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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 14:14



The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his.

Adam Clarke Commentary

The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways -

  1. Who is the backslider? סוג sug .
  • The man who once walked in the ways of religion, but has withdrawn from them.
  • The man who once fought manfully against the world, the devil, and the flesh; but has retreated from the battle, or joined the enemy.
  • The man who once belonged to the congregation of the saints, but is now removed from them, and is set down in the synagogue of Satan.
  • But who is the backslider in Heart?
  • Not he who was surprised and overcome by the power of temptation, and the weakness of his own heart.
  • But he who drinks down iniquity with greediness.
  • Who gives cheerful way to the bent of his own nature, and now delights in fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and of the mind.
  • Who loves sin as before he loved godliness.
  • What are his own ways? Folly, sin, disappointment, and death; with the apprehension of the wrath of God, and the sharp twingings of a guilty conscience.
  • What is implied in being filled with his own ways? Having his soul saturated with folly, sin, and disappointment. At last ending here below in death, and then commencing an eternal existence where the fire is not quenched, and under the influence of that worm that never dieth. Alas, alas! who may abide when God doeth this?
  • And a good man shall be satisfied from himself -
    1. Who is the good man? (טוב איש ish tob ).
  • The man whose heart is right with God, whose tongue corresponds to his heart, and whose actions correspond to both.
  • The man who is every thing that the sinner and backslider are not.
  • He shall be satisfied from himself - he shall have the testimony of his own conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has his conversation among men.
  • 3. He shall have God's Spirit to testify with his spirit that he is a child of God. He hath the witness in himself that he is born from above. The Spirit of God in his conscience, and the testimony of God in his Bible, show him that he belongs to the heavenly family. It is not from creeds or confessions of faith that he derives his satisfaction: he gets it from heaven, and it is sealed upon his heart.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    Shall be satisfied - These words are not in the original. Repeat the verb from the first clause, “He who falls away from God in his heart, shall be filled with his own ways; and the good man (shall be filled) with that which belongs to him.”

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Proverbs 14:14

    The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.

    The back-slider in heart

    I. The general nature, symptoms, and progress of backsliding. The idea of backsliding is that of gradually receding from an object full in view. It is not the turning back as in the case of those who forsook the Saviour, it is rather like those who, moving against the stream, rest upon their oars. The backslider is one who has had some views and some experience, whether real or supposed, of true religion: there may even have been some enjoyment in the things of religion; but after some progress there is a gradual declension, a loss of taste and enjoyment, a decline in ardour and zeal. Particular symptoms of backsliding may be seen--

    1. In the manner in which the secret duties of religion are attended to.

    2. In attendance at public worship.

    3. In the conduct, temper, and conversation. The progress of backsliding is from bad to worse. There is a gradual relinquishment of principle, an increasing laxity of practice, and an abuse of Christian privileges into an excuse for sin.

    II. The awful consequences of backsliding. “Shall be filled with his own ways.” View the backslider. He has lost his delight, his enjoyment in religion. It is now an irksome task. He has gone down on the world’s ground; does he find comfort there? No, he is still dissatisfied, still perplexed. He becomes impatient, irritable; a burden to himself, a burden to others. How tremendously will the text be found true when the finally impenitent is in that place where hope never comes! (T. Webster, B.D.)

    Backslider in heart

    Only case in English Bible where the word “backslider” occurs.

    I. Describe what backsliding in heart is. To some the experience which we call “conversion “ is more consciously definite than to others. Recall the experience. If the love then felt has not continued, there is backsliding in heart. The experience is compatible with great zeal and activity, with the maintenance of sound discipline, and with decided orthodoxy. The backslider in heart is thus described in the Word of God: he has lost his first love; he is lukewarm in spirit; mixed up with the world; double-minded and faint-hearted.

    II. Some of the things that conduce to backsliding of heart.

    1. Neglect of the Word of God. Most, if not all, such backsliding may be traced to this neglect.

    2. Neglect of private prayer.

    3. Suffering sin to remain unconfessed.

    4. Want of Christian activity.

    5. Not making public profession of our love to Christ.

    III. How to deal with the backslider in heart. “He is filled with his own ways.” It is not easy to awaken his interest. It is always difficult to reach his conscience. Argument does not succeed. The only thing to do is to bring them back to their first experience. They must come to Jesus afresh. (W. P. Lockhart.)

    Progressive backsliding

    Backsliding in heart necessarily supposes an antecedent rectitude of principle. A man may be a backslider in heart even when he cannot be charged with an open notorious sin. A man may, through the violence of temptation, be led into evil without commencing back-sliding in heart. The case of the text is illustrated in Ephraim. In him we may trace the believer in the warmth of espousal love; in all the stages of heart-backsliding, till even surfeited with his own ways; as well as in the humbled state of restoration to his God and Saviour. The first stage of backsliding is a divided heart. Figures are changed, and the divided heart dwindles into an empty vine. A person may have made great advances in heart-backsliding, yet keep up a profession of religion. Let a professor once dwindle into an empty vine, it is much if he makes no further advances in heart-backsliding. The next stage is self-conceit. Then, with Ephraim, the backslider makes altars to sin. Then he becomes like a wild ass’s colt in the wilderness, snuffing up the wind and following the east wind. And a final aggravation is dealing deceitfully with God. Heart-backslidings may be long hid from the view of man, and may be of such a nature that they cannot become matters of Church examination. God is represented as commiserating Ephraim’s wretched case. God will give no countenance to his iniquity, nor in any way connive at his sin. God will at last withdraw from him. What can now be expected but Ephraim’s final ruin and everlasting overthrow? (John Macgowan.)

    On backsliding

    I. Is it, then, inquired, in what does this backsliding consist?

    1. Let it be remarked, that it may be dated from becoming stationary in religious attainments. If the believer be making no progress in his course, nor attaining to greater proficiency in Christian experience, there exists some radical and internal defect. Already in heart he is deviating from God. Is he not growing in knowledge? Is his relish for Divine objects not becoming stronger? Does he experience no increasing keenness of appetite for spiritual provision? He must then be denominated a backslider, as the deficiency of requisite augmentation in these respects manifests that the present state of his heart is not altogether right with God.

    2. Again, it consists in the real decline of those holy dispositions implanted in the soul by the Holy Spirit. The highest state of backsliding into which the genuine believer may fall is the indulgence in any flagrant or atrocious sin. Witness the egregious faults of Noah and Lot, of David and Peter.

    II. Let us now attend to the causes and symptoms of this spiritual disease.

    1. Let it be recollected in general, that the primary cause of this grievous disorder is the corruption, depravity, and deceitfulness of the human heart. From this contaminated source all deviation from God originates.

    2. One particular cause and symptom of backsliding is the intermission of religious duties, the appointed means of increase. It is well known that exercise and employment are necessary to preserve and promote health. Similar is the case with the Christian. Religious exercises and engagements are indispensably requisite for the advancement of gracious habits. The neglect of these will invariably induce declension. Let it suffice to mention two secret duties, inattention to which is particularly productive of declension. These are prayer and self-examination. The former is absolutely requisite for supporting the vital principle of grace, in a lively and prosperous condition. According to the comparisons of some worthy old divines, it is to the soul what the lungs are to the body. The other closet-duty specified as so needful for the prosperity of the soul is self-examination. “They,” says a certain writer, “who in a crazy vessel navigate a sea wherein are shoals and currents innumerable, if they would keep their course or reach their port in safety, must carefully repair the smallest injuries, often throw out their line, and take their observations. In the voyage of life, also, the Christian who would not make shipwreck of his faith, while he is habitually watchful and provident, must make it his express business to look into his state, and ascertain his progress.” Did we observe an extensive trader entirely neglect his books, and extremely averse to have them examined, a considerable suspicion and strong presumption would be instantly excited, that according to the vulgar phrase, he is going back in the world. (The Christian Magazine.)

    Backsliders in heart

    The bell-buoy must ring out over the rock all the time because the rock is there all the time. The reason the Bible warns so much about backsliding is because we are always in danger of backsliding. A disease may be eating our life away; our ship in the fog may be drifting upon a rocky coast. We are only in the greater danger if not aware of it. Backsliding begins unexpectedly: like a dangerous disease, it steals into our system so secretly that the utmost vigilance is necessary lest we be taken unawares.

    I. Let us know, first, that backsliding begins in the heart. The leaves of a fruit-tree begin to fade, curl up, and wither; no fulness of life, no fruit. You suspect a worm--something gnawing at the seat of life--the heart. Men fall as trees do--after gradual decay at the heart (Proverbs 4:23; Hosea 10:2).

