The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4, KJV). The first half of the proverb is easy enough to understand, but it is the latter half that causes some a degree of difficulty. Let us consider the first half. When the Almighty created all that exist, He created it for himself. There was no compelling reason for Him to do that which He did. From our underneath perspective (as part of the creation), this might be perplexing. Whatever we know concerning that which the Lord did will only be the result of Him saying something about it in the Bible. In the second half of the verse, are we to understand the Lord to have made the wicked for the day of evil? Some have actually used this verse to teach that the Lord made people wicked! This is utterly false, however. Who are the wicked and why were they made for the day of evil? “Evil” in this verse pertains to the day of judgment. Adam Clarke wrote, “He does not make the wicked or ungodly man; but when man has made himself such, even then God bears with him. But if he repent not, when the measure of his iniquity is filled up, he shall fall under the wrath of God his Maker.” RT
Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding, but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools Proverbs 14:33, NKJV). The knowledge and fear of the Lord are directly connected to wisdom. With the Lord’s wisdom residing in the heart of His servants, it is only “natural” (or should I say “spiritual”) that one will have understanding. With this understanding come clear thinking, and clear thinking gives a person a path easily seen to take. The fool, on the other hand, having none of this can’t help but the see the wisdom that belongs to another that is so much escaping him. Another perspective, in Ellicott’s Commentary, we read: “‘Wisdom rests in the heart of him that hath understanding;’ he does not care to drag it out and exhibit it, but the fool cannot keep to himself anything which he thinks he knows.” RT
A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful (Proverbs 14:25, ESV). There are a number of ways to understand this – all interrelated. First, there is the truthful witness in a trial. Perhaps one being accused will be vindicated. Second, there are words of wisdom from another wherein the recipient of those words can make immediate application and spare oneself from physical harm that could end in death. Third, and ultimate, there are the words of Jesus that save. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Thus, all who would enter the blessings of the Father must do so through Him. On the other hand, Satan will lie to whatever degree he can to destroy. All those who live his hedonistic ways might very well do the same. RT
Do they not go astray who devise evil? Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness (Proverbs 14:22, ESV). Think about what is being said here. The plotters of evil are worse than those who actually do evil. Sometimes the evil done is on the “spur of the moment” with no planning. The planner, however, has a heart that is devises evil – a lot like the devil with cunning seeking to destroy. On the other hand, the one who plans to do good not only is doing something virtuous in making plans to benefit someone else, but that which is received by them in accomplishing their plan is even greater. The positive response is sometimes greater than the action done because there is an understanding of what it means to love God and one’s neighbor.
Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor (Proverbs 14:21, ESV). Those who are of shallow substance, those who have a quality of character that is as deep as half-inch rain’s mud puddle are the quickest to lose interest in the well-being of another, especially one who is poor. In fact, as the Lord looks at it, there is no way that such a person can be saved in that state of mind. It is a state of mind that lacks love. How does one love another if there is no interest in the other person? On the other hand, those who are generous in their material goods are in great position to be generous in their words that are full of love and teaching. All this for a great purpose.
The poor is disliked even by his neighbor, but the rich has many friends (Proverbs 14:20, ESV). The KJV uses the word “hated.” Certainly a strong word, but what is it that we are to understand? It could be intense dislike, but it is probably more along the line of the actions manifested towards other people than a particular emotion (though it is certainly possible the emotion is in view). In other words, those who are economically poor have little they can offer in the way of material goods toward others that might desire or expect some material hospitality. Consequently, some people stay away from them much more readily than they do others who have money. There may be no intention to do as much, but it happens. The wealthy, or rich, have others gather around him (her), but the substance of that “friendship” is only as lasting as the money. RT
The evil bow down before the good, the wicked at the gates of the righteous (Proverbs 14:19, ESV). Many interpret this proverb in a physical, literal sort of way. I suppose this is possible (perhaps likely). I would like to suggest another application. When one thinks about those who are evil or those who are wicked (one in the same really), just how do they respond to those who are righteous? With fear! They fear what they don’t understand; they fear that life which judges them; since they can’t overcome it, though they try with a good deal of vigor, in a strange way, they bow before the righteous by recognizing the righteous life lived is right. They have, in effect, come to recognize that righteousness is powerful and a threat to them who are evil and wicked. What did the Lord say, but that every knee will bow and every voice will confess (Philippians 2:8-11). So, in one way or another, they will bow!
The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge (Proverbs 14:18, ESV). The simple in this profound saying is the naïve. Those who are naïve may be those of youth or it may be those who choose not to become wise. For those of youth, it’s a matter of experience, and the education gained from that. Those who choose not to become wise, on the other hand, it is not a matter of education, but the rejection of it. This kind of man is foolish. The Lord looks upon the wise man as one crowned with the Lord’s wisdom; this moves him through the crowed mass of ignorance.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated (Proverbs 14:17, ESV). We have seen it time and again, the quick-tempered man is the one who puts a wedge between himself and others. It is not because the quick-tempered one is wrong in his thinking or opinion, but that he thoughtlessly reacts or replies with a disposition and words that pushes the one with whom he has conversation against the figurative wall. Whatever good may have otherwise come flew away because the evil device (quick-tempered) got in the way of words that could have been well placed.
Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance (Proverbs 14:9, NKJV). The NKJV is literal, but I like the way the KJV reads: “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.” The Good News Bible reads: “Foolish people don’t care if they sin, but good people want to be forgiven.” Regardless of the translation, the point is clear: foolish people regard sin as inconsequential, something that won’t condemn them. The humble one before God, and declared righteous by Him, looks upon one’s failings much differently. The foolish one is generally avoided because of callousness and the lack of wisdom, while the humble one is much more readily accepted.