1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. 2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways. 3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. 4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests. 5 An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. 6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning. (Prov. 14:1-6 NIV)
1 The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
We shouldn’t form the picture that the wise woman is a builder constructing a building for her family to live in. Rather this relates to the components that a wise woman includes as she makes a house into a home for her family. The industry of the wise woman is seen in contrast to the foolish woman, who is destructive, tearing down with her own hands what has been entrusted to her. The wise woman builds her house with wisdom.
2 Whoever fears the LORD walks uprightly,
but those who despise him are devious in their ways.
Walking in the fear of the Lord is the main theme of Proverbs. Our actions towards others reflects our attitude towards God. Those who despise the Lord are crooked and devious in their actions. It is interesting to note that many who deny the existence in God also despise Him. They are angry at a God they say does not exist. Because God has placed eternity into our being, since we are all made in the image of God and were designed t be in relationship with God, it is understandable that unbelief is inconsistent and foolish.
3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
but the lips of the wise protect them.
The Teacher comes back to his theme of the use of words. The lashing out is evidence of the inner pride. When people have a high view of themselves they are very sensitive to anyone who doesn’t share that high view. They are easily offended and will lash out with their tongue at the slightest provocation. The words spoken by the wise will serve to protect them because these words come from a heart that fears the Lord and that has been taught by wisdom.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.
There is a price to be paid for us to have food in the fridge. The farmer may get tired of the effort of keeping the oxen. A person may get tired of the mess of life and get rid of the things, people and circumstances that make life a mess. The people around me may complicate life. We may feel that our job is tiresome, and that life would be better without it. The oxen were the means of production for the farmer. Without the oxen there is no harvest of hay to fill the manger. The ox consumes some of what it helps to produce, but it also harvests the crops to provide food for other animals and people. Getting rid of the oxen may mean an easier life, but you lose the means to provide food. We may feel that cutting ourselves off from people simplifies our life, but we lose the social contact that is so needed. Friendships require work and maintenance, employment requires energy. To cut ourselves off from these means that help us in life leaves an emptiness that we cannot hope to fill. There is an abundance of harvest that comes from keeping the oxen, just as there is an abundance that comes from keeping our jobs and keeping our friends.
5 An honest witness does not deceive,
but a false witness pours out lies.
An honest witness will not lie. They cannot be bribed, pressured or intimidated into lying. They remain faithful to the truth because more than anything else they live in the fear of the Lord. The false witness cannot do anything else other than lie. Their heart is programmed to lies and deceit. Both witnesses act according to their nature. There can be no meaningful relationships and no significant progress in society+ without truthfulness and honesty.
6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
It is surprising to read that the mocker seeks wisdom. His mocking and scoffing is a sure sign of the foolishness in which he is confirmed. He doesn’t find wisdom because he has rejected the very foundation of knowledge and wisdom and that is the fear of the Lord. Proper wisdom requires the starting place of a proper relationship. The mocker seeks the benefits of wisdom without the relationship with God. That is not a possibility. The discerning person acquires further knowledge because they have a right relationship with God.
Lord God the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord. We thank you that in Christ we have been brought into a proper relationship. Help us to constantly turn back to Your word that we might have greater discernment and knowledge and that this might guard our hearts and our lips, because we ask this in our Saviour’s name. Amen.