A Father’s Instruction
4 Hear, O children, the instruction of a father,
And pay attention [and be willing to learn] so that you may gain understanding and intelligent discernment.
For I give you good doctrine;
Do not [a]turn away from my instruction.
When I was a son with my father (David),
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother (Bathsheba),
He taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live.(A)
“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
“Do not [b]turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
“The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]!
And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation].(B)
“Prize wisdom [and exalt her], and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty and glory.”
Hear, my son, and accept my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
I have instructed you in the way of [skillful and godly] wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be impeded [for your path will be clear and open];
And when you run, you will not stumble.
Take hold of instruction; [actively seek it, grip it firmly and] do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.
Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not go the way of evil men.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
For the wicked cannot sleep unless they do evil;
And they are deprived of sleep unless they make someone stumble and fall.
For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just (righteous) is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until [it reaches its full strength and glory in] the perfect day.(C)
The way of the wicked is like [deep] darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.(D)
My son, pay attention to my words and be willing to learn;
Open your ears to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight;
Keep them in the center of your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
And healing and health to all their flesh.
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you a deceitful (lying, misleading) mouth,
And put devious lips far from you.
Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].
Consider well and watch carefully the path of your feet,
And all your ways will be steadfast and sure.
Do not turn away to the right nor to the left [where evil may lurk];
Turn your foot from [the path of] evil.
Pitfalls of Immorality
5 My son, be attentive to my wisdom [godly wisdom learned by costly experience],
Incline your ear to my understanding;(E)
That you may exercise discrimination and discretion (good judgment),
And your lips may reserve knowledge and answer wisely [to temptation].
For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey [like a honeycomb]
And her speech is smoother than oil;(F)
But in the end she is bitter like [the extract of] wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
Her steps take hold of Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead),
So that she does not think [seriously] about the path of life;
Her ways are aimless and unstable; you cannot know where her path leads.
Now then, my sons, listen to me
And do not depart from (forget) the words of my mouth.
Let your way [in life] be far from her,
And do not go near the door of her house [avoid even being near the places of temptation],(G)
Or you will give your honor to others,
And your years to the cruel one,
And strangers will be filled with your strength
And your hard-earned wealth will go to the house of a foreigner [who does not know God];
And you will groan when your life is ending,
When your flesh and your body are consumed;
And you say, “How I hated instruction and discipline,
And my heart despised correction and reproof!
“I have not listened to the voice of my teachers,
Nor have I inclined my ear to those who instructed me.
“I was almost in total ruin
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”
[c]Drink water from your own [d]cistern [of a pure marriage relationship]
And fresh running water from your own well.
Should your [e]springs (children) be dispersed,
As streams of water in the streets?
[Confine yourself to your own wife.] Let your children be yours alone,
And not the children of strangers with you.
Let your fountain (wife) be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity],
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.(H)
Let her be as a loving hind and graceful doe,
Let her breasts refresh and satisfy you at all times;
Always be [f]exhilarated and delight in her love.
Why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an immoral woman
And embrace the bosom of an outsider (pagan)?
For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the Lord,
And He carefully watches all of his paths [all of his comings and goings].(I)
The iniquities done by a wicked man will trap him,
And he will be held with the cords of his sin.
He will die for lack of instruction (discipline),
And in the greatness of his foolishness he will go astray and be lost.
6 My son, if you have become surety (guaranteed a debt or obligation) for your neighbor,
If you have given your pledge for [the debt of] a stranger or another [outside your family],
If you have been snared with the words of your lips,
If you have been trapped by the speech of your mouth,
Do this now, my son, and release yourself [from the obligation];
[g]Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor,
Go humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor [to pay his debt and release you].
Give no [unnecessary] sleep to your eyes,
Nor slumber to your eyelids;
Tear yourself away like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter
And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Go to the ant, O lazy one;
Observe her ways and be wise,(J)
Which, having no chief,
Overseer or ruler,
She prepares her food in the summer
And brings in her provisions [of food for the winter] in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O lazy one?
When will you arise from your sleep [and learn self-discipline]?(K)
“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to lie down and rest”—
So your poverty will come like an approaching prowler who walks [slowly, but surely]
And your need [will come] like an armed man [making you helpless].(L)
A worthless person, a wicked man,
Is one who walks with a perverse (corrupt, vulgar) mouth.
Who winks with his eyes [in mockery], who shuffles his feet [to signal],
Who points with his fingers [to give subversive instruction];
Who perversely in his heart plots trouble and evil continually;
Who spreads discord and strife.
Therefore [the crushing weight of] his disaster will come suddenly upon him;
Instantly he will be broken, and there will be no healing or remedy [because he has no heart for God].
These six things the Lord hates;
Indeed, seven are repulsive to Him:
A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,(M)
A heart that creates wicked plans,
Feet that run swiftly to evil,
A false witness who breathes out lies [even half-truths],
And one who spreads discord (rumors) among brothers.
My son, be guided by your father’s [God-given] commandment (instruction)
And do not [h]reject the teaching of your mother;(N)
Bind them continually upon your heart (in your thoughts),
And tie them around your neck.(O)
When you walk about, they (the godly teachings of your parents) will guide you;
When you sleep, they will keep watch over you;
And when you awake, they will talk to you.
For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching [of the law] is light,
And reproofs (rebukes) for discipline are the way of life,(P)
To keep you from the evil woman,
From [the flattery of] the smooth tongue of an immoral woman.
Do not desire (lust after) her beauty in your heart,
Nor let her capture you with her eyelashes.
For on account of a prostitute one is reduced to a piece of bread [to be eaten up],
And the immoral woman hunts [with a hook] the precious life [of a man].
Can a man take fire to his chest
And his clothes not be burned?
Or can a man walk on hot coals
And his feet not be scorched?
So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her will not be found innocent or go unpunished.
People do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
But when he is found, he must repay seven times [what he stole];
He must give all the property of his house [if necessary to meet his fine].
But whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks common sense and sound judgment and an understanding [of moral principles];
He who would destroy his soul does it.
Wounds and disgrace he will find,
And his reproach (blame) will not be blotted out.
For jealousy enrages the [wronged] husband;
He will not spare [the guilty one] on the day of vengeance.
He will not accept any ransom [offered to buy him off from demanding full punishment];
Nor will he be satisfied though you offer him many gifts (bribes).
- Proverbs 4:2 Lit forsake.
- Proverbs 4:6 Lit forsake.
- Proverbs 5:15 All of the Ten Commandments are reflected in the book of Proverbs; here it is the seventh, “You shall not commit adultery.”
- Proverbs 5:15 Vv 15-18 describe the purity of a man’s relationship in marriage. The cistern and well represent his wife.
- Proverbs 5:16 I.e. children of one’s promiscuity who are fatherless.
- Proverbs 5:19 Lit stagger (with passion).
- Proverbs 6:3 Under the ancient laws governing debt, a man obligated for another’s debt could lose his money, land, bed, and clothing; and if these were not sufficient, he and his wife and children could be sold as slaves, not to be released until the next Year of Jubilee—fifty years after the previous one.
- Proverbs 6:20 Lit forsake.