Proverbs 14-15

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

July 28, 2004

Proverbs 14

:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

For some people, every where they go they leave it better than they found it.  For others, every where they’ve been is a little dirtier and dingier.

Are you building people up or tearing them down? How do you treat the people in your family?

What if you could tape record everything that comes out of your mouth – how many things would be positive and edifying, how many things would be critical?

A woman has a huge role in building up her family.

Does your husband see you as his biggest fan or his biggest critic?

How about your kids?



There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie.

Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise: Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around.” His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.” His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.” Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.” By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.

But now his name was a little longer-the letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.

And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

Don’t tear down the house – build it up.

:4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean…


Messy, hard work

This is not a verse to use as an excuse for making messes.
The ox was one of the chief working animals – the tractor of the ancient world. But an ox also made a mess in its stall.
We say, “A messy desk is a sign of genius”.  Perhaps.
Progress makes a mess.
You can play it safe and not get messy or dirty, but you won’t get anything done.

:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way

Think about the consequences of your actions.

(Prov 14:8 NLT) The wise look ahead to see what is coming, but fools deceive themselves.

:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.


What seems right

Lots of things seem right to us – but some of those things that seem good lead to hell.
(Jer 6:16 KJV) Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
(Mat 7:13-14 NKJV) "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. {14} "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Pat Boone was interviewed shortly after Elvis’s untimely death. He said, “I cared a lot for Elvis.  But he went in the wrong direction.  Ironically, we met for the last time when I was going to do a show back east and he was going to Vegas.  He said to me, ‘Say, Pat, where are you going?’  I told him where I was going and how I looked forward to being involved in some kind of Christian ministry. He said, ‘Hey, I’m going to Vegas.  Pat, as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been going in the wrong direction.’  I answered, ‘Elvis, that just depends on where you’re coming from.’”
The gospel – follow after Jesus.

:13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful

(Prov 14:13 NLT) Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

:15 The simple believeth every word…



Sometimes Christians are the most gullible people.
Have you heard the story about the fellow that went out on a date with a cute girl he found in a bar and woke up in a tub full of ice in a hotel room in Dallas?  There was a note taped to the wall saying that he had his kidneys removed and he needed to call an ambulance.  Watch out for those cute pickups in the bar … oh … it was a hoax.  Just like the warnings about HIV infected needles at the gas pump.
When you get an e-mail warning you about some new possible threat to life on this planet, please do your homework and find out if it’s true before passing it on to everyone in your address book.

:20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour…

Simple statement of fact.

:23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.


Talk is cheap

It’s better to work than just sitting around talking.
There are people who talk about doing things for the Lord and others who actually do things.
Pay attention when people talk a lot about all the things they’re going to do.  Pay attention to what they actually accomplish.

:30 A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.

Your emotions affect your physical well-being.

Some people even listen to comedy tapes as part of their healing process.

:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker

God is the maker of the poor. Honor God by reaching out to the ones that God has made.

:32 …but the righteous hath hope in his death.

For the Christian, we have the hope of heaven.

:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

What makes America great?

Is it democracy? Is it free enterprise?

Our forefathers founded this nation under God on principles of righteousness.

Russia – they’re learning democracy and free enterprise from us, but they’re also learning all our wickedness as well – gambling, pornography, drugs.

Proverbs 15

:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Choosing your words

You can pour water on the fire or gasoline.

:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life…

I think about what has happened to stand-up comedy.  Today everything has to be perverse.  It’s fun to listen to a comedian who doesn’t have a foul mouth.

:5 …but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.


A man was on the golf practice course, when the club pro, Maury, brought an important-looking man out for a lesson.  Maury watched the guy swing several times and started making suggestions for improvement, but each time the pupil interrupted with his own versions of what was wrong and how to correct it.  After a few minutes of this interference, Maury began nodding his head in agreement.  At the end of the lesson, the man paid Maury, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher and left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.

The observer was so astonished by the performance, that he had to ask, “Why did you go along with him?”

“Son,” the old pro said with a grin as he carefully pocketed his fee, “I learned long ago that it’s a waste of time to sell answers to a man who wants to buy echoes.”

:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD

Several things are called “an abomination” to the Lord in Proverbs.  Try looking them up some time as homework.

(Prov 3:32 KJV) For the froward is abomination to the LORD: but his secret is with the righteous.

(Prov 6:16-18 KJV) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: {17} A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, {18} An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

(Prov 11:1 KJV) A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

(Prov 11:20 KJV) They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight.

(Prov 12:22 KJV) Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

(Prov 15:8 KJV) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

(Prov 15:9 KJV) The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.

(Prov 15:26 KJV) The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words.

(Prov 16:5 KJV) Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.

(Prov 17:15 KJV) He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

(Prov 20:10 KJV) Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.

(Prov 20:23 KJV) Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.

We ought to think about staying away from these things, huh?

:10 Correction is grievous …



(Heb 12:11 KJV) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Discipline is tough (grievous) until you learn to grow through it and be “exercised” by it.

:11 Hell and destruction are before the LORD: how much more then the hearts of the children of men?

If even hell and destruction are in God’s presence, don’t you think He knows our hearts?

:15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.

It’s not that all the days of the afflicted are really evil, but that there’s this mentality we can take on from time to time of being an “afflicted” person.



Elijah was depressed. It looked as if the world were falling apart.  He tried to run away from his problems.

(1 Ki 19:10 KJV) And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

If we’re not careful, we can tend to look at things through the colored glasses of our moods.

Sometimes our perspective is a little off.
And it’s during those times that everything looks bad to us.


There was a farmer whose neighbor was absolutely negative, no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, “Boy, look at it rain, God’s sort of washing everything clean.” “Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood.” Then the sun would come out and he’d say, “If it keeps that up, it’s gonna just scorch the crops.” The farmer thought, “What am I gonna do to win this guy?” So he trained his dog to walk on water. He didn’t tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, “Go get ‘em.” The dog went across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet—just his paws. The farmer said, “What do you think of that?” The neighbor said, “He can’t swim, can he?”

How do we change our perspective?  How do we change our heart?

Worship God – choose to bless Him.
(Psa 103:1 KJV)  Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Be careful what you let your mind spend time on.
(Phil 4:6-9 NKJV)  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. {8} Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things. {9} The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is …

Take inventory of what you have.

We often think if we just had a little more of this or that that we’d be happy.

It’s the heart things that are best.

:18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife

Some people seem to be angry at everything.

Some people are always stirring up trouble.  Stay away.

:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.


Ask for advice


The folly of human nature is neatly summed up by the case of the middle-aged school teacher who invested her life savings in a business enterprise which had been elaborately explained to her by a swindler.
When her investment disappeared and the wonderful dream was shattered, she went to the office of the Better Business Bureau. “Why on earth,” they asked, “didn’t you come to us first?  Didn’t you know about the Better Business Bureau?”
“Oh, yes,” said the lady sadly, “I’ve always known about you. But I didn’t come because I was afraid you’d tell me not to do it.”

But be sure to weigh out all the counsel you get as well - Rehoboam asked for advice from various counsellors but took the wrong advice.

:27 He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.

gifts – bribes


The danger of greed

Greed will destroy the family.
The March 1988 Rotarian tells about a bounty of $5,000 offered for each wolf captured alive.  It turned Sam and Jed into fortune hunters.  Day and night they scoured the mountains and forests looking for their valuable prey.  Exhausted one night, they fell asleep dreaming of their potential fortune.  Suddenly, Sam awoke to see that they were surrounded by about 50 wolves with flaming eyes and bared teeth.  He nudged his friend and said, “Jed, wake up!  We’re rich!”

-- Gary C. Payne, Reidsville, North Carolina.  Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 1.

:28 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer…

Take time to respond.  Think before you answer.

:30 The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart…

(Prov 15:30 NASB)  Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones.

:33 before honour is humility.


First learn humility

(Prov 15:33 ICB) Respect for the Lord will teach you wisdom. If you want to be honored, you must not be proud.
(Prov 15:33 NLT) Fear of the LORD teaches a person to be wise; humility precedes honor.
Before you can be honored, you need to learn humility.
The way “up” is to go “down”.
(Mark 9:35 KJV)  And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.