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

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