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The Foolishness of Unfaithfulness

My son, pay close attention
    and don’t forget
    what I tell you to do.
Obey me, and you will live!
    Let my instructions be
    your greatest treasure.
Keep them at your fingertips
    and write them
    in your mind.
Let wisdom be your sister
    and make common sense
    your closest friend.
They will protect you
    from the flattering words
    of someone else’s wife.

From the window of my house,
    I once happened to see
    some foolish young men.
It was late in the evening,
    sometime after dark.
One of these young men
    turned the corner
    and was walking by the house
    of an unfaithful wife.
10 She was dressed fancy
like a woman of the street
    with only one thing in mind.
11 She was one of those women
who are loud and restless
    and never stay at home,
12     who walk street after street,
    waiting to trap a man.

13 She grabbed him and kissed him,
    and with no sense of shame,
    she said:
14 “I had to offer a sacrifice,
    and there is enough meat
    left over for a feast.
15 So I came looking for you,
    and here you are!
16 The sheets on my bed
    are bright-colored cloth
    from Egypt.
17 And I have covered it
with perfume
    made of myrrh,
    aloes, and cinnamon.

18 “Let’s go there
    and make love all night.
19     My husband is traveling,
    and he’s far away.
20 He took a lot of money along,
    and he won’t be back home
    before the middle
    of the month.”

21 And so, she tricked him
    with all of her sweet talk
    and her flattery.
22 Right away he followed her
    like an ox on the way
    to be slaughtered,
or like a fool on the way
to be punished[a]
23     and killed with arrows.
He was no more than a bird
    rushing into a trap,
    without knowing
    it would cost him his life.

24 My son, pay close attention
    to what I have said.
25 Don’t even think about
    that kind of woman
    or let yourself be misled
    by someone like her.
26 Such a woman has caused
the downfall
    and destruction
    of a lot of men.
27 Her house is a one-way street
leading straight down
    to the world of the dead.

In Praise of Wisdom

With great understanding,
    Wisdom[b] is calling out
    as she stands at the crossroads
    and on every hill.
She stands by the city gate
    where everyone enters the city,
    and she shouts:
“I am calling out
    to each one of you!
Good sense and sound judgment
    can be yours.
    Listen, because what I say
    is worthwhile and right.
I always speak the truth
    and refuse to tell a lie.
Every word I speak is honest,
    not one is misleading
    or deceptive.

“If you have understanding,
    you will see that my words
    are just what you need.
10 Let instruction and knowledge
mean more to you
    than silver
    or the finest gold.
11 Wisdom is worth much more
than precious jewels
    or anything else you desire.”

Wisdom Speaks

12 I am Wisdom[c]—Common Sense
    is my closest friend;
    I possess knowledge
    and sound judgment.
13 If you respect the Lord,
    you will hate evil.
    I hate pride and conceit
    and deceitful lies.
14 I am strong,
    and I offer
sensible advice
    and sound judgment.
15 By my power kings govern,
    and rulers make laws
    that are fair.
16 Every honest leader rules
    with help from me.

17 I love everyone who loves me,
    and I will be found by all
    who honestly search.
18 I can make you rich and famous,
    important and successful.
19 What you receive from me
    is more valuable
    than even the finest gold
    or the purest silver.
20 I always do what is right,
21     and I give great riches
    to everyone who loves me.

22 From the beginning,
    I was with the Lord.[d]
    I was there before he began
23     to create the earth.
At the very first,
    the Lord gave life to[e] me.
24 When I was born,
    there were no oceans
    or springs of water.
25 My birth was before
mountains were formed
    or hills were put in place.
26 It happened long before God
    had made the earth
    or any of its fields
    or even the dust.

27 I was there when the Lord
    put the heavens in place
    and stretched the sky
    over the surface of the sea.
28 I was with him when he placed
    the clouds in the sky
    and created the springs
    that fill the ocean.
29 I was there when he set
boundaries for the sea
    to make it obey him,
    and when he laid foundations
    to support the earth.

30 I was right beside the Lord,
    helping him plan and build.[f]
I made him happy each day,
    and I was happy at his side.
31     I was pleased with his world
    and pleased with its people.

32 Pay attention, my children!
    Follow my advice,
    and you will be happy.
33 Listen carefully
to my instructions,
    and you will be wise.

34 Come to my home each day
and listen to me.
    You will find happiness.
35 By finding me, you find life,
    and the Lord will be pleased
    with you.
36 But if you don’t find me,
    you hurt only yourself,
    and if you hate me,
    you are in love with death.

Wisdom Gives a Feast

Wisdom has built her house
    with its seven columns.
She has prepared the meat
and set out the wine.
    Her feast is ready.

She has sent her servant women
    to announce her invitation
    from the highest hills:
“Everyone who is ignorant
    or foolish is invited!
    All of you are welcome
    to my meat and wine.
If you want to live,
    give up your foolishness
    and let understanding
    guide your steps.”

True Wisdom

Correct a worthless bragger,
    and all you will get
    are insults and injuries.
Any bragger you correct
    will only hate you.
But if you correct someone
who has common sense,
    you will be loved.
If you have good sense,
    instruction will help you
    to have even better sense.
And if you live right,
    education will help you
    to know even more.

10 Respect and obey the Lord!
    This is the beginning
    of wisdom.[g]
To have understanding,
    you must know the Holy God.
11 I am Wisdom.
    If you follow me,
    you will live a long time.
12 Good sense is good for you,
    but if you brag,
    you hurt yourself.

A Foolish Invitation

13 Stupidity[h] is reckless,
    senseless, and foolish.
14 She sits in front of her house
    and on the highest hills
    in the town.
15 She shouts to everyone
    who passes by,
16     “If you are stupid,
    come on inside!”
And to every fool she says,
17     “Stolen water tastes best,
    and the food you eat in secret
    tastes best of all.”
18 None who listen to Stupidity
understand
    that her guests
    are as good as dead.

Footnotes

  1. 7.22 a fool. . . punished: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 8.1,12 Wisdom: See the note at 1.20.
  3. 8.1,12 Wisdom: See the note at 1.20.
  4. 8.22 From the beginning. . . with the Lord: Or “In the very beginning, the Lord created me.”
  5. 8.23 gave life to: Or “formed.”
  6. 8.30 helping. . . build: Or “like his own child.”
  7. 9.10 the beginning of wisdom: Or “what wisdom is all about.”
  8. 9.13 Stupidity: Or “A foolish woman.”

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