“Each heart knows its own bitterness,
and no one else can share its joy.”
~Proverbs 14:10 (NIV).
The usual suspects combine again in this chapter: diligence, exhortations to truth, approaches to wealth, the role of advice etc.
Diligence is Abundance
The first four verses speak roundly about diligence and the benefits of being morally upright in our approach to life. Quite plainly, there is abundance in the affairs of one whom walks with an attentive gait, the way of life. Respect in both speech and their ways apportioned to God-faith are the diligently-true and authentically humble found.
The Truthful Walk Straightly
Verses 5-9 have the straight thread of honesty woven through them, punishing deceit. Not only does the foolish mocker look in the wrong places for wisdom, their foolishness has blinded them to the truth that’s quite easy to see if they honestly looked. They aren’t realistically that interested in finding it. This sort of person is never a good mentor. The prudent, on the other hand, always give much honest thought to their ways.
Advice on Handling Wealth
Neighbours and wealth combine in verses 20-24. The nature of life is folly because it has little regard for the neighbour generally. Wisdom is, however, the constant consideration and respect of one’s neighbour.
And who is one’s neighbour? Well, one example is the wise always reach out to the needy. Their loving compassion drives them. And compassion converts to work, flipping us back to that continual ‘diligence’ refrain known right throughout Proverbs.
At several points this chapter initiates the discussion about our attitude to the poor—for instance, verses 20 and 31—and it also opens up a theme that will recur from now until later, particularly into Proverbs chapters 20–31. This theme is one of monarchy and nationhood, and verses 26-35 speak about the character of kingdom, and particularly what role wisdom has in the reign of a monarchy.
Of course, we should know that there are ‘monarchies’ everywhere in life; not simply do they appear in palaces or as the head of one entire nation.
Each Heart is Unique
The foremost proverb (verse 10) at the very top is intriguing as it stands out from this collection, a bit like a sore thumb, but pleasantly so. It speaks such an obscure and rational truth.
Bitterness and joy only one heart can know. For the next, there’s an altogether different resonance to that same stimuli of both bitterness and joy. No one can truly step into another’s shoes.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.