Proverbs 14:8

ESV The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.
NIV The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
NASB The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, But the foolishness of fools is deceit.
CSB The sensible person's wisdom is to consider his way, but the stupidity of fools deceives them.
NLT The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.
KJV The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.

What does Proverbs 14:8 mean?

The Hebrew term for "prudent" here is also translated as "shrewd," which is not an inherently negative trait. Those who are "shrewd" are sensible, aware, and purposeful in their thinking (Proverbs 12:16, 23; 13:16). Jesus advocated a benevolent kind of shrewdness when He commissioned a group of missionaries (Matthew 10:16). The "prudent" person is not rash in his decisions. He thinks things through carefully before deciding. He wants to go where God leads him.

This trait was exhibited by Abraham's servant, who was on a mission to find a bride for Isaac. He carefully asked the Lord to direct him to the right young lady. He prayed: "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham" (Genesis 24:12). When the servant found Rebekah, he "bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, 'Blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master's kinsman" (Genesis 24:26–27).

However, unlike Abraham's wise servant, fools—those who ignore godly wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)—rush into situations. It doesn't occur to them that they might be wrong. Ultimately, though, they discover that their folly has tripped them up.
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