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Chapter 14

Wisdom builds her house,
    but Folly tears hers down with her own hands.[a]
Those who walk uprightly fear the Lord,
    but those who are devious in their ways spurn him.
In the mouth of the fool is a rod for pride,
    but the lips of the wise preserve them.
Where there are no oxen, the crib is clean;
    but abundant crops come through the strength of the bull.[b]
A trustworthy witness does not lie,
    but one who spouts lies makes a lying witness.[c](A)
The scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
    but knowledge is easy for the intelligent.
Go from the face of the fool;
    you get no knowledge from such lips.
The wisdom of the shrewd enlightens their way,
    but the folly of fools is deceit.[d]
The wicked scorn a guilt offering,
    but the upright find acceptance.
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
    and its joy no stranger shares.[e]
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
    but the tent of the upright will flourish.[f](B)
12 Sometimes a way seems right,
    but the end of it leads to death!(C)
13 Even in laughter the heart may be sad,
    and the end of joy may be sorrow.
14 From their own ways turncoats are sated,
    from their own actions, the loyal.
15 The naive believe everything,
    but the shrewd watch their steps.[g]
16 The wise person is cautious and turns from evil;
    the fool is reckless and gets embroiled.
17 The quick-tempered make fools of themselves,
    and schemers are hated.
18 The simple have folly as an adornment,
    but the shrewd wear knowledge as a crown.[h]
19 The malicious bow down before the good,
    and the wicked, at the gates of the just.
20 Even by their neighbors the poor are despised,
    but a rich person’s friends are many.(D)
21 Whoever despises the hungry comes up short,
    but happy the one who is kind to the poor![i]
22 Do not those who plan evil go astray?
    But those who plan good win steadfast loyalty.
23 In all labor there is profit,
    but mere talk tends only to loss.
24 The crown of the wise is wealth;
    the diadem of fools is folly.
25 The truthful witness saves lives,
    but whoever utters lies is a betrayer.
26 The fear of the Lord is a strong defense,
    a refuge even for one’s children.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
    turning one from the snares of death.
28 A multitude of subjects is the glory of the king;
    but if his people are few, a prince is ruined.
29 Long-suffering results in great wisdom;
    a short temper raises folly high.[j](E)
30 A tranquil mind gives life to the body,
    but jealousy rots the bones.
31 Those who oppress the poor revile their Maker,
    but those who are kind to the needy honor him.(F)
32 The wicked are overthrown by their wickedness,
    but the just find a refuge in their integrity.
33 Wisdom can remain silent in the discerning heart,
    but among fools she must make herself known.[k](G)
34 Justice exalts a nation,
    but sin is a people’s disgrace.[l]
35 The king favors the skillful servant,
    but the shameless one incurs his wrath.


  1. 14:1 The relationship between Wisdom, personified as a woman, and building a house is a constant theme. As elsewhere, the book here warns against the wrong woman and praises the right woman.
  2. 14:4 If one has no animals, one does not have the burden of keeping the crib full, but without them one will have no crops to fill the barn. Colon B reverses the sense of colon A and also reverses the consonants of bar (“clean”) to rab (“abundant”).
  3. 14:5 On discerning the truthfulness of witnesses; see 12:17.
  4. 14:8 Wisdom enables the shrewd to know their path is right but folly leads fools on the wrong path (“deceit”), which calls down retribution.
  5. 14:10 The heart in Proverbs is where a person’s sense impressions are stored and reflected upon. It is thus one’s most personal and individual part. One’s sorrows and joys (= the full range of emotions) cannot be shared fully with another. Verse 13 expresses the same individuality of the human person.
  6. 14:11 The traditional fixed pair “house” and “tent” is used to express the paradox that a house can be less secure than a tent if there is no justice.
  7. 14:15 The naive gullibly rely on others’ words whereas the shrewd watch their own steps.
  8. 14:18 The inner quality of a person, simple or wise, will eventually be revealed.
  9. 14:21 The paradox is that anyone who spurns the hungry will lack something, but anyone who shows mercy (presumably by giving to the poor) will gain prosperity.
  10. 14:29 A series of puns on short and long; lit., “long of nostrils (idiom for “patient”), large in wisdom, / short in breath (idiom for “impatient”), makes folly tall.”
  11. 14:33 Wisdom can remain silent in a wise person as a welcome friend. But it must speak out among fools, for the dissonance is so strong.
  12. 14:34 The rare noun “disgrace” occurs elsewhere only in Lv 20:17. In measuring the greatness of a nation, one is tempted to consider territory, wealth, history, but the most important criterion is its relationship to God (“justice”).