22 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whichever way He wishes. 2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs and examines the hearts [of people and their motives]. 3 To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice [for wrongs repeatedly committed]. 4 Haughty and arrogant eyes and a proud heart, The lamp of the wicked [their self-centered pride], is sin [in the eyes of God]. 5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage, But everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty. 6 Acquiring treasures by a lying tongue Is a fleeting vapor, the seeking and pursuit of death. 7 The violence of the wicked will [return to them and] drag them away [like fish caught in a net], Because they refuse to act with justice. 8 The way of the guilty is [exceedingly] crooked, But as for the pure, his conduct is upright. 9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop [on the flat roof, exposed to the weather] Than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (contentious) woman. 10 The soul of the wicked desires evil [like an addictive substance]; His neighbor finds no compassion in his eyes. 11 When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise; But when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge. 12 The righteous one keeps an eye on the house of the wicked— How the wicked are cast down to ruin. 13 Whoever shuts his ears at the cry of the poor Will cry out himself and not be answered. 14 A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe [hidden] in the pocket, strong wrath. 15 When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous (the upright, the one in right standing with God), But to the evildoers it is disaster. 16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding (godly wisdom) Will remain in the assembly of the dead. 17 He who loves [only selfish] pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves and is devoted to [a]wine and [olive] oil will not become rich. 18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, And the treacherous in the place of the upright [for they fall into their own traps]. 19 It is better to dwell in a desert land Than with a contentious and troublesome woman. 20 There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future], But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it. 21 He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness, and honor. 22 A wise man scales the city [walls] of the mighty And brings down the stronghold in which they trust. 23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue Guards himself from troubles. 24 “Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names Who acts with overbearing and insolent pride. 25 The desire of the lazy kills him, For his hands refuse to labor; 26 He craves all the day long [and does no work], But the righteous [willingly] gives and does not withhold [what he has]. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable and offensive [to the Lord]. How much more [unacceptable and insulting can it be] when he brings it with evil intention? 28 A false witness will perish, But a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged. 29 A wicked man puts on a bold face, But as for the upright, he considers, directs, and establishes his way [with the confidence of integrity]. 30 There is no [human] wisdom or understanding Or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord. 31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But deliverance and victory belong to the Lord.
On Life and Conduct
22 A good name [earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity] is more desirable than great riches; And favor is better than silver and gold. 2 The rich and poor have a common bond; The Lord is the Maker of them all. 3 A prudent and far-sighted person sees the evil [of sin] and hides himself [from it], But the naive continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin]. 4 The reward of humility [that is, having a realistic view of one’s importance] and the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord Is riches, honor, and life. 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the obstinate [for their lack of honor and their wrong-doing traps them]; He who guards himself [with godly wisdom] will be far from them and avoid the consequences they suffer. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it. 7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender. 8 He who sows injustice will reap [a harvest of] trouble, And the rod of his wrath [with which he oppresses others] will fail. 9 He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. 10 Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go away; Even strife and dishonor will cease. 11 He who loves purity of heart And whose speech is gracious will have the king as his friend. 12 The eyes of the Lord keep guard over knowledge and the one who has it, But He overthrows the words of the treacherous. 13 The lazy one [manufactures excuses and] says, “There is a lion outside! I will be killed in the streets [if I go out to work]!” 14 The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit [deep and inescapable]; He who is cursed by the Lord [because of his adulterous sin] will fall into it. 15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline [correction administered with godly wisdom and lovingkindness] will remove it far from him. 16 He who oppresses or exploits the poor to get more for himself Or who gives to the rich [to gain influence and favor], will only come to poverty.
17 Listen carefully and hear the [b]words of the wise, And apply your mind to my knowledge; 18 For it will be pleasant if you keep them in mind [incorporating them as guiding principles]; Let them be ready on your lips [to guide and strengthen yourself and others]. 19 So that your trust and reliance and confidence may be in the Lord, I have taught these things to you today, even to you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things In counsels and knowledge, 21 To let you know the certainty of the words of truth, That you may give a correct answer to him who sent you?
22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor [and defenseless], Nor crush the afflicted [by legal proceedings] at the gate [where the city court is held], 23 For the Lord will plead their case And take the life of those who rob them.
24 Do not even associate with a man given to angry outbursts; Or go [along] with a hot-tempered man, 25 Or you will learn his [undisciplined] ways And get yourself trapped [in a situation from which it is hard to escape].
26 Do not be among those who give pledges [involving themselves in others’ finances], Or among those who become guarantors for others’ debts. 27 If you have nothing with which to pay [another’s debt when he defaults], Why should his creditor take your bed from under you?
28 Do not move the ancient landmark [at the boundary of the property] Which your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.
On Life and Conduct
23 When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is [set] before you; 2 For you will put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, For it is deceptive food [offered to you with questionable motives].
