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Chapter 37

Every friend declares friendship,
    but there are friends who are friends in name only.(A)
Is it not a sorrow unto death
    when your other self becomes your enemy?
“Alas, my companion! Why were you created
    to fill the earth with deceit?”
A harmful friend will look to your table,
    but in time of trouble he stands aloof.
A good friend will fight with you against the foe,
    and against your enemies he will hold up your shield.
Do not forget your comrade during the battle,
    and do not neglect him when you distribute your spoils.

Every counselor points out a way,
    but some counsel ways of their own.
Watch out when one offers advice;
    find out first of all what he wants.
For he also may be thinking of himself—
    Why should the opportunity fall to him?
He may tell you how good your way will be,
    and then stand by to see you impoverished.
10 Seek no advice from your father-in-law,
    and from one who is envious of you, keep your intentions hidden.
11 Seek no advice from a woman about her rival,
    from a coward about war,
    from a merchant about business,
    from a buyer about value,
    from a miser about generosity,
    from a cruel person about well-being,
    from a worthless worker about his work,
    from a seasonal laborer about the harvest,
    from an idle slave about a great task—
    pay no attention to any advice they give.

12 Instead, associate with a religious person,
    who you know keeps the commandments;
Who is like-minded with yourself
    and will grieve for you if you fall.
13 Then, too, heed your own heart’s counsel;
    for there is nothing you can depend on more.
14 The heart can reveal your situation
    better than seven sentinels on a tower.
15 Then with all this, pray to God
    to make your steps firm in the true path.

Wisdom and Temperance

16 A word is the source of every deed;[a]
    a thought, of every act.(B)
17 The root of all conduct is the heart;
18     four branches it shoots forth:
Good and evil, death and life,
    and their absolute mistress is the tongue.(C)
19 One may be wise and benefit many,
    yet appear foolish to himself.
20 One may be wise, but if his words are rejected,
    he will be deprived of all enjoyment.[b]
22 When one is wise to his own advantage,
    the fruits of knowledge are seen in his own person.
23 When one is wise to the advantage of people,
    the fruits of knowledge are lasting.(D)
24 One wise for himself has full enjoyment,
    and all who see him praise him.
25 The days of one’s life are numbered,
    but the life of Israel, days without number.
26 One wise among the people wins a heritage of glory,
    and his name lives on and on.(E)

27 My son, while you are well, govern your appetite,[c]
    and see that you do not allow it what is bad for you.
28 For not everything is good for everyone,
    nor is everything suited to every taste.(F)
29 Do not go to excess with any enjoyment,(G)
    neither become a glutton for choice foods;
30 For sickness comes with overeating,
    and gluttony brings on nausea.
31 Through lack of self-control many have died,
    but the abstemious one prolongs life.


  1. 37:16–26 Thoughts determine action. Wisdom is the source of good and life; folly, of evil and death (vv. 16–18). If the fruits of a person’s wisdom benefit himself, he may be praised in his own lifetime; if they benefit others, the praise endures after him, in their lives (vv. 19–26).
  2. 37:20 Verse 21 appears only in Greek, but not in the Hebrew, which is the basis for the translation here.
  3. 37:27–31 Temperance and self-control should govern appetite for food, which is intended not to destroy but to preserve life.

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