Read Proverbs 14:1 – 7. In this section, we again see several stark contrasts between wise and foolish behavior. Perhaps the most difficult and interesting contrast occurs in Verse Four. Literally, the first phrase reads, “No oxen, a crib of grain.” Paired with the second phrase, we come understand. If one has no oxen, animals used to prepare and harvest a field, no crops can be brought to the manger to feed any animals, including the oxen, but if one has oxen, they produce a return greater than their investment. A modern version of this proverb might be, “It takes money to make money.” When put into context with the passage, it suggests that the wise invest in things which pay off. The foolish expect a return with no investment. Are there areas in your life where you are expecting a return without a significant investment, perhaps in career advancement, parenting, marriage, or in your spiritual life with God? What can you do to invest more?
Read Proverbs 14:8 – 15. Verse Ten, one of five verses in this chapter which speak of the heart, doesn’t follow the usual pattern. Instead of a contrast between good and bad, it simply makes an observation. Although the wise may live in community and may interact in prudent ways with his fellows, he or she still experiences things no one else but God can understand. This verse may serve as a reminder that treating Proverbs like a recipe or formula book doesn’t work, that deep inside we must look to God for the strength to face what we face. Is there an experience you’ve had recently for which you’ve lacked words to explain? Have you privately talked with God about it?
Read Proverbs 14:16 – 27. This section is bounded by verses hailing those who “fear” the Lord. Fear is a word we seldom use in our worship of God. We prefer to talk about his love. Yet, fear is a healthy response to one who not only is responsible for creating us, but judges our thoughts, actions, and hearts. That fear is a “secure fortress” and a “fountain of life,” providing us with confidence to know that we can’t be overcome. It also becomes a refuge for our children. Do you ever think of God as one to be feared? If your children described the God they see you follow, how would they describe Him?
Read Proverbs 14:27 – 35. These verses speak several times of kings and ruling. Do those over whom you have authority see your faith acted out? Why or why not?
Choose one proverb from this chapter, which fits your life today. Memorize it. Read it aloud several times, emphasizing a different word each time. Close your eyes and recite it. Repeat this process several times until you are confident you know it. Pray and ask God to bring it to mind several times today. Recite it mentally each time it occurs to you. At the end of the day, take a moment to consider how it has applied to your life.