“The Tent of the Upright Ones Will Flourish”
WHEN the storm of Har–Magedon breaks loose and brings an end to Satan’s wicked system of things, “the house of wicked people will be annihilated.” What about “the tent of the upright ones”? Why, in the new world of God’s making, it “will flourish.”—Proverbs 14:11.
Until the time when ‘the wicked are cut off from the very earth and the treacherous are torn away from it,’ however, the blameless must exist side by side with them. (Proverbs 2:21, 22) Can the upright ones flourish under these circumstances? Verses 1 to 11 of Proverbs chapter 14 in the Bible book of Proverbs show that by letting wisdom guide our speech and actions, we can enjoy a measure of prosperity and stability even now.
When Wisdom Builds Up a Household
Commenting on the wife’s influence on the welfare of the family, King Solomon of ancient Israel says: “The truly wise woman has built up her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) How does a woman possessing wisdom build up her household? A wise woman respects God’s arrangement of headship. (1 Corinthians 11:3) She is not influenced by the spirit of independence that permeates Satan’s world. (Ephesians 2:2) She is in submission to her husband and speaks well of him, increasing the respect others may have for him. A wise woman takes an active part in the spiritual and practical education of her children. She works hard for the good of the household, making the home a pleasant and comfortable place for the family. Her style of management is marked by prudence and economy. A truly wise woman contributes to the prosperity and stability of her household.
A foolish woman lacks respect for God’s arrangement of headship. She does not hesitate to speak ill of her husband. Not being thrifty, she squanders the household’s hard-earned resources. She also wastes time. As a result, the house is not well kept, and the children suffer physically and spiritually. Yes, the foolish one tears down her household.
What, though, determines whether a person is wise or foolish? Proverbs 14:2 states: “The one walking in his uprightness is fearing Jehovah, but the one crooked in his ways is despising Him.” The upright one fears the true God, and “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) A truly wise person knows that it is his obligation to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) On the other hand, the foolish one follows a course that is not in harmony with God’s standards of uprightness. His ways are crooked. Such a person despises God, saying in his heart: “There is no Jehovah.”—Psalm 14:1.
When Lips Are Guided by Wisdom
What can be said about the speech of a person who fears Jehovah and of the one who despises Him? “The rod of haughtiness is in the mouth of the foolish one,” says the king, “but the very lips of the wise ones will guard them.” (Proverbs 14:3) Lacking the wisdom from above, a foolish person is neither peaceable nor reasonable. The wisdom that guides his steps is earthly, animal, demonic. He utters words that are contentious and arrogant. The haughtiness in his mouth stirs up much trouble for himself and others.—James 3:13-18.
The lips of a wise person guard, or protect, him, adding to his sense of well-being. How? The Scriptures state: “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) The words of a wise person are not rash or cutting. His heart meditates so as to answer. (Proverbs 15:28) His well-thought-out speech is healing—it encourages the depressed souls and refreshes the downtrodden. Rather than irritating others, his lips promote peace and calmness.
When Wisdom Guides Human Endeavors
Solomon next presents an intriguing proverb that seems to deal with the need to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of undertaking a certain task. He says: “Where there are no cattle the manger is clean, but the crop is abundant because of the power of a bull.”—Proverbs 14:4.
Commenting on the meaning of this proverb, one reference work states: “An empty crib [manger] indicates that there are no oxen [cattle] to feed, and hence one is free of the trouble of cleaning and caring for the animals, and expenses would be less. But this ‘advantage’ is offset in v[erse] 4b: without the use of oxen, it is implied, the harvest will not be great.” The farmer must choose wisely.
Would not the principle of this proverb also apply when we consider changing employment, choosing a certain type of housing, purchasing a car, acquiring a house pet, and the like? A wise person would weigh the advantages and the disadvantages and evaluate whether the endeavor is really worth the effort and expense.
When a Witness Is Wise
“A faithful witness is one that will not lie,” continues Solomon, “but a false witness launches forth mere lies.” (Proverbs 14:5) The lies of a false witness certainly can do much harm. Naboth the Jezreelite was stoned to death because two good-for-nothing men falsely testified against him. (1 Kings 21:7-13) And did not false witnesses come forward against Jesus, leading to his death? (Matthew 26:59-61) False witnesses also testified against Stephen—the first disciple of Jesus to be killed because of his faith.—Acts 6:10, 11.
A man of untruth may go unexposed for the time being, but consider his future. Jehovah hates “a false witness that launches forth lies,” states the Bible. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Such a man’s portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur—the second death—along with such wrongdoers as murderers, fornicators, and idolaters.—Revelation 21:8.
