Proverbs 14–15: Deceit & Denial

Read the Bible in 2011Week 31: Thursday

The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way,
But the foolishness of fools is deceit.

Proverbs 14:8

Thursday’s Bible reading is Proverbs 14–15. These chapters are in the third section of Proverbs: “The first book of Solomon.”1 There is a lot packed in to these chapters—the topics include our speech and the folly of being quick-tempered.

Proverbs 14:8 was one of the verses that caught my attention. As the saying goes, “Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.” Bruce Waltke writes:

“This verse introduces the unit on deception by contrasting the wisdom of the shrewd to take note of the consequences of their ways with the folly of fools to deceive themselves and others….The parallelism suggests that self-deception may be in view, as well as its meaning elsewhere to deceive others….The shrewd person picks his steps according to his moral knowledge to assure himself of life (cf. 13:16). By contrast, fools, out of their moral insensitivity and intractability, scheme to victimize others, not realizing they are victimizing themselves as well.”2

As I thought about it, I realized that deception of others begins when we deceive ourselves. How do we keep from deceiving ourselves?

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9

There’s a lot in the New Testament on deceit as well. The author of Hebrews states that the deceitfulness of sin hardens our heart. Deceit is certainly part of our old self, and Peter tells us to put it aside—and do something else instead:

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
1 Peter 2:1–3

The night before He was crucified, Jesus’ prayer included this:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
John 17:17

We cannot undeceive ourselves. Only God can. He gave us His Word to teach us. His Holy Spirit uses the Bible to “truth” us. None of us can truly know the extent of our own deception—nor can we always recognize it in others (that’s why it’s deceit!). Sometimes it’s the deceit others have foisted upon us (those who have hurt or abused us), and sometimes it’s the deceit within our own heart. Derek Kidner writes of the fool:

“The root of his trouble is spiritual, not mental. He likes his folly, going back to it like a dog that returns to its vomit (26:11); he has no reverence for truth, preferring comfortable illusions (see 14:8…). At bottom, what he is rejecting is the fear of the Lord (1:29). It is this that constitutes him a fool, and this that makes his complacency tragic; for the careless ease of fools shall destroy them (1:32).”3

We must come to God in humility, asking Him to teach us wisdom.

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
James 1:21

UPDATE: I’ve added the first footnote reference that I had inadvertently omitted, and I’ve also changed the section order from the second to the third. My apologies for the inaccuracies.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1A. F. Walls, “Proverbs,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 550.
2Bruce K. Waltke, The Book Of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, pp. 588–589.
3Derek Kidner, Proverbs, p. 40.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

One thought on “Proverbs 14–15: Deceit & Denial

  1. I think part of the role of a wise counselor is to ‘undeceive’ and give clarity and understanding. That means a wise counselor himself be someone who fears the Lord and who has received the Word of God with humility, and is an effectual doer of the Word who abides by it (James 1:19-25); and by this practice he has had his senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:13-14).

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