to belong to that king.

We see this expressed perfectly in the kingdom of peace. Then the Lord Jesus is publicly King of Israel. He rules as the true Solomon over His people and all nations. From Him flows blessing to all over whom He rules.

A prince’s high position become worthless if he has no or only a few subjects. Then he has no say or power or dominion. There is no one who has regard for him. If he loses his people, he is ruined.

Satan, and in his wake the antichrist, is the big loser. He will have no more people and no more followers in the kingdom of peace. So will the antichrist who will deceive many and be accepted by the Israelites as their king. Satan will be totally alone in his prison, without any exercise of power over anyone. He will also be alone in eternity, just as everyone who is in hell will be alone, no matter how high his position, power and influence on earth were. At the coming of the Lord Jesus in judgment, the antichrist will be thrown into hell immediately, together with the beast, the dictator of Europe (Rev 19:20).

To Be Slow to Anger or Quick-Tempered

“He who is slow to anger” proves that he “has great understanding” of the circumstances of life and the future. Otherwise, there is one cannot be slow to anger. He realizes that things on earth are not yet as God wants them to be. That time will come, but now is not yet the time to make changes, by force if necessary. The righteous one sees and undergoes much suffering. He has much understanding of its cause. It lies in man who has departed from God and lives in rebellion against Him.

James calls to be slow anger and for patience in enduring injustice (Jam 1:19; Jam 5:7-11). He uses the word patience no less than four times in those few verses. He speaks of the coming of the Lord and of perseverance that was also so characteristic of the prophets. He who is patient and slow to anger has great understanding of the coming of the Lord. He looks forward to it and waits patiently and persistently for it.

Opposed to being slow to anger is “quick-tempered”. Such a person does not think about the future. He wants to live here and now and enjoy immediately. As soon as something or someone comes his way that hinders him in this or makes it impossible, he explodes. He “exalts folly” to the true standard of life. Of course, he believes, you are allowed to explode when your happiness is disturbed.

To be slow to anger or patience belongs to God and to those who belong to Him. It is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s work and part of His fruit (Gal 5:22-23). God is also slow to anger, or patient, in postponing His wrath (2Pet 3:9).

A Tranquil Heart or Passion

A tranquil heart is a heart in which lusts do not rule, but in which Christ rules. Peter says to us: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1Pet 3:15). When Christ is given the place of Lord in our hearts, it means that we have put Him in charge of our whole life. This has a healthy effect on the body. He who lives with Christ does not do things that endanger the health of his body.

We should not draw the conclusion from this that those who are sick have not given Christ authority over their lives. If we do, we are like Job’s friends who saw Job’s sickness as evidence of hidden sins. This is about what is generally true without saying that it is always true.

What is always true, is that “passion [or envy] is rottenness of the bones”. Passion to get what someone else has, envy of one’s neighbor’s prosperity, of another’s happiness, eats away the strength from the bones (cf. Psa 112:10). It is the primal sin of satan and of man. It has brought man into the greatest misery from which he cannot free himself. The bones, which should give stability to his walk, lack strength. Nothing in his life is to the glory of God.

It begins with ingratitude or dissatisfaction, the dissatisfaction with one’s own possessions or qualities. Then there arises an unhealthy attention to the possessions or qualities of others, with the passion to possess them. The result is that the stability of existence in a grateful attitude before the Lord is completely destroyed. One’s existence is determined by what others have.

Oppress or Be Gracious

The way a person treats the lowly or poor shows whether or not he takes the Creator into account. One who “oppresses the poor” shows contempt for the Maker of the poor Who also made the oppressor. The poor, like the oppressor, has been made in the likeness of God (cf. Job 31:15; Pro 22:2). Whoever oppresses the poor is thereby saying that God should not have made him and is thus taunting God’s work.

In the world we live in, the rich rule over the poor. Money is power, influence and status, such is the world’s view. However, the value of a person does not depend on his social status or his bank account, but on the fact that he is made by God.

Opposed to him who oppresses the lowly is “he who is gracious to the needy”. He does not taunt the Creator, but “honors Him”. Being gracious proves that a person is a righteous one (Psa 37:21). Nor does he do so only occasionally, but “all day long he is gracious and lends” (Psa 37:26). God is honored wherever He sees in His own one of His attributes. Here it is graciousness. God is the gracious or compassionate God (Rom 9:16; Exo 2:25). He has also been gracious to us, poor and needy, in Christ.

