Proverbs 14:14
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The backslider in heart—i.e., who turns away from God. (Psalm 44:19.)

Shall be filled with his own ways.—(Comp. Proverbs 1:31, and Matthew 6:2, &c: “They have their reward.”) They get to the full what they look for, though it is but swine’s husks, instead of food fit for God’s children.

A good man.—See above on Proverbs 13:22.

Shall be satisfied from himself.—His own work. (Comp. Isaiah 3:10.)

Proverbs

SATISFIED FROM SELF

Proverbs 14:14
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At first sight this saying strikes one as somewhat unlike the ordinary Scripture tone, and savouring rather of a Stoical self-complacency; but we recall parallel sayings, such as Christ’s words, ‘The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water’; and the Apostle’ s, ‘Then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone.’ We further note that the text has an antithetic parallel in the preceding clause, where the picture is drawn of ‘a backslider in heart,’ as ‘filled with his own ways’; so that both clauses set forth the familiar but solemn thought that a man’s deeds react upon the doer, and apart from all thoughts of divine judgment, themselves bring certain retribution. To grasp the inwardness of this saying we must note that-

I. Goodness comes from godliness.

There is no more striking proof that most men are bad than the notion which they have of what is good. The word has been degraded to mean in common speech little more than amiability, and is applied with little discrimination to characters of which little more can be said than that they are facile and indulgent of evil. ‘A good fellow’ may be a very bad man. At the highest the epithet connotes merely more or less admirable motives and more or less admirable deeds as their results, whilst often its use is no more than a piece of unmeaning politeness. That was what the young ruler meant by addressing Christ as ‘Good Master’; and Christ’s answer to him set him, and should set us, on asking ourselves why we call very ordinary men and very ordinary actions ‘good.’ The scriptural notion is immensely deeper, and the scriptural employment of the word is immensely more restricted. It is more inward: it means that motives should be right before it calls any action good; it means that our central and all-influencing motive should be love to God and regard to His will. That is the Old Testament point of view as well as the New. Or to put it in other words, the ‘good man’ of the Bible is a man in whom outward righteousness flows from inward devotion and love to God. These two elements make up the character: godliness is an inseparable part of goodness, is the inseparable foundation of goodness, and the sole condition on which it is possible. But from this conception follows, that a man may be truly called good, although not perfect. He may be so and yet have many failures. The direction of his aspirations, not the degree to which these are fulfilled, determines his character, and his right to be reckoned a good man. Why was David called ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ notwithstanding his frightful fall? Was it not because that sin was contrary to the main direction of his life, and because he had struggled to his feet again, and with tears and self-abasement, yet with unconquerable desire and hope, ‘pressed toward the mark for the prize of his high calling’? David in the Old Testament and Peter in the New bid us be of good cheer, and warn us against the too common error of thinking that goodness means perfection. ‘The new moon with a ragged edge’ is even in its imperfections beautiful, and in its thinnest circlet prophesies the perfect round.

Remembering this inseparable connection between godliness and goodness we further note that-

II. Godliness brings satisfaction.

There is a grim contrast between the two halves of this verse. The former shows us the backslider in heart as filled ‘with his own ways.’ He gets weary with satiety; with his doings he ‘will be sick of them’; and the things which at first delighted will finally disgust and be done without zest. There is nothing sadder than the gloomy faces often seen in the world’s festivals. But, on the other hand, the godly man will be satisfied from within. This is no Stoical proclamation of self-sufficingness. Self by itself satisfies no man, but self, become the abiding-place of God, does satisfy. A man alone is like ‘the chaff which the wind driveth away’; but, rooted in God, he is ‘like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf does not wither.’ He has found all that he needs. God is no longer without him but within; and he who can say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ has within him the secret of peace and the source of satisfaction which can never say ‘I thirst.’ Such an inward self, in which God dwells and through which His sweet presence manifests itself in the renewed nature, sets man free from all dependence for blessedness on externals. We hang on them and are in despair if we lose them, because we have not the life of God within us. He who has such an indwelling, and he only, can truly say, ‘All my possessions I carry with me.’ Take him and strip from him, film after film, possessions, reputation, friends; hack him limb from limb, and as long as there is body enough left to keep life in him, he can say, ‘I have all and abound.’ ‘Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have your own selves for a better possession.’

