Proverbs 15:14

ESV The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
NIV The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.
NASB The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
CSB A discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
NLT A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.
KJV The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

What does Proverbs 15:14 mean?

One facet of godliness is the active search for God's truth (Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 6:7–8). Those who sincerely desire godliness pursue such knowledge (Proverbs 8:17). This corresponds to the idea of humanity being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27): as rational, intentional creatures.

In contrast, those who reject God act more like animals (2 Peter 2:12). This proverb employs a Hebrew word often used in reference to livestock: the fool "grazes" on their own foolishness. This hints at the mindless, unthinking nature of those who settle for what's preferred over what's true (2 Timothy 4:3). An unbeliever lacks knowledge of God, instead foolishly "chewing on" empty pleasure, false notions, pointless pursuits, and materialistic gain.

Jesus told a story about a rich farmer who thought he could satisfy his soul with material things. When his crops burst with a bountiful harvest, he decided to build bigger barns to hold the abundance, and he mistakenly assumed he was secure for many years. He planned to tell his soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry" (Luke 12:19). But God called him a fool and demanded his soul that night (Luke 12:20).

Like the farmer, everyone who thinks earthly things can satisfy the soul is a fool. "Grazing" on foolishness ends suddenly in judgment. The discerning person understands that only the Lord can satisfy the heart and soul. Therefore, he grows in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
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