25 These are also the proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied:
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As the heavens for height and the earth for depth,
So the hearts and minds of kings are [a]unsearchable.
Take away the dross from the silver,
And there comes out [the pure metal for] a vessel for the silversmith [to shape].
Take away the wicked from before the king,
And his throne will be established in righteousness.
Do not be boastfully ambitious and claim honor in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of great men;
For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,”
Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.
Do not rush out to argue your case [before magistrates or judges];
Otherwise what will you do in the end [when your case is lost and]
When your neighbor (opponent) humiliates you?
Argue your case with your neighbor himself [before you go to court];
And do not reveal another’s secret,
Or he who hears it will shame you
And the rumor about you [and your action in court] will have no end.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken at the right time.
Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise reprover to an ear that listens and learns.
Like the cold of snow [brought from the mountains] in the time of harvest,
So is a faithful messenger to those who send him;
For he refreshes the life of his masters.
Like clouds and wind without rain
Is a man who boasts falsely of gifts [he does not give].
By patience and a calm spirit a ruler may be persuaded,
And a soft and gentle tongue breaks the bone [of resistance].
Have you found [pleasure sweet like] honey? Eat only as much as you need,
Otherwise, being filled excessively, you vomit it.
Let your foot seldom be in your neighbor’s house,
Or he will become tired of you and hate you.
Like a club and a sword and a piercing arrow
Is a man who testifies falsely against his neighbor (acquaintance).
Like a broken tooth or an unsteady foot
Is confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble.
Like one who takes off a garment in cold weather, or like [a reactive, useless mixture of] vinegar on soda,
Is he who [thoughtlessly] sings [joyful] songs to a heavy heart.
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For in doing so, you will [b]heap coals of fire upon his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
The north wind brings forth rain;
And a backbiting tongue, an angry countenance.
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop [on the flat roof, exposed to the weather]
Than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (contentious) woman.
Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
So is good news from a distant land.
Like a muddied fountain and a polluted spring
Is a righteous man who yields and compromises his integrity before the wicked.
It is not good to eat much honey,
Nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.
Like a city that is broken down and without walls [leaving it unprotected]
Is a man who has no self-control over his spirit [and sets himself up for trouble].
26 Like snow in summer and like rain in harvest,
So honor is not fitting for a [shortsighted] [c]fool.
Like the sparrow in her wandering, like the swallow in her flying,
So the curse without cause does not come and alight [on the undeserving].
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
And a rod for the backs of fools [who refuse to learn].
Do not answer [nor pretend to agree with the frivolous comments of] a [closed-minded] fool according to his folly,
Otherwise you, even you, will be like him.
Answer [and correct the erroneous concepts of] a fool according to his folly,
Otherwise he will be wise in his own eyes [if he thinks you agree with him].
He who sends a message by the hand of a fool
Cuts off his own feet (sabotages himself) and drinks the violence [it brings on himself as a consequence].
Like the legs which are useless to the lame,
So is a proverb in the mouth of a fool [who cannot learn from its wisdom].
Like one