Proverbs 14:16

ESV One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
NIV The wise fear the LORD and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure.
NASB A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.
CSB A wise person is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is easily angered and is careless.
NLT The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.
KJV A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

What does Proverbs 14:16 mean?

A wise person doesn't act on pure instinct (2 Peter 2:12), failing to think (Proverbs 14:12). Rather, a wise person gives careful thought to every situation (Proverbs 14:15). Instead of turning into a sinful situation, he turns away from it. A foolish person plunges recklessly into sin. The word translated as "cautious" here is from the same root word as the "fear" connected to "the fear of the Lord" in other verses (Proverbs 1:7). This implies a respect or reverence, in contrast to something careless or arrogant.

Samson foolishly plunged into a reckless situation with Delilah. His thoughtless action cost him defeat, disgrace, and death (Judges 16:4–30). King David played the fool by succumbing to lust for Bathsheba. He summoned her and committed adultery with her (2 Samuel 11:1–5), and then later he killed her husband to cover it up (2 Samuel 11:6–27). David brought many negative consequences upon himself (2 Samuel 12). The Lord Jesus epitomizes wisdom in every situation, including the situation in which one is tempted to do evil. Matthew 4 presents the scene in which the Devil tempted Jesus when Jesus was physically weak after fasting forty days and forty nights in the wilderness. Every time the Devil tempted Jesus, Jesus warded off the temptation by quoting Scripture. Instead of recklessly diving into a compromising situation, a believer should follow Jesus' example and take the sword of the Spirit, which is God's Word (Ephesians 6:17). First Corinthians 10:13 encourages, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
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