25 These are also the proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:
2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. 3 As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, So the hearts and minds of kings are [a]unsearchable. 4 Take away the dross from the silver, And there comes out [the pure metal for] a vessel for the silversmith [to shape]. 5 Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness. 6 Do not be boastfully ambitious and claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; 7 For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, Whom your eyes have seen.
8 Do not rush out to argue your case [before magistrates or judges]; Otherwise what will you do in the end [when your case is lost and] When your neighbor (opponent) humiliates you? 9 Argue your case with your neighbor himself [before you go to court]; And do not reveal another’s secret, 10 Or he who hears it will shame you And the rumor about you [and your action in court] will have no end.
11 Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken at the right time. 12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to an ear that listens and learns. 13 Like the cold of snow [brought from the mountains] in the time of harvest, So is a faithful messenger to those who send him; For he refreshes the life of his masters. 14 Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts falsely of gifts [he does not give]. 15 By patience and a calm spirit a ruler may be persuaded, And a soft and gentle tongue breaks the bone [of resistance]. 16 Have you found [pleasure sweet like] honey? Eat only as much as you need, Otherwise, being filled excessively, you vomit it. 17 Let your foot seldom be in your neighbor’s house, Or he will become tired of you and hate you. 18 Like a club and a sword and a piercing arrow Is a man who testifies falsely against his neighbor (acquaintance). 19 Like a broken tooth or an unsteady foot Is confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble. 20 Like one who takes off a garment in cold weather, or like [a reactive, useless mixture of] vinegar on soda, Is he who [thoughtlessly] sings [joyful] songs to a heavy heart. 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For in doing so, you will [b]heap coals of fire upon his head, And the Lord will reward you. 23 The north wind brings forth rain; And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance. 24 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. 25 Like cold water to a thirsty soul, So is good news from a distant land. 26 Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring Is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked. 27 It is not good to eat much honey, Nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. 28 Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected] Is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].
26 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest, So honor is not fitting for a [shortsighted] [c]fool. 2 Like the sparrow in her wandering, like the swallow in her flying, So the curse without cause does not come and alight [on the undeserving]. 3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the backs of fools [who refuse to learn]. 4 Do not answer [nor pretend to agree with the frivolous comments of] a [closed-minded] fool according to his folly, Otherwise you, even you, will be like him. 5 Answer [and correct the erroneous concepts of] a fool according to his folly, Otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes [if he thinks you agree with him]. 6 He who sends a message by the hand of a fool Cuts off his own feet (sabotages himself) and drinks the violence [it brings on himself as a consequence]. 7 Like the legs which are useless to the lame, So is a proverb in the mouth of a fool [who cannot learn from its wisdom]. 8 Like one who [absurdly] binds a stone in a sling [making it impossible to throw], So is he who [absurdly] gives honor to a fool. 9 Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into the hand of a drunken man, So is a proverb in the mouth of a fool [who remains unaffected by its wisdom]. 10 Like a [careless] archer who [shoots arrows wildly and] wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or those who [by chance just] pass by. 11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit Is a fool who repeats his foolishness. 12 Do you see a man [who is unteachable and] wise in his own eyes and full of self-conceit? There is more hope for a fool than for him. 13 The lazy person [who is self-indulgent and relies on lame excuses] says, “There is a lion in the road! A lion is in the open square [and if I go outside to work I will be killed]!” 14 As the door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy person on his bed [never getting out of it]. 15 The lazy person buries his hand in the dish [losing opportunity after opportunity]; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy person is wiser in his own eyes Than seven [sensible] men who can give a discreet answer. 17 Like one who grabs a dog by the ears [and is likely to be bitten] Is he who, passing by, stops to meddle with a dispute that is none of his business. 18 Like a madman who throws Firebrands, arrows, and death, 19 So is the man who deceives his neighbor (acquaintance, friend) And then says, “Was I not joking?” 20 For lack of wood the fire goes out, And where there is no whisperer [who gossips], contention quiets down. 21 Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten]; They go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon]. 23 Like a [common] clay vessel covered with the silver dross [making it appear silver when it has no real value] Are burning lips [murmuring manipulative words] and a wicked heart. 24 He who hates, disguises it with his lips, But he stores up deceit in his heart. 25 When he speaks graciously and kindly [to conceal his malice], do not trust him, For seven abominations are in his heart. 26 Though his hatred covers itself with guile and deceit, His malevolence will be revealed openly before the assembly. 27 Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone [up a hill to do mischief], it will come back on him. 28 A lying tongue hates those it wounds and crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin.
