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Wisdom’s Warning

24 Don’t envy the wealth of the wicked or crave their company.
For they’re obsessed with causing trouble
    and their conversations are corrupt.
Wise people are builders[a]
    they build families, businesses, communities.
    And through intelligence and insight
    their enterprises are established and endure.
Because of their skilled leadership,
    the hearts[b] of people are filled with the treasures of wisdom
    and the pleasures of spiritual wealth.
Wisdom can make anyone into a mighty warrior,[c]
    and revelation-knowledge increases strength.
Wise strategy is necessary to wage war,
    and with many astute advisers
    you’ll see the path to victory more clearly.
Wisdom is a treasure too lofty for a quarreling fool[d]
    he’ll have nothing to say when leaders gather together.
There is one who makes plans to do evil—
    Master Schemer is his name.
If you plan to do evil, it’s as wrong as doing it.
    And everyone detests a troublemaker.
10 If you faint when under pressure,
    you have need of courage.[e]
11 Go and rescue the perishing! Be their savior!
    Why would you stand back and watch them stagger to their death?
12 And why would you say, “But it’s none of my business”?
    The one who knows you completely and judges your every motive
    is also the keeper of souls—and not just yours!
    He sees through your excuses and holds you responsible
    for failing to help those whose lives are threatened.
13 Revelation-knowledge is a delicacy,
    sweet like flowing honey that melts in your mouth.
    Eat as much of it as you can, my friend!
14 For then you will perceive what is true wisdom,
    your future will be bright,[f]
    and this hope living within you will never disappoint you.
15 Listen up, you wicked, irreverent ones—
    don’t harass the lovers of God[g]
    and don’t invade their resting place.
16 For the lovers of God may suffer adversity
    and stumble seven times,
    but they will continue to rise over and over again.
    But the unrighteous are brought down by just one calamity
    and will never be able to rise again.[h]
17 Never gloat when your enemy meets disaster,
    and don’t be quick to rejoice if he falls.
18 For the Lord, who sees your heart,
    will be displeased with you and will pity your foe.
19 Don’t be angrily offended over evildoers or be agitated by them.[i]
20 For the wicked have no life and no future—
    their light of life will die out.[j]
21 My child, stand in awe of Yahweh!
    Give counsel to others,
    but don’t mingle with those who are rebellious.
22 For sudden destruction will fall upon them
    and their lives will be ruined in a moment.
    And who knows what retribution they will face![k]

Revelation from the Wise

23 Those enlightened with wisdom have spoken these proverbs:
    Judgment must be impartial,
    for it is always wrong to be swayed by a person’s status.
24 If you say to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
    the nation will curse you and the people will revile you.
25 But when you convict the guilty,
    the people will thank you and reward you with favor.
26 Speaking honestly is a sign of true friendship.[l]
27 Go ahead, build your career and give yourself to your work.
    But if you put me first, you’ll see your family built up![m]
28 Why would you be a false accuser and slander with your words?
29 Don’t ever spitefully say, “I’ll get even with him!
    I’ll do to him what he did to me!”
30–31 One day I passed by the field of a lazy man,
    and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker.
    I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls.
32 So I considered their lack of wisdom,
    and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this:
33–34 Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming
    your permanent business partner. And:
    If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today,
    tomorrow never seems to come.

Footnotes

  1. 24:3 Or “A house is built by wisdom.” The house is more than a structure with roof and a floor. It becomes a metaphor for families, churches, businesses, and enterprises.
  2. 24:4 Or “inner chambers.”
  3. 24:5 Or “Wisdom makes anyone into a hero.” The Aramaic and the Septuagint read “It’s better to be wise than to be strong.”
  4. 24:7 The Hebrew is actually “Wisdom is coral to a fool.” That is, it is unattainable, deep, and hidden.
  5. 24:10 Or “your strength is limited.” Our weakness often becomes an excuse to quit, but strength and courage come as the result of faithfulness under pressure. Some interpret this to mean “If you fail to help others in their time of need, you will grow too weak to help yourself.”
  6. 24:14 The Septuagint is “your death will be good.”
  7. 24:15 Or “the righteous.”
  8. 24:16 Implied in the text, as it completes the parallelism.
  9. 24:19 The Septuagint is “Don’t rejoice with those who do evil or be jealous of them.”
  10. 24:20 Not only will they die out, but the implication is they will also have no posterity.
  11. 24:22 Verses 21 and 22 are translated from the Aramaic.
  12. 24:26 The Hebrew is literally “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” In the culture of the day, kissing was a sign of authentic friendship and a mark of relationship, which was often expressed in public among friends.
  13. 24:27 As translated from the Septuagint.

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