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The Lord Is In Charge

21 The Lord controls rulers,
    just as he determines
    the course of rivers.
We may think we are doing
    the right thing,
    but the Lord always knows
    what is in our hearts.
Doing what is right and fair
    pleases the Lord
    more than an offering.
Evil people are proud
    and arrogant,
    but sin is the only crop
    they produce.[a]
If you plan and work hard,
    you will have plenty;
    if you get in a hurry,
    you will end up poor.

Cheating to get rich
is a foolish dream
    and no less than suicide.[b]
You destroy yourself
by being cruel and violent
    and refusing to live right.
All crooks are liars,
    but anyone who is innocent
    will do right.
It’s better to stay outside
    on the roof of your house
    than to live inside
    with a nagging wife.
10 Evil people want to do wrong,
    even to their friends.
11 An ignorant fool learns
    by seeing others punished;
    a sensible person learns
    by being instructed.

12 God is always fair!
He knows what the wicked do
    and will punish them.
13 If you won’t help the poor,
don’t expect to be heard
    when you cry out for help.
14 A secret bribe will save you
    from someone’s fierce anger.
15 When justice is done,
good citizens are glad
    and crooks are terrified.
16 If you stop using good sense,
    you will find yourself
    in the grave.
17 Heavy drinkers and others
who live only for pleasure
    will lose all they have.

18 God’s people will escape,
    but all who are wicked
    will pay the price.
19 It’s better out in the desert
    than at home with a nagging,
    complaining wife.
20 Be sensible and store up
    precious treasures—
    don’t waste them
    like a fool.
21 If you try to be kind and good,
    you will be blessed with life
    and goodness and honor.
22 One wise person can defeat
a city full of soldiers
    and capture their fortress.
23 Watching what you say
can save you
    a lot of trouble.
24 If you are proud and conceited,
    everyone will say,
    “You’re a snob!”

25 If you want too much
and are too lazy to work,
    it could be fatal.
26 But people who obey God
    are always generous.

27 The Lord despises the offerings
of wicked people
    with evil motives.
28 If you tell lies in court,
    you are done for;
    only a reliable witness
    can do the job.
29 Wicked people bluff their way,
    but God’s people think
    before they take a step.

30 No matter how much you know
or what plans you make,
    you can’t defeat the Lord.
31 Even if your army has horses
ready for battle,
    the Lord will always win.

Footnotes

  1. 21.4 but sin. . . produce: Or “but sin is the only light they ever follow.”
  2. 21.6 and. . . suicide: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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