25 A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful. 26 Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. 28 A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined. 29 Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. 30 A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. (Prov. 14:25-30 NIV)
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but a false witness is deceitful.
The entire process of any justice system in any country depends upon the truthfulness of witnesses. It also depends upon the commitment to seeking justice and truth. It is difficult to suggest an alternative to the adversarial system that is practised in the UK courts, but sometimes it fails to find truth because of the skill of a barrister who disguises truth through their rhetoric or prevents a witness from expressing all of what they want to say. A truthful witness will save the falsely accused from loss of reputation, career, or perhaps life. Truth ought to be allowed to be told in a timely fashion. Justice delayed is justice denied because many falsely accused lose reputation and career because the time between being accused and being tried is so long. We should love truth, and until truth is told the accused should be presumed innocent and treated as innocent. A false witness is destructive to the life of the accused. A false witness deceives. A false witness does not always tell blatant and easily discoverable lies – deception is normally couched in sufficient truth to make it plausible.
26 Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
and for their children it will be a refuge.
The fear of the Lord is the major theme of Proverbs. The fear of the Lord is the basic characteristic of a righteous person. Out of fear of the Lord we learn wisdom and we seek to walk wisely through life. Without the fear of the Lord, we cannot learn wisdom or have knowledge. Without the wisdom and knowledge of God we cannot live as we were intended to live. When we live in the fear of the Lord, we gain wisdom and knowledge and this creates security for us, in fact a fortress. God is our strong tower, our place of refuge. This refuge will be the best environment to bring up children. There are many practical benefits for the children of parents who fear the Lord.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
turning a person from the snares of death.
The fear of the Lord is not just a refuge, it is a fountain of life. There are times when we feel we need to retreat to a fortress to hide under the shelter of God’s wing because something disturbs us and we have to seek shelter. But we have to move forward and the fear of the Lord is like a spring of refreshing water within us. The fear of the Lord turns us away from the snares of death. When we face a snare, we might spend considerable time studying and assessing the snare, but our deliverance does not lie in fully understanding the snare. The fear of the Lord turns us physically, mentally and emotionally away from the snares of death. The snare is no place for us to be and provides no substance for contemplation.
28 A large population is a king’s glory,
but without subjects a prince is ruined.
We could apply this proverb to politics today. A large vote results in the success of the political party. Without votes the candidate is ruined or out of office. Sadly, today our politicians receive little honour even from those who vote for them. Many people cast their vote to keep someone from being elected. Official position means very little when people are not following you.
29 Whoever is patient has great understanding,
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.
Patience with oneself, with others and with circumstances or the system, is very hard to nurture in our lives. A lack of patience usually indicates a failure to understand priorities. Our priority is to live in the fear of the Lord. When we trust the Lord, we can be patient waiting for his time. But we all like instant. A quick temper indicates that we have the wrong perspective on life. The Teacher calls it folly. It is a failure in living the wise life.
30 A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.
It is very pleasant to have a sense of peace, tranquillity and rest in our hearts. It does help us feel invigorated. There is a close connection between how we feel inwardly and the health of our body. Inner emotional health is manifest in the outward. Internal unrest is caused by envy. We are not at rest in our hearts because there is something we want that we don’t have. It could be recognition, possessions, or the friendship of others. We may also want something that another person has – not to share and have the same thing that they have, but to deprive them of their possession. You want it just to prevent the other person from having it. That kind of internal conflict also has its effects on the body.
Lord God help us to know a sense of peace in our hearts. Help us to be content with the lot in life that you have given us because we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.