Warnings and Instructions
27 Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring. 2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. 3 Stone is heavy and the sand weighty, But a fool’s [unreasonable] wrath is heavier and more burdensome than both of them. 4 Wrath is cruel and anger is an overwhelming flood, But who is able to endure and stand before [the sin of] jealousy? 5 Better is an open reprimand [of loving correction] Than love that is hidden. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern], But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda]. 7 He who is satisfied loathes honey, But to the hungry soul any bitter thing is sweet. 8 Like a bird that wanders from her nest [with its comfort and safety], So is a man who wanders from his home. 9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart. 10 Do not abandon your own friend and your father’s friend, And do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your disaster. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. 11 My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, That I may reply to him who reproaches (reprimands, criticizes) me. 12 A prudent man sees evil and hides himself and avoids it, But the naive [who are easily misled] continue on and are punished [by suffering the consequences of sin]. 13 [The judge tells the creditor,] “Take the garment of one who is surety (guarantees a loan) for a stranger; And hold him in pledge when he is surety for an immoral woman [for it is unlikely the debt will be repaid].” 14 He who blesses his neighbor with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be counted as a curse to him [for it will either be annoying or his purpose will be suspect]. 15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious (quarrelsome) woman are alike; 16 Whoever attempts to restrain her [criticism] might as well try to stop the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand. 17 As iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion]. 18 He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, And he who faithfully protects and cares for his master will be honored. 19 As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. 20 Sheol (the place of the dead) and Abaddon (the underworld) are never satisfied; Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied. 21 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold [to separate the impurities of the metal], And each is tested by the praise given to him [and his response to it, whether humble or proud]. 22 Even though you pound a [hardened, arrogant] fool [who rejects wisdom] in a mortar with a pestle like grain, Yet his foolishness will not leave him.
23 Be diligent to know the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds; 24 For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. 25 When the grass is gone, the new growth is seen, And herbs of the mountain are gathered in, 26 The lambs will supply wool for your clothing, And the goats will bring the price of a field. 27 And there will be enough goats’ milk for your food, For the food of your household, And for the maintenance of your maids.
Warnings and Instructions
28 The wicked flee when no one pursues them, But the righteous are as bold as a lion. 2 When a land does wrong, it has many princes, But when the ruler is a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability endures. 3 A poor man who oppresses and exploits the lowly Is like a sweeping rain which leaves no food. 4 Those who [d]set aside the law [of God and man] praise the wicked, But those who keep the law [of God and man] struggle with them. 5 Evil men do not understand justice, But they who long for and seek the Lord understand it fully. 6 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than he who is crooked and two-faced though he is rich. 7 He who keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise and discerning son, But he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father [and himself]. 8 He who increases his wealth by interest and usury (excessive interest) Gathers it for him who is gracious to the poor. 9 He who turns his ear away from listening to the law [of God and man], Even his prayer is repulsive [to God]. 10 He who leads the upright astray on an evil path Will himself fall into his own pit, But the blameless will inherit good. 11 The rich man [who is conceited and relies on his wealth instead of God] is wise in his own eyes, But the poor man who has understanding [because he relies on God] is able to see through him. 12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory and celebration; But when the wicked rise [to prominence], men hide themselves. 13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But whoever confesses and [e]turns away from his sins will find compassion and mercy. 14 Blessed and favored by God is the man who fears [sin and its consequence] at all times, But he who hardens his heart [and is determined to sin] will fall into disaster. 15 Like a roaring lion and a charging bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 16 A leader who is a great oppressor lacks understanding and common sense [and his wickedness shortens his days], But he who hates unjust gain will [be blessed and] prolong his days. 17 A man who is burdened with the guilt of human blood (murder) Will be a fugitive until death; let no one support him or give him refuge. 18 He who walks blamelessly and uprightly will be kept safe, But he who is crooked (perverse) will suddenly fall. 19 He who cultivates his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows worthless people and frivolous pursuits will have plenty of poverty. 20 A faithful (right-minded) man will abound with blessings, But he who hurries to be rich will not go unpunished. 21 To have regard for one person over another and to show favoritism is not good, Because for a piece of bread a man will transgress. 22 He who has an evil and envious eye hurries to be rich And does not know that poverty will come upon him. 23 He who [appropriately] reprimands a [wise] man will afterward find more favor Than he who flatters with the tongue. 24 He who robs his father or his mother And says, “This is no sin,” Is [not only a thief but also] the companion of a man who destroys. 25 An arrogant and greedy man stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the Lord will be blessed and prosper. 26 He who trusts confidently in his own heart is a [dull, thickheaded] fool, But he who walks in [skillful and godly] wisdom will be rescued. 27 He who gives to the poor will never want, But he who shuts his eyes [from their need] will have many curses. 28 When the wicked rise [to power], men hide themselves; But when the wicked perish, the [consistently] righteous increase and become great.
Proverbs 25:3The ancient rabbis explained this as a reference to the countless details of government that are a king’s responsibility.
Proverbs 25:22This expression may refer to an Egyptian custom in which a penitent man carried a pan of coals on his head as a sign of repentance. The message of these verses is the admonition to return good for evil in the hope that your enemy will be moved to repentance.
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