Purpose and Theme

The proverbs(A) of Solomon(B) son of David, king of Israel:(C)

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a](D)
    knowledge and discretion(E) to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,(F)
    and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,(G)
    the sayings and riddles(H) of the wise.[b](I)

The fear of the Lord(J) is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools[c] despise wisdom(K) and instruction.(L)

Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom

Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men

Listen, my son,(M) to your father’s(N) instruction
    and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.(O)
They are a garland to grace your head
    and a chain to adorn your neck.(P)

10 My son, if sinful men entice(Q) you,
    do not give in(R) to them.(S)
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
    let’s lie in wait(T) for innocent blood,
    let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow(U) them alive, like the grave,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;(V)
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
    and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
    we will all share the loot(W)”—
15 my son, do not go along with them,
    do not set foot(X) on their paths;(Y)
16 for their feet rush into evil,(Z)
    they are swift to shed blood.(AA)
17 How useless to spread a net
    where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait(AB) for their own blood;
    they ambush only themselves!(AC)
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
    it takes away the life of those who get it.(AD)

Wisdom’s Rebuke

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,(AE)
    she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[d] she cries out,
    at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple(AF) love your simple ways?
    How long will mockers delight in mockery
    and fools hate(AG) knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
    I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse(AH) to listen when I call(AI)
    and no one pays attention(AJ) when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
    and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh(AK) when disaster(AL) strikes you;
    I will mock(AM) when calamity overtakes you(AN)
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
    when disaster(AO) sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;(AP)
    they will look for me but will not find me,(AQ)
29 since they hated knowledge
    and did not choose to fear the Lord.(AR)
30 Since they would not accept my advice
    and spurned my rebuke,(AS)
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
    and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.(AT)
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
    and the complacency of fools will destroy them;(AU)
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety(AV)
    and be at ease, without fear of harm.”(AW)

Moral Benefits of Wisdom

My son,(AX) if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding(AY)
indeed, if you call out for insight(AZ)
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,(BA)
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.(BB)
For the Lord gives wisdom;(BC)
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.(BD)
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield(BE) to those whose walk is blameless,(BF)
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.(BG)

Then you will understand(BH) what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,(BI)
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.(BJ)

12 Wisdom will save(BK) you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,(BL)
14 who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,(BM)
15 whose paths are crooked(BN)
    and who are devious in their ways.(BO)

16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman,(BP)
    from the wayward woman with her seductive words,
17 who has left the partner of her youth
    and ignored the covenant she made before God.[e](BQ)
18 Surely her house leads down to death
    and her paths to the spirits of the dead.(BR)
19 None who go to her return
    or attain the paths of life.(BS)

20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good
    and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will live in the land,(BT)
    and the blameless will remain in it;
22 but the wicked(BU) will be cut off from the land,(BV)
    and the unfaithful will be torn from it.(BW)

Wisdom Bestows Well-Being

My son,(BX) do not forget my teaching,(BY)
    but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years(BZ)
    and bring you peace and prosperity.(CA)

Let love and faithfulness(CB) never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.(CC)
Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.(CD)

Trust in the Lord(CE) with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths(CF) straight.[f](CG)

Do not be wise in your own eyes;(CH)
    fear the Lord(CI) and shun evil.(CJ)
This will bring health to your body(CK)
    and nourishment to your bones.(CL)

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits(CM) of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled(CN) to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.(CO)

11 My son,(CP) do not despise the Lord’s discipline,(CQ)
    and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,(CR)
    as a father the son he delights in.[g](CS)

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.(CT)
15 She is more precious than rubies;(CU)
    nothing you desire can compare with her.(CV)
16 Long life is in her right hand;(CW)
    in her left hand are riches and honor.(CX)
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
    and all her paths are peace.(CY)
18 She is a tree of life(CZ) to those who take hold of her;
    those who hold her fast will be blessed.(DA)

19 By wisdom(DB) the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,(DC)
    by understanding he set the heavens(DD) in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

21 My son,(DE) do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,(DF)
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,(DG)
    an ornament to grace your neck.(DH)
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,(DI)
    and your foot will not stumble.(DJ)
24 When you lie down,(DK) you will not be afraid;(DL)
    when you lie down, your sleep(DM) will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
    or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be at your side(DN)
    and will keep your foot(DO) from being snared.(DP)

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
    when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
    “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
    when you already have it with you.(DQ)
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
    who lives trustfully near you.(DR)
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
    when they have done you no harm.

31 Do not envy(DS) the violent
    or choose any of their ways.

32 For the Lord detests the perverse(DT)
    but takes the upright into his confidence.(DU)
33 The Lord’s curse(DV) is on the house of the wicked,(DW)
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.(DX)
34 He mocks(DY) proud mockers(DZ)
    but shows favor to the humble(EA) and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
    but fools get only shame.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 1:4 The Hebrew word rendered simple in Proverbs denotes a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil.
  2. Proverbs 1:6 Or understanding a proverb, namely, a parable, / and the sayings of the wise, their riddles
  3. Proverbs 1:7 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote a person who is morally deficient.
  4. Proverbs 1:21 Septuagint; Hebrew / at noisy street corners
  5. Proverbs 2:17 Or covenant of her God
  6. Proverbs 3:6 Or will direct your paths
  7. Proverbs 3:12 Hebrew; Septuagint loves, / and he chastens everyone he accepts as his child