III. Godly goodness brings inward satisfaction.

No man is satisfied with himself until he has subjugated himself. What makes men restless and discontented is their tossing, anarchical desires. To live by impulse, or passion, or by anything but love to God, is to make ourselves our own tormentors. It is always true that he ‘who loveth his life shall lose it,’ and loses it by the very act of loving it. Most men’s lives are like the troubled sea, ‘which cannot rest,’ and whose tossing surges, alas! ‘cast up mire and dirt,’ for their restless lives bring to the surface much that was meant to lie undisturbed in the depths.

But he who has subdued himself is like some still lake which ‘heareth not the loud winds when they call,’ and mirrors the silent heavens on its calm surface. But further, goodness brings satisfaction, because, as the Psalmist says, ‘in keeping Thy commandments there is great reward.’ There is a glow accompanying even partial obedience which diffuses itself with grateful warmth through the whole being of a man. And such goodness tends to the preservation of health of soul as natural, simple living to the health of the body. And that general sense of well-being brings with it a satisfaction compared with which all the feverish bliss of the voluptuary is poor indeed.

But we must not forget that satisfaction from one’s self is not satisfaction with one’s self. There will always be the imperfection which will always prevent self-righteousness. The good man after the Bible pattern most deeply knows his faults, and in that very consciousness is there a deep joy. To be ever aspiring onwards, and to know that our aspiration is no vain dream, this is joy. Still to press ‘toward the mark,’ still to have ‘the yet untroubled world which gleams before us as we move,’ and to know that we shall attain if we follow on, this is the highest bliss. Not the accomplishment of our ideal, but the cherishing of it, is the true delight of life.

Such self-satisfying goodness comes only through Christ. He makes it possible for us to love God and to trust Him. Only when we know ‘the love wherewith He has loved us,’ shall we love with a love which will be the motive power of our lives. He makes it possible to live outward lives of obedience, which, imperfect as it is, has ‘great reward.’ He makes it possible for us to attain the yet unattained, and to be sure that we ‘shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’ He has said, ‘The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.’ Only when we can say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ will it be true of us in its fullest sense, ‘A good man shall be satisfied from himself.’Proverbs 14:14. The backslider in heart — He who departs from God, although but inwardly; shall be filled with his own ways — With the fruit of his ways, namely, the punishment of his sins; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself — From the pious temper of his own heart, which cleaves to the Lord, and from the holy and righteous course of his life, he shall receive unspeakable comfort, both in this world and in the next.14:1 A woman who has no fear of God, who is wilful and wasteful, and indulges her ease, will as certainly ruin her family, as if she plucked her house down. 2. Here are grace and sin in their true colours. Those that despise God's precepts and promises, despise God and all his power and mercy. 3. Pride grows from that root of bitterness which is in the heart. The root must be plucked up, or we cannot conquer this branch. The prudent words of wise men get them out of difficulties. 4. There can be no advantage without something which, though of little moment, will affright the indolent. 5. A conscientious witness will not dare to represent anything otherwise than according to his knowledge. 6. A scorner treats Divine things with contempt. He that feels his ignorance and unworthiness will search the Scriptures in a humble spirit. 7. We discover a wicked man if there is no savour of piety in his discourse. 8. We are travellers, whose concern is, not to spy out wonders, but to get to their journey's end; to understand the rules we are to walk by, also the ends we are to walk toward. The bad man cheats himself, and goes on in his mistake. 9. Foolish and profane men consider sin a mere trifle, to be made light of rather than mourned over. Fools mock at the sin-offering; but those that make light of sin, make light of Christ. 10. We do not know what stings of conscience, or consuming passions, torment the prosperous sinner. Nor does the world know the peace of mind a serious Christian enjoys, even in poverty and sickness. 11. Sin ruins many great families; whilst righteousness often raises and strengthens even mean families. 12. The ways of carelessness, of worldliness, and of sensuality, seem right to those that walk in them; but self-deceivers prove self-destroyers. See the vanity of carnal mirth. 14. Of all sinners backsliders will have the most terror when they reflect on their own ways. 15. Eager readiness to believe what others say, has ever proved mischievous. The whole world was thus ruined at first. The man who is spiritually wise, depends on the Saviour alone for acceptance. He is watchful against the enemies of his salvation, by taking heed to God's word. 16. Holy fear guards against every thing unholy. 17. An angry man is to be pitied as well as blamed; but the revengeful is more hateful.Shall be satisfied - These words are not in the original. Repeat the verb from the first clause, "He who falls away from God in his heart, shall be filled with his own ways; and the good man (shall be filled) with that which belongs to him." 14. filled … ways—receive retribution (Pr 1:31).

a good man … himself—literally, "is away from such," will not associate with him.

