It’s perfectly natural to envy those who are successful. It’s even natural to want to imitate them. But what about those who’ve gotten ahead by doing the wrong thing? Sometimes it seems crime does pay, the good do die young, and the wicked do have more fun. But it only appears this way; it is not reality. In reality the success of wrongdoers is short-lived. God is against them, and their house is built on the sand. Even if it seems to be a grand house, it will soon come crashing down.
4 Gather, children, to hear your father’s instruction.
Pay close attention so you will understand,
2 For I am passing down to you important precepts.
Do not abandon these valuable life lessons.
3 Back when I was young—the very image of my father,
and yet from my mother’s view, still her only boy—
4 My father, with his years of experience, became my teacher.
Father: Son, grab on to every word I say to you—hold them close—
stay true to my instructions as you live, and they will serve you well.
5 Whatever it takes to gain Wisdom, do it.
To gain understanding, do it! Never forget this!
Never stray from what I am telling you.
6 If you don’t forsake Lady Wisdom, she will protect you.
Love her, and she will faithfully take care of you.
7 Gaining sound judgment is key, so first things first: go after Lady Wisdom!
Now, whatever else you do, follow through to understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will help you rise above the confusion of life—
your possibilities will open up before you—
embrace her, and she will raise you to a place of honor in return.
9 She will provide the finishing touch to your character—grace;
she will give you an elegant confidence.
10 Hear my words, my son, and take them in;
let them soak in so that you will live a long, full life.
11 I have pointed you in the way of wisdom;
I have steered you down the path to integrity.
12 So get going. And as you go, know this: with integrity you will overcome all obstacles;
even if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Tighten your grip around wise advice; don’t let it slip away.
Protect Wisdom, for without her, life isn’t worth living.
14 Do not start down the road of the wicked—
the first step is easy, but it leads to heartache—
do not go along the way of evildoers.
15 Stay away from it; don’t even go past it—
and if you find yourself anywhere near it,
turn your back and run as far as you can in the opposite direction.
16 For evildoers are so twisted they cannot sleep unless they have caused harm;
they’ll lie awake all night until they figure out a way to cause someone to stumble.
17 For they feed on evil the way most eat bread;
they drink violence the way most guzzle wine.
18 Yet the way of those who do right is like the early morning sun
that shines brighter and brighter until noon.
19 Evildoers travel a dark road because they love to hide their deeds in darkness;
they can’t see the perils ahead that cause them to stumble.
Fathers have a crucial role in instructing their sons. It’s easy and natural to teach children about some things: how to take care of a car, how to hit a ball, or how to mow the lawn. But what about deeper things, the kinds of things that make life worth living? These are much harder. They must not be left for someone else to do. Paul wrote, “And, fathers, do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Instructing children in the ways of God is crucial work.
20 My son, pay attention to all the words I am telling you.
Lean in closer so you may hear all I say.
21 Keep them before you; meditate on them;
set them safely in your heart.
22 For those who discover them, they are life.
They bring wholeness and healing to their bodies.
23 Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it
because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life.
24 Do away with any talk that twists and distorts the truth;
have nothing to do with any verbal trickery.
25 Keep your head up, your eyes straight ahead,
and your focus fixed on what is in front of you.
26 Take care you don’t stray from the straight path, the way of truth,
and you will safely reach the end of your road.
27 Do not veer off course to the right or the left;
step away from evil, and leave it behind.