    II. Well to remember, also, that a backslider in heart is not always a backslider in life. Indeed, he is often a zealous worker in external things; shows honest pride in all Church success. Also keeps up the forms of personal and public Christian duty faithfully, etc. But the form without the power (2 Timothy 3:5). Rich--poor (Revelation 3:17).

    III. Note, also, some of the signs or indications of having backslidden.

    1. Loss of relish for private devotions. He may keep them up, but does not enjoy them as formerly (John 15:9).

    2. Loss of interest in God’s Word. He may continue to read, but not to love as before (Psalms 119:11; Psalms 119:97).

    3. Thinking lightly of sin (Song of Solomon 2:5; Genesis 19:20).

    4. Loss of zeal in spiritual work. He does no soul-winning work (2 Timothy 4:2).

    IV. Again, consider what are some of the causes of backsliding.

    1. Getting off guard. Unwatched avenues of approach (Mark 14:38).

    2. Love of the world. When the world is in, Christ is out (1 John 2:15).

    3. The habitual neglect of a single known duty (Jonah 1:1-3).

    4. The habitual indulgence of a single known sin. Compromising; sparing the little one, etc. (2 Samuel 12:7).

    V. Lastly, bear in mind some of the results of backsliding in heart. “Shall be filled with his own ways.” Not God’s ways for His followers.

    1. With ways of doubt. Backsliding in heart, how often doubt begins! (Psalms 73:11). 2, Ways of fault-finding. Everything looks weary because the heart is wrong (Exodus 16:2-3).

    3. Ways of alienation. Forsaking the Saviour and His service (Malachi 3:13-15).

    4. Ways of despair. Saddest human condition (1 Samuel 28:6; 1 Samuel 28:15). Are you conscious of having backslidden even the least? (Evangelist.)

    Is goodness advancing or receding

    The heart is obedient to some law of heaven; the waters fail to flow by the attraction of sun and moon. In some parts of the globe the sea is gradually gaining on the land; in others it is gradually receding and leaving the land dry and bare. Are the full and cleansing waters of eternal life gaining on our coasts or no? (Christian Age.)

    Spiritual decline

    I suppose it would be difficult to describe the causes and workings of consumption and decline. The same kind of disease is common among Christians. It is not that many Christians fall into outward sin, and so on, but throughout our Churches we have scores who are in a spiritual consumption--their powers are all feeble and decaying. They have an unusually bright eye--can see other people’s faults exceedingly well--and sometimes they have a flush on their cheeks, which looks very like burning zeal and eminent spiritual life, but it is occasional and superficial. “Vital energy is at a low ebb: they do not work for God like genuinely healthy workmen; they do not run in the race of His commandments like athletic racers, determined to win the prize; the heart does not beat with a throb moving the entire man, as a huge engine sends the throbbings of its force throughout the whole of the machinery; they go slumbering on, in the right road it is true, but loitering in it. They do serve God, but it is by the day, as we say, and not by the piece; they do not labour to bring forth much fruit--they are content with here and there a little shrivelled cluster upon the topmost bough. That is the state of mind I want to describe, and it is produced in ninety-nine out of every hundred of believers by a long course of prosperity and absence of spiritual trouble. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    A good man shall be satisfied from himself.

    The world s wonder, a contented mind

    No search is more vain than the search for a contented man. We have made happiness and contentment to be something outside of ourselves. In the text are three paradoxes.

    I. A good man. Goodness is an internal quality. The good man is whole within, sound within. Hence his satisfaction; all health is within. Piety has its own internal resources and powers. There is a pretty story told of a king, Shah Abbas, who in his travels met with a shepherd. He found him to be so wise that he elevated him to great power: he became a great statesman. But it was discovered, many years after, that he frequently went to a lonely house, of which he kept the key; there it was supposed he kept his treasure; nay, it was supposed that there he hatched schemes against his royal master; thither, it was thought, traitors might resort. The whispering courtiers persuaded the king to break open the door, in order that all the villainy may be laid bare, and there was found an empty room, save that his shepherd’s wallet and staff, and crook, and old coat were there. “Hither,” said he, “I come, in order that if I ever am tempted to think more highly of myself than I ought to think, I may be rebuked by remembering my origin, and what my rise has done for me.” Contentment is containment; the idea in it is that of having learned the lesson of self-sufficing and self-sustaining. Contentment is a sense of possession; a sense of satisfied want.

    II. A man satisfied. The lives of most men are passed in fretfulness. To fret is to fray out; fretfulness wears life threadbare. Contentment is the science of thankfulness. The causes of discontent are idleness, living to no purpose. It is only in self-occupation that we have self-possession.

    III. The source of the satisfaction. “From himself.”

    1. The holy man is satisfied with the object and foundation of his faith.

    2. In the evidence of his religion.

    3. In the ordinances of the sanctuary.

    4. In the law of life.

    5. In the apportionment and destiny of the world.

    There may be four replies to the question, Are you satisfied?

    A good man, or moral excellence

    What is a good man? What is goodness in man? A thing is good in the sense of being adapted for a certain end, which may be supposed to be the object of its existence. Good is the right direction of power and capacity in anything and everything. Evil is the wrong direction, or the abuse of power and capacity. Evil is possible through the liberty of the creature, wherein any and every power can be used or abused--rightly or wrongly directed. Evil is possible only through the freedom of the creature; it extends just as far as that freedom extends; and it consists in a misdirection and abuse of the powers that are essentially good, as given by God. A good man is simply a man who so uses all the powers God has put within his reach that they shall most perfectly answer the end God designed. We have, to guide us towards and in the right direction of all powers, these three principles:

    1. That everything be done for the highest good of mankind generally, or of other men, not for self.

    2. That it be done in the best, most perfect manner possible to the doer.

    3. That in doing it, we recognise that universal design of a Father’s love under which the well-being of any creature, and of the whole universe, is possible. He whose life embodies these principles is a good man. Good and bad men are not born such, nor made such by external power. They become such freely. How universal is the application of this principle I Every single thing that a man does involves either the use or abuse of some power that he possesses. The great good of man is ever inward, intellectual, spiritual. The main element of power will be, that the good man is seeking to reach some ideal of life, the source of his inspiration, and the object of his most ambitious hopes. (S. Fager, B.A.)

    The good man satisfied from himself

    This sentiment sounds more akin to the proud spirit of the stoical philosophy than the humble spirit of revealed religion. That philosophy taught its disciples to aspire after an absolute and universal independence. It insisted that the “wise man” should not look abroad for happiness in any direction, but find it in himself absolutely. Scripture seeks to make men independent in a way that is possible, and by means that are good. Man, as a finite creature, must always be dependent. He cannot revolve upon his own centre, and look abroad far nothing. God only is self-existent and self-sufficing. Who needs to be told that mankind generally do not find happiness by searching for it in their own bosoms? This text does not teach that a good man’s happiness is enjoyed in absolute independence of all created things, much less of the one Uncreated. Nor does it teach that he is called on to deny himself the moderate use of such things as Providence may put within his reach, and to which his nature is adapted. It simply teaches that the good man is satisfied from himself, in opposition to outward, temporal blessings as chief, indispensable, and absolute grounds of support. The souls of God’s real servants are made His habitation through the Spirit, and this indwelling is attended with a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. The witness of the Spirit of God to the spirit of man essentially involves happiness--a happiness which is independent of all things else, and which is enjoyed, both spontaneously and on reflection. Those dispositions and habits which are the fruits of the Spirit make the human soul a treasure-house of happiness, and render their possessor to a great degree independent of all created things; but this same happiness may be made a subject of reflection, and be heightened by it. The gift of the Spirit in man, the testimony of the Spirit to a man, the fruits of the Spirit upon a man, these things are internal and exhaustless. A man so favoured and endowed is satisfied from himself, for various reasons--because he is not tormented with apprehensions of God’s wealth; because he is more or less delivered from the dominion of the passions which embitter human life; because he has acquired tastes and tempers which essentially and spontaneously produce peace and joy; because reflection on what has been done for him and in him is a further source of comfort; and because he has a positive hope full of immortality, which cheers him in every trial, and burns brighter and brighter as the darkness of outward tribulation thickens around him. What is thus set forth as doctrine has been thousands of times realised in human experience. God’s people have often been found maintaining a marvellous independence by simply depending upon God, and to have been satisfied with themselves because God was in them. Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and John. At the best, human life is a chequered thing. With the good, evil is everywhere mingled--largely mingled. Every heart knows its own bitterness, and every heart has its own. It is clear that if happiness and satisfaction are to be found at all, they must be found within. (W. Sparrow, D.D.)

