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Advice to Young People

My child, listen closely
to my teachings
    and learn common sense.
My advice is useful,
    so don’t turn away.
When I was still very young
    and my mother’s favorite child,
    my father said to me:
“If you follow my teachings
    and keep them in mind,
    you will live.
Be wise and learn good sense;
    remember my teachings
    and do what I say.

If you love Wisdom
and don’t reject her,
    she will watch over you.
The best thing about Wisdom
    is Wisdom herself;
    good sense is more important
    than anything else.
If you value Wisdom
and hold tightly to her,
    great honors will be yours.
It will be like wearing
a glorious crown
    of beautiful flowers.

The Right Way and the Wrong Way

10 My child, if you listen
and obey my teachings,
    you will live a long time.
11 I have shown you the way
    that makes sense;
    I have guided you
    along the right path.
12 Your road won’t be blocked,
    and you won’t stumble
    when you run.
13 Hold firmly to my teaching
and never let go.
    It will mean life for you.
14 Don’t follow the bad example
    of cruel and evil people.
15     Turn aside and keep going.
    Stay away from them.
16 They can’t sleep or rest
until they do wrong
    or harm
    some innocent victim.
17 Their food and drink
    are violence and cruelty.

18 The lifestyle of good people
    is like sunlight at dawn
    that keeps getting brighter
    until broad daylight.
19 The lifestyle of the wicked
    is like total darkness,
    and they will never know
    what makes them stumble.

20 My child, listen carefully
    to everything I say.
21     Don’t forget a single word,
    but think about it all.
22 Knowing these teachings
    will mean true life
    and good health for you.
23 Carefully guard your thoughts
    because they are the source
    of true life.
24 Never tell lies or be deceitful
    in what you say.
25     Keep looking straight ahead,
    without turning aside.
26 Know where you are headed,
    and you will stay
    on solid ground.
27 Don’t make a mistake by turning
    to the right or the left.

Be Faithful to Your Wife

My son, if you listen closely
    to my wisdom and good sense,
you will have sound judgment,
    and you will always know
    the right thing to say.
The words of an immoral woman
may be as sweet as honey
    and as smooth as olive oil.
But all that you really get
from being with her
    is bitter poison and pain.
If you follow her,
she will lead you down
    to the world of the dead.
She has missed the path
that leads to life
    and doesn’t even know it.

My son, listen to me
    and do everything I say.
Stay away from a bad woman!
    Don’t even go near the door
    of her house.
You will lose your self-respect
    and end up in debt
    to some cruel person
    for the rest of your life.
10 Strangers will get your money
    and everything else
    you have worked for.
11 When it’s all over,
your body will waste away,
    as you groan 12 and shout,
“I hated advice and correction!
13 I paid no attention
    to my teachers,
14     and now I am disgraced
    in front of everyone.”

15 You should be faithful
    to your wife,
    just as you take water
    from your own well.[a]
16 And don’t be like a stream
    from which just any woman
    may take a drink.
17 Save yourself for your wife
    and don’t have sex
    with other women.
18 Be happy with the wife
you married
    when you were young.
19 She is beautiful and graceful,
    just like a deer;
    you should be attracted to her
    and stay deeply in love.

20 Don’t go crazy over a woman
    who is unfaithful
    to her own husband!
21 The Lord sees everything,
    and he watches us closely.
22 Sinners are trapped and caught
    by their own evil deeds.
23 They get lost and die
because of their foolishness
    and lack of self-control.

Don’t Be Foolish

My child, suppose you agree
to pay the debt of someone,
    who cannot repay a loan.
Then you are trapped
    by your own words,
    and you are now in the power
    of someone else.
Here is what you should do:
    Go and beg for permission
    to call off the agreement.
Do this before you fall asleep
    or even get sleepy.
Save yourself, just as a deer
or a bird
    tries to escape
    from a hunter.

You lazy people can learn
    by watching an anthill.
Ants don’t have leaders,
    but they store up food
    during harvest season.
How long will you lie there
    doing nothing at all?
    When are you going to get up
    and stop sleeping?
10 Sleep a little. Doze a little.
    Fold your hands
    and twiddle your thumbs.
11 Suddenly, everything is gone,
    as though it had been taken
    by an armed robber.

12 Worthless liars go around
13 winking
    and giving signals
    to deceive others.
14 They are always thinking up
something cruel and evil,
    and they stir up trouble.
15 But they will be struck
by sudden disaster
    and left without a hope.

16 There are six or seven
kinds of people
    the Lord doesn’t like:
17 Those who are too proud
    or tell lies or murder,
18     those who make evil plans
    or are quick to do wrong,
19 those who tell lies in court
    or stir up trouble
    in a family.

20 Obey the teaching
    of your parents—
21     always keep it in mind
    and never forget it.
22 Their teaching will guide you
    when you walk,
protect you when you sleep,
    and talk to you
    when you are awake.

23 The Law of the Lord is a lamp,
    and its teachings
    shine brightly.
Correction and self-control
    will lead you through life.
24 They will protect you
    from the flattering words
    of someone else’s wife.[b]
25 Don’t let yourself be attracted
by the charm
    and lovely eyes
    of someone like that.
26 A woman who sells her love
can be bought
    for as little
    as the price of a meal.
But making love
to another man’s wife
    will cost you everything.
27 If you carry burning coals,
    you burn your clothes;
28     if you step on hot coals,
    you burn your feet.
29 And if you go to bed
with another man’s wife,
    you pay the price.

30 We don’t put up with thieves,
    not even[c] with one who steals
    for something to eat.
31 And thieves who get caught
    must pay back
    seven times what was stolen
    and lose everything.
32 But if you go to bed
    with another man’s wife,
    you will destroy yourself
    by your own stupidity.
33 You will be beaten
    and forever disgraced,
34 because a jealous husband
can be furious and merciless
    when he takes revenge.
35 He won’t let you pay him off,
    no matter what you offer.


  1. 5.15 own well: In biblical times water was scarce and wells were carefully guarded.
  2. 6.24 someone else’s wife: Or “an evil woman.”
  3. 6.30 not even: Or “except.”

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