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];
[a]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,
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]?
“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].
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,
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 [b]reject the teaching of your mother;
Bind them continually upon your heart (in your thoughts),
And tie them around your neck.
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,
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).
7 My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you [so they are readily available to guide you].
Keep my commandments and live,
And keep my teaching and law as the apple of your eye.
Bind them [securely] on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to [skillful and godly] wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And regard understanding and intelligent insight as your intimate friends;
That they may keep you from the immoral woman,
From the foreigner [who does not observe God’s laws and] who flatters with her [smooth] words.
For at the window of my house
I looked out through my lattice.
And among the naive [the inexperienced and gullible],
I saw among the youths
A young man lacking [good] sense,
Passing through the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
In the twilight, in the evening;
In the black and dark night.
And there a woman met him,
Dressed as a prostitute and sly and cunning of heart.
She was boisterous and rebellious;
[c]She would not stay at home.
At times she was in the streets, at times in the market places,
Lurking and setting her ambush at every corner.
So she caught him and kissed him
And with a brazen and impudent face she said to him:
“I have peace offerings with me;
Today I have paid my vows.
“So I came out to meet you [that you might share with me the feast of my offering],
Diligently I sought your face and I have found you.
“I have spread my couch with coverings and cushions of tapestry,
With colored fine linen of Egypt.
“I have perfumed my bed
With myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
“Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning;
Let us console and delight ourselves with love.
“For my husband is not at home.
He has gone on a long journey;
He has taken a bag of money with him,
And he will come home on the appointed day.”
With her many persuasions she caused him to yield;
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
Suddenly he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter [not knowing the outcome],
Or as one in stocks going to the correction [to be given] to a fool,
Until an arrow pierced his liver [with a mortal wound];
Like a bird fluttering straight into the net,
He did not know that it would cost him his life.
Now therefore, my sons, listen to me,
And pay attention to the words of my mouth.
Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways,
Do not stray into her [evil, immoral] paths.
For she has cast down many [mortally] wounded;
Indeed, all who were killed by her were strong.
Her house is the way to [d]Sheol,
Descending to the chambers of death.
2 But I made up my mind not to grieve you with another painful visit. 2 For if I cause you grief [by a well-deserved rebuke], who then provides me enjoyment but the very one whom I have made sad? 3 And I [a]wrote this same thing to you, so that when I came, I would not be filled with sorrow by those who ought to make me glad, for I trusted in you and felt confident that my joy would be shared by all of you. 4 For I wrote to you out of great distress and with an anguished heart, and with many tears, not to cause you sorrow but to make you realize the [overflowing] love which I have especially for you.
5 But if [b]someone has caused [all this] sorrow, he has caused it not to me, but in some degree—not to put it too severely—[he has distressed and grieved] all of you. 6 For such a one this punishment by the majority is sufficient, 7 so instead [of further rebuke, now] you should rather [graciously] forgive and comfort and encourage him, to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reinstate him in your affections and reaffirm your [c]love for him. 9 For this was my purpose in writing, to see if you would stand the test, whether you are obedient and committed to following my instruction in all things. 10 If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive [that one]; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of [and with the approval of] Christ, 11 to keep Satan from taking advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
12 Now when I arrived at Troas to preach the good news of Christ, even though a door [of opportunity] opened for me in the Lord, 13 my spirit could not rest because I did not find my brother Titus there; so saying goodbye to them, I left for Macedonia.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things? 17 For we are not like many, [acting like merchants] peddling God’s word [shortchanging and adulterating God’s message]; but from pure [uncompromised] motives, as [commissioned and sent] from God, we speak [His message] in Christ in the sight of God.