    The good man’s self-satisfaction

    The parallelism of this verse is an illustration of the great law of sowing and reaping. Now we take the good man and the satisfaction flowing from himself. There must be some people in the world whom we rightly call good men. The phrase is a frequent one in the Scriptures. In our Lord’s teachings we are directed both to the origin and end, the source and manifestation, of goodness. He says, “Purify the inward life; put the heart right, for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’” Observe the difference between the good man of the Bible and the good man of society. The good man of the Bible is a man of religious faith and devotion, of communion with God, and sanctity of heart; and this Divine element flowing downwards, and working outwardly, produces the manifestations of equity, benevolence, industry, prudence, and all “holy conversation and godliness.” The good man of the world builds uphill from the earth. He attends to the personal virtues from a consideration of their tendency to benefit him; from self-respect, from contempt of vice, or dread of its evil consequences. He cultivates the social virtues from calculation, or from amiable sentiment and disposition. But in all this he builds upward--he stands upon the earth, and never gets into that higher region in which the goodness of the good men of the Bible begins. Virtue is not holiness. They differ from each other in nature, origin, and end.

    1. The satisfaction of the good man arises from the circumstance that he is regulated in his character and conduct by a fixed and stable thing--by principle. The question with him is, What is duty? What is due to God? He does not live by impulse; he is not moved by passion; he is not ruled by circumstances; he does not act to secure any temporary object. These things would make any man miserable, if his satisfaction were to arise from them. In the midst of his activity the good man’s satisfaction arises from himself--from the consciousness that he acts upon principle and in the sight of God.

    2. The sentiment may be illustrated by the contrast which is often exhibited between the good man and the wicked, when the latter is called upon to eat the fruit of his own ways. We frequently find that a man has brought himself by his folly and sin--by extravagance, imprudence, and passion--into a condition of perfect thraldom, and perhaps of peril, from which it is impossible to liberate himself. The man has brought such wretchedness into his heart, such poverty and distress upon his family, is so tied and bound by the consequences of his own conduct, that he has no power to help himself, and if relieved at all, it must be by the interference of others, and at the expense of his own character. Now, in a ease like that, the man so relieved is satisfied; but he is not “satisfied from himself.” The good man, on the contrary, is not only preserved from such pain and wretchedness, but is placed in circumstances, the result of a wise and holy course of conduct, as to be able to help others.

    3. The satisfaction of a good man arises from his being preserved from the sting and reproach of an evil conscience. This is somewhat of a negative expression, but it is a great and positive blessing. It is something a man has not--that is, he has not a disturbed, pained, and lacerated conscience.

    4. Consider also the positive and increasing pleasure, the growing delight, of the good man’s soul. It is not wrong for a man to reflect with grateful complacency upon actions that are good. A man who has lived a life of active goodness, and can reflect on a long series of deeds that will bear reflection, has a source of essentially high, and pure, and profound satisfaction within him.

    Lessons from this theme:

    1. The subject, properly understood, is in exact harmony with evangelical truth.

    2. It is important to examine our condition, and the relationship we sustain to God and goodness.

    3. If by God’s grace men have been brought into a state of harmony with God and all that is good, and if their life, inward and outward, is in such harmony that it is ministering, as it were, to their souls a secret blessed satisfaction, they should be very careful not to put the harp out of tune. Good men, Christian men, by giving way to temptation, by committing sin, have interfered with the harmonious movements of their life, and got out of health.

    4. Learn to have a noble and manly view of life. Live for duty, not for pleasure; for principle, not for expediency; for the approbation of God, not for the praise of men. Let us think not about immediate and temporal, but ultimate and external results. (T. Binney.)

    The self-sufficient life

    (with John 4:14):--Why put these clauses together? Surely you will say, “To illustrate a truth by way of contrast”: for does the one not point to a man who is satisfied from the fountain of a human morality, while the other views an indwelling Christ as the spring of ceaseless satisfaction The words of Christ are an exegesis of Solomon’s words. Both proclaim the self-sufficiency of the spiritual life. Our subject is the self-sufficient life.

    I. It arises from its inwardness. Solomon says a good man is satisfied from “himself”; Christ that the water He gives is “in him.” But what is the living water which Christ gives? Christ tells us it is eternal life. The fountain itself is Jesus “glorified in the heart by the Holy Ghost.” Note the inwardness of the “Well”--“from himself” says Solomon, “in him” says Christ. But where? In what part of man does Christ dwell? At the moment of regeneration Christ enters the deepest being of man--enters that which underlies all faculties--changes it; makes it His Holy of Holies, and from it works through the whole range of man’s nature. Christ dwells in man--in that mysterious something which transcends consciousness which thinks, loves, imagines, wills. This seat of Christ in the regenerate, underneath the faculties of the man, explains how he possesses ceaseless happiness, undisturbed peace, unbroken tranquillities.

    II. It arises from its self-activity. Look at the “Well.” This is Christ Himself, in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily--i.e., the unlimited attributes and life of the Godhead--all grace, all glory, all power. This Divine Well is not like the pool of Bethesda, whose stagnant waters had to be stirred by an angel’s hand before they could live with virtue and healing power. The fulness of Jesus Christ in a man is a living fulness. It is eternally alive. The water springs up. This suggests two ideas.

    1. It brings this life before us not as mere water that springs up, but as life, a living thing, which, like all other kinds of life, takes to itself an organism, and builds itself up by the law of evolution and development, until it reaches the maturity of its being.

    2. Note the goal of its movement,--the point toward which it unfolds itself--springs up, not to the world, but up into everlasting life. Still the water, its satisfying element, is independent of the world. All along it has been so. Christ, the fountain, is eternally active. The water springs up in itself, and its final point is eternal life. We must not, however, suppose with some that this life becomes eternal, as if at first it was mortal, might die; but at some point became eternal. No. It is eternal in its germ, eternal in its initial developments. The idea of our text is quite different. It is a life which, not having its source on earth, obeys a law of nature, and seeks its original source in heaven. Man, originally formed in the image of God, seeks reunion with Him.

    III. It arises from its power to satisfy man. This is a fact of life--felt according to the spirituality of the man, the depth and riches of his Christ-experience. This lone widow, stripped of all, so utterly destitute that she has nothing to compete with Christ in her, has a joy unspeakable and full of glory. This sweet, saintly spirit, who for long has lain upon a bed of pain and sickness, who for years has seen neither grass grow nor flower bloom, who lives in that garret amid the dust and noise of the great city, has Christ in her heart, a well of water--a satisfaction, a perfect joy. The salt waters of trial and sorrow, and toil and loss may overflow us, but down in the regenerate part of man is a well of water--fresh, sweet, living, always springing up. This is the joy and peace that lie beyond the touch of time. (Hugh Mair.)

    Happiness not dependent upon our external circumstances

    The text is not intended to deny that external circumstances have considerable influence over our happiness. The sentiment is not to be taken as describing the actual condition of society. The happiness of the great mass of mankind is dependent upon external circumstances. The question before us does not lie between the influence of outward circumstances on the one hand and Divine control on the other. The text does not assert the good man’s independence of God.

    I. Two great principles of happiness, or ingredients of which it is composed.

    1. Peace of mind. Unless the mind is in a state of quietude and peace there cannot be happiness. And peace is communicated to the spirit in a direct and glorious manner through Divine influence.

    2. Expectation. Looking forward to something that we possess not.

    II. The superiority of these principles to outward circumstances.

    1. God has not chosen outward circumstances as the medium through which He imparts these elements of happiness to the mind.

    2. God has so ordered it in the economy of grace that man is the intelligent and voluntary agent in the application of these elements of happiness to his own case.

    3. Whenever our minds are under the influence of the highest principles of happiness they are not only independent of circumstances, but actually exercise a control over them. (A. G. Fuller.)

    How a man’s conduct comes home to him

    Men are affected by the course they pursue; for good or bad their conduct comes home to them. The fulness of the backslider’s misery will come out of his own ways, and the fulness of the good man’s content will spring out of the love of God which is shed abroad in his heart.

    I. The backslider. This class includes--

    1. Apostates. Those who unite them- selves with the Church of Christ and for a time act as if they were subjects of a real change of heart. Then they break away and return back to their worldliness. Such was Judas.

