Proverbs 14:34
34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to {any} people.   (NAS)

What makes a nation great? If it is armament and the ability to conquer then atheistic Russia must be a great nation. If it is great wealth then the oil barons who worship false god's have a great nation. You would most likely say no that doesn't make a great nation. Well, what does? Our text tells us righteousness makes a great nation. Let us consider the elements of this text.

1.    A proverb for a Great Nation Speaks of Righteousness:  v 34 a

" Righteousness exalts a nation,. . . "
What is righteousness? It is the rendering to all their due, whether to God or man. A righteous person and a righteous nation will have both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. Righteousness means to be upright, to be a person of integrity. The Bible speaks of God being righteous therefore righteousness is a Godlike characteristic.

In the Bible there are:

Righteous Paths Pr. 23:3

Righteous Offering Pr. 33:19

Righteous Speech Pr. 32:5

Righteous Labor Pr. 10:16

Righteous Desires Pr. 10:24

Righteous Fruit Pr. 11:30

Righteous Thoughts Pr. 12:5

Righteous Home Pr. 15:6

Righteous Heart Pr. 15:28

Put a piece of music before me and it means nothing. To me it looks like a lot of ants walking along lines. But this music in the hands of a musician becomes alive and meaningful. It is one thing to show a person what it says in the Bible and another to live it before him.


The only way a nation can be righteous is for the people who make up the nation to be righteous people. We cannot expect those who do not know Christ to understand righteousness and to live righteously. Most of all, Christ expects us to live righteously. Notice the next phrase of this verse:

II. A Proverb For a Great Nation Speaks of That Nation Being Exalted. v. 34 b 

". . . exalts a nation, . . . "

This word exalted has reference not to material things, but to moral character. This righteous nation will be trusted by others. Her name will come up whenever someone is wanted who can be wise, prudent, and honest. These qualities will cause her to be exalted in other areas.

ILLUSTRATION    What makes a nation great?

The Great China Wall

The Roman Empire

Germany The Nazis

Japanese and the Communists

The early settlers in America.


Is America a great nation by this standard? Does the world exalt her because of her moral conduct. When someone is wanted who can be a trusted friend, are we called upon? If we have been this friend will our present moral fiber keep this kind of exaltation for our nation? Now notice the contrast to righteousness presented in this verse.

III.    A Proverb for a Great Nation Speaks a Word About Sin.  v34c.

". . . but sin is a disgrace to {any} people.  "
The Hebrew word here translated "sin" is the word HATAH. It means missing the mark or goal that God has set for righteous living. This type of sin is error, failure, blunder and happens to all, but should never be a nation's lifestyle. The writer knew other words to describe sin such as rebellion or straying, but he chose this word. If a nation is characterized as one that is constantly below God's standard. . .that nation is not great.

Many years ago the small farmers of Scotland were very superstitious. They would leave a corner of their fields uncultivated to pacify certain evil spirits. They believed that by sacrificing this one corner to the spirits the remainder of the field would be left undisturbed and yield good results. But what happened was that the uncultivated corner produced a crop of weeds and when the wind blew, those weeds were scattered across the whole field. The whole field suffered because of weeds in one corner.


A nation or an individual that gives a place to Satan and sin is bound to have evil results in his/her life. Sin should be the exception rather than the rule. Corruption and graft should not characterize a person, a city, a state, or a nation. Notice the fourth phrase in verse 34.

IV. A Proverb For a Great Nation Speaks About Disgrace or Reproach.   v 34 d. 

". . . but sin is a disgrace to {any} people. "

The word translated disgrace or reproach is a strong word. Its broader meaning includes such words as shame and misery. It is pointing out the contrast between the effects of righteousness and three of sin. Exaltation or Disgrace is the choice available. This word may be saying any attempt at worship when sin is the lifestyle of the worshiper or the nation is a disgrace to God.

Repeat some sad pages of American History:



Today's controversy about senators & pages.

Impeachment trial.


I am only one, but I am one.

I can not do everything, but I can do something.

By God's grace I will be a

righteous person and call for

righteousness in our nation, so

We will not be a disgrace.


This Proverb is for a great nation. It must be headed by individuals who make up that nation. Today we will sing a song of invitation. Inviting you to come and make your decision for Christ.




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And Beyond.    Amen?    Amen!