Invitations of Wisdom and Folly

Wisdom has built(A) her house;
    she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;(B)
    she has also set her table.(C)
She has sent out her servants, and she calls(D)
    from the highest point of the city,(E)
    “Let all who are simple(F) come to my house!”
To those who have no sense(G) she says,
    “Come,(H) eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.(I)
Leave your simple ways and you will live;(J)
    walk in the way of insight.”(K)

Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
    whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.(L)
Do not rebuke mockers(M) or they will hate you;
    rebuke the wise and they will love you.(N)
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.(O)

10 The fear of the Lord(P) is the beginning of wisdom,
    and knowledge of the Holy One(Q) is understanding.(R)
11 For through wisdom[b] your days will be many,
    and years will be added to your life.(S)
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
    if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

13 Folly is an unruly woman;(T)
    she is simple and knows nothing.(U)
14 She sits at the door of her house,
    on a seat at the highest point of the city,(V)
15 calling out(W) to those who pass by,
    who go straight on their way,
16     “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense(X) she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!(Y)
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.(Z)

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 9:1 Septuagint, Syriac and Targum; Hebrew has hewn out
  2. Proverbs 9:11 Septuagint, Syriac and Targum; Hebrew me

17 Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
    than a house full of feasting, with strife.(A)

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son
    and will share the inheritance as one of the family.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,(B)
    but the Lord tests the heart.(C)

A wicked person listens to deceitful lips;
    a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Whoever mocks the poor(D) shows contempt for their Maker;(E)
    whoever gloats over disaster(F) will not go unpunished.(G)

Children’s children(H) are a crown to the aged,
    and parents are the pride of their children.

Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—
    how much worse lying lips to a ruler!(I)

A bribe is seen as a charm by the one who gives it;
    they think success will come at every turn.(J)

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,(K)
    but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.(L)

10 A rebuke impresses a discerning person
    more than a hundred lashes a fool.

11 Evildoers foster rebellion against God;
    the messenger of death will be sent against them.

12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs
    than a fool bent on folly.(M)

13 Evil will never leave the house
    of one who pays back evil(N) for good.(O)

14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.(P)

15 Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent(Q)
    the Lord detests them both.(R)

16 Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom,
    when they are not able to understand it?(S)

17 A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.(T)

18 One who has no sense shakes hands in pledge
    and puts up security for a neighbor.(U)

19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
    whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.

20 One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper;
    one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble.

21 To have a fool for a child brings grief;
    there is no joy for the parent of a godless fool.(V)

22 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed(W) spirit dries up the bones.(X)

23 The wicked accept bribes(Y) in secret
    to pervert the course of justice.(Z)

24 A discerning person keeps wisdom in view,
    but a fool’s eyes(AA) wander to the ends of the earth.

25 A foolish son brings grief to his father
    and bitterness to the mother who bore him.(AB)

26 If imposing a fine on the innocent is not good,(AC)
    surely to flog honest officials is not right.

27 The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,(AD)
    and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.(AE)

28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
    and discerning if they hold their tongues.(AF)

22 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
    to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.(A)

Rich and poor have this in common:
    The Lord is the Maker of them all.(B)

The prudent see danger and take refuge,(C)
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.(D)

Humility is the fear of the Lord;
    its wages are riches and honor(E) and life.(F)

In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls,(G)
    but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.

Start(H) children off on the way they should go,(I)
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.(J)

The rich rule over the poor,
    and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity,(K)
    and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.(L)

The generous will themselves be blessed,(M)
    for they share their food with the poor.(N)

10 Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife;
    quarrels and insults are ended.(O)

11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
    will have the king for a friend.(P)

12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful.

13 The sluggard says, “There’s a lion outside!(Q)
    I’ll be killed in the public square!”

14 The mouth of an adulterous woman is a deep pit;(R)
    a man who is under the Lord’s wrath falls into it.(S)

15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.(T)

16 One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth
    and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.

Thirty Sayings of the Wise

Saying 1

17 Pay attention(U) and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;(V)
    apply your heart to what I teach,(W)
18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart
    and have all of them ready on your lips.
19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,
    I teach you today, even you.
20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,
    sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,(X)
    so that you bring back truthful reports
    to those you serve?

Saying 2

22 Do not exploit the poor(Y) because they are poor
    and do not crush the needy in court,(Z)
23 for the Lord will take up their case(AA)
    and will exact life for life.(AB)

Saying 3

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared.(AC)

Saying 4

26 Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge(AD)
    or puts up security for debts;
27 if you lack the means to pay,
    your very bed will be snatched from under you.(AE)

Saying 5

28 Do not move an ancient boundary stone(AF)
    set up by your ancestors.

Saying 6

29 Do you see someone skilled(AG) in their work?
    They will serve(AH) before kings;(AI)
    they will not serve before officials of low rank.

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)

Footnotes

  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

Sayings of King Lemuel

31 The sayings(A) of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
    Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!(B)
Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
    your vigor on those who ruin kings.(C)

It is not for kings, Lemuel—
    it is not for kings to drink wine,(D)
    not for rulers to crave beer,
lest they drink(E) and forget what has been decreed,(F)
    and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine(G) for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink(H) and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

Speak(I) up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.(J)

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character(K) who can find?(L)
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband(M) has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.(N)
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.(O)
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.(P)
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders(Q) of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.(R)
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise(S) at the city gate.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 31:3 Or wealth
  2. Proverbs 31:10 Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.