The faithful witness does not commit perjury when testifying. His testimony is not tainted with lies. However, this does not mean that he is under obligation to give full information to those who may want to bring harm to Jehovah’s people in some way. The patriarchs Abraham and Isaac withheld facts from some who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 12:10-19; 20:1-18; 26:1-10) Rahab of Jericho misdirected the king’s men. (Joshua 2:1-7) Jesus Christ himself refrained from divulging total information when doing so would have caused needless harm. (John 7:1-10) He said: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine.” Why not? So that “they may never . . . turn around and rip you open.”—Matthew 7:6.
When “Knowledge Is an Easy Thing”
Is wisdom a possession of all people? Proverbs 14:6 states: “The ridiculer has sought to find wisdom, and there is none; but to the understanding one knowledge is an easy thing.” A ridiculer, or scoffer, may seek wisdom, but true wisdom eludes him. Since a ridiculer arrogantly scoffs at the things of God, he fails to gain the basic prerequisite for wisdom—accurate knowledge of the true God. His pride and arrogance prevent him from learning about God and gaining wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2) Why does he even bother to look for wisdom? The proverb does not say, but perhaps he does so in order that others may think that he is wise.
“Knowledge is an easy thing” to an understanding person. Understanding is defined as “a mental grasp: comprehension,” “the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars.” It is the ability to connect various aspects of a subject and see the whole matter, not just the isolated parts. This proverb is saying that knowledge comes easy to a person who has this ability.
In this regard, consider your own experience of gaining knowledge of Scriptural truth. When you started to study the Bible, very likely the basic teachings about God, his promises, and his Son were among the first truths you learned. For a time they remained separate details. But as you continued to study, the pieces began to fit together and you could clearly see how various details related to Jehovah’s overall purpose for humans and the earth. The truth from the Bible became logical and connected. Learning and remembering new details then became easier because you could see where to place them in the total picture.
The wise king warns of where knowledge is not to be found. “Go away from in front of the stupid man,” he says, “for you will certainly not take note of the lips of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:7) A stupid person lacks true knowledge. Lips that utter knowledge do not belong to him. The advice is to get away from such a man, and it is wise to stay away from him. Anyone “having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”—Proverbs 13:20.
“The wisdom of the shrewd is to understand his way,” continues Solomon, “but the foolishness of stupid ones is deception.” (Proverbs 14:8) A wise person gives thought to his actions. He considers the various options that are open to him and ponders the possible outcome to which each one leads. He chooses his course wisely. What about a stupid person? He chooses a foolish way, believing that he knows what he is doing and that he is making the best choice. His foolishness deceives him.
When Wisdom Guides Relationships
The one guided by wisdom has peaceful relationships with others. “Foolish are those who make a derision of guilt,” observes the king of Israel, “but among the upright ones there is agreement.” (Proverbs 14:9) The feeling of guilt, or remorse, is a laughing matter to a fool. He has damaged relationships at home and elsewhere because he is “too arrogant to make amends” and seek peace. (The New English Bible) The upright person is willing to make allowances for the shortcomings of others. He is ready to apologize and make amends when he himself is in the wrong. Because he pursues peace, he enjoys happy and stable relationships with others.—Hebrews 12:14.
Solomon next points to a limiting factor in human relationships. He says: “The heart is aware of the bitterness of one’s soul, and with its rejoicing no stranger will intermeddle.” (Proverbs 14:10) Can we always express our innermost emotions—whether sadness or joy—to others and share with them precisely what we are experiencing? And can one at all times fully understand how another person feels? The answer to both questions is no.
As an example, consider suicidal feelings. The one having them often cannot clearly communicate these feelings to a family member or a friend. And others cannot always recognize signs of such feelings in their associates. We need not feel guilty when we do not see these signs and fail to take helpful action. This proverb also teaches that although it is comforting to turn to an empathetic friend for emotional support, humans are limited in the comfort they can offer. We may have to rely on Jehovah alone when it comes to enduring some difficulties.
“Valuable Things and Riches Are in His House”
“The house of wicked people will be annihilated,” states the king of Israel, “but the tent of the upright ones will flourish.” (Proverbs 14:11) A wicked person may prosper in this system of things and may live in a well-built house, but of what benefit will that be to him when he himself is no more? (Psalm 37:10) On the other hand, the dwelling place of an upright one may be quite humble. But “valuable things and riches are in his house,” says Psalm 112:3. What are these?
When our words and deeds are guided by wisdom, we have the “riches and glory” that exist with wisdom. (Proverbs 8:18) They include a peaceful relationship with God and our fellowman, a sense of well-being, and a measure of stability. Yes, “the tent of the upright ones” can flourish even now.
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A wise woman builds up her house
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“The tongue of the wise ones is a healing”