    2. Those who go into open sin. Men who descend from purity to careless living, and from careless living to indulgence of the flesh.

    3. Those who, in any measure or degree, even for a very little time, decline from the point which they have reached. Note the word “backslider.” He is not a back-runner, nor a back-leaper, but a back-slider; he slides back with an easy, effortless motion, softly, quietly, perhaps unsuspected by himself or anybody else. Nobody ever slides up. The Christian life is a climbing. If you would know how to back-slide, the answer is, “Leave off going forward and you will slide backward.” Note that this is a backslider in heart. All backsliding begins within, begins with the heart’s growing lukewarm. What is the backslider’s history? “He shall be filled with his own ways.” The first kind of fulness is absorption in his carnal pursuits. Then they begin to pride themselves upon their condition and to glory in their shame. Presently the backslider encounters chastisement, and that from a rod of his own making. A fourth stage is at last reached by gracious men and women. They become satiated and dissatisfied, miserable and discontented.

    II. The good man. His name and history. The text does not say he is satisfied with himself. No truly good man is ever self-satisfied. The good man is satisfied from himself. A good man is on the side of good. He who truly loves that which is good must be in measure good himself. A good man is “satisfied from himself” because he is independent of outward circumstances, and of the praise of others. The Christian man is content with the well of upspringing water of life which the Lord has placed within him. Faith is in the good man’s heart, and he is satisfied with what faith brings him. Pardon, adoption, conquest over temptation, everything he requires. Hope and love are in the good man’s heart. When the good man is enabled by Divine grace to live in obedience to God, he must, as a necessary consequence, enjoy peace of mind . . . who takes the yoke of Christ upon him, and learns of Him, finds rest unto his soul. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    A good man satisfied from himself

    That virtue is its own reward, and alone sufficient to a happy life, was an opinion in great esteem among ancient philosophers. Scripture confirms the position that a virtuous life is the best course we can take to secure our happiness. But the philosophers went much farther in their commendations of virtue. They made their virtuous man, not only regardless, but even insensible of everything that concerned the body and this life. This was talking beyond the reach of human nature. Religion, which is our reasonable service, and treats us like men, does not require unreasonable things of us. It does not pretend to make us insensible of evils, nor prohibit the use of all lawful means to prevent or remove them. Religion lays the best foundation for our happiness in this world by prescribing such rules as, if we observe them, will enable us either to avoid these temporal evils, or will support us under them. The good man will have more pleasure in the good things of this life and less of the evils than the wicked. Besides which, he has enjoyments peculiar to himself which the sinner is a perfect stranger to.

    1. A good man is most likely to escape the evils and calamities of life and to pass through this world the freest from troubles and vexations. His virtues will be a natural defence and security to him against many evils and miseries which would otherwise befall him. Most of the things which embitter human life arise from their faults and follies, their unreasonable lusts, and unruly passions. The good man places his happiness in the favour of God and the sense of his own integrity. He desires no more than he wants; and he wants no more than he can use and enjoy; and this reduces his necessities to a narrow compass. He bears an universal good-will to all mankind and is always ready to do all the good he can to others. He is sober and temperate in all his pleasures and enjoyments; and this upon a principle of religion and virtue.

    2. Whatever calamities or afflictions befall a good man he will bear them much better than other people. Disappointments are not so great to him who takes an estimate of things, not from fancy or opinion, but from truth and reality, and the just weight and moment of them. Though his virtues are not full proof against the strokes of fortune, and cannot ward off every blow, yet they will blunt the edge of afflictions and greatly abate their smart. It is well to consider the uncertainty of all external enjoyments, not to overvalue them, or set our hearts upon them, or place our happiness in them.

    3. The good man has pleasures and enjoyments peculiar to himself which will, in a great measure, supply the want of external blessings. Every good and virtuous action we do affords us a double pleasure. It first strikes our minds with a direct pleasure by its suitableness to our nature; and then our minds entertain themselves with pleasant reflections upon it. Learn--

    A Christian man of science

    The happiness of a good man does not depend on the mere surroundings of his life, or the possessions which he can call his own, but on something more vital--on that which is more really his own, and of which no change of circumstances can ever deprive him. The uneducated man cannot find company in himself. He has to look outside himself for enjoyment and satisfaction. The man whose nature has been cultured, especially by self-discipline, is often least alone when most alone, so that when the voices of men are not heard he hears a still, small voice within his heart. Now, goodness is the highest culture, for it is the culture of that which is most spiritual in the nature. Goodness is an inward harmony. Goodness is the most economical thing in the world, for with it men have an inward treasure that renders them, to a large extent, independent of that which is without. Religion is a possession which makes men rich in any position. There need be no commendation of an ascetic order of life, or contempt of the world. But if we are to enjoy even this world, the power to enjoy must be found within, there must be internal harmony, or the world will be a great discord to us. The kingdom of God, that kingdom which Christ declared is “within,” is the great condition of blessedness; aye, it is the condition for enjoying even the kingdom which is temporal and visible. These points illustrated from the life of G. B. Sowerby, F.L.S., author of “The Saurus Conchyliorum.” (W. Garrett Horder.)

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Proverbs 14:14". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; And a good man shall be satisfied from himself."

    "A fool shall be filled with his own ways, and the good man shall be above him."[15] Cook wrote concerning the second clause here that, "The words `satisfied from himself' are not in the original (Hebrew)," rendering the passage, "He who falls away from God in his heart shall be filled with his own ways; and the good man shall be filled with that which belongs to him."[16]

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    James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways,.... One that is a backslider at heart, whose heart departeth from the Lord; in whom there is an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; and indeed apostasy begins at the heart, and shows itself in the life and conversation: there may be a backsliding when the heart does not wickedly depart from God; but is through the infirmity of the flesh and the force of temptation; from which backslidings the Lord's people are recovered, and which are healed by his grace; but here such an one is meant who willingly and heartily backslides; and such shall have the reward of their hands and actions given them, or the full and due punishment of their sins; they shall have their bellyful of their own wicked ways and works, the just recompense of reward for them;

    and a good man shall be satisfied from himself; shall eat the fruit of his own doings, shall be blessed in his deeds, and have peace and satisfaction therein; though not salvation by them, or for them: he shall be satisfied with the grace of God bestowed on him and wrought in him; and, from a feeling experience of the grace of God within him, shall be satisfied that he has in heaven a better and an enduring substance; or he shall be satisfied "from above himself"F13מעליו "de super eo", Montanus; "de super semet", Schultens. , from the grace that is in Christ, out of the fulness which is in him; and shall be filled with all the fulness of God he is capable of; and especially in the other world, when he shall awake in his likeness. The Targum is,

    "a good man shall be satisfied with his fear;'

    and so the Syriac version, with the fear of his soul; it may be rendered, as by the Vulgate Latin version, "a good man shall be above him"F14"Et super cum erit vir bonus", V. L. De Dieu. ; that is, above the backslider; shall be better tilled, and be more happy than he.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    The backslider in heart i shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man [shall be satisfied] from himself.

    (i) He who forsakes God will be punished, and made weary of his sins, in which he delighted.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    ways — receive retribution (Proverbs 1:31).

    a good man … himself — literally, “is away from such,” will not associate with him.

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    This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

    There follows a series of proverbs which treat of the wicked and the good, and of the relation between the foolish and the wise:

    14 He that is of a perverse heart is satisfied with his own ways;

    And a good man from himself.