4 Do not weary yourself [with the overwhelming desire] to gain wealth; Cease from your own understanding of it. 5 When you set your eyes on wealth, it is [suddenly] gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies to the heavens.
6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he [in behavior—one who manipulates]. He says to you, “Eat and drink,” Yet his heart is not with you [but it is begrudging the cost]. 8 The morsel which you have eaten you will vomit up, And you will waste your compliments.
9 Do not speak in the ears of a fool, For he will despise the [godly] wisdom of your words.
10 Do not move the ancient landmark [at the boundary of the property] And do not go into the fields of the fatherless [to take what is theirs], 11 For their Redeemer is strong and mighty; He will plead their case against you. 12 Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from the child; If you [c]swat him with a reed-like rod [applied with godly wisdom], he will not die. 14 You shall [d]swat him with the reed-like rod And rescue his life from Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead).
15 My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will also be glad; 16 Yes, my heart will rejoice When your lips speak right things.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners [who live godless lives and have no hope of salvation], But [continue to] live in the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord day by day. 18 Surely there is a future [and a reward], And your hope and expectation will not be cut off. 19 Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way [of the Lord]. 20 Do not associate with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat, 21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And the drowsiness [of overindulgence] will clothe one with rags.
22 Listen to your father, who sired you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 [e]Buy truth, and do not sell it; Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise child will have joy in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who gave birth to you rejoice [in your wise and godly choices].
26 My son, give me your heart And let your eyes delight in my ways, 27 For a prostitute is a deep pit, And an immoral woman is a narrow well. 28 She lurks and lies in wait like a robber [who waits for prey], And she increases the faithless among men.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Whose eyes are red and dim? 30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the glass, When it goes down smoothly. 32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. 33 Your [drunken] eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things [untrue things, twisted things]. 34 And you will be [as unsteady] as one who lies down in the middle of the sea, And [as vulnerable to disaster] as one who lies down on the top of a ship’s mast, saying, 35 “They struck me, but I was not hurt! They beat me, but I did not feel it! When will I wake up? I will seek more wine.”
Precepts and Warnings
24 Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; 2 For their minds plot violence, And their lips talk of trouble [for the innocent].
3 Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], 4 And by knowledge its rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge strengthens his power; 6 For by wise guidance you can wage your war, And in an abundance of [wise] counselors there is victory and safety.
7 Wisdom is too exalted for a [hardened, arrogant] [f]fool; He does not open his mouth in the gate [where the city’s rulers sit in judgment].
8 He who plans to do evil Will be called a schemer or deviser of evil. 9 The devising of folly is sin, And the scoffer is repulsive to men.
10 If you are slack (careless) in the day of distress, Your strength is limited.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death, And those who stagger to the slaughter, Oh hold them back [from their doom]! 12 If you [claim ignorance and] say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs and examines the hearts and their motives? And does He not know it who guards your life and keeps your soul? And will He not repay [you and] every man according to his works?
13 My son, eat honey, because it is good, And the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. 14 Know that [skillful and godly] wisdom is [so very good] for your life and soul; If you find wisdom, then there will be a future and a reward, And your hope and expectation will not be cut off.
15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not destroy his resting place; 16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of disaster and collapse.
17 Do not rejoice and gloat when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad [in self-righteousness] when he stumbles, 18 Or the Lord will see your gloating and be displeased, And turn His anger away from your enemy.
19 Do not get upset because of evildoers, Or be envious of the wicked, 20 For there will be no future for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out.
21 My son, fear the Lord and the king; And do not associate with those who are given to change [of allegiance, and are revolutionary], 22 For their tragedy will rise suddenly, And who knows the punishment that both [the Lord and the king] will bring on the rebellious?
23 These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good. 24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will denounce him; 25 But to those [honorable judges] who rebuke the wicked, it will go well with them and they will find delight, And a good blessing will come upon them. 26 He kisses the lips [and wins the hearts of people] Who gives a right and straightforward answer.
27 Prepare your work outside And get it ready for yourself in the field; [g]Afterward build your house and establish a home.
28 Do not be a witness against your [h]neighbor without cause, And do not deceive with your lips [speak neither lies nor half-truths]. 29 Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for his deed.”
30 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man lacking understanding and common sense; 31 And, behold, it was all overgrown with thorns, And nettles were covering its surface, And its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw, I considered it well; I looked and received instruction. 33 “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest [and daydream],” 34 Then your poverty will come as a robber, And your want like an armed man.
Proverbs 21:17I.e. items associated with lavish feasting and excessive luxury.
Proverbs 22:17These verses (17-21) introduce a special collection of wisdom sayings compiled by Solomon.
Proverbs 23:23The ancient rabbis routinely assumed “truth” to refer to the Torah (Law), and they interpreted the first part of this command to mean that a student should pay a teacher to teach him the Torah if he can find no one to teach him for free. As for the second part, they said that if the student had to pay to learn, he should not view this as grounds to charge for teaching others, but should teach the Torah for free.
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