The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way.—To look to it carefully that it is such as God would have it; but “the folly of fools (stupid persons, as Proverbs 14:7], is deceit;” it shows itself in trying to cheat others, though they are sure to be detected at last.Proverbs 14:8. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way — It consists not in vain speculations, nor in a curious prying into other men’s matters, much less in subtle arts of deceiving others, but in a diligent study of his own duty, and of the way to true and eternal happiness; but the folly of fools is deceit — The wit of ungodly men, which, though they account it their wisdom, is really their folly, is employed only in finding out ways of overreaching and deceiving others, and themselves too.The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way; it consists not in vain speculations, nor in a curious prying into other men’s matters, nor in cunning arts of deceiving others; but in a diligent study of his own duty, and of the way to true and eternal happiness.
The folly of fools is deceit; the wit of ungodly men, which, though they account their wisdom, is really their folly, is employed only in finding out ways of overreaching and deceiving others, and themselves too.
but the folly of fools is deceit: or "the wisdom of fools", which the opposition requires, and is meant, and is what the Holy Ghost calls "folly", as elsewhere, 1 Corinthians 3:19; this is itself "deceit"; it is science, falsely so called; it lies in tricking and deceiving; and the issue of it is, not only the deceiving of others, but themselves also: such is the folly of the man of sin and followers, which lies in deceiving the inhabitants of the earth with their sorceries and superstitions, with their lying wonders and miracles; see 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Revelation 13:14.The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. deceit] It has been questioned whether this means self-deceit, as the parallel might seem to suggest, or deceiving others. But the design of the proverb is to shew that the two things are really one. Whereas the wisdom of the prudent consists in his understanding his own character and conduct, in its relation to God, to his neighbour and to himself, the folly of fools is that being self-deceived, they think they can deceive God and man to their own advantage. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:13.Verse 8. - The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way. The wisdom of the prudent is shown by his considering whither his actions lead, the motives from which they spring, the results that attend them. As the apostle enjoins (Ephesians 5:15), "See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." Or the clause may be taken as enjoining a wise choice in life, a selection of such a calling or occupation as best suits one's capabilities, station, and opportunities. The folly of fools is deceit. This is not self-deceit, which the word does not denote, but deceit of others. Stupid persons show their folly in trying to cheat others, though they are sure to be detected, and their fraud recoils on themselves. In the case of fools, what they would call wisdom is folly; hence the wording of the sentence.
And perverse in his ways is he that despiseth Him.
That which syntactically lies nearest is also that which is intended; the ideas standing in the first place are the predicates. Wherein it shows itself, and whereby it is recognised, that a man fears God, or stands in a relation to Him of indifference instead of one of fear and reverence, shall be declared: the former walketh in his uprightness, i.e., so far as the consciousness of duty which animates him prescribes; the latter in his conduct follows no higher rule than his own lust, which drives him sometimes hither and sometimes thither. הולך בּישׁרו .rehtih (cf. ישׁר הולך, Micah 2:7) is of kindred meaning with הולך בּתמּו, Proverbs 28:6 (הולך בּתּום, Proverbs 10:9), and הולך נכחו, Isaiah 57:2. The connection of נלוז דּרכיו follows the scheme of 2 Kings 18:37, and not 2 Samuel 15:32, Ewald, 288c. If the second word, which particularizes the idea of the first, has the reflexive suff. as here, then the accusative connection, or, as Proverbs 2:15, the prepositional, is more usual than the genitive. Regarding לוּז, flectere, inclinare (a word common to the author of chap. 1-9), vid., at Proverbs 2:15. With בּוזהוּ, cf. 1 Samuel 2:30; the suffix without doubt refers to God, for בוזהו is the word that stands in parallel contrast to 'ירא ה.
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