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Proverbs 20 International Standard Version (ISV)

Advice on How to Live

20 Wine causes mocking, and beer causes fights;
everyone led astray by them lacks wisdom.

A king’s anger is like a lion’s roar;
    anyone who angers him forfeits his life.

Avoiding strife brings a man honor,
    but every fool is quarrelsome.

A lazy person doesn’t plow in the proper[a] season;
    he looks for a harvest, but there is nothing.

The intentions of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but a discerning person reveals them.

Many claim “I’m a loyal person!”[b]
    but who can find someone who truly is?
The righteous person lives a life of integrity;
    happy are his children who follow him!

A king sits on a throne of justice,
    sifting out all sorts of evil with his glance.

Who can say, “My intentions are pure;
    I am clean from any sin?”

10 False[c] weights and measures—
    the Lord surely detests both of them.

11 Even a child is known by his actions,
    whether his deeds are pure and right.

12 The ear that hears and the eye that sees—
    the Lord surely made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you’ll become poor,
    keep your eyes open and you’ll have plenty of food.

14 “This is bad, bad,” says whoever is buying—
    but then he brags as he walks away after the sale.[d]

15 There is an abundance of gold and precious stones,
    but lips of knowledge are a rare jewel.

16 Take the garment of anyone who puts up collateral for a stranger;
    hold it in pledge if he does it for an unfamiliar woman.

17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
    but later his mouth will be full of gravel.

18 Make plans by seeking advice;
    make war by obtaining guidance.

19 Whoever spreads gossip betrays confidences;
    so don’t get involved with someone who talks too much.
20 Whoever curses his father or mother,
    his lamp will be extinguished in the deepest darkness.

21 An inheritance quickly obtained at the beginning
    will not be blessed at the end.

22 Don’t say “I’ll avenge that wrong!”
    Wait on the Lord and he will deliver you.
23 The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales are not good.

24 A man’s steps are directed by the Lord;
    how then can anyone understand his own way?
25 It is a trap for a person to declare quickly, “This is sacred,”
    and only later to have second thoughts about the vows.

26 A wise king sifts the wicked,
    crushing them with the threshing wheel.

27 A person’s spirit is the lamp of the Lord;
    it searches throughout one’s innermost being.

28 Gracious love and truth preserve a king;
    through love his throne is made secure.

29 The glory of young men is their strength;
    and the splendor of elders is their gray hair.

30 Blows that wound clean away evil;
    such beatings cleanse[e] the innermost being.


  1. Proverbs 20:4 The Heb. lacks proper
  2. Proverbs 20:6 Lit. claim to be people of gracious love
  3. Proverbs 20:10 Or Diverse
  4. Proverbs 20:14 The Heb. lacks after the sale
  5. Proverbs 20:30 The Heb. lacks cleanse
International Standard Version (ISV)

Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.

Proverbs 20 New International Version (NIV)

20 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
    whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
    those who anger him forfeit their lives.

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
    but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Sluggards do not plow in season;
    so at harvest time they look but find nothing.

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but one who has insight draws them out.

Many claim to have unfailing love,
    but a faithful person who can find?

The righteous lead blameless lives;
    blessed are their children after them.

When a king sits on his throne to judge,
    he winnows out all evil with his eyes.

Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure;
    I am clean and without sin”?

10 Differing weights and differing measures—
    the Lord detests them both.

11 Even small children are known by their actions,
    so is their conduct really pure and upright?

12 Ears that hear and eyes that see—
    the Lord has made them both.

13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor;
    stay awake and you will have food to spare.

14 “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer—
    then goes off and boasts about the purchase.

15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
    but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.

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

17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet,
    but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.

18 Plans are established by seeking advice;
    so if you wage war, obtain guidance.

19 A gossip betrays a confidence;
    so avoid anyone who talks too much.

20 If someone curses their father or mother,
    their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance claimed too soon
    will not be blessed at the end.

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.


  1. Proverbs 20:27 Or A person’s words are
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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