    We first determine the subject conception. סוּג לב (one turning aside τῆς καρδίας or τὴν καρδίαν ) is one whose heart is perverted, נסוג , turned away, viz., from God, Psalms 44:19. The Book of Proverbs contains besides of this verb only the name of dross ( recedanea ) derived from it; סוּג , separated, drawn away, is such a half passive as סוּר , Isaiah 49:21, שׁוּב , Micah 2:8, etc. (Olsh. §245a). Regarding אישׁ טוב , vid ., at Proverbs 12:2, cf. Proverbs 13:22 : a man is so called whose manner of thought and of action has as its impulse and motive self-sacrificing love. When it is said of the former that he is satisfied with his own ways, viz., those which with heart turned away from God he enters upon, the meaning is not that they give him peace or bring satisfaction to him (Löwenstein), but we see from Proverbs 1:31; Proverbs 18:20, that this is meant recompensatively: he gets, enjoys the reward of his wandering in estrangement from God. It is now without doubt seen that 14b expresses that wherein the benevolent man finds his reward. We will therefore not explain (after Proverbs 4:15, cf. Numbers 16:26; 2 Samuel 19:10): the good man turns himself away from him, or the good man stands over him (as Jerome, Venet ., after Ecclesiastes 5:7); - this rendering gives no contrast, or at least a halting one. The מן of מעליו must be parallel with that of מדּרכיו . From the lxx, ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν διανοημάτων αὐτοῦ , the Syr. rightly: from the fruit (religiousness) of his soul; the Targ.: from his fruit. Buxtorf, against Cappellus, has already perceived that here no other phrase but the explanation of מעליו by ex eo quod penes se est lies at the foundation. We could, after Proverbs 7:14, also explain: from that which he perceives as his obligation (duty); yet that other explanation lies proportionally nearer, but yet no so that we refer the suffix to the backslider of 14a: in it (his fate) the good man is satisfied, for this contrast also halts, the thought is not in the spirit of the Book of Proverbs (for Proverbs 29:16 does not justify it); and in how totally different a connection of thought מעליו is used in the Book of Proverbs, is shown by Proverbs 24:17; but generally the Scripture does not use שׂבע of such satisfaction, it has, as in 14a, also in 14b, the recompensative sense, according to the fundamental principle, ὃ ἐὰν σπείρῃ ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο καὶ θερίσει (Galatians 6:7). The suffix refers back to the subject, as we say: רוּחי עלי , נפשׁי עלי ( Psychol . p. 152). But considerations of an opposite kind also suggest themselves. Everywhere else מעל refers not to that which a man has within himself, but that which he carries without; and also that מעליו can be used in the sense of משּׁעליו , no evidence can be adduced: it must be admitted to be possible, since the writer of the Chronicles (2 Chronicles 1:4) ventures to use בהכין . Is מעליו thus used substantively: by his leaves (Aben Ezra and others)? If one compares Proverbs 11:28 with Psalms 1:3, this explanation is not absurd; but why then did not the poet rather use מפּריו ? We come finally to the result, that ומעליו , although it admits a connected interpretation, is an error of transcription. But the correction is not וּמעלּיו (Elster) nor וּמעלליו (Cappellus), for עלּים and עללים , deeds, are words which do not exist; nor is it וּמפּעליו (Bertheau) nor וּמגּמליו (Ewald), but וּממּעלליו (which Cappellus regarded, but erroneously, as the lxx phrase); for (1) throughout almost the whole O.T., from Judges 2:19 to Zechariah 1:18, דרכים and מעללים are interchangeable words, and indeed almost an inseparable pair, cf. particularly Jeremiah 17:10; and (2) when Isaiah (Isaiah 3:10) says, אמרו צדיק כי־טוב כּי־פרי מעלליהם יאכלוּ , this almost sounds like a prophetical paraphrase of the second line of the proverb, which besides by this emendation gains a more rhythmical sound and a more suitable compass.

    (Note: As here an ל too few is written, so at Isaiah 32:1 ( ולשׂרים ) and Psalms 74:14 ( לציים ) one too many.)

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    Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". 1854-1889.

    Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

    Note, 1. The misery of sinners will be an eternal surfeit upon their sins: The backslider in heart, who for fear of suffering, or in hope of profit or pleasure, forsakes God and his duty, shall be filled with his own ways; God will give him enough of them. They would not leave their brutish lusts and passions, and therefore they shall stick by them, to their everlasting terror and torment. He that is filthy shall be filthy still.Son, remember, ” shall fill them with their own ways, and set their sins in order before them. Backsliding begins in the heart; it is the evil heart of unbelief that departs from God; and of all sinners backsliders will have most terror when they reflect on their own ways, Luke 11:26. 2. The happiness of the saints will be an eternal satisfaction in their graces, as tokens of and qualifications for God's peculiar favour: A good man shall be abundantly satisfied from himself, from what God has wrought in him. He has rejoicing in himself alone, Galatians 6:3. As sinners never think they have sin enough till it brings them to hell, so saints never think they have grace enough till it brings them to heaven.

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    Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

    Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

    Of all sinners backsliders will have the most terror when they reflect on their own ways.

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    Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

    on the Whole Bible". 1706.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

    In heart — He who departs from God inwardly.

    Filled — With the fruit of his ways, the punishment of his sins.

    Satisfied — From the pious temper of his own heart, which cleaves to the Lord, he shall receive unspeakable comfort.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man [shall be satisfied] from himself.

    Ver. 14. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.] He hath made a match with mischief, he shall soon have enough of it; he hath sold himself to do wickedness, [Hebrews 10:38] and he shall be sure of his payment; he hath drawn back to perdition; he hath stolen from his colours, run away from his captain ( υποστειληται), he shall have martial law for it. God will serve such odious apostates as Theodoric, king of Goths, did a deacon, that, to ingratiate with this Arian prince, turned Arian: instead of preferring him, he cut off his head. Or as that Turk served the traitor that betrayed the Rhodes: his promised wife and portion were presented, but the Turk told him that he would not have a Christian to be his son-in-law, but he must be a Moslem - that is, a believing Turk, both within and without. And therefore he caused his baptized skin, as he called it, to be taken off, and him to be cast in a bed strawed with salt, that he might get a new skin, and so he should be his son-in-law. But the wicked wretch ended his life with shame and torment.

    But a good man shall be satisfied from himself.] For he hath a spring within his own breast, he needs not shark abroad; he hath an autarchy, a self-sufficience. [1 Timothy 6:6] Hic sat lucis, Here is enough light, said Oecolampadius, clapping his hand on his breast, when sick, and asked whether the light did not offend him? Another, being likewise sick, and asked how he did; answered, ‘My body is weak, my mind is well.’ A third, (a) when the pangs of death were upon him, being asked by a very dear friend that took him by the hand, whether he felt not much pain; ‘Truly no,’ said he, ‘the greatest I find is your cold hand.’ These good men "knew within themselves that they had in heaven a better and a more enduring substance"; [Hebrews 10:34] within themselves they knew it - not in others, not in books, but in their own experience and apprehension, in the workings of their own hearts. Their knowledge was non in codicibus, sed in cordibus: They could feelingly say, that "in doing of God’s will" - not only for doing it, or after it was now done, but even while they were doing of it - "there was great reward." [Psalms 19:11] Righteousness is its own reward, and is never without a double joy to be its strength: Gaudium in re, gaudium in spe, gaudium de possessione, gaudium de promissione, gaudium de praesenti exhibitione, gaudium de futura expectatione: (b) Joy in hand, and in hope, in present possession, and in certain reversion.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

    v. 14. The backslider in heart, he who is of a perverse, malicious heart, who has departed from God in his heart, shall be filled with his own ways, he will be surfeited with the consequences of his own perverseness, he will have to suffer the ruinous results of his sinful acts; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself, literally, "out of himself," his good conscience affording him the satisfaction of knowing that his behavior is in agreement with the demands of true piety.

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    Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    Proverbs 14:14

    I. The good man's satisfaction arises from the circumstance that he is regulated in his character and conduct by a fixed and stable thing, by principle. In contemplating anything to be done, in all his movements, in all moral questions, his object is to do what is right. In the midst of his activity, his satisfaction arises from himself, from the consciousness that he acts upon principle and in the sight of God; and therefore, if he should fail, looking back upon his failure, reflecting upon his error, he has still a satisfaction which the world can neither confer nor destroy.

    II. The sentiment may be illustrated by the contrast which is often exhibited between the good man and the wicked, when the latter is called upon to eat the fruit of his own ways. The good man is not only preserved from pain and wretchedness, but is placed in such circumstances, the result of a wise and holy course of conduct, as to be able to help others; and thus he enjoys the highest satisfaction, not of being delivered, but of being a deliverer; enjoys something of the satisfaction of God Himself, who giveth to all and receiveth from none.

    III. The satisfaction of the good man arises from his being preserved from the sting and reproach of an evil conscience. He has nothing that he ardently wishes to forget, or nothing that he dare not remember, because he believes that God has forgotten and blotted it out. The darkness and the light are both alike to him. "The good man is satisfied from himself."

    IV. The last idea connected with this subject is that of the positive and increasing pleasure, the growing delight of the good man's soul. I refer to that joyous healthiness of soul which arises from a life of purity, devotion, and goodness; that calm yet irrepressible feeling of delight, which daily and hourly, continually and always, fills the heart. It is not positive reflection upon doing, it is not thinking about character or actions, but the perpetual rising up in the soul of an inexpressible satisfaction. This is the way in which a good man is "satisfied from himself."

