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The Sayings of Agur

30 These are the sayings
    and the message
    of Agur son of Jakeh.
Someone cries out to God,
    “I am completely worn out!
    How can I last?[a]
I am far too stupid
    to be considered human.
I never was wise,
    and I don’t understand
    what God is like.”

Has anyone gone up to heaven
    and come back down?
    Has anyone grabbed hold
    of the wind?
Has anyone wrapped up the sea
    or marked out boundaries
    for the earth?
If you know of any
    who have done such things,
    then tell me their names
    and their children’s names.

Everything God says is true—
    and it’s a shield for all
    who come to him for safety.
Don’t change what God has said!
    He will correct you and show
    that you are a liar.

There are two things, Lord,
    I want you to do for me
    before I die:
Make me absolutely honest
and don’t let me be too poor
    or too rich.
    Give me just what I need.
If I have too much to eat,
    I might forget about you;
if I don’t have enough,
    I might steal
    and disgrace your name.

10 Don’t tell a slave owner
something bad
    about one
    of the slaves.
That slave will curse you,
    and you will be in trouble.

11 Some people curse their father
    and even their mother;
12 others think they are perfect,
    but they are stained by sin.
13 Some people are stuck-up
    and act like snobs;
14 others are so greedy
that they gobble down
    the poor and homeless.

15 Greed[b] has twins,
    each named “Give me!”
There are three or four things
    that are never satisfied:
16     The world of the dead
    and a childless wife,
    the thirsty earth
    and a flaming fire.

17 Don’t make fun of your father
    or disobey your mother—
crows will peck out your eyes,
    and buzzards will eat
    the rest of you.

18 There are three or four things
    I cannot understand:
19 How eagles fly so high
    or snakes crawl on rocks,
    how ships sail the ocean
    or people fall in love.

20 An unfaithful wife says,
    “Sleeping with another man
    is as natural as eating.”

21 There are three or four things
    that make the earth tremble
    and are unbearable:
22 A slave who becomes king,
    a fool who eats too much,
23 a hateful woman
    who finds a husband,
and a slave
    who takes the place
    of the woman who owns her.

24 On this earth four things
    are small but very wise:
25 Ants, who seem to be feeble,
    but store up food
    all summer long;
26 badgers, who seem to be weak,
    but live among the rocks;
27     locusts, who have no king,
    but march like an army;
28 lizards,[c] which can be caught
in your hand,
    but sneak into palaces.

29 Three or four creatures
    really strut around:
30 Those fearless lions
    who rule the jungle,
31     those proud roosters,
    those mountain goats,
    and those rulers
    who have no enemies.[d]

32 If you are foolishly bragging
or planning something evil,
    then stop it now!
33 If you churn milk
    you get butter;
if you pound on your nose,
    you get blood—
    and if you stay angry,
    you get in trouble.

What King Lemuel’s Mother Taught Him

31 These are the sayings
that King Lemuel of Massa
    was taught by his mother.
My son Lemuel, you were born
in answer to my prayers,
    so listen carefully.
Don’t waste your life
chasing after women!
    This has ruined many kings.

Kings and leaders
should not get drunk
    or even want to drink.
Drinking makes you forget
your responsibilities,
    and you mistreat the poor.
Beer and wine are only
for the dying
    or for those
    who have lost all hope.
Let them drink
    and forget
how poor and miserable
    they feel.
But you must defend
those who are helpless
    and have no hope.
Be fair and give justice
    to the poor and homeless.

In Praise of a Good Wife

10 A truly good wife
is the most precious treasure
    a man can find!
11 Her husband depends on her,
    and she never
    lets him down.
12 She is good to him
    every day of her life,
13     and with her own hands
    she gladly makes clothes.

14 She is like a sailing ship
    that brings food
    from across the sea.
15 She gets up before daylight
to prepare food
    for her family
    and for her servants.[e]
16 She knows how to buy land
and how to plant a vineyard,
17     and she always works hard.
18 She knows when to buy or sell,
    and she stays busy
    until late at night.
19 She spins her own cloth,
20     and she helps the poor
    and the needy.
21 Her family has warm clothing,
    and so she doesn’t worry
    when it snows.
22 She does her own sewing,
    and everything she wears
    is beautiful.

23 Her husband is a well-known
and respected leader
    in the city.
24 She makes clothes to sell
    to the shop owners.
25 She is strong and graceful,[f]
    as well as cheerful
    about the future.
26 Her words are sensible,
    and her advice
    is thoughtful.
27 She takes good care
of her family
    and is never lazy.
28 Her children praise her,
    and with great pride
    her husband says,
29 “There are many good women,
    but you are the best!”

30 Charm can be deceiving,
    and beauty fades away,
but a woman
who honors the Lord
    deserves to be praised.
31 Show her respect—
    praise her in public
    for what she has done.

Footnotes

  1. 30.1 last: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 1.
  2. 30.15 Greed: Or “A leech.”
  3. 30.28 lizards: Or “spiders.”
  4. 30.31 enemies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 31.
  5. 31.15 and. . . servants: Or “and to tell her servants what to do.”
  6. 31.25 She. . . graceful: Or “The clothes she makes are attractive and of good quality.”

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