On Life and Conduct
19 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity
Than a [rich] man who is twisted in his speech and is a [shortsighted] fool.
Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries with his feet [acting impulsively and proceeding without caution or analyzing the consequences] sins (misses the mark).
The foolishness of man undermines his way [ruining whatever he undertakes];
Then his heart is resentful and rages against the Lord [for, being a fool, he blames the Lord instead of himself].
Wealth makes many friends,
But a poor man is separated from his friend.(A)
A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who breathes out lies will not escape.(B)
Many will seek the favor of a generous and noble man,
And everyone is a friend to him who gives gifts.
All the brothers of a poor man hate him;
How much more do his friends abandon him!
He pursues them with words, but they are gone.
He who gains wisdom and good sense loves (preserves) his own soul;
He who keeps understanding will find good and prosper.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
And he who breathes lies will perish.
Luxury is not fitting for a fool;
Much less for a slave to rule over princes.
Good sense and discretion make a man slow to anger,
And it is his honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense [without seeking revenge and harboring resentment].
The king’s wrath terrifies like the roaring of a lion,
But his favor is as [refreshing and nourishing as] dew on the grass.(C)
A foolish (ungodly) son is destruction to his father,
And the contentions of a [quarrelsome] wife are like a constant dripping [of water].
House and wealth are the inheritance from fathers,
But a wise, understanding, and sensible wife is [a gift and blessing] from the Lord.(D)
Laziness casts one into a deep sleep [unmindful of lost opportunity],
And the idle person will suffer hunger.
He who keeps and obeys the commandment [of the Lord] keeps (guards) his own life,
But he who is careless of his ways and conduct will die.(E)
He who is gracious and lends a hand to the poor lends to the Lord,
And the Lord will repay him for his good deed.(F)
Discipline and teach your son while there is hope,
And do not [indulge your anger or resentment by imposing inappropriate punishment nor] desire his destruction.
A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.
Listen to counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction,
That you may be wise in the time to come.
Many plans are in a man’s mind,
But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out).(G)
That which is desirable in a man is his loyalty and unfailing love,
But it is better to be a poor man than a [wealthy] liar.
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.(H)
The lazy man buries his hand in the [food] dish,
But will not even bring it to his mouth again.
Strike a scoffer [for refusing to learn], and the naive may [be warned and] become prudent;
Reprimand one who has understanding and a teachable spirit, and he will gain knowledge and insight.
He who assaults his father and chases away his mother
Is a son who brings shame and disgrace.(I)
Cease listening, my son, to instruction and discipline
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.
A wicked and worthless witness mocks justice,
And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
Judgments are prepared for scoffers,
And beatings for the backs of [thickheaded] fools.(J)
On Life and Conduct
20 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a riotous brawler;
And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.(K)
The terror of a king is like the roaring of a lion;
Whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his own life.
It is an honor for a man to keep away from strife [by handling situations with thoughtful foresight],
But any fool will [start a] quarrel [without regard for the consequences].
The lazy man does not plow when the winter [planting] season arrives;
So he begs at the [next] harvest and has nothing [to reap].
A plan (motive, wise counsel) in the heart of a man is like water in a deep well,
But a man of understanding draws it out.(L)
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty and goodness,
But who can find a faithful and trustworthy man?
The righteous man who walks in integrity and lives life in accord with his [godly] beliefs—
How blessed [happy and spiritually secure] are his children after him [who have his example to follow].
A [discerning] king who sits on the throne of judgment
Sifts all evil [like chaff] with his eyes [and cannot be easily fooled].
Who can say, “I have cleansed my heart,
I am pure from my sin?”(M)
Differing weights [one for buying and another for selling] and differing measures,
Both of them are detestable and offensive to the Lord.(N)
Even a boy is known and distinguished by his acts,
Whether his conduct is pure and right.
The hearing ear and the seeing eye,
The [omnipotent] Lord has made both of them.
Do not love [excessive] sleep, or you will become poor;
Open your eyes [so that you can do your work] and you will be satisfied with bread.
“It is [almost] worthless, it is [almost] worthless,” says the buyer [as he negotiates the price];
But when he goes his way, then he boasts [about his bargain].
There is gold, and an abundance of pearls,
But the lips of knowledge are a vessel of preciousness [the most precious of all].(O)
[The judge tells the creditor], “Take the clothes of one who is surety for a stranger;
And hold him in pledge [when he guarantees a loan] for foreigners.”(P)
Food gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel [just as sin may be sweet at first, but later its consequences bring despair].
