Proverbs 28:14

ESV Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
NIV Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
NASB How blessed is the person who fears always, But one who hardens his heart will fall into disaster.
CSB Happy is the one who is always reverent, but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
NLT Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.
KJV Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

What does Proverbs 28:14 mean?

This proverb uses the Hebrew root word pachad, often used for the emotion of fear. Different terms translated into English as "fear" may refer more to respect or reverence (Proverbs 1:7; Leviticus 19:32). Both concepts are important, but this verse seems more inclined to the idea of alarm or dread. Those who stubbornly ignore the dangers of sin (Proverbs 22:5), warnings from others (Proverbs 12:15), or God's clear commands (Proverbs 1:23) set themselves up for catastrophe (Proverbs 8:32–36). This attitude is depicted as someone who "hardens his heart," a common phrase connected to obstinate disobedience to the Lord (Exodus 7:13; Daniel 5:20; John 12:40).

Later, Solomon (Proverbs 25:1) relates another proverb which warns about the consequences of stubborn rejection of God (Proverbs 29:1).

Some translators interpret this as an appeal to revere God. This is not an unreasonable conclusion, even if the Hebrew text itself does not mention "the LORD." The lesson contrasts with those who are stubborn, and the prior teaching referred to repentance (Proverbs 28:13). For a person to be properly reverent and seek goodness, obedience to God is implied (Proverbs 2:6–9).

Psalm 1 defines happiness, in part, as following the truths of God's Word. Happiness come by loving God's Word and obeying it. This means rejecting influence from the ungodly. The wicked receive divine judgment and are eternally separated from God, but the person who reveres the Lord enjoys a productive life. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus used a term meaning "blessed" or "happy" to describe "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6). The choice is clear: if a person chooses to honor the Lord and "fear" evil, they will be happy. If someone hardens their heart against the Lord, it eventually leads to disastrous trouble.
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