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Things to Avoid in Life

23 Whenever you sit down to dine with a ruler,
carefully think about what is before you.
Put a knife to your own throat,
    if you have a big appetite.[a]
Don’t crave his delicacies,
    because the meal is deceptive.

Don’t exhaust yourself acquiring wealth;
    be smart enough to stop.
When you fix your gaze on it, it’s gone,
    for it sprouts wings for itself
        and flies to the sky like an eagle.

Don’t consume food provided by a miserly[b] person,
    and don’t desire his delicacies,
for as he thinks within himself, so he is.
    “Eat and drink!” he’ll say to you,
        but his heart won’t be with you.
You’ll vomit up what little you’ve eaten,
    and your compliments will have been wasted.

Don’t speak when a fool is listening,
    because he’ll despise your wise words.

10 Don’t move ancient boundaries
    or invade fields belonging to orphans;
11 for strong is their Redeemer
    who will take up their case against you.

12 Learn diligently,
    and listen to words of knowledge.

13 Don’t withhold discipline from a child;
    if you punish him with a rod,
        he won’t die.
14 Punish him with a rod,
    and you will rescue his soul from Sheol.[c]

On Listening to Your Parents

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
    my own heart will greatly rejoice.
16 My innermost being will be glad
    when your lips speak what is right.

17 Never let yourself envy sinners;
    instead, remain[d] in fear of the Lord every day,
18 for there is surely a future life,
    and what you hope for will not be cut off.

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
    commit yourself to live God’s[e] way.
20 Don’t associate with heavy drinkers
    or dine with gluttons,
21 because drunks and gluttons tend to become poor,
    and drowsiness will clothe them in rags.

22 Listen to the one who fathered you,
    and don’t despise your mother in her old age.

23 Purchase truth, but don’t sell it;
    store up[f] wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

24 The father of a righteous person will greatly rejoice;
    whoever fathers a wise son will be glad because of him.
25 Let your father and mother rejoice;
    make the one who gave birth to you happy.

26 Give me your heart, my son,
    and keep your eyes fixed on my ways,
27 because a prostitute is a deep pit,
    and the adulterous[g] woman a narrow well.
28 Surely she lies in wait like a bandit,
    increasing those who are faithless among mankind.

On Sobriety

29 Who has woe? Who has grief?
    Who has contention? Who has complaints?
Who has wounds without cause?
    Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over their wine,
    who consume mixed drinks.
31 Don’t stare into red wine,
    when it sparkles in the cup
        and goes down smoothly.
32 Eventually it will bite like a snake
    and sting like a serpent.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
    and with slurred words you’ll speak what you really believe.
34 You will be like someone who lies down in the sea,
    or like someone who sleeps on top of a mast.
35 “They struck me,” you will say,[h]
    “but I never felt it.
They beat me,
    but I never knew it.
When will I wake up?
    I want another drink.”


  1. Proverbs 23:2 Lit. a master of an appetite
  2. Proverbs 23:6 Lit. by the evil eyed
  3. Proverbs 23:14 I.e. the realm of the dead
  4. Proverbs 23:17 The Heb. lacks remain
  5. Proverbs 23:19 Lit. live in the
  6. Proverbs 23:23 The Heb. lacks store up
  7. Proverbs 23:27 Lit. foreign
  8. Proverbs 23:35 The Heb. lacks you will say

Saying 7

23 When you sit to dine with a ruler,
    note well what[a] is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
    if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,(A)
    for that food is deceptive.

Saying 8

Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
    do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,(B)
    for they will surely sprout wings
    and fly off to the sky like an eagle.(C)

Saying 9

Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
    do not crave his delicacies;(D)
for he is the kind of person
    who is always thinking about the cost.[b]
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.
You will vomit up the little you have eaten
    and will have wasted your compliments.

Saying 10

Do not speak to fools,
    for they will scorn your prudent words.(E)

Saying 11

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone(F)
    or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender(G) is strong;(H)
    he will take up their case against you.(I)

Saying 12

12 Apply your heart to instruction(J)
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

Saying 13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
    if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
    and save them from death.(K)

Saying 14

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
    then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak what is right.(L)

Saying 15

17 Do not let your heart envy(M) sinners,
    but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.(N)

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son,(O) and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine(P)
    or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,(Q)
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

Saying 17

22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.(R)
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.(S)
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
    a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.(T)
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
    may she who gave you birth be joyful!(U)

Saying 18

26 My son,(V) give me your heart
    and let your eyes delight in my ways,(W)
27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit,(X)
    and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
28 Like a bandit she lies in wait(Y)
    and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Saying 19

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has strife? Who has complaints?
    Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,(Z)
    who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup,
    when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
    and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
    and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
    lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
    They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
    so I can find another drink?”(AA)


  1. Proverbs 23:1 Or who
  2. Proverbs 23:7 Or for as he thinks within himself, / so he is; or for as he puts on a feast, / so he is

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