Plans are established by counsel;
So make war [only] with wise guidance.
He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets;
Therefore do not associate with a gossip [who talks freely or flatters].(Q)
Whoever curses his father or his mother,
His lamp [of life] will be extinguished in time of darkness.
An inheritance hastily gained [by greedy, unjust means] at the beginning
Will not be blessed in the end.(R)
Do not say, “I will repay evil”;
Wait [expectantly] for the Lord, and He will rescue and save you.(S)
Differing weights are detestable and offensive to the Lord,
And fraudulent scales are not good.
Man’s steps are ordered and ordained by the Lord.
How then can a man [fully] understand his way?
It is a trap for a man to [[a]speak a vow of consecration and] say rashly, “It is holy!”
And [not until] afterward consider [whether he can fulfill it].
A wise king sifts out the wicked [from among the good]
And drives the [threshing] wheel over them [to separate the chaff from the grain].
The [b]spirit (conscience) of man is the lamp of the Lord,
Searching and examining all the innermost parts of his being.(T)
Loyalty and mercy, truth and faithfulness, protect the king,
And he upholds his throne by lovingkindness.
The glory of young men is their [physical] strength,
And the honor of aged men is their gray head [representing wisdom and experience].
Blows that wound cleanse away evil,
And strokes reach to the innermost parts.
On Life and Conduct
21 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it whichever way He wishes.(U)
Every man’s way is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs and examines the hearts [of people and their motives].(V)
To do righteousness and justice
Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice [for wrongs repeatedly committed].(W)
Haughty and arrogant eyes and a proud heart,
The lamp of the wicked [their self-centered pride], is sin [in the eyes of God].
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage,
But everyone who acts in haste comes surely to poverty.
Acquiring treasures by a lying tongue
Is a fleeting vapor, the seeking and pursuit of death.
The violence of the wicked will [return to them and] drag them away [like fish caught in a net],
Because they refuse to act with justice.
The way of the guilty is [exceedingly] crooked,
But as for the pure, his conduct is upright.
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop [on the flat roof, exposed to the weather]
Than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (contentious) woman.
The soul of the wicked desires evil [like an addictive substance];
His neighbor finds no compassion in his eyes.(X)
When the scoffer is punished, the naive [observes the lesson and] becomes wise;
But when the wise and teachable person is instructed, he receives knowledge.(Y)
The righteous one keeps an eye on the house of the wicked—
How the wicked are cast down to ruin.
Whoever shuts his ears at the cry of the poor
Will cry out himself and not be answered.(Z)
A gift in secret subdues anger,
And a bribe [hidden] in the pocket, strong wrath.
When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous (the upright, the one in right standing with God),
But to the evildoers it is disaster.
A man who wanders from the way of understanding (godly wisdom)
Will remain in the assembly of the dead.
He who loves [only selfish] pleasure will become a poor man;
He who loves and is devoted to [c]wine and [olive] oil will not become rich.
The wicked become a ransom for the righteous,
And the treacherous in the place of the upright [for they fall into their own traps].
It is better to dwell in a desert land
Than with a contentious and troublesome woman.
There is precious treasure and oil in the house of the wise [who prepare for the future],
But a short-sighted and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.
He who earnestly seeks righteousness and loyalty
Finds life, righteousness, and honor.(AA)
A wise man scales the city [walls] of the mighty
And brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue
Guards himself from troubles.(AB)
“Proud,” “Haughty,” “Scoffer,” are his names
Who acts with overbearing and insolent pride.
The desire of the lazy kills him,
For his hands refuse to labor;
He craves all the day long [and does no work],
But the righteous [willingly] gives and does not withhold [what he has].(AC)
The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable and offensive [to the Lord].
How much more [unacceptable and insulting can it be] when he brings it with evil intention?
A false witness will perish,
But a man who listens to the truth will speak forever and go unchallenged.
A wicked man puts on a bold face,
But as for the upright, he considers, directs, and establishes his way [with the confidence of integrity].
There is no [human] wisdom or understanding
Or counsel [that can prevail] against the Lord.
The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance and victory belong to the Lord.
- Proverbs 20:25 Such a vow would single out an item for sacrifice or for the use of the temple or the priests. The classic example of a careless vow was Jephthah’s promise to sacrifice to the Lord whatever came out of his house to meet him on his return from a successful battle (Judg 11:30-35).
- Proverbs 20:27 Lit breath.
- Proverbs 21:17 I.e. items associated with lavish feasting and excessive luxury.