A picture is often said to be worth a thousand words-just right for the human mind, which author William Macneile Dixon described as more of a picture gallery than a debating hall. The book of Proverbs works in the picture galleries of our minds, offering short, catchy sayings that make an impact and are memorable.
Notice the use of visual metaphors in Proverbs 14
- The erection and demolition of a house (v. 1). This is a familiar picture: wisdom builds, but folly demolishes. One leads to security, the other to devastation. The house represents one’s family, which can be strengthened or weakened.
- Lashing versus protection (v. 3). Foolish talk hurts the speaker, making him his own worst enemy, while wise, discreet words protect.
- A barn devoid of oxen-and harvest (v. 4). The absence of oxen means that ploughing is not being done. A productive life may be messy, but it leads to growth and results. Investing in oxen comes at a cost, but it reaps benefits.
- A house versus a tent (v. 11). A house may seem more solid and secure than a tent, but wisdom builds up while wickedness destroys. That which is built by a righteous person will blossom like a tree, bringing forth new life because of his uprightness.
- An inheritance to be avoided (v. 18). An inheritance should sustain life, but the gullible and simple will only get folly, which will destroy their lives. The prudent, on the other hand, will inherit the riches of knowledge.
- A crown (v. 24). This proverb, which concludes the section on wealth and poverty (vv. 20-24), notes the blessing of material benefits upon those who are wise because of their diligence (v. 23). In contrast, folly pays a dividend-more folly.
- A fortress and a refuge (v. 26). The Lord gives the greatest security to those who fear Him, and their families.
- The life-giving fountain and a deadly snare (v. 27; see also 13:14). Reverence for the Lord will deliver us from death and give us life.
- A healthy body versus diseased bones (14:30). A contented life is good for the body, but envy and constant striving is unhealthy.
The attractiveness of following the Lord and His ways can be seen in the various images used in this chapter: from a house, a crown, and a fortress to a gushing fountain and a healthy body. Security and satisfaction is elusive unless we turn to the Lord and walk in His ways; only He can give true security and truly satisfy.
Proverbs 14 reminds us that God’s ways and wisdom lead to security, protection, deliverance, a rich harvest, blessing, health, and true life.
Which of the images in Proverbs 14 strike you? How can you apply the lessons they illustrate to your life?
The image of a shelter is used in verses 1 and 11. What kind of ″house″ are you building in your life?