10 A few dead flies in perfume make all of it stink, and a little foolishness outweighs a lot of wisdom. 2 Sensible thoughts lead you to do right; foolish thoughts lead you to do wrong. 3 Fools show their stupidity by the way they live; it’s easy to see they have no sense. 4 Don’t give up your job when your boss gets angry. If you stay calm, you’ll be forgiven.
5 Some things rulers do are terribly unfair: 6 They honor fools, but dishonor the rich; 7 they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.
8 If you dig a pit, you might fall in; if you break down a wall, a snake might bite you.[a] 9 You could even get hurt by chiseling a stone or chopping a log. 10 If you don’t sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you’ll know what to do.[b] 11 The power to charm a snake does you no good if it bites you anyway.
12 If you talk sensibly, you will have friends; if you talk foolishly, you will destroy yourself. 13 Fools begin with nonsense, and their stupid chatter ends with disaster. 14 They never tire of talking, but none of us really know what the future will bring. 15 Fools wear themselves out— they don’t know enough to find their way home.[c]
16 A country is in for trouble when its ruler is childish, and its leaders party all day long. 17 But a nation will prosper when its ruler is mature, and its leaders don’t party too much. 18 Some people are too lazy to fix a leaky roof— then the house falls in. 19 Eating and drinking make you feel happy, and bribes can buy everything you need. 20 Don’t even think about cursing the king; don’t curse the rich, not even in secret. A little bird might hear and tell everything.
10.8a snake might bite you: Walls of houses were often made of stones with mud to fill in the cracks between them. If some of the mud washed out, a snake could be living inside the wall.
10.10do: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
10.15home: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
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