Proverbs 13:14

The Law of the Wise



1. In this proverb, Solomon sets before our mind’s eye two images in stark contrast.

a. One is a fountain of life—with all the beautiful thoughts that it conjures up in the imagination.

b. The other is a snare or trap of death—with all the ugly thoughts that it conjures up.

c. The contrasts are obvious in the proverb:
• Terms: Death and life
• Images: Fountain (unending source) and snare (once will do!)
• Plural and Singular: One fountain—many snares (singular and plural)
• Actions involved: drinking and departing

The Law of the Wise

1. Again we see in this proverb the keen sense of discernment that was exerted by Solomon as he observed life…

a. Solomon was obviously a people watcher.

b. He watched how people lived; the kinds of choices they made; the directions their lives were headed; their words; their deeds; their decisions; their goals; their pursuits in life.

c. And as he watched, he took notes, and recorded his findings for us—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

d. Solomon observed how wise men lived; and how fools lived… and recorded the differences.

2. A law is an observable principle that can be tested and proven.

a. Solomon observed wise men repeatedly, and perhaps even tested their behavior and choices.

b. He observed an aspect of human behavior that was repeated so often by wise men that it could be referred to as a LAW.

c. One of the laws of the wise is recorded here.

d. “Wise men avoid death traps… and are attracted to the fountain of life.”

e. The opposite is implied here as well—that FOOLS are attracted to the death traps… and avoid the fountain of life!

A Fountain of Life

1. The action of drinking is not mentioned in the proverb, but is implied. That’s what a fountain is for!

2. The one who drinks from the fountain of life receives the benefits of that fountain.

a. This is an especially graphic picture for one who wrote in the Middle East—an exceptionally dry and arid region.

b. A fountain takes on even more significance to those who live near a desert.

c. A source of water in the desert is not simply a convenience; it is a matter of life and death.

3. The benefits include promotion of health; nourishment of one’s life; refreshing; the extension of life; the quality of life; the sustenance of life; the preservation of life…

4. Wise laws which govern our lives are like this fountain of life.

a. Wise men observe life and discern the way of wisdom.

b. Wise men incorporate those lessons into their own personal lives and prove their beneficial effects.

c. Wise men then try to pass on these lessons to the younger generation—so that the younger generation can learn from the years of testing, failing, and proving what is best.

d. Titus 2:3-5 – For this reason, the NT tells young men to seek wisdom from older men; and younger women are to learn from the older women… in areas not specifically covered in the Bible—like how to love your husband and how to care for your children… to be good housekeepers… etc.

e. The younger generation is to learn from the older generation… the law of the wise is a fountain of life! Take advantage of it!

f. Why re-invent the wheel? Why should each generation have to test and retest, learn and relearn… the same old laws and principles? Why not learn from the older generation and put those principles into practice?

g. Wise men also record those laws for others… as Solomon did.

h. The laws of human behavior discovered by men who have gone on before us are often like a fountain of life…

5. Younger men, who have good sense… and have a bit of wisdom, will drink at that fountain. (Prov. 1:5)

a. The young man with even a little bit of wisdom will want to seek out MORE wisdom…

b. This is the young man or woman with a TEACHABLE spirit… a thirsty heart. To the one with a teachable heart, he will find these laws to be a foundation of life… and he will seek to drink from that fountain. That’s the WISE young man.

c. The wise GUY will find them a pain in the neck… old fashioned… your opinion… too restrictive…

d. But the wise young person will see the benefits of such a fountain… an unending source of life, help, nourishment, and benefit.

e. They will want to learn from the lives and experiences of other wise men…

f. They will want to avoid the pitfalls in life that others have already tested and found to be dangerous and not worth pursuing…

g. They will perceive the laws of the wise as a fountain of life… and will be attracted to it.

h. They will see the value of those laws… and will seek them… seek to learn them… practice them… drink at that fountain.

6. This is true at your job… whatever your job is!

a. Whatever your profession… whether you are a lawyer, doctor, craftsman, artist, a homemaker, teacher, a musician, a pastor…there are others who have gone on before you in that profession and have recorded helpful hints… laws that they have observed… for YOUR benefit.

b. Their observations may have been gleaned from a long life in that career… years and years of experience condensed into a little manual… or a book…

c. A master sculptor may have tried and failed on hundreds of projects before he discovered the right way to do something… and perhaps he has recorded his findings for others…

d. Electricians have formulated rules and regulations for their trade—and the more a young electrician learns those rules the better will be his work.

e. Many good books on homemaking have been written by godly, experienced women which could be a fountain of life for a young woman just starting a family. The older woman learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t… the younger woman might find her writings to be a fountain of life!

