Proverbs 14

The Word Made Fresh

1The wise woman tends to her house,
but the foolish woman lets hers fall apart.
2Those who do the right thing respect the LORD,
but those whose actions are devious hate the LORD.
3The speech of fools gets a beating for their backs,
but the words of the wise protect them.
4If there are no oxen, grain cannot be had
because abundant crops are brought by the oxen’s strength.
5An honest witness does not lie,
but a false witness cannot be believed.
6Those who scoff will not find wisdom,
but knowledge comes easily for those who understand.
7Walk away from a fool.
You will find no wisdom there.
8The wise understand where they should go,
but fools wander meaninglessly.
9Fools think it silly to make guilt offerings.
But those who make them enjoy God’s favor.
10The heart is aware of its bitterness,
and there is no one to share its joy.
11The house of the wicked will decline,
but the tent of the good will find prosperity.
12There are ways that may seem good to some,
but still may become ways of death.
13The heart may be sad even in times of laughter,
and joy may end in grief.
14The crooked get what they deserve,
and the good get what they deserve.
15Simple-minded folks will believe anything,
but the wise always watch their steps.
16Those who are wise will turn away from wrongdoing,
but fools carelessly ignore every rule.
17Those with quick tempers act foolishly,
and those who scheme are hated.
18Simple-minded people are clothed with foolishness,
while those who are clever are dressed in knowledge.
19Wicked people will bow before the good
at the gates of the righteous.
20Poor people are avoided even by their neighbors,
but wealthy people have lots of friends.
21Whoever hates a neighbor is a sinner,
but those who are kind to the poor are good.
22Those who plan evil are in error,
while those who plan good have loyal followers.
23Work will result in profit,
talk by itself results in poverty.
24Wisdom is a crown worn by the wise,
while foolishness is a crown worn by fools.
25An honest witness saves lives
while the liar betrays the innocent.
26One can be confident in respect for the LORD,
and your children will have a safe home.
27Respect for the LORD is the fountain of life,
and through it one may avoid death’s grip.
28A multitude of people is the king’s glory,
for without the people the ruler is ruined.
29It is wise to be slow to anger,
but a hasty temper exudes foolishness.
30A peaceful mind strengthens the body,
but strong passions weaken the bones.
31Those who oppress the poor insult the One who made them.
Those who are kind to the poor honor the One who made them.
32Wicked people are undone by the evil they do,
while good people find strength in their honesty.
33Wisdom is at home in the minds of those who have understanding,
but is not recognized in the hearts of fools.
34Upright living lifts up the nation,
but sinful living will bring ruin to any people.
35The king will favor the servant who deals wisely,
but will respond with anger toward one whose deeds are shameful.


1: The important place of women in ancient Jewish society is obvious from the amount of attention given them in Proverbs. While a man’s character resulted in all kinds of consequences to his personal welfare, a woman’s character impacted the entire household.

2: “Good” people are often despised by “bad” people who are threatened by their righteousness because it gives them no opportunity for devious schemes and ill-gotten gain.

3: Another difference between the wise and the foolish is that in a legal dispute the way the wise speak sways the outcome in their favor, while the fool’s defense is unsuccessful. The unspoken advice is, of course, “seek wisdom.”

4: It is good to have an ox.

5: This verse is related to 3 above.

6: You can’t learn if you don’t want to.

7-9: The best thing you can say to a fool is, “Good-bye.”

10: An interesting observation about human emotions and relationships.

11: This sounds more like the threat of a king than an observation of life.

12: Straight is the gate and narrow the way.

13: There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. Each has the other waiting just offstage.

14: This is the way things ought to be.

15: Look before you leap.

16: Did you hear me? Look before you leap!

17: Wisdom counsels an even temper, and nobody likes a schemer.

18: I must confess that I do not like the dichotomy expressed here between the “simple” and the “clever.” I tend to mistrust “clever” people and have a great deal of sympathy for the “simple,” which I equate with childlikeness.

19: This is how the author wishes things to be, but evidence is scarce.

20-21: It is an unhappy but nevertheless accurate observation that everybody at least pretends to like the rich. This is not a judgment on the poor but rather on human society. There is nothing wrong with befriending the rich, but despising your neighbor and being unkind to the poor is not the way of wisdom.

22: Being good is better than being evil.

23: Again, the benefit of hard work is extolled.

24: “Handsome is as handsome does.”

25: Truth and falsehood each have consequences.

26-27: The fear of the LORD benefits the one who has it as well as the family of the one who has it.

28: “If you want to know if you’re a leader, look behind you.”

29: A short fuse makes it hard to consider options.

30: Tranquility does indeed revive the flesh. Perhaps “hot-headedness” would be a better translation than “passion” in the second half of the verse.

31: Once again we are reminded that God has a special regard for the poor.

32: Don’t be wicked. Be righteous.

33: The difference between folly and understanding is wisdom.

34: What do you think: does this refer to the righteousness or sinfulness of the nation as a whole, or is the righteousness or sinfulness of the king or other leaders enough to exalt or condemn a nation?

35: It’s good to be the king.


Solomon’s proverbs go from profound to simple. Wisdom is a difficult idea to explain, but we notice that much of Solomon’s instruction here is aimed at the young and inexperienced: it is much more valuable to them than to the elderly who have experienced much more of life.