To Be Thrust Down or to Have a Refuge

This verse shows the difference between “the wicked” and “the righteous” when leaving the world. In life, a wicked person can appear powerful and successful. But when he has to leave the world, he is “thrust down”. He clings to this life with his hands and feet and does not want to leave it, but is forced to do so. There is nothing that prevents this moment. He has loved sin and is dying in it. His own evil brings this judgment upon him and follows him in judgment. He takes it with him to that other world, the world of pain and remorse, which he can never leave.

How entirely different the righteous one leaves the world. He may suffer and die, but he has refuge even in death. We see a wonderful example of this when Stephen dies (Acts 7:59). Those who trust and obey the Lord have safety in any disaster that may befall them.

Therefore, it can be said of those who die in the great tribulation for the Name of the Lord: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from now on” (Rev 14:13). They will rise, like Stephen, to reign with the Lord Jesus in the kingdom of peace. Then they will be rewarded for the works of faith they have done, of which God will not forget one.

Hidden Wisdom and Open Folly

“One who has understanding” does not show off his wisdom. He will not boast of it. “Wisdom rests in the heart” and governs his life in word and deed. The heart is the place of choice. Without God, only sin comes from it. When Christ, the wisdom of God, dwells in the heart, the wise person knows what he should and should not say and do. He will consider whether something is to the glory of God or not.

“Fools” do show off their wisdom, that is, what they think of as wisdom. From their “hearts” comes no wisdom, for it is not present there because with them there is no thought of God. In their innermost being dwells foolishness and they make it known, they proclaim it. Fools like to pretend to be wise and be seen as wise. They blurt out what they think is wisdom, but it turns out to be foolishness.

Righteousness or Sin of a Nation

A nation’s prosperity and strength depend on its “righteousness”. The verb “exalts” means to exalt the condition of the people in that nation. They are given a high place. God gives this promise to His people if they “observe all His commandments”, for then He will give them a place “high above all nations which He has made, for praise, name and honor” (Deu 26:18-19).

But the principle applies to all nations. Every nation whose every member gives his compatriot and the stranger living with them his due is given honor. This can only be put into practice if a people submits to God and His will. Doing justice to other people is possible only if justice is done first and foremost to God, which means acknowledging Him in His sovereign rights.

Opposed to a nation that does justice is any people who give room to sin and do not practice justice over it by judging it. An example of this is that in a growing number of nations, with the Netherlands in the vanguard, gay relationships are not seen as sin, but defended as a form of society to be accepted. This sin goes directly against God’s order of creation and is “a disgrace” on all those nations where gay relationships are allowed.

Of course, those nations where this sin or other immoralities are tolerated or even encouraged will not see it as a disgrace. On the contrary, they will see and celebrate it as a victory over what they consider “narrow” Christian beliefs. Freedom of speech, saying anything you want, and freedom of conduct, doing anything you want, is the highest good. From God and His Word is vigorously distanced.

But God remains God and His Word remains true, even if the governments of especially the countries of the united states of Europe make such frantic attempts to banish Him and His Word from society or at least silence them. All those nations will see to their dismay on the day of Christ how much they have lived in rebellion against God.

Favor or Anger of the King

The king knows those who serve him with dedication and ability. “A servant who acts wisely” will always have the welfare of the king and his kingdom in mind. The king sees in this not primarily an increase in his property or influence, but the inner satisfaction that someone is serving him faithfully. Toward such a servant is his “favor”, he is a joy to his heart. A servant who acts wisely is a delight to him. Joseph and Daniel are examples of a servant who acts wisely toward whom the king they served was his favor.

Opposed to this is the incompetent servant, the tinker. He deals with the king’s affairs as a bungler. There is no sense of responsibility to the king and no impression of his majesty. He proceeds thoughtlessly and thereby exposes his king to scandal and criticism.

In this proverb is the warning to serve a king faithfully and well and not incur his anger. In a spiritual sense, this also applies to us. The Lord Jesus will reward all His servants who have served Him faithfully and wisely. But His anger will strike all who have given their own interpretation to His commands (Lk 19:11-27).

In a literal sense, this proverb applies to every government. Every government is established by God (Rom 13:1). Government has been given by God the power to reward and punish (Rom 13:3-4).

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

All rights reserved. No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

Bible Hub

Proverbs 13
Top of Page
Top of Page