The backslider in heart; he who departeth from God and from the way of his precepts with all his heart, which implies the doing it upon deliberation, with free choice, and full purpose, and customary practice, as ungodly men commonly do, and is opposed to the slips of human frailty; for otherwise every sin is a revolt from God.

With his own ways; with the fruit of his ways or doings, the punishment of his sins.

From himself, i.e. from his ways, as appears by the opposition; from the pious temper of his own heart, which cleaveth to the Lord, when the hearts of sinners forsake him; and from the holy and righteous course of his life, from which he shall receive unspeakable comfort and satisfaction both here and hereafter to all eternity. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways,.... One that is a backslider at heart, whose heart departeth from the Lord; in whom there is an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; and indeed apostasy begins at the heart, and shows itself in the life and conversation: there may be a backsliding when the heart does not wickedly depart from God; but is through the infirmity of the flesh and the force of temptation; from which backslidings the Lord's people are recovered, and which are healed by his grace; but here such an one is meant who willingly and heartily backslides; and such shall have the reward of their hands and actions given them, or the full and due punishment of their sins; they shall have their bellyful of their own wicked ways and works, the just recompense of reward for them;

and a good man shall be satisfied from himself; shall eat the fruit of his own doings, shall be blessed in his deeds, and have peace and satisfaction therein; though not salvation by them, or for them: he shall be satisfied with the grace of God bestowed on him and wrought in him; and, from a feeling experience of the grace of God within him, shall be satisfied that he has in heaven a better and an enduring substance; or he shall be satisfied "from above himself" (m), from the grace that is in Christ, out of the fulness which is in him; and shall be filled with all the fulness of God he is capable of; and especially in the other world, when he shall awake in his likeness. The Targum is,

"a good man shall be satisfied with his fear;''

and so the Syriac version, with the fear of his soul; it may be rendered, as by the Vulgate Latin version, "a good man shall be above him" (n); that is, above the backslider; shall be better tilled, and be more happy than he.

(m) "de super eo", Montanus; "de super semet", Schultens. (n) "Et super cum erit vir bonus", V. L. De Dieu.

The backslider in heart {i} shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

(i) He who forsakes God will be punished, and made weary of his sins, in which he delighted.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 14. - The backslider in heart - he who turns away from God (Psalm 44:18) - shall be filled with his own ways, shall reap the fruits of his evil doings (Proverbs 1:31; Proverbs 12:14). Matthew 6:2, "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward." And a good man shall be satisfied from himself. There is no verb expressed in this clause, "shall be satisfied" being supplied by our translators. Delitzsch and others read, "and a good man from his own deeds." It is simpler to repeat the verb from the former clause: "A good man shall be filled with that which belongs to him;" i.e. the holy thoughts and righteous actions in which he delights. Isaiah 3:10, "Say ye of the righteous that it shall be well with him; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings." The Vulgate, neglecting the prefix, translates, "And over him shall be the good man;" Septuagint, "And a good man from his thoughts," the produce of his heart and mind. 8 The wisdom of the prudent is to observe his way,

   And the folly of fools is deceit.

The nearest idea is that of self-deceit, according to which the lxx, Syr., and Jerome render the word error ("Irrsal"). But מרמה is nowhere else used of self-deception, and moreover is not the suitable word for such an idea, since the conception of the dolus malus is constantly associated with it. Thus the contrast will be this: the wisdom of the prudent shows itself in this, that he considers his conduct (הבין as Proverbs 7:7, cf. Psalm 5:2), i.e., regulates it carefully, examining and considering (Proverbs 13:16) it according to right and duty; and that on the contrary the folly of fools shows itself in this, that they aim at the malevolent deception of their neighbour, and try all kinds of secret ways for the gaining of this end. The former is wisdom, because from the good only good comes; the latter is folly or madness, because deception, however long it may sneak in darkness, yet at last comes to light, and recoils in its destructive effects upon him from whom it proceeds.

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