Ways that seem Right but are Not

The fourteenth chapter of proverbs presents us with the contrasts of living lives pleasing to the Lord and living lives at odds with his ways. This chapter speaks to: wisdom and folly; the inner joy of bitterness; naivety and prudence; taking car of the poor; and what is means for a nation to be pleasing to God.

"The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down." (v1)

Building and walking.. great images of what it is like to be in relationship with the Lord.. interesting that something good that we built can be torn down by our foolish actions.

"Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him." (v2)

I love how uprightness and deviousness are contrasted.. I think that integrity is a mark of a person who fears the Lord.

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox." (v4)

Ever heard someone say "We can disagree as long as we are not disagreeable"? Kind of a great one-liner isn't it? I like the idea but I have to say that when we are working side-by-side things often get pretty messy.. egos clash and pride comes full bore.. but often strength comes as strong people learn to work together to produce an abundant crop.

"Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge." (v7)

Verses 5-9 are replete with contrasts.. faithful vs false witness.. scoffer vs man of understanding.. prudent vs fool.. mock vs enjoy. And wedged in these contrasts is this verse that in essence counsels us to not associate with fools. It is sometimes hard.. they sometimes feed the darkest parts of us and draw us to scoffing, lying and mocking.

"The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy." (v10)

How I wish that I did not understand this verse. I have visited the house of bitterness on occasion and know the insidious affects that it has had on my life. There is a perverse joy in bitterness and unless pulled up by it's roots bitterness can defile so much of our lives. Better to savor the sweetness of life.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (v12)

The mind is a wonderful tool.. it can do amazing things.. it can even make unwise interpretations of scripture. Living from your head, instead of your heart, will often lead you in the ways of death.

"The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps." (v15)

Interesting how the scriptures teach us to have childlike faith but also teach us to be prudent in the ways that we live. Sometimes we do the most imprudent things in the name of childlike faith.. which is usually just religiousness and not faith at all.

"The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends. Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor." (v20-21)

Money often brings out the worst in us.. how we use it tests our mettle.. it's affect on us says a lot about us. In Matthew's gospel Jesus told us that how we use money is a reflection of what we treasure the most. Sadly many of us do not treasure the poorest amongst us at all.

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (v34)

I want to read this verse and speak to the national sins of our day but I do not think that this is the sense of it. Here is the way that Gill comments on it:
Administered by the government, and exercised by subjects towards one another; doing justice between man and man: this exalts a nation, as it did the people of Israel, while practised among them; this sets a people above their neighbours, and high in the esteem of God and men; and is attended with privileges and blessings, which make a nation great and honourable.
Being an honorable nation is at its heart caring for each other and treating each other with mercy and respect. We suffer when our laws do less.

If you liked this post then please click here to catch some of my other ponderings on the book of Proverbs.


  1. Lots of "meat" to gnaw on here, Bob!!!

  2. Hi there, I wondered over here from A Former leaders Journey, and I wanted to say hello. It's great to "meet" new people here in the blogging world. Please stop by and say hello sometime.

  3. It's always amazing to see that we all go through a lot of the same things no matter what. This post helped just to see you have gone through the same things as I have.


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