    T. Binney, Penny Pulpit, No. 1389.

    Here, in a short text, are three paradoxes.

    I. A good man. As the royal are related to royalty, and the noble to nobility, so are the good to the godly, and they are related to God. Goodness is, therefore, an internal quality; thus the good man is whole within, sound within; you may know a good man by several marks, but they all throw you back on the internalism of his character. Hence his satisfaction; all health is within.

    II. Here is a man satisfied. Contentment is the science of thankfulness. It is Christ's fulness that gives the crown of contentment.

    III. The source of the satisfaction—from himself. (1) He is satisfied with the object and foundation of his faith. (2) In the evidences of his religion, a good man shall be satisfied from himself. (3) In the ordinances of the sanctuary a good man shall be satisfied from himself. (4) In the law of life a good man is satisfied from himself. (5) In the apportionment and destiny of the world a good man is satisfied from himself.

    E. Paxton Hood, Sermons, p. 400.

    References: Proverbs 14:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1235; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st scries, p. 384; W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi., p. 100. Proverbs 14:15.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 388. Proverbs 14:16.—Ibid., p. 392.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Proverbs 14:14. And a good man shall be satisfied from himself And a good man with his own works. Houbigant.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 786


    Proverbs 14:14. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

    THOUGH God does not select those as objects of his mercy, who are most diligent in external duties, yet he increases his favours to those whom he has chosen, in proportion as they themselves are earnest in improving what he has already bestowed upon them. In the dispensations of his providence it is generally found, that “the diligent hand maketh rich:” but in the dispensations of his grace, this seems to be an unalterable rule of his procedure: “his ways with respect to these things are equal;” “whatsover a man sows, that he may assuredly expect to reap:” “to him that hath, shall be given, and he shall have abundance.” To this effect are the declarations before us; in which we may observe,

    I. The danger of backsliding—

    Open apostasy is confessedly a certain road to destruction: but we may also perish by indulging the more specious and equally dangerous habit of secret declension. Not that every variation in our frame constitutes us backsliders in heart; (for who then could be saved?)


    We come under this description,

    1. When we are habitually remiss in secret duties—

    [It is possible we may once have run well, and enjoyed much blessedness in the service of our God; and yet have been so hindered in our course, as to have relapsed into a state of coldness and formality [Note: Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:7; Galatians 4:15.]. The word, which was once precious, may have lost its savour; and prayer, which was once delightful, may have become an irksome task. Both public and private ordinances may have degenerated into an empty form, in which God is not enjoyed, nor is any blessing received. Where this is the case the person must surely be denominated a “backslider in heart.”]

    2. When we habitually indulge any secret lusts—

    [Whatever attainments a man may have made in religion, if his heart be not whole with God, he will sooner or later decline; and that which was his besetting sin in his state of ignorance, will regain its ascendency, and (as far at least as relates to its inward workings) recover its dominion over him. He may still, for his profession sake, restrain sin, in a measure, as to its outward exercise, while yet its inward power is unsubdued. Was he naturally addicted to pride, envy, malice, covetousness, lewdness, or any other sin? If he allow it to return upon him after he has been once purged from it [Note: 2 Peter 1:9; 2 Peter 2:20. Galatians 4:16.], if he be averse to have the evil of it pointed out to him, if he justify it, or cover his fault with excuses, instead of endeavouring earnestly to amend it, he certainly is a backslider in heart—]

    In either of these states we are exposed to the most imminent danger—

    [There are a variety of ways in which God will punish sin, but none so terrible as that specified in the words before us. If God were to fill the backslider with acute and long-continued pain, or visit him with some other temporal affliction, it might work for good, and bring him to consideration and repentance: but if he give him up to his own heart’s lusts, and leave him to be “filled with his own ways,” nothing but a certain and aggravated condemnation can ensue. Was he far from God? he will be further still: was he addicted to any sin? he will be more and more enslaved by it: nor can there be a doubt, but that God will give us up to this judgment, if we “leave off to behave ourselves wisely,” and return to the indulgence of wilful neglects and secret sins [Note: Psalms 81:11-12. Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18-20. Proverbs 1:30-31.] — — —]

    But we shall see a strong additional motive to persevere, if we consider,

    II. The benefit of maintaining steadfastness in religion—

    The “good man” is here put in contrast with the backslider—

    [As every occasional declension does not denominate a man a wilful backslider, so neither does every transient inclination to virtue denominate a man good. To be truly good, he must set out well, and “hold on his way,” causing his “light to shine more and more unto the perfect day [Note: Proverbs 4:18.].”]

    Such an one shall find much satisfaction both in and from his way:

    He shall have the comfort of seeing that he is advancing in religion—

    [The testimony of a good conscience is one of the richest comforts we can enjoy [Note: 2 Corinthians 1:12.]. Hezekiah pleaded it before God in a dying hour, not indeed as a ground of justification before him, but as a ground whereon he might hope for some favourable indulgence with respect to the continuance of this present life [Note: 2 Kings 20:2-3.]. And Paul, in the near prospect of the eternal world, found it a source of unutterable joy [Note: 2 Timothy 4:7-8.]. Now this satisfaction every upright soul shall enjoy. If he cannot distinctly see the progressive steps of his advancement from day to day, he shall have a testimony in his own conscience that he is on the whole advancing: he shall feel himself more and more fixed in his “purpose to cleave unto the Lord,” and increasingly desirous of approving himself faithful to his God and Saviour.]

    He shall also enjoy more abundant manifestations of God’s love—

    [God will not leave his people without witness that he is pleased with their endeavours to serve and honour him. “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” If he behold any persons striving to please him, “he will love them and come unto them, and sup with them, and manifest himself to them as he does not unto the world [Note: John 14:21-23. Revelation 3:20.]:” and the more diligent he sees them in doing his will, the more richly will he impart to them the tokens of his love, and the more abundantly communicate to them the blessings of grace and peace [Note: Isaiah 32:17.].]

    His prospects, moreover, of the eternal world shall be more bright and glorious—

    [To many does God vouchsafe, as to Moses from Mount Pisgah, delightful prospects of the heavenly Canaan. He draws aside the veil, and suffers them to enter into the holy of holies, that they may behold his glory, and receive a foretaste of the blessedness which they shall one day enjoy in his presence. But on whom are these special favours bestowed? on the slothful, the careless, the inconstant? No. It is “the faithful man that shall abound with these blessings;” it is “him that rejoiceth in working righteousness, that the Lord will meet” in this intimate and endearing manner [Note: Proverbs 28:20. Isaiah 33:14-17; Isaiah 64:5.].]


    1. How much more ready is God to shew mercy than to execute his judgments!

    [Had God been extreme to mark what is done amiss, who is there amongst us, whom he would not often have abandoned in an hour of secret declension? But he is full of compassion; and “judgment is his strange work,” to which he is greatly averse. At this very moment does he follow the backslider with the most earnest invitations, and most gracious promises, saying, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings, and love you freely [Note: Jeremiah 3:22. Hosea 14:4.].” Let us thankfully acknowledge his long-suffering and forbearance; and seek that happiness in the service of our God, which we shall in vain look for in any deviations from the path of duty.]

    2. What need have we to watch over our own hearts!

    [We are bidden to “keep our hearts with all diligence, because out of them are the issues of life and death [Note: Proverbs 4:23.]:” and indeed we have need to guard them well, because they are so “bent to backslide from God.” It will be rarely, if ever, found, that the watchful Christian is left to fall into any gross sin. Men decline from God in secret, before he withdraws from them his restraining grace: they have chosen some evil “way of their own,” and deliberately followed it in their hearts, before God leaves them to be “filled with it.” If then we would not be swept away with a deluge of iniquity, let us be careful to stop the breach at first; for, if left a little time, it will widen, till it defies our utmost exertions. The present satisfaction, as well as the future salvation, of our souls depends on a stead-fast walk with God. Let us then “hold fast the profession of our faith, and the practice of our duty, without wavering:” and “let us look to ourselves that we lose not the things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward [Note: 2 John, ver. 8.].”]

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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture



    Proverbs 14:14.