7. But this is especially true in the spiritual realm…

a. In one sense the whole BIBLE is the law of the wise…

b. I Cor. 10:11 – It was written for our learning and admonition!

c. The history of Israel is recorded for us… it is not dry ancient history. It is a fountain of life!

The Snares of Death

1. Wise men will drink from the fountain of life—they will be attracted to it.

2. Wise men will also DEPART from the snares of death.

3. Note that this ONE law has two sides:

a. This law is a fountain that provides nourishment and refreshment to those who drink at it…

b. This law also causes men to depart from the snares of death.

4. It is the SAME law… the same principle of wisdom… the same sword, but with a double edge… two sides of the same coin…

a. The same wisdom that attracts men to the good fountain… also scares men away from the snares of death.

b. Cf. Prov. 14:27 – note that this verse is nearly identical to 13:14, except that the “law of the wise” is replaced with the “fear of the Lord.”

c. The law of the wise attracts men to the good fountain.

d. The fear of the Lord (part of that wise law) scares men away from the snares of death.

e. There is a positive and a negative side to wisdom… encouraging the good and discouraging the evil… promoting spiritual health, and warning against that which is spiritually unhealthy…

5. Unfortunately, not all men take heed to the law of the wise.

a. Wise men are attracted to the fountain of life and its benefits and depart from the snares of death.

b. But FOOLS seem attracted to these “snares” or traps of death.

c. Young fools love to speed in their cars… not listening to the law of the wise (which says, don’t go over the speed limit!)

d. Young fools are attracted to smoking… it might seem “cool” to them… not thinking about emphysema or lung cancer!

e. Young fools are attracted to alcohol… which also is a snare of death… think of the countless lives lost each year on the highways because of alcohol…

f. Young fools are attracted to drugs… which also is a death trap… through overdoses… contagious diseases… addiction… it is a death trap! Only a fool would be attracted to a death trap…

g. Young fools are attracted to illicit sexual activity… not knowing that it too is a death trap… spreading HIV and aids…

h. Fools are attracted because there IS a pleasure to sin…
• But the folly lies in this: the pleasure is short lived…
• But its consequences are long lasting…

i. The devil is a master at disguising his “snares” and “traps” and making them look attractive.
• Look at all the TV commercials for alcohol… everyone drinking is having fun… they are young, healthy, good looking, physically fit…
• The picture they are painting is a LIE…
• It is a pretty face on a trap…
• It is like the bait that seems so appealing to the fish—who discovers too late that there was a hook under that bait…
• It was a snare of death to the fish… and those snares are death traps to young fools who are attracted by the pretty packaging…

j. SIN is such a death trap! (Jas. 1:13-15)
• Sin tempts us with an attractive cover…
• It entices us with its appealing bait…
• As soon as we see this trap, we should FLEE!
• Because if we linger, it will continue the enticement… our sin nature will draw us into the trap…
• Lust will conceive…
• And the trap door closes on us…
• Sin when it is finished bringing forth death…
• Therefore, RUN!
• Flee idolatry! Flee youthful lusts!

k. The love of MONEY is such a death trap! (I Tim. 6:9-11)
• A desire to be rich is a trap. We are TOLD that. Take heed to the warning.
• It causes good men to go astray… and pierces them with many sorrows!
• Therefore, FLEE the love of money!
• It looks appealing, but it is a death trap… it DROWNS men spiritually… brings to an end their spiritual health and vitality…
• Countless other examples of death traps could be cited in the Scriptures.

6. The wise young man will be AWARE of such traps… and will learn from the laws of the wise… see through the deceitful bait in the trap… and depart from it!

a. And hence, he is protected—spiritually!

b. This young man wasn’t fooled by the short lived promise of pleasure…

c. He sees the trap for what it is: a trap to be avoided!

d. Instead, he will be attracted to the fountain of life… because he sees the long term benefits of it.

e. Stop and think about a carefully baited death trap.
• Try to picture an animal standing before a baited trap—looking at the bait… being enticed.
• The animal is absorbed with thoughts of a luscious meal… and is about to pounce.
• But as we stand back and observe, we KNOW what’s going to happen. He will be caught in the trap… and killed!
• We look and think—what a dumb animal to fall for such a trap.
• Solomon observed men falling for the same kinds of traps…
• He recorded his findings for our learning. Don’t be like the dumb animal. Be wise. See the traps for what they are… and depart from them.
• Be attracted instead to that which is good—to the fountains of life…

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