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Wisdom Exalts God

16 Go ahead and make all the plans you want,
    but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps.[a]
We are all in love with our own opinions,
    convinced they’re correct.
    But the Lord is in the midst of us,[b]
    testing and probing our every motive.
Before you do anything,
    put your trust totally in God and not in yourself.[c]
    Then every plan you make will succeed.
The Lord works everything together to accomplish his purpose.[d]
    Even the wicked are included in his plans—
    he sets them aside for the day of disaster.
Yahweh detests all the proud[e] of heart,
    for pride attracts his punishment—
    and you can count on that!
You can avoid evil through surrendered worship
    and the fear of God,
    for the power of his faithful love
    removes sin’s guilt and grip over you.
When the Lord is pleased with the decisions you’ve made,
    he activates grace to turn enemies into friends.
It is better to have little with a heart that loves justice
    than to be rich and not have God on your side.
Within your heart you can make plans for your future,
    but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.

Living like a King

10 A king speaks the revelation of truth,
    so he must be extraordinarily careful in the decrees that he makes.
11 The Lord expects you to be fair in every business deal,
    for he is the one who sets the standards for righteousness.[f]
12 Kings and leaders despise wrongdoing,
    for the true authority to rule and reign
    is built on a foundation of righteousness.
13 Kings and leaders love to hear godly counsel,
    and they love those who tell them the truth.
14 The anger of a king releases the messenger of death,[g]
    but a wise person will know how to pacify his wrath.
15 Life-giving light streams from the presence of a king,[h]
    and his favor is showered upon those who please him.
16 Everyone wants gold, but wisdom’s worth[i] is far greater.
    Silver is sought after,
    but a heart of understanding yields a greater return.
17 Repenting from evil places you on the highway of holiness.
    Protect purity and you protect your life.[j]
18 Your boast becomes a prophecy of a future failure.
    The higher you lift yourself up in pride,[k]
    the harder you’ll fall in disgrace.
19 It’s better to be meek and lowly and live among the poor
    than to live high and mighty among the rich and famous.
20 One skilled in business discovers prosperity,
    but the one who trusts in God is blessed beyond belief!

Walking with Wisdom

21 The one with a wise heart is called “discerning,”
    and speaking sweetly to others
    makes your teaching even more convincing.
22 Wisdom is a deep well of understanding
    opened up within you as a fountain of life for others,
    but it’s senseless to try to instruct a fool.
23 Winsome words pour from a heart of wisdom,
    adding value to all you teach.
24 Nothing is more appealing
    than speaking beautiful, life-giving words.
    For they release sweetness to our souls
    and inner healing to our spirits.[l]
25 Before every person there is a path
    that seems like the right one to take,
    but it leads straight to hell![m]
26 Life motivation comes from the deep longings of the heart,
    and the passion to see them fulfilled urges you onward.[n]
27 A wicked scoundrel wants to dig up dirt on others,
    only to spread slander and shred their reputation.
28 A twisted person spreads rumors;
    a whispering gossip ruins good friendships.
29 A vicious criminal can be persuasive,
    enticing others to join him as partners in crime,
    but he leads them all down a despicable path.
30 It’s easy to tell when a wicked man
    is hatching some crooked scheme—
    it’s written all over his face.
    His looks betray him as he gives birth to his sin.
31 Old age with wisdom will crown you with dignity and honor,[o]
    for it takes a lifetime of righteousness to acquire it.
32 Do you want to be a mighty warrior?
    It’s better to be known as one who is patient and slow to anger.[p]
    Do you want to conquer a city?
    Rule over your temper before you attempt to rule a city.
33 We may toss the coin and roll the dice,
    but God’s will is greater than luck.[q]

Footnotes

  1. 16:1 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew and Aramaic read “the Lord gives the right reply.”
  2. 16:2 Or “in the midst of spirits.”
  3. 16:3 Or “commit your business to God.”
  4. 16:4 Or “for its answer.”
  5. 16:5 The Hebrew word for “proud” is gavah, which comes from a root word that means “locust” (as a reference to a locust swarm that devours all the crops). Pride is like a locust swarm that always hinders a true spiritual harvest within us.
  6. 16:11 Or “Honesty with scales and balances is the way of the Lord, for all the stones in the bag are established by him.”
  7. 16:14 See 1 Kings 2:25, 29–34, 46.
  8. 16:15 The Septuagint reads “The king’s son is in the light of life.”
  9. 16:16 The Septuagint is “nests of wisdom.”
  10. 16:17 There are two proverbs inserted here in the Septuagint that are not found in the Hebrew or Aramaic: “Receive instruction and you’ll be prosperous; he who listens to correction shall be made wise.” “He who guards his ways preserves his own soul; he who loves his life will watch his words.”
  11. 16:18 Or “overconfidence.”
  12. 16:24 Or “healing to the bones.” Bones are a metaphor for our inner being.
  13. 16:25 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “the ways of death.”
  14. 16:26 The meaning of the Hebrew in this verse is uncertain.
  15. 16:31 Or “Gray hair is a crown of splendor.” In the Hebrew culture the old were honored above all, especially if they acquired wisdom. See Lev. 19:32.
  16. 16:32 The Septuagint is “It’s better to be forgiving than strong.”
  17. 16:33 Or “Into the center the lot is cast and from Yahweh is all its judgment.” The casting of lots was a common form of divination in premodern societies.

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