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It’s Right to Live for God

12 To learn the truth you must long to be teachable,[a]
    or you can despise correction and remain ignorant.
If your heart is right, favor flows from the Lord,
    but a devious heart invites his condemnation.
You can’t expect success by doing what’s wrong.
    But the lives of his lovers are deeply rooted and firmly planted.
The integrity and strength of a virtuous wife[b]
    transforms her husband into an honored king.[c]
    But the wife who disgraces her husband
    weakens the strength of his identity.[d]
The lovers of God are filled with good ideas
    that are noble and pure,
    but the schemes of the sinner
    are crammed with nothing but lies.
The wicked use their words to ambush and accuse,[e]
    but the lovers of God speak to defend and protect.
The wicked are taken out, gone for good,
    but the godly families shall live on.
Everyone admires a man of principles,
    but the one with a corrupt heart is despised.
Just be who you are and work hard for a living,
    for that’s better than pretending to be important
    and starving to death.
10 A good man takes care of the needs of his pets,
    while even the kindest acts of a wicked man are still cruel.
11 Work hard at your job and you’ll have what you need.
    Following a get-rich-quick scheme is nothing but a fantasy.
12 The cravings of the wicked are only for what is evil,[f]
    but righteousness is the core motivation for the lovers of God,
    and it keeps them content and flourishing.[g]

Wisdom Means Being Teachable

13 The wicked will get trapped by their words
    of gossip, slander, and lies.[h]
    But for the righteous, honesty is its own defense.
14 For there is great satisfaction in speaking the truth,
    and hard work brings blessings back to you.
15 A fool is in love with his own opinion,
    but wisdom means being teachable.

Learning to Speak Wisely

16 If you shrug off an insult and refuse to take offense,
    you demonstrate discretion indeed.[i]
    But the fool has a short fuse
    and will immediately let you know when he’s offended.
17 Truthfulness marks the righteous,
    but the habitual liar can never be trusted.
18 Reckless words are like the thrusts of a sword,
    cutting remarks meant to stab and to hurt.
    But the words of the wise soothe and heal.
19 Truthful words will stand the test of time,
    but one day every lie will be seen for what it is.
20 Deception fills the hearts of those who plot harm,
    but those who plan for peace[j] are filled with joy.
21 Calamity is not allowed to overwhelm the righteous,
    but there’s nothing but trouble waiting for the wicked.
22 Live in the truth and keep your promises,
    and the Lord will keep delighting in you,
    but he detests a liar.
23 Those who possess wisdom don’t feel the need
    to impress others with what they know,
    but foolish ones make sure their ignorance is on display.
24 If you want to reign in life,[k]
    don’t sit on your hands.
    Instead, work hard at doing what’s right,
    for the slacker will end up working to make someone else succeed.
25 Anxious fear brings depression,
    but a life-giving word of encouragement
    can do wonders to restore joy to the heart.[l]
26 Lovers of God give good advice to their friends,[m]
    but the counsel of the wicked will lead them astray.
27 A passive person won’t even complete a project,
    but a passionate person makes good use
    of his time, wealth, and energy.[n]
28 Abundant life is discovered by walking in righteousness,
    but holding on to your anger leads to death.[o]

Footnotes

  1. 12:1 There are times when even the wise need correction, but they will appreciate its value.
  2. 12:4 There is an amazing Hebrew word used here. It is more commonly used to describe warriors, champions, and mighty ones. Many translations read “an excellent wife.” But the meaning of the Hebrew word chayil is better translated “an army that is wealthy,” “strong,” “mighty,” “powerful,” “with substance,” “valiant,” “virtuous,” or “worthy.”
  3. 12:4 Or “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.” By implication, her dignity makes him a king.
  4. 12:4 Or “she is like cancer in his bones.” Bones are a metaphor for inner strength, our inner being, or identity.
  5. 12:6 Or “lie in wait for blood.” This is a figure of speech for accusation.
  6. 12:12 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “Thieves crave the loot of other thieves.”
  7. 12:12 The meaning of the Hebrew text of v. 12 is uncertain.
  8. 12:13 The Hebrew is simply “sinful words,” which implies gossip, slander, and lies.
  9. 12:16 Or “A shrewd man conceals his shame.”
  10. 12:20 Or “counselors of peace.”
  11. 12:24 The Hebrew word for “reign” (mashal) is the title of the book: Proverbs. See introduction and the footnote on Prov. 1:1.
  12. 12:25 This insightful proverb can also be translated “Stop worrying! Think instead of what brings you gladness.” Our focus must never be on what we can’t change but on the everlasting joy we have in Christ. Sometimes we have to find the life-giving word of encouragement rising up in our own hearts. This is the secret of finding perpetual encouragement by the Word that lives in us.
  13. 12:26 As translated from older Aramaic manuscripts. The Hebrew is uncertain.
  14. 12:27 Implied in the text, paraphrased from an uncertain Hebrew phrase. An alternate translation would be “A lazy person won’t get to roast the game he caught, but the wealth of a diligent person is precious.”
  15. 12:28 As translated from the Septuagint and the Aramaic. The Hebrew is uncertain.