Get Wisdom at Any Cost

Listen, my sons,(A) to a father’s instruction;(B)
    pay attention and gain understanding.(C)
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold(D) of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.(E)
Get wisdom,(F) get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;(G)
    love her, and she will watch over you.(H)
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom.
    Though it cost all(I) you have,[b] get understanding.(J)
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.(K)
She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.(L)

10 Listen, my son,(M) accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.(N)
11 I instruct(O) you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.(P)
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.(Q)
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.(R)
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.(S)
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;(T)
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.(U)

18 The path of the righteous(V) is like the morning sun,(W)
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.(X)
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;(Y)
    they do not know what makes them stumble.(Z)

20 My son,(AA) pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.(AB)
21 Do not let them out of your sight,(AC)
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.(AD)
23 Above all else, guard(AE) your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.(AF)
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes(AG) look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet(AH)
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;(AI)
    keep your foot from evil.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 4:7 Or Wisdom is supreme; therefore get
  2. Proverbs 4:7 Or wisdom. / Whatever else you get
  3. Proverbs 4:26 Or Make level

A Father’s Wise Advice

My children,[a] listen when your father corrects you.
    Pay attention and learn good judgment,
for I am giving you good guidance.
    Don’t turn away from my instructions.
For I, too, was once my father’s son,
    tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.

My father taught me,
“Take my words to heart.
    Follow my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom; develop good judgment.
    Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.
Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
    Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
    And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
If you prize wisdom, she will make you great.
    Embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will place a lovely wreath on your head;
    she will present you with a beautiful crown.”

10 My child,[b] listen to me and do as I say,
    and you will have a long, good life.
11 I will teach you wisdom’s ways
    and lead you in straight paths.
12 When you walk, you won’t be held back;
    when you run, you won’t stumble.
13 Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.
    Guard them, for they are the key to life.

14 Don’t do as the wicked do,
    and don’t follow the path of evildoers.
15 Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way.
    Turn away and keep moving.
16 For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day.
    They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble.
17 They eat the food of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence!

18 The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
    which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
    They have no idea what they are stumbling over.

20 My child, pay attention to what I say.
    Listen carefully to my words.
21 Don’t lose sight of them.
    Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
22 for they bring life to those who find them,
    and healing to their whole body.

23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

24 Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

25 Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
26 Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
27 Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil.

Footnotes

  1. 4:1 Hebrew My sons.
  2. 4:10 Hebrew My son; also in 4:20.

Your Life Is at Stake

1-2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice;
    sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.
I’m giving you good counsel;
    don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.

3-9 When I was a boy at my father’s knee,
    the pride and joy of my mother,
He would sit me down and drill me:
    “Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!
Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding!
    Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!
Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
    love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
    Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it;
    never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.
She’ll garland your life with grace,
    she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”

10-15 Dear friend, take my advice;
    it will add years to your life.
I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
    I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys,
    or wasting time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip.
    Guard it well—your life is at stake!
Don’t take Wicked Bypass;
    don’t so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
    Make a detour and be on your way.

16-17 Evil people are restless
    unless they’re making trouble;
They can’t get a good night’s sleep
    unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.
Perversity is their food and drink,
    violence their drug of choice.

18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
    travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

Learn It by Heart

20-22 Dear friend, listen well to my words;
    tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Advice to Young People

My child, listen closely
to my teachings
    and learn common sense.
My advice is useful,
    so don’t turn away.
When I was still very young
    and my mother’s favorite child,
    my father said to me:
“If you follow my teachings
    and keep them in mind,
    you will live.
Be wise and learn good sense;
    remember my teachings
    and do what I say.

If you love Wisdom
and don’t reject her,
    she will watch over you.
The best thing about Wisdom
    is Wisdom herself;
    good sense is more important
    than anything else.
If you value Wisdom
and hold tightly to her,
    great honors will be yours.
It will be like wearing
a glorious crown
    of beautiful flowers.

The Right Way and the Wrong Way

10 My child, if you listen
and obey my teachings,
    you will live a long time.
11 I have shown you the way
    that makes sense;
    I have guided you
    along the right path.
12 Your road won’t be blocked,
    and you won’t stumble
    when you run.
13 Hold firmly to my teaching
and never let go.
    It will mean life for you.
14 Don’t follow the bad example
    of cruel and evil people.
15     Turn aside and keep going.
    Stay away from them.
16 They can’t sleep or rest
until they do wrong
    or harm
    some innocent victim.
17 Their food and drink
    are violence and cruelty.

18 The lifestyle of good people
    is like sunlight at dawn
    that keeps getting brighter
    until broad daylight.
19 The lifestyle of the wicked
    is like total darkness,
    and they will never know
    what makes them stumble.

20 My child, listen carefully
    to everything I say.
21     Don’t forget a single word,
    but think about it all.
22 Knowing these teachings
    will mean true life
    and good health for you.
23 Carefully guard your thoughts
    because they are the source
    of true life.
24 Never tell lies or be deceitful
    in what you say.
25     Keep looking straight ahead,
    without turning aside.
26 Know where you are headed,
    and you will stay
    on solid ground.
27 Don’t make a mistake by turning
    to the right or the left.