    At first sight this saying strikes one as somewhat unlike the ordinary Scripture tone, and savouring rather of a Stoical self-complacency; but we recall parallel sayings, such as Christ’s words, ‘The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water’; and the Apostle’ s, ‘Then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone.’ We further note that the text has an antithetic parallel in the preceding clause, where the picture is drawn of ‘a backslider in heart,’ as ‘filled with his own ways’; so that both clauses set forth the familiar but solemn thought that a man’s deeds react upon the doer, and apart from all thoughts of divine judgment, themselves bring certain retribution. To grasp the inwardness of this saying we must note that-

    I. Goodness comes from godliness.

    There is no more striking proof that most men are bad than the notion which they have of what is good. The word has been degraded to mean in common speech little more than amiability, and is applied with little discrimination to characters of which little more can be said than that they are facile and indulgent of evil. ‘A good fellow’ may be a very bad man. At the highest the epithet connotes merely more or less admirable motives and more or less admirable deeds as their results, whilst often its use is no more than a piece of unmeaning politeness. That was what the young ruler meant by addressing Christ as ‘Good Master’; and Christ’s answer to him set him, and should set us, on asking ourselves why we call very ordinary men and very ordinary actions ‘good.’ The scriptural notion is immensely deeper, and the scriptural employment of the word is immensely more restricted. It is more inward: it means that motives should be right before it calls any action good; it means that our central and all-influencing motive should be love to God and regard to His will. That is the Old Testament point of view as well as the New. Or to put it in other words, the ‘good man’ of the Bible is a man in whom outward righteousness flows from inward devotion and love to God. These two elements make up the character: godliness is an inseparable part of goodness, is the inseparable foundation of goodness, and the sole condition on which it is possible. But from this conception follows, that a man may be truly called good, although not perfect. He may be so and yet have many failures. The direction of his aspirations, not the degree to which these are fulfilled, determines his character, and his right to be reckoned a good man. Why was David called ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ notwithstanding his frightful fall? Was it not because that sin was contrary to the main direction of his life, and because he had struggled to his feet again, and with tears and self-abasement, yet with unconquerable desire and hope, ‘pressed toward the mark for the prize of his high calling’? David in the Old Testament and Peter in the New bid us be of good cheer, and warn us against the too common error of thinking that goodness means perfection. ‘The new moon with a ragged edge’ is even in its imperfections beautiful, and in its thinnest circlet prophesies the perfect round.

    Remembering this inseparable connection between godliness and goodness we further note that-

    II. Godliness brings satisfaction.

    There is a grim contrast between the two halves of this verse. The former shows us the backslider in heart as filled ‘with his own ways.’ He gets weary with satiety; with his doings he ‘will be sick of them’; and the things which at first delighted will finally disgust and be done without zest. There is nothing sadder than the gloomy faces often seen in the world’s festivals. But, on the other hand, the godly man will be satisfied from within. This is no Stoical proclamation of self-sufficingness. Self by itself satisfies no man, but self, become the abiding-place of God, does satisfy. A man alone is like ‘the chaff which the wind driveth away’; but, rooted in God, he is ‘like a tree planted by the rivers of water, whose leaf does not wither.’ He has found all that he needs. God is no longer without him but within; and he who can say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ has within him the secret of peace and the source of satisfaction which can never say ‘I thirst.’ Such an inward self, in which God dwells and through which His sweet presence manifests itself in the renewed nature, sets man free from all dependence for blessedness on externals. We hang on them and are in despair if we lose them, because we have not the life of God within us. He who has such an indwelling, and he only, can truly say, ‘All my possessions I carry with me.’ Take him and strip from him, film after film, possessions, reputation, friends; hack him limb from limb, and as long as there is body enough left to keep life in him, he can say, ‘I have all and abound.’ ‘Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions, knowing that ye have your own selves for a better possession.’

    III. Godly goodness brings inward satisfaction.

    No man is satisfied with himself until he has subjugated himself. What makes men restless and discontented is their tossing, anarchical desires. To live by impulse, or passion, or by anything but love to God, is to make ourselves our own tormentors. It is always true that he ‘who loveth his life shall lose it,’ and loses it by the very act of loving it. Most men’s lives are like the troubled sea, ‘which cannot rest,’ and whose tossing surges, alas! ‘cast up mire and dirt,’ for their restless lives bring to the surface much that was meant to lie undisturbed in the depths.

    But he who has subdued himself is like some still lake which ‘heareth not the loud winds when they call,’ and mirrors the silent heavens on its calm surface. But further, goodness brings satisfaction, because, as the Psalmist says, ‘in keeping Thy commandments there is great reward.’ There is a glow accompanying even partial obedience which diffuses itself with grateful warmth through the whole being of a man. And such goodness tends to the preservation of health of soul as natural, simple living to the health of the body. And that general sense of well-being brings with it a satisfaction compared with which all the feverish bliss of the voluptuary is poor indeed.

    But we must not forget that satisfaction from one’s self is not satisfaction with one’s self. There will always be the imperfection which will always prevent self-righteousness. The good man after the Bible pattern most deeply knows his faults, and in that very consciousness is there a deep joy. To be ever aspiring onwards, and to know that our aspiration is no vain dream, this is joy. Still to press ‘toward the mark,’ still to have ‘the yet untroubled world which gleams before us as we move,’ and to know that we shall attain if we follow on, this is the highest bliss. Not the accomplishment of our ideal, but the cherishing of it, is the true delight of life.

    Such self-satisfying goodness comes only through Christ. He makes it possible for us to love God and to trust Him. Only when we know ‘the love wherewith He has loved us,’ shall we love with a love which will be the motive power of our lives. He makes it possible to live outward lives of obedience, which, imperfect as it is, has ‘great reward.’ He makes it possible for us to attain the yet unattained, and to be sure that we ‘shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’ He has said, ‘The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.’ Only when we can say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ will it be true of us in its fullest sense, ‘A good man shall be satisfied from himself.’

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    The backslider in heart; he who departeth from God and from the way of his precepts with all his heart, which implies the doing it upon deliberation, with free choice, and full purpose, and customary practice, as ungodly men commonly do, and is opposed to the slips of human frailty; for otherwise every sin is a revolt from God.

    With his own ways; with the fruit of his ways or doings, the punishment of his sins.

    From himself, i.e. from his ways, as appears by the opposition; from the pious temper of his own heart, which cleaveth to the Lord, when the hearts of sinners forsake him; and from the holy and righteous course of his life, from which he shall receive unspeakable comfort and satisfaction both here and hereafter to all eternity.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    14. The backslider in heart — Hebrew, the drawn back of heart. Geneva Bible: “The heart that declineth.” Our word backslide conveys the idea.

    A good man… from himself — From that which is in himself. By leaving out the words supplied in italics, in the latter member, we get a good sense, namely: He who draws back in his heart (from God) shall be filled with his own ways, and the good man with that which is in him. The backslider here is one who has departed in heart from the true God, or the true religion.

    Not all backsliders are apostates in this sense. Comp. Psalms 44:18; Proverbs 1:31; Proverbs 12:14; Proverbs 13:2; Psalms 17:15.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    ". . . backslider conveys the wrong impression of an apostate, one who declines from or abandons his own previous position of moral right; the Hebrew expression here implies simply non-adherence to the right." [Note: Toy, p290.]

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Proverbs 14:14. The backslider in heart — He who departs from God, although but inwardly; shall be filled with his own ways — With the fruit of his ways, namely, the punishment of his sins; and a good man shall be satisfied from himself — From the pious temper of his own heart, which cleaves to the Lord, and from the holy and righteous course of his life, he shall receive unspeakable comfort, both in this world and in the next.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Above him, Septuagint, "with content sorrow is not mixed." (Haydock) --- Joy. Such is the condition of earthly things. (Pindar, Pyth. viii.)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    filled = satisfied.

    from himself. Ginsburg thinks, "from his own doings. "Compare Jeremiah 17:10.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.

    The backslider in heart (Psalms 44:18) shall be filled with his own ways - (note Proverbs 1:31.) Not one who turns aside from the right path of doctrine and practice through thoughtlessness, and, as it were, only with the feet, like one for the time intoxicated, but one who knowingly and willfully 'backslides in heart' - i:e., with the understanding and will-such a one shall get his fill of his own ways, until he shall nauseate and feel them his most terrible curse (cf. Numbers 11:19-20).

    And a good man (shall be satisfied) from himself - `from that which is in himself.' His happiness is self-contained. Having God within, he is satisfied already, independently of other and external sources of happiness; and hereafter he shall be fully 'satisfied when he shall awake with his Lord's likeness' (Psalms 17:15), The ways of the godly man and his own regenerate heart shall become the source of his happiness, as the ways and the heart of the backslider shall be his misery.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (14) The backslider in heart—i.e., who turns away from God. (Psalms 44:19.)

