Daily reading for Thursday, October 17, 2013

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Proverbs 20:22 - Ecclesiastes 2:26 (New International Version)

Proverbs 20:22 - Ecclesiastes 2:26

22 Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.

23 The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales do not please him.

24 A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
    How then can anyone understand their own way?

25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly
    and only later to consider one’s vows.

26 A wise king winnows out the wicked;
    he drives the threshing wheel over them.

27 The human spirit is[a] the lamp of the Lord
    that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;
    through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength,
    gray hair the splendor of the old.

30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
    and beatings purge the inmost being.

21 In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
    that he channels toward all who please him.

A person may think their own ways are right,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

To do what is right and just
    is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
    the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
    as surely as haste leads to poverty.

A fortune made by a lying tongue
    is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.[b]

The violence of the wicked will drag them away,
    for they refuse to do what is right.

The way of the guilty is devious,
    but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

10 The wicked crave evil;
    their neighbors get no mercy from them.

11 When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom;
    by paying attention to the wise they get knowledge.

12 The Righteous One[c] takes note of the house of the wicked
    and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
    will also cry out and not be answered.

14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,
    and a bribe concealed in the cloak pacifies great wrath.

15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous
    but terror to evildoers.

16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence
    comes to rest in the company of the dead.

17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;
    whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
    and the unfaithful for the upright.

19 Better to live in a desert
    than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
    but fools gulp theirs down.

21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love
    finds life, prosperity[d] and honor.

22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty
    and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.

23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues
    keep themselves from calamity.

24 The proud and arrogant person—“Mocker” is his name—
    behaves with insolent fury.

25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him,
    because his hands refuse to work.
26 All day long he craves for more,
    but the righteous give without sparing.

27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable
    how much more so when brought with evil intent!

28 A false witness will perish,
    but a careful listener will testify successfully.

29 The wicked put up a bold front,
    but the upright give thought to their ways.

30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
    that can succeed against the Lord.

31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but victory rests with the Lord.

22 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.

The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor and life.

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

The generous will themselves be blessed,
    for they share their food with the poor.

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended.

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!
    I’ll be killed in the public square!”

14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;
    a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Thirty Sayings of the Wise

Saying 1

17 Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
    I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
    sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,
    so that you bring back truthful reports
    to those you serve?

Saying 2

22 Do not exploit the poor because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court,
23 for the Lord will take up their case
    and will exact life for life.

Saying 3

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared.

Saying 4

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge
    or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
    your very bed will be snatched from under you.

Saying 5

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
    set up by your ancestors.

Saying 6

29 Do you see someone skilled in their work?
    They will serve before kings;
    they will not serve before officials of low rank.

Saying 7

23 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
    note well what[e] is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
    if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
    for that food is deceptive.

Saying 8

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
    do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
    for they will surely sprout wings
    and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Saying 9

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
    do not crave his delicacies;
for he is the kind of person
    who is always thinking about the cost.[f]
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten
    and will have wasted your compliments.

Saying 10

Do not speak to fools,
    for they will scorn your prudent words.

Saying 11

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
    or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong;
    he will take up their case against you.

Saying 12

12 Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

Saying 13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
    if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
    and save them from death.

Saying 14

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak what is right.

Saying 15

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
    but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Saying 17

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
    a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
    may she who gave you birth be joyful!

Saying 18

26 My son, give me your heart
    and let your eyes delight in my ways,
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,
    and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait
    and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Saying 19

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaints?
    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup,
    when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
    and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
    and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
    lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
    so I can find another drink?”

Saying 20

24 Do not envy the wicked,
    do not desire their company;
for their hearts plot violence,
    and their lips talk about making trouble.

Saying 21

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

Saying 22

The wise prevail through great power,
    and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
    and victory is won through many advisers.

Saying 23

Wisdom is too high for fools;
    in the assembly at the gate they must not open their mouths.

Saying 24

Whoever plots evil
    will be known as a schemer.
The schemes of folly are sin,
    and people detest a mocker.

Saying 25

10 If you falter in a time of trouble,
    how small is your strength!
11 Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

Saying 26

13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good;
    honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
14 Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:
    If you find it, there is a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

Saying 27

15 Do not lurk like a thief near the house of the righteous,
    do not plunder their dwelling place;
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
    but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

Saying 28

17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

Saying 29

19 Do not fret because of evildoers
    or be envious of the wicked,
20 for the evildoer has no future hope,
    and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Saying 30

21 Fear the Lord and the king, my son,
    and do not join with rebellious officials,
22 for those two will send sudden destruction on them,
    and who knows what calamities they can bring?

Further Sayings of the Wise

23 These also are sayings of the wise:

To show partiality in judging is not good:
24 Whoever says to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
    will be cursed by peoples and denounced by nations.
25 But it will go well with those who convict the guilty,
    and rich blessing will come on them.

26 An honest answer
    is like a kiss on the lips.

27 Put your outdoor work in order
    and get your fields ready;
    after that, build your house.

28 Do not testify against your neighbor without cause
    would you use your lips to mislead?
29 Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;
    I’ll pay them back for what they did.”

