The Fear of the Lord and the Upright Life

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down (14:1).

B Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him (14:2).

A1 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them (14:3).

The text talks about the effect of wisdom and folly. A and A1 give parallel meanings. In v. 1, wisdom builds a house. But folly destroys it. In v. 3, wisdom preserves the wise. But folly hurts the foolish.

Yet the main point is in v. 2. The one who walks in uprightness fears the Lord. The word, “uprightness” (Heb. yashar) means, “straightness,” or “rightness” (BDB). The upright man is one who follows God’s law. He walks in the straight paths of God’s law.

Conversely, one who is “devious” (Heb. luz) is one who “turns aside” or “departs” (BDB) from the straight paths of God’s law. Thus, the fear of the Lord is manifested in a straight life. But despising the Lord is seen in a crooked life.

What is the writer saying here? If you do what is right, you will bring good to your life. If you do what is wrong, you will bring bad to your life. But your attitude towards God, whether you fear God or despise God, is the determining factor of what is good or bad.[1]

It is good that your wisdom builds a house. It is bad that your folly destroys it. It is good that your wise words preserve your life. It is bad that your foolish words punish you. But at the end of the day, what makes it good or bad is whether you fear God or not.

The confirmation that you fear God is your upright life. The evidence that you fear God is your obedience to God. The proof that you fear God is your straight walk with God.


[1] Garrett, Proverbs, 140.

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