What does Proverbs 14:10 mean?
ESV: The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
NIV: Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.
NASB: The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy.
CSB: The heart knows its own bitterness, and no outsider shares in its joy.
NLT: Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.
KJV: The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
No other human being can fully know the pain a person is experiencing (1 Samuel 16:7). Only the Lord knows, and He cares (Hebrews 4:14–16; 1 Peter 5:7). First Corinthians 2:11 asks, "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?" Although we may offer words of comfort and encouragement, it may be best simply to draw alongside a grieving person and be silent (Romans 12:15). We might not understand another person's pain; we might not even agree that their unhappiness is justified. All the same, other people's suffering is real whether it's rational or not, and whether we fully understand it or not.
It is also true that no one can experience another person's joy. Every person goes through private emotions in his inner being. However, we can, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). The church is a fellowship of believers that share a mutual love for God and one another. When one member of the church suffers, all the members suffer; when one member receives honor, all the members rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Proverbs 14:1–10 continues a long series of short, general-case, common-sense statements of godly wisdom. This section focuses on personal diligence, relationship to the Lord, conversation, witness, prudent behavior, and private emotions. Once again, the spotlight focuses on what is admirable versus that which is disgraceful.
This continues a series of literal "proverbs:" short statements of general-case wisdom. The first ten verses of this chapter contrast positive and negative traits related to work ethic, self-control, and seeking wisdom. Then come several verses contrasting the fate of the righteous with that of the wicked. The rest of this passage provides statements on a broad range of subjects.
Proverbs 14 continues King Solomon's wise sayings. In this chapter he discusses a variety of topics such as wisdom and folly, honesty and dishonesty, righteousness and evil, national security and national disgrace, personal security and destruction, the fear of the Lord, generosity, and wise servanthood. This series of astute comments will continue for several more chapters.
Proverbs is best understood in context with the books of Ecclesiastes and Job. In Proverbs, “wisdom” is given in short, simple, general terms. Ecclesiastes represents wisdom based on observation and experience. This often shows how the general principles of the book of Proverbs don’t apply in absolutely every circumstance. Job represents wisdom based on the experience of suffering and injustice. All three come to the conclusion that God does indeed know best, and the most sensible course of action is to follow His will.
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