30 I went past the field of a sluggard,
    past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest
34 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

More Proverbs of Solomon

25 These are more proverbs of Solomon, compiled by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
    to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
    so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

Remove the dross from the silver,
    and a silversmith can produce a vessel;
remove wicked officials from the king’s presence,
    and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
    and do not claim a place among his great men;
it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
    than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.

What you have seen with your eyes
    do not bring[g] hastily to court,
for what will you do in the end
    if your neighbor puts you to shame?

If you take your neighbor to court,
    do not betray another’s confidence,
10 or the one who hears it may shame you
    and the charge against you will stand.

11 Like apples[h] of gold in settings of silver
    is a ruling rightly given.
12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold
    is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.

13 Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time
    is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him;
    he refreshes the spirit of his master.
14 Like clouds and wind without rain
    is one who boasts of gifts never given.

15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
    and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

16 If you find honey, eat just enough—
    too much of it, and you will vomit.
17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
    too much of you, and they will hate you.

18 Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow
    is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.
19 Like a broken tooth or a lame foot
    is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.
20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day,
    or like vinegar poured on a wound,
    is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the Lord will reward you.

23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain
    is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.

24 Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

25 Like cold water to a weary soul
    is good news from a distant land.
26 Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
    are the righteous who give way to the wicked.

27 It is not good to eat too much honey,
    nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep.

28 Like a city whose walls are broken through
    is a person who lacks self-control.

26 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest,
    honor is not fitting for a fool.
Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
    an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the backs of fools!
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.
Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
    so fools repeat their folly.
12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

13 A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
    a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
14 As a door turns on its hinges,
    so a sluggard turns on his bed.
15 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
    he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
16 A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
    than seven people who answer discreetly.

17 Like one who grabs a stray dog by the ears
    is someone who rushes into a quarrel not their own.

18 Like a maniac shooting
    flaming arrows of death
19 is one who deceives their neighbor
    and says, “I was only joking!”

20 Without wood a fire goes out;
    without a gossip a quarrel dies down.
21 As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire,
    so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.
22 The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
    they go down to the inmost parts.

23 Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware
    are fervent[i] lips with an evil heart.
24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it;
    if someone rolls a stone, it will roll back on them.
28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
    and a flattering mouth works ruin.

27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
    an outsider, and not your own lips.

Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
    but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
    but who can stand before jealousy?

Better is open rebuke
    than hidden love.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
    but an enemy multiplies kisses.

One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
    but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

Like a bird that flees its nest
    is anyone who flees from home.

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
    and the pleasantness of a friend
    springs from their heartfelt advice.

10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
    and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
    better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.

11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart;
    then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.

12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
    hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.

14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
    it will be taken as a curse.

15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
    of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
    or grasping oil with the hand.

17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
    and whoever protects their master will be honored.

19 As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.[j]

20 Death and Destruction[k] are never satisfied,
    and neither are human eyes.

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but people are tested by their praise.

22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar,
    grinding them like grain with a pestle,
    you will not remove their folly from them.

23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
    give careful attention to your herds;
24 for riches do not endure forever,
    and a crown is not secure for all generations.
25 When the hay is removed and new growth appears
    and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
26 the lambs will provide you with clothing,
    and the goats with the price of a field.
27 You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
    and to nourish your female servants.

28 The wicked flee though no one pursues,
    but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
    but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order.

A ruler[l] who oppresses the poor
    is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.

Those who forsake instruction praise the wicked,
    but those who heed it resist them.

Evildoers do not understand what is right,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it fully.

Better the poor whose walk is blameless
    than the rich whose ways are perverse.

A discerning son heeds instruction,
    but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.

Whoever increases wealth by taking interest or profit from the poor
    amasses it for another, who will be kind to the poor.

If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction,
    even their prayers are detestable.

10 Whoever leads the upright along an evil path
    will fall into their own trap,
    but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.

11 The rich are wise in their own eyes;
    one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are.

12 When the righteous triumph, there is great elation;
    but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.

13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

14 Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
    but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.

15 Like a roaring lion or a charging bear
    is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.

16 A tyrannical ruler practices extortion,
    but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign.

17 Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder
    will seek refuge in the grave;
    let no one hold them back.

18 The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe,
    but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit.[m]

19 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.

20 A faithful person will be richly blessed,
    but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

21 To show partiality is not good
    yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread.

22 The stingy are eager to get rich
    and are unaware that poverty awaits them.

23 Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor
    rather than one who has a flattering tongue.

24 Whoever robs their father or mother
    and says, “It’s not wrong,”
    is partner to one who destroys.

25 The greedy stir up conflict,
    but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.

26 Those who trust in themselves are fools,
    but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding;
    but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive.

29 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
    will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
    when the wicked rule, the people groan.

A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
    but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.

By justice a king gives a country stability,
    but those who are greedy for[n] bribes tear it down.

Those who flatter their neighbors
    are spreading nets for their feet.

