Proverbs 14:5

ESV A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.
NIV An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.
NASB A trustworthy witness will not lie, But a false witness declares lies.
CSB An honest witness does not deceive, but a dishonest witness utters lies.
NLT An honest witness does not lie; a false witness breathes lies.
KJV A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
NKJV A faithful witness does not lie, But a false witness will utter lies.

What does Proverbs 14:5 mean?

The statement here closely resembles Proverbs 12:17. The Bible teaches us to be truthful. The book of Proverbs highlights the importance of this concept by frequently contrasting deception and lies from honesty and truth. Most of these references are in the context of legal or courtroom matters: circumstances where deception or dishonesty are obviously disallowed and inexcusable. This provides a subtle contrast to situations like stage acting, sports, games, or war, where there's a tacit expectation of misleading words or actions. The image of a person who "breathes out" lies is the one who is perpetually dishonest, deceptive, or sneaky.

Often the judge in legal disputes, Solomon was keenly aware of the importance of reliable witnesses. Later in this same book, he assures us a false witness will be punished for lying (Proverbs 19:5). He states further that a liar will perish (Proverbs 19:9). In Proverbs 24:28, he urges: "Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips." In Proverbs 25:18 he compares a person who bears false witness against his neighbor to a weapon. Just as these inflict severe harm on a body, so too do lies severely hurt their victim.

Jesus expects His people to bear honest testimony about Him. He told His disciples, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Paul, one of Jesus' foremost witnesses, told Governor Festus, "Most excellent Festus…I am speaking true and rational words" (Acts 26:25).
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