God Examines Our Motives
21 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.
2 We justify our actions by appearances;
God examines our motives.
3 Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
mean far more to God than religious performance.
4 Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
are just plain sin.
5 Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
6 Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
get paid with smoke and a promotion—to death!
7 The wicked get buried alive by their loot
because they refuse to use it to help others.
8 Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
pure motives take you straight down the road.
Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst
9 Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.
10 Wicked souls love to make trouble;
they feel nothing for friends and neighbors.
11 Simpletons only learn the hard way,
but the wise learn by listening.
12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked
and undo the evil they’ve planned.
13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor,
your cries will go unheard, unanswered.
14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.
15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs,
but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.
16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow
ends up in a congregation of ghosts.
17 You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.
18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs;
the plotter gets it in the end.
19 Better to live in a tent in the wild
than with a cross and petulant spouse.
20 Valuables are safe in a wise person’s home;
fools put it all out for yard sales.
21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
finds life itself—glorious life!
22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers—
their trusted defenses fell to pieces!
23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
24 You know their names—Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer—
intemperate hotheads, every one.
25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
because they won’t get up and go to work.
26 Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have;
the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.
27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks;
it’s even worse when they use it to get ahead.
28 A lying witness is unconvincing;
a person who speaks truth is respected.
29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot;
honest people are sure of their steps.
30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
can get the better of God.
31 Do your best, prepare for the worst—
then trust God to bring victory.
The Cure Comes Through Discipline
22 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.
2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!
3 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
4 The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.
5 The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
if you know what’s good for you, stay clear of it.
6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.
7 The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.
8 Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
and bullying anger sputters into nothing.
9 Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he’ll have nothing to do with deception.
13 The loafer says, “There’s a lion on the loose!
If I go out I’ll be eaten alive!”
14 The mouth of a prostitute is a bottomless pit;
you’ll fall in that pit if you’re on the outs with God.
15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.
16 Exploit the poor or glad-hand the rich—whichever,
you’ll end up the poorer for it.
The Thirty Precepts of the Sages
Don’t Move Back the Boundary Lines
17-21 Listen carefully to my wisdom;
take to heart what I can teach you.
You’ll treasure its sweetness deep within;
you’ll give it bold expression in your speech.
To make sure your foundation is trust in God,
I’m laying it all out right now just for you.
I’m giving you thirty sterling principles—
tested guidelines to live by.
Believe me—these are truths that work,
and will keep you accountable
to those who sent you.
22-23 Don’t walk on the poor just because they’re poor,
and don’t use your position to crush the weak,
Because God will come to their defense;
the life you took, he’ll take from you and give back to them.
24-25 Don’t hang out with angry people;
don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious—
don’t get infected.
26-27 Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,
pawning your house against a lucky chance.
The time will come when you have to pay up;
you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.
28 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
staked out long ago by your ancestors.
29 Observe people who are good at their work—
skilled workers are always in demand and admired;
they don’t take a backseat to anyone.
23 1-3 When you go out to dinner with an influential person,
mind your manners:
Don’t gobble your food,
don’t talk with your mouth full.
And don’t stuff yourself;
bridle your appetite.
4-5 Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich;
Riches disappear in the blink of an eye;
wealth sprouts wings
and flies off into the wild blue yonder.
6-8 Don’t accept a meal from a tightwad;
don’t expect anything special.
He’ll be as stingy with you as he is with himself;
he’ll say, “Eat! Drink!” but won’t mean a word of it.
His miserly serving will turn your stomach
when you realize the meal’s a sham.
9 Don’t bother talking sense to fools;
they’ll only poke fun at your words.
10-11 Don’t stealthily move back the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property,
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them.
12 Give yourselves to disciplined instruction;
open your ears to tested knowledge.
13-14 Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones;
a spanking won’t kill them.
A good spanking, in fact, might save them
from something worse than death.
15-16 Dear child, if you become wise,
I’ll be one happy parent.
My heart will dance and sing
to the tuneful truth you’ll speak.
17-18 Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels;
soak yourself in the Fear-of-God—
That’s where your future lies.
Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.
19-21 Oh listen, dear child—become wise;
point your life in the right direction.
Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk;
don’t eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
in a stupor and dressed in rags.
Buy Wisdom, Education, Insight
22-25 Listen with respect to the father who raised you,
and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her.
Buy truth—don’t sell it for love or money;
buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight.
Parents rejoice when their children turn out well;
wise children become proud parents.
So make your father happy!
Make your mother proud!
26 Dear child, I want your full attention;
please do what I show you.
27-28 A prostitute is a bottomless pit;
a loose woman can get you in deep trouble fast.
She’ll take you for all you’ve got;
she’s worse than a pack of thieves.
29-35 Who are the people who are always crying the blues?
Who do you know who reeks of self-pity?
Who keeps getting beaten up for no reason at all?
Whose eyes are bleary and bloodshot?
It’s those who spend the night with a bottle,
for whom drinking is serious business.
Don’t judge wine by its label,
or its bouquet, or its full-bodied flavor.
Judge it rather by the hangover it leaves you with—
the splitting headache, the queasy stomach.
Do you really prefer seeing double,
with your speech all slurred,
Reeling and seasick,
drunk as a sailor?
“They hit me,” you’ll say, “but it didn’t hurt;
they beat on me, but I didn’t feel a thing.
When I’m sober enough to manage it,
bring me another drink!”