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Proverbs 1The Message (MSG)

Wise Sayings of Solomon

A Manual for Living

1-6 These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
    David’s son, Israel’s king—
Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,
    to understand what life means and where it’s going;
A manual for living,
    for learning what’s right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
    and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,
    still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
    the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

Start with God

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

8-19 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
    never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
    like rings on your fingers.
Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you,
    don’t go along with them.
If they say—“Let’s go out and raise some hell.
    Let’s beat up some old man, mug some old woman.
Let’s pick them clean
    and get them ready for their funerals.
We’ll load up on top-quality loot.
    We’ll haul it home by the truckload.
Join us for the time of your life!
    With us, it’s share and share alike!”—
Oh, friend, don’t give them a second look;
    don’t listen to them for a minute.
They’re racing to a very bad end,
    hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on.
Nobody robs a bank
    with everyone watching,
Yet that’s what these people are doing—
    they’re doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens:
    the more you get, the less you are.

Lady Wisdom

20-21 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.
    At the town center she makes her speech.
In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand.
    At the busiest corner she calls out:

22-24 “Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance?
    Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism?
Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?
    About face! I can revise your life.
Look, I’m ready to pour out my spirit on you;
    I’m ready to tell you all I know.
As it is, I’ve called, but you’ve turned a deaf ear;
    I’ve reached out to you, but you’ve ignored me.

25-28 “Since you laugh at my counsel
    and make a joke of my advice,
How can I take you seriously?
    I’ll turn the tables and joke about your troubles!
What if the roof falls in,
    and your whole life goes to pieces?
What if catastrophe strikes and there’s nothing
    to show for your life but rubble and ashes?
You’ll need me then. You’ll call for me, but don’t expect
        an answer.
    No matter how hard you look, you won’t find me.

29-33 “Because you hated Knowledge
    and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God,
Because you wouldn’t take my advice
    and brushed aside all my offers to train you,
Well, you’ve made your bed—now lie in it;
    you wanted your own way—now, how do you like it?
Don’t you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots?
    Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.
First pay attention to me, and then relax.
    Now you can take it easy—you’re in good hands.”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Proverbs 2The Message (MSG)

Make Insight Your Priority

1-5 Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.

6-8 And here’s why: God gives out Wisdom free,
    is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding.
He’s a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well,
    a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere.
He keeps his eye on all who live honestly,
    and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones.

9-15 So now you can pick out what’s true and fair,
    find all the good trails!
Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
    and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
    Insight will keep an eye out for you.
They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
    or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
    and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed,
These losers who make a game of evil
    and throw parties to celebrate perversity,
Traveling paths that go nowhere,
    wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.

16-19 Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress—
    that smooth-talking Seductress
Who’s faithless to the husband she married years ago,
    never gave a second thought to her promises before God.
Her whole way of life is doomed;
    every step she takes brings her closer to hell.
No one who joins her company ever comes back,
    ever sets foot on the path to real living.

20-22 So—join the company of good men and women,
    keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.
It’s the men who walk straight who will settle this land,
    the women with integrity who will last here.
The corrupt will lose their lives;
    the dishonest will be gone for good.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Proverbs 3The Message (MSG)

Don’t Assume You Know It All

1-2 Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
    take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
    a long life lived full and well.

3-4 Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
    Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
    in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.

5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

The Very Tree of Life

13-18 You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom,
    when you make friends with Madame Insight.
She’s worth far more than money in the bank;
    her friendship is better than a big salary.
Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth;
    nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.
With one hand she gives long life,
    with the other she confers recognition.
Her manner is beautiful,
    her life wonderfully complete.
She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.
    Hold her tight—and be blessed!

19-20 With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth;
    with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven.
They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface,
    and dew to descend from the night skies.

Never Walk Away

21-26 Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
    don’t for a minute lose sight of them.
They’ll keep your soul alive and well,
    they’ll keep you fit and attractive.
You’ll travel safely,
    you’ll neither tire nor trip.
You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry,
    you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
    or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
    he’ll keep you safe and sound.

27-29 Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
    your hand is God’s hand for that person.
Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time”
    or “Try me tomorrow”
    when the money’s right there in your pocket.
Don’t figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor
    when he’s sitting there trusting and unsuspecting.

30-32 Don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder,
    always spoiling for a fight.
Don’t try to be like those who shoulder their way through life.
    Why be a bully?
“Why not?” you say. Because God can’t stand twisted souls.
    It’s the straightforward who get his respect.

33-35 God’s curse blights the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder,
    but if you’re down on your luck, he’s right there to help.
Wise living gets rewarded with honor;
    stupid living gets the booby prize.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 7The Message (MSG)

Torn Between One Way and Another

1-3 You shouldn’t have any trouble understanding this, friends, for you know all the ins and outs of the law—how it works and how its power touches only the living. For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she’s free. If she lives with another man while her husband is living, she’s obviously an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite free to marry another man in good conscience, with no one’s disapproval.

4-6 So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.

But I can hear you say, “If the law code was as bad as all that, it’s no better than sin itself.” That’s certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.

8-12 Don’t you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.

13 I can already hear your next question: “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?” No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.

14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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