    Shall be filled with his own ways.—(Comp. Proverbs 1:31, and Matthew 6:2, &c: “They have their reward.”) They get to the full what they look for, though it is but swine’s husks, instead of food fit for God’s children.

    A good man.—See above on Proverbs 13:22.

    Shall be satisfied from himself.—His own work. (Comp. Isaiah 3:10.)

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
    1:32; Jeremiah 2:19; 8:5; 17:5; Hosea 4:16; Zephaniah 1:6; Hebrews 3:12; 2 Peter 2:20-22
    1:31; 12:14; Ezekiel 22:31
    a good
    10; John 4:14; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 6:4,8

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


    Pro . Filled with, i.e., "satisfied with." Stuart translates the latter clause, "Away from him is the good man," i.e., he will keep aloof from the backslider.



    I. The position and character of the backslider. The word suggests that there has been a time in the past when his moral standing was high. There must have once been a going forward, if there is now a sliding backward. Up to a certain time progress was made. Of many followers of our Lord it is written that from a certain period "they went back and walked no more with him." (Joh ). They had walked with him in outward discipleship at least, and it is probable that their hearts had been more or less influenced for good. Their "walking no more" was a going back probably in outward life, certainly in right disposition towards the Christ of God. The man of our text is "a backslider in heart." Then there must once have been a going forward of his soul towards God and goodness, an onward movement towards righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. But the forward movement has ceased—the retrograde movement has set in within the man, although it may not immediately be seen in his outward conduct. Solomon was himself a sad example of a backslider. In his early days his heart was turned towards his God, his desires after righteousness were strong, his moral progress a reality. No one can read his dedication prayer without feeling that the man who offered it stood in right relations with his God—that his aspirations were after righteousness of heart and life. He is himself a proof of the certain fact that a man can terribly deteriorate in character even after he has given evidence of a progression in the good and the right way.

    II. His portion. "He shall be filled with his own ways." Retribution will flow from both his past and present character. The remembrance of what he once was will embitter the present. To think of what might have been is in itself a hell when a man feels that by his own act he is now far lower in the moral scale than he once was. How it must embitter the misery of the fallen angels to remember that they once stood sinless before God's throne, and, but for their own act, would stand there still. In one of the writings of Lucian, he represents the ghost of a man who has left the world coming up for judgment before the bar of Rhadamanthus. He had lived so depraved a life that his judge exclaims that a new punishment is needed that will be in some degree adequate to his unparalleled villany. A poor cobbler, standing by, suggests that it will be enough if the cup of Lethe, which was supposed to obliterate all remembrance of the past, and which each shade was permitted to drink as he passed from the dread tribunal, should, in this instance, be withheld. And the criminal was therefore condemned to remember for ever what he had done in life, and this was held to be retribution sufficient for the worst of crimes. And if this is true of every wicked man, surely to be filled with the remembrance of what he once was will be the bitterest cup that can be the portion of every backslider.

    III. The portion of the godly man. He, too, shall be filled with his own ways, but it will be the fulness of satisfaction. The foundation of real happiness is in character alone. The blessedness of the Eternal God comes from nothing outside of Himself. It has its foundation in His own perfect character. So nothing outside a man can yield him satisfaction. It must come from what he is—from his partaking in some degree of the character of the ever-blessed God. In proportion as he approaches that—in proportion as he brings forth the fruits of righteousness—will he be conscious of a well-spring of satisfaction which is quite independent of outward circumstances. This well-spring has the advantage of being always at hand. A man may often find himself shut out from external sources of joy, death may part him from those who have largely ministered to his happiness, but wherever he is—whether in this world or another—a "well of water" which is "within him" (Joh ) is always at hand. It is needless to remark that this well-spring does not originate with man, but is the outcome of relationship and communion with God.


    Temporary backsliding may take place in the true children of God; but the "backslider" here is evidently he who, in the language of the apostle, "goes back unto perdition." Solomon alludes to such perpetual backsliding on the part of those who thus prove themselves to have been no more than professors—"having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." Such characters, whatever appearances they present to the eye of men,—even of the people of God, with whom they associate, never were vitally and savingly one with Christ, and one with true believers in Him. This is as plainly affirmed as it is in the power of language to affirm it. "They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1Jn ).—Wardlaw.

    Every spot is not the leprosy. Every mark of sin does not prove a backslider. "A man may be overtaken in a fault" (Gal ); or it may be the sin of ignorance (Lev 4:2., Heb 5:2) or sin abhorred, resisted, yet still cleaving (Rom 7:15-24). Backsliding implies a wilful step; not always open, but the more dangerous, because hidden. Here was no open apostasy, perhaps no tangible inconsistency. Nay, the man may be looked up to as an eminent saint, but he is a backslider in heart.—Bridges.

    The upright is satisfied from his own conscience, which though it be not the original spring, yet is the conduit at which he drinks peace, joy, and encouragement.—Flavel.

    The wicked are travelling; and they seek an end; and they confidently expect it, but they never get it. What they do get, therefore, is their journey. The old man has got about enough of travelling, but enough, if he be an impenitent man, of nothing else, in either world, whatever. The saint may have very little on the earth, but he has made more than his own journey. "The backslider in heart." Not a Christian. A Christian never really backslides. Not, therefore, what our usage means, but a heart sliding back, as every lost heart does. The writer has but written a fresh name for the impenitent. Such a sliding heart will just have its journey at last, and nothing for it.—Miller.

    What a world of sound theology lies in the deliverance of this verse—telling us how much the rewards and punishments of the Divine administration lie in the subjective state, apart from the objective circumstances.—Chalmers.

    Good men know within themselves that they have in heaven a better and more enduring substance (Heb ); within themselves, they know it not in others, not in books, but in their own experience and apprehension. They can feelingly say that "in doing God's will"—not only for doing it, or after it was now done, but even while they were doing it—"there was great reward" (Psa 19:11). Righteousness is never without a double joy to be its strength: "Joy in hand and in hope, in present possession and in certain reversion" (Bernard).—Trapp.

    All engineering proceeds upon the principle of reaching great heights or depths by almost imperceptible inclines. The adversary of men works by this will. When you see a man who was once counted a Christian standing shameless on a mountain-top of impiety, or lying in the miry pit of vice, you may safely assume that he has long been worming his way in secret on the spiral slimy track by which the old serpent marks and smooths the way to death … Whatever the enormity it may end in, backsliding begins in the heart … There is a weighing beam exposed to public view, with one scale loaded and resting on the ground, while the other dangles high and empty in the air. Everybody is familiar with the object, and its aspect. One day curiosity is arrested by observing the low and loaded beam is swinging aloft, while the side which hung empty and light has sunk to the ground. Speculation is set on edge by the phenomenon, and at rest again by the discovery of its cause. For many days certain diminutive but busy insects had, for some object of their own, been transferring the material from the full to the empty scale. Day by day the sides approached an equilibrium, but no change took place in their position. At last a grain more removed from one side and laid in the other reversed the preponderance, and produced the change. There is a similar balancing of good and evil in the human heart. The sudden outward change proceeds from a gradual inward preparation.—Arnot.

    Every man, both good and bad, shall feel himself sufficiently recompensed for his service.—Dod.

    "A good man shall be satisfied from himself."

    I. He can bear his own company, his own thoughts. What is it that makes solitude so irksome to mankind? They cannot bear reflection.… Generally, we know, all is not right. Men do not like to look steadily at themselves, because, like the bankrupt tradesman who dreads striking a balance, they have a secret suspicion that their lives will not bear a rigid scrutiny … The good man does not fear to probe his wound to the bottom.

    II. He is independent, as other men are not, of earthly vicissitudes. Men who have their portion here are never safe. The world is a disappointing world, but the good man's eyes are opened to see the glories of a better … It is a doomed world, but his treasure is safe … Let other men be suddenly driven from the pleasures, occupations, and companions with which habit has made them familiar, and they are like shipwrecked voyagers whose wealth has all gone down in the vessel in which they sailed. He is like a man who has escaped to shore with a casket of jewels in which his whole fortune is invested.

    III. He stands for judgment, not at the world's bar, but at the tribunal of his own conscience. "It is a small thing," said St. Paul, "that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment." Was he, then, a morose man who cared nothing about his neighbours? No, but his conscience was ruled by God's law, and in the very act of submitting himself to Christ as the Lord of his life and soul, he became comparatively independent of all besides.—J. H. Gurney.

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Proverbs 14:14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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