Proverbs 14:12-16 essentially deal with sharp distinctions between the wise and the foolish.
Verse 12--There is a way that seems right to a person,
but the end is the way to death.
Verse 13--Even in laughter the heart is sad,
and the end of joy is grief.
Verse 14--The perverse get what their ways deserve,
and the good, what their deeds deserve.
Verse 15--The simple believe everything,
but the clever consider their steps.
Verse 16--The wise fear and turn away from evil,
but the fool throws off restraint and it careless.
What practical lessons do these proverbs teach for daily living?
1. Just because a way of life "seems" right does not mean it "is" right. We human beings are easily deceived. Therefore, the wise path is to follow God's teaching even when they do not make sense to us.
2. When human beings are sad, they can hide their true feelings by pretending to be happy. If we really want to help people in need, we must learn to look beneath the external appearances to try to discover what is really going on in the heart.
3. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8), sometimes almost immediately, sometimes in the distant future, perhaps even in eternity. Hence, what we are doing now is preparing for us certain results as our lives unfold.
4. Many make the fatal mistake of letting others think for them. One of the most important goals of godly education is to help people think for themselves, and not to believe what others say without first weighing the evidence.
5. The Hebrew in Proverbs 14:16 says: "The wise person fears and turns away from evil." Some versions read: "The wise are cautious and turn away from evil." In light of the similarity with Job 1:1, 8; 28:28; Proverbs 16:6; etc., it seems best to understand "fear" here as "fear of God." The thought, then, would be: One who is wise fear God [that is, holds God in the highest regard] and [thus] turns away from evil.