Evildoers are snared by their own sin,
    but the righteous shout for joy and are glad.

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

Mockers stir up a city,
    but the wise turn away anger.

If a wise person goes to court with a fool,
    the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.

10 The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity
    and seek to kill the upright.

11 Fools give full vent to their rage,
    but the wise bring calm in the end.

12 If a ruler listens to lies,
    all his officials become wicked.

13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common:
    The Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor with fairness,
    his throne will be established forever.

15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
    but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
    but the righteous will see their downfall.

17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
    they will bring you the delights you desire.

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
    though they understand, they will not respond.

20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them.

21 A servant pampered from youth
    will turn out to be insolent.

22 An angry person stirs up conflict,
    and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

23 Pride brings a person low,
    but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

24 The accomplices of thieves are their own enemies;
    they are put under oath and dare not testify.

25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

26 Many seek an audience with a ruler,
    but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

27 The righteous detest the dishonest;
    the wicked detest the upright.

Sayings of Agur

30 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh—an inspired utterance.

This man’s utterance to Ithiel:

“I am weary, God,
    but I can prevail.[o]
Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
    I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
    Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
    Surely you know!

“Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

10 “Do not slander a servant to their master,
    or they will curse you, and you will pay for it.

11 “There are those who curse their fathers
    and do not bless their mothers;
12 those who are pure in their own eyes
    and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
13 those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
    whose glances are so disdainful;
14 those whose teeth are swords
    and whose jaws are set with knives
to devour the poor from the earth
    and the needy from among mankind.

15 “The leech has two daughters.
    ‘Give! Give!’ they cry.

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
    four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
16 the grave, the barren womb,
    land, which is never satisfied with water,
    and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’

17 “The eye that mocks a father,
    that scorns an aged mother,
will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley,
    will be eaten by the vultures.

18 “There are three things that are too amazing for me,
    four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a young woman.

20 “This is the way of an adulterous woman:
    She eats and wipes her mouth
    and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’

21 “Under three things the earth trembles,
    under four it cannot bear up:
22 a servant who becomes king,
    a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
23 a contemptible woman who gets married,
    and a servant who displaces her mistress.

24 “Four things on earth are small,
    yet they are extremely wise:
25 Ants are creatures of little strength,
    yet they store up their food in the summer;
26 hyraxes are creatures of little power,
    yet they make their home in the crags;
27 locusts have no king,
    yet they advance together in ranks;
28 a lizard can be caught with the hand,
    yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride,
    four that move with stately bearing:
30 a lion, mighty among beasts,
    who retreats before nothing;
31 a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
    and a king secure against revolt.[p]

32 “If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
    or if you plan evil,
    clap your hand over your mouth!
33 For as churning cream produces butter,
    and as twisting the nose produces blood,
    so stirring up anger produces strife.”

Sayings of King Lemuel

31 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
Do not spend your strength[q] on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [r]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Everything Is Meaningless

The words of the Teacher,[s] son of David, king in Jerusalem:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

Wisdom Is Meaningless

12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be straightened;
    what is lacking cannot be counted.

16 I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
    the more knowledge, the more grief.

Pleasures Are Meaningless

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.

I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[t] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.

Wisdom and Folly Are Meaningless

12 Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom,
    and also madness and folly.
What more can the king’s successor do
    than what has already been done?
13 I saw that wisdom is better than folly,
    just as light is better than darkness.
14 The wise have eyes in their heads,
    while the fool walks in the darkness;
but I came to realize
    that the same fate overtakes them both.

15 Then I said to myself,

“The fate of the fool will overtake me also.
    What then do I gain by being wise?”
I said to myself,
    “This too is meaningless.”
16 For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
    the days have already come when both have been forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise too must die!

Toil Is Meaningless

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 20:27 Or A person’s words are
  2. Proverbs 21:6 Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Vulgate; most Hebrew manuscripts vapor for those who seek death
  3. Proverbs 21:12 Or The righteous person
  4. Proverbs 21:21 Or righteousness
  5. Proverbs 23:1 Or who
  6. Proverbs 23:7 Or for as he thinks within himself, / so he is; or for as he puts on a feast, / so he is
  7. Proverbs 25:8 Or nobles / on whom you had set your eyes. / Do not go
  8. Proverbs 25:11 Or possibly apricots
  9. Proverbs 26:23 Hebrew; Septuagint smooth
  10. Proverbs 27:19 Or so others reflect your heart back to you
  11. Proverbs 27:20 Hebrew Abaddon
  12. Proverbs 28:3 Or A poor person
  13. Proverbs 28:18 Syriac (see Septuagint); Hebrew into one
  14. Proverbs 29:4 Or who give
  15. Proverbs 30:1 With a different word division of the Hebrew; Masoretic Text utterance to Ithiel, / to Ithiel and Ukal:
  16. Proverbs 30:31 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
  17. Proverbs 31:3 Or wealth
  18. Proverbs 31:10 Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
  19. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Or the leader of the assembly; also in verses 2 and 12
  20. Ecclesiastes 2:8 The meaning of the Hebrew for this phrase is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)

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