Proverbs 20:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 20:14, NIV: It's no good, it's no good!' says the buyer-- then goes off and boasts about the purchase.

Proverbs 20:14, ESV: “Bad, bad,” says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts.

Proverbs 20:14, KJV: It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

Proverbs 20:14, NASB: 'Bad, bad,' says the buyer, But when he goes his way, then he boasts.

Proverbs 20:14, NLT: The buyer haggles over the price, saying, 'It's worthless,' then brags about getting a bargain!

Proverbs 20:14, CSB: "It's worthless, it's worthless! " the buyer says, but after he is on his way, he gloats.

What does Proverbs 20:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Here, again, Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) notes an aspect of the real world without endorsing it (Proverbs 17:23; 18:16; 19:6). What's depicted here is a common tactic in business negotiations: to downplay the value of something one wishes to buy. The opposite is also the case, as a seller may over-promise or exaggerate a product or service. In one sense, Solomon's comment is a reminder of this aspect of business. When a potential buyer criticizes some product or service, it's naïve to assume those words are free from all bias (Proverbs 18:17). It's possible for someone to haggle for a low price, only to brag later about what a great deal they got. Or, for a seller to "talk up" something so a buyer spends more on it than they need to.

At worst, this practice can become blatantly dishonest. Some buyers or sellers overtly lie about a potential transaction. They go beyond looking to make a fair-yet-profitable deal. Deception and lies in business are forms of theft; it's cheating as much as are false weights or rigged scale (Proverbs 20:10, 23). Both stealing and lying violate God's commandments. Listed in the Ten Commandments are these: "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15) and "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16).

The New Testament also points out the evil of stealing and lying. Ephesians 4:25 states: "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor." Verse 28 implores, "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands." Colossians 3:9 commands: "Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices."