The Value of Proverbs
1 1 These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David's son, Israel's king - 2 Written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going; 3 A manual for living, for learning what's right and just and fair; 4 To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality. 5 There's something here also for seasoned men and women, 6 still a thing or two for the experienced to learn - Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. Start with God
7 Start with God - the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.
10 Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don't go along with them. 11 If they say - "Let's go out and raise some hell. Let's beat up some old man, mug some old woman. 12 Let's pick them clean and get them ready for their funerals. 13 We'll load up on top-quality loot. We'll haul it home by the truckload. 14 Join us for the time of your life! With us, it's share and share alike!" - 15 Oh, friend, don't give them a second look; don't listen to them for a minute. 16 They're racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on. 17 Nobody robs a bank with everyone watching, 18 Yet that's what these people are doing - they're doing themselves in. 19 When you grab all you can get, that's what happens: the more you get, the less you are. Lady Wisdom
20 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech. 21 In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out: 22 "Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn? 23 About face! I can revise your life. Look, I'm ready to pour out my spirit on you; I'm ready to tell you all I know. 24 As it is, I've called, but you've turned a deaf ear; I've reached out to you, but you've ignored me. 25 "Since you laugh at my counsel and make a joke of my advice, 26 How can I take you seriously? I'll turn the tables and joke about your troubles! 27 What if the roof falls in, and your whole life goes to pieces? What if catastrophe strikes and there's nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes? 28 You'll need me then. You'll call for me, but don't expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won't find me. 29 "Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God, 30 Because you wouldn't take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you, 31 Well, you've made your bed - now lie in it; you wanted your own way - now, how do you like it? 32 Don't you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. 33 First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy - you're in good hands."
The Reward of Seeking Wisdom
2 1 Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. 2 Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. 3 That's right - if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for an answer, 4 Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, 5 Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you'll have come upon the Knowledge of God. 6 And here's why: God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. 7 He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. 8 He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones. 9 So now you can pick out what's true and fair, find all the good trails!
10 Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion. 11 Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, Insight will keep an eye out for you. 12 They'll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions 13 Of those who are lost themselves and can't tell a trail from a tumbleweed, 14 These losers who make a game of evil and throw parties to celebrate perversity, 15 Traveling paths that go nowhere, wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends. 16 Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress - that smooth-talking Seductress 17 Who's faithless to the husband she married years ago, never gave a second thought to her promises before God. 18 Her whole way of life is doomed; every step she takes brings her closer to hell. 19 No one who joins her company ever comes back, ever sets foot on the path to real living. 20 So - join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried and true paths. 21 It's the men who walk straight who will settle this land, the women with integrity who will last here. 22 The corrupt will lose their lives; the dishonest will be gone for good.
Exhortations to Obedience
3 1 Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands. 2 They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well. 3 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. 4 Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. 5 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
7 Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! 8 Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! 9 Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. 10 Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. 11 But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. 12 It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this. The Very Tree of Life
13 You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. 14 She's worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. 15 Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. 16 With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. 17 Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. 18 She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight - and be blessed! 19 With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth; with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven. 20 They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface, and dew to descend from the night skies. Never Walk Away
21 Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don't for a minute lose sight of them. 22 They'll keep your soul alive and well, they'll keep you fit and attractive. 23 You'll travel safely, you'll neither tire nor trip. 24 You'll take afternoon naps without a worry, you'll enjoy a good night's sleep. 25 No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner, 26 Because God will be right there with you; he'll keep you safe and sound.
27 Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. 28 Don't tell your neighbor, "Maybe some other time," or, "Try me tomorrow," when the money's right there in your pocket. 29 Don't figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor when he's sitting there trusting and unsuspecting. 30 Don't walk around with a chip on your shoulder, always spoiling for a fight. 31 Don't try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully? 32 "Why not?" you say. Because God can't stand twisted souls. It's the straightforward who get his respect. 33 God's curse blights the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. 34 He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder, but if you're down on your luck, he's right there to help. 35 Wise living gets rewarded with honor; stupid living gets the booby prize.