Looks Can Be Deceiving | Proverbs 14:12 Meditation

As the old saying goes, “looks can be deceiving.” It may seem that many of those living contrary to God’s will have prosperity, happiness, etc. Yet, in the end, living in such a way leads to self-destruction (cf. Psalm 1).

As stated previously, following a manufacturer’s instructions for a product to get the most out of that product only makes sense. Following the Manufacturer of Life’s instructions to get the most out of life only makes sense.

  1. Text
  2. C4C Translation
  3. Commentary
    1. Chiastic Structure (of Prov 14:8-15)
    2. The Easy, Wrong Way(s)
    3. The One, Right Way (of Life)
  4. Memorization

Text

12 יֵ֤שׁ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יָ֭שָׁר לִפְנֵי־אִ֑ישׁ וְ֝אַחֲרִיתָ֗הּ דַּרְכֵי־מָֽוֶת׃2





Translation

There is a way that seems right to a person,

     but its end are ways of death

Commentary

Chiastic Structure

While many proverbs may seem to be arranged somewhat randomly, Proverbs 14:8-15 appears to be structured chiastically.

A: The prudent and the fools (v. 8)
     B: Making amends for sin (v. 9)
          C: Secrets of the heart (v. 10)
               D: Destruction of the wicked (v. 11)
               D´: The way to death (v. 12)
          C´: Secrets of the heart (v. 13)
     B´: Being repaid for sin (v. 14)
A´: The simple and the prudent (v. 15)3

Life Is Deceptive4

The theme of Prov 14:8-15 appears to be the deceptive nature of life. While the simple believe anything and fall for deception, the prudent give thought to how they live (Prov 14:8, 15). Also, fools do not think making amends for sins is necessary, but the faithless will eventually be repaid for their transgressions (Prov 14:9, 14). Moreover, even if a person is laughing or rejoicing on outwardly, no one knows what they are thinking/feeling on the side (Prov 14:10, 13 cf. 1 Cor 2:12)

In the central point of the chiasm (D and D’, Prov 14:11,12), we find that the seemingly long-standing house of the wicked will be destroyed while the seemingly temporary tent of the upright (אַחֲרִית |ʾaḥărît) will flourish (Prov 14:11). Furthermore, there is a way that seems morally (up)right (אַחֲרִית | ʾaḥărît) to a person, but it leads to death (Prov 14:12).5

“The message of the whole is to avoid a superficial analysis of the lessons of life” (emphasis added).

The Easy, Wrong Way(s)

The way that seems right to us (cf. Prov 12:15, Prov 16:25) may be referring to a “seeming short cut to success.”6 If there is a way that seems easy, a wise person should “look beneath the surface of appearances.”7

In addition, in the second verset of the proverb, the formerly singular way is now plural (“ways”) — perhaps referring to several wrong behaviors flowing from the deceptive way of life.8

The One, Right Way (of Life)

In Proverbs, way ( דֶּרֶך | derek) figuratively refers to one’s way or path of life.10

Also, this proverb certainly calls to memory the words of The Way, The Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). Jesus says:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Mt 7:13-14, NIV).11

We must trust in the LORD and in His word, not on our own limited understanding (cf Prov. 3:5). For  things are not always what they appear to be.”12

The house of the wicked is annihilated because it is built on the flimsy foundation of human epistemology, the relative truth accessible to human sight. Only the omniscient, omnipotent God knows the true road that leads to life, reality as it actually is.13

Believing in God is not “blind faith,” it is trusting without complete (in)sight. It is trusting that, regardless of what seems right in our minds, the One who gave us life ultimately knows what is best for our lives. The only right way is God’s way.

Memorization

Memorize Proverbs 14:12 after watching a brief video tutorial demonstrating the How to Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method below:

Sources

  1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (Logos Bible Software, 2006), Pr 14:12.
  2. Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 142.
  3. “Life is often deceptive, and the text here implicitly exhorts readers not to be taken in by appearances.” Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 142.
  4. Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 143.
  5. Derek Kidner, Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 17, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1964), 102.
  6. Tremper Longman III, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 300.
  7. “The plural the ways now discretizes his way, which he thought right, into its many behaviors, which in fact were devious and sinful (see 2:13; 3:31; 16:2), as shown by the outcome, death (māwet, the abode of the dead; see 2:18; 10:2.” Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 591.
  8. “The path image frequently denotes one’s life course, particularly in chaps. [Proverbs 1-9]”9Tremper Longman III, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 300.
  9. “The safety and destiny of a road are not always as they appear (Matt. 7:13, 14).” Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 591. “Those who know the NT cannot help but think of Jesus’s words in Matt. 7:13–14…” Tremper Longman III, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 300.
  10. Roland E. Murphy and O. Carm, “Proverbs,” in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, ed. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 69.
  11. Bruce K. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004), 592.
About @DannyScottonJr 133 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student