The Rewards of Wisdom
3 My son, do not forget my [a]teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
For length of days and years of life [worth living]
And tranquility and prosperity [the wholeness of life’s blessings] they will add to you.
Do not let mercy and kindness and truth leave you [instead let these qualities define you];
Bind them [securely] around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.(A)
So find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.(B)
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
[b]In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord [with reverent awe and obedience] and turn [entirely] away from evil.(C)
It will be health to your body [your marrow, your nerves, your sinews, your muscles—all your inner parts]
And refreshment (physical well-being) to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your wealth
And with the first fruits of all your crops (income);(D)
Then your barns will be abundantly filled
And your vats will overflow with new wine.(E)
My son, do not reject or take lightly the discipline of the Lord [learn from your mistakes and the testing that comes from His correction through discipline];
Nor despise His rebuke,(F)
For those whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
Happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is the man who finds [skillful and godly] wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding and insight [learning from God’s word and life’s experiences],
For wisdom’s profit is better than the profit of silver,
And her gain is better than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
And nothing you can wish for compares with her [in value].(G)
Long life is in her right hand;
In her left hand are riches and honor.(H)
Her ways are highways of pleasantness and favor,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy [blessed, considered fortunate, to be admired] is everyone who holds her tightly.
The Lord by His wisdom has founded the earth;
By His understanding He has established the heavens.(I)
By His knowledge the deeps were broken up
And the clouds drip with dew.
My son, let them not escape from your sight,
But keep sound wisdom and discretion,
And they will be life to your soul (your inner self)
And a gracious adornment to your neck (your outer self).
Then you will walk on your way [of life] securely
And your foot will not stumble.(J)
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the storm of the wicked when it comes [since you will be blameless];
For the Lord will be your confidence, firm and strong,
And will keep your foot from being caught [in a trap].
[c]Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due [its rightful recipients],
When it is in your power to do it.(K)
Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back,
And tomorrow I will give it,”
When you have it with you.(L)
Do not devise evil against your neighbor,
Who lives securely beside you.
Do not quarrel with a man without cause,
If he has done you no harm.(M)
Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.(N)
For the devious are repulsive to the Lord;
But His private counsel is with the upright [those with spiritual integrity and moral courage].(O)
The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked,
But He blesses the home of the just and righteous.(P)
Though He scoffs at the scoffers and scorns the scorners,
Yet He gives His grace [His undeserved favor] to the humble [those who give up self-importance].(Q)
The wise will inherit honor and glory,
But dishonor and shame is conferred on fools.(R)
- Proverbs 3:1 Or law.
- Proverbs 3:6 One of the ancient rabbis said that all the essence of the Torah (Law) depends on this verse.
- Proverbs 3:27 Using this verse as a proof text, the ancient rabbis offered the example of an employer who tells his foreman to hire workers at four zuz (small silver coins) each to do a job, and the foreman hires them at three instead. Even though they accepted the terms, the rabbis rule that they have the right to complain. Compare this with the parable of the landowner who hires workers for a denarius each. The difference there is that the first group receives a fair wage, while the last is overpaid as a matter of generosity (Matt 20:15).