Proverbs 14:35

ESV A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor, but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
NIV A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.
NASB The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, But his anger is toward him who acts shamefully.
CSB A king favors a prudent servant, but his anger falls on a disgraceful one.
NLT A king rejoices in wise servants but is angry with those who disgrace him.
KJV The king's favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.

What does Proverbs 14:35 mean?

Most "proverbs," whether from the Bible or outside it, are common-sense explanations of general wisdom. Even when they appear obvious, they are meant to impart some lesson. The more obvious a statement, the more likely it is that the lesson comes in asking "why" this is the case. In Scripture, those kinds of proverbs are often meant to inspire reflection about our relationship with God. In this case, it's self-evident that a servant can either please or anger his king; the point is found in examining what that means for us, in our own lives.

One clear application is a reminder that servants—or, in the modern world, employees and followers—should seek to be honorable as they go about their business. Rather than cheating or embarrassing their superiors, they should seek to be diligent and reap the expected rewards (Ephesians 6:5–9). In terms of our service to God, the same is true. A theme of the book of Proverbs is that sinfully ignoring God's will insults Him (Proverbs 14:31) and leads to negative consequences (Proverbs 14:32).

Joseph wisely advised Pharaoh, Egypt's king, to store food from a seven-year bountiful harvest that would help Egypt survive the following seven years of famine. As a result, Pharaoh favored Joseph with the position of second-in-command of the nation (Genesis 41). Centuries later, in Persia, the king honored Mordecai for saving his life, but he executed Haman when he learned that Haman plotted to wipe out Queen Esther's people (Esther 6—7). Also, in Persia, Daniel faithfully served King Darius, but was thrown into a den of lions when he was maliciously entrapped in violating an ungodly law passed by Darius (Daniel 6:12–13, 16). In the end, God delivered Daniel from the lions; Darius honored Daniel but threw his accusers into the same lions' den (Daniel 6:23–24).
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