What does Proverbs 14:34 mean?
ESV: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
NIV: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.
NASB: Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.
CSB: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
NLT: Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
KJV: Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Verse Commentary:
Laws and government officials are, ultimately, extensions of the people. They are distilled versions of what that culture wants—or, at least, what it tolerates. When a nation is steeped in sin and rebellion against God, there are natural consequences. The strength of a nation might result in military or economic power, but the source of real strength is in the nation's moral character. Law and government will always turn towards the desires of the people, eventually. The presence of righteous individuals and families makes a nation strong, but wickedness in individuals and families degrades a nation and weakens it.

The book of Judges reveals these truths. When the people of Israel did was right in their own eyes but wrong in God's eyes, Israel succumbed to her enemies (Judges 2:11–23; 17:6). However, when the people called out to the Lord, He delivered the nation from her enemies (Judges 3:9–11, 15; 4:3, 23–24; 6:6–14; 10:10–16).

Also, in the times of the kings of Israel and Judah, idolatry and rebellion against God caused the northern nation of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah to fall and go into captivity (2 Kings 17:6–8). However, Judah had some good kings and periods of revival, whereas Israel had neither, therefore Judah survived nearly a century and a half longer than Israel before finally falling to the Babylonians (2 Chronicles 36:17–21; Daniel 1:1).
Verse Context:
Proverbs 14:15–35 continues Solomon's wise sayings, once again mostly contrasting the wicked and the upright. He points out that those who do evil, by rejecting God's wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) are foolish and have no security. Those who do God's will (Proverbs 3:5) are wise and have unfailing security.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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