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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 14
14 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.
7 Stay away from a fool,
for you will not find knowledge on their lips.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
but the folly of fools is deception.
9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
but goodwill is found among the upright.
10 Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and rejoicing may end in grief.
14 The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways,
and the good rewarded for theirs.
15 The simple believe anything,
but the prudent give thought to their steps.
16 The wise fear the Lord and shun evil,
but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
17 A quick-tempered person does foolish things,
and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 Evildoers will bow down in the presence of the good,
and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor are shunned even by their neighbors,
but the rich have many friends.
21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor,
but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.
22 Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.
23 All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
24 The wealth of the wise is their crown,
but the folly of fools yields folly.
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.
31 Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.
33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin condemns any people.
35 A king delights in a wise servant,
but a shameful servant arouses his fury.
Proverbs 14 is separated into three main sections that tackle one topic each:
- Results of foolishness versus the results of wisdom
- Fates of the wicked and the righteous
- Miscellaneous topics of importance
We see in the first section of verses that wisdom produces preservation, strength, knowledge and understanding, and ultimately eternal flourishing. When we read the pros and cons of wisdom and foolishness, it is easy to say, “Well then I will just be wise!” However, it is not that easy. We see in verse 12 that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The reality is that what seems right to our sinful and wretched minds leads us to sin. We know from Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” Therefore, we can follow that following worldly foolishness (even if the world deems it to be wise) will surely lead to complete and utter destruction.
If that is the case, then how can we experience eternal flourishing? There is only one way: God’s Wisdom. We see a common theme of patience expressed in this chapter for those who are wise. Verses 15 and 16 say that fools “believe everything” and are “reckless and careless.” The wise “give thought to their steps” and are “cautious and turn away from evil.” This shows us something that can completely change our lives.
The world says “trust your instinct” and “follow your heart.” If we did this, we would be led on a straight path to death. Don’t believe the words of the world. Believe the words of the Creator of the world. Don’t follow your sinful heart, follow His pure heart. God’s wisdom may not make sense to us, or especially to the world. However, it will lead to a life that produces real fruit.
Verses 26 through 29 show us how to receive this wisdom from God. It starts by possessing a righteous fear of the Lord. We cannot fear the Lord if we don’t know the Lord and if we don’t also know the characteristics of the Lord. The Lord is loving and forgiving. He is also a righteous judge that has wiped out entire nations for sin. He is both loving and righteous. This should bring us to a rightful place of thankfulness, fear, and reverence for our great and holy God.
The final verses remind us that we do not have to do this alone. Verse 28 says “In a multitude of people is the glory of a king.” If we want to truly experience the wisdom of the Lord, not trust our sinful minds, and not fall into the temptations of the world, we must be surrounded by those who know Jesus and are pointing us to Him. This can look like a Life Group, a local church body, a friend group of fellow believers, and much more.
- As you navigate the complexities of life, are you surrounded by other believers? How have they (with the power of the Holy Spirit) helped you avoid foolishness?
- How has “following your heart” led you astray in the past?
- What is your process for navigating decisions? How can you start to invite counsel from others (if you’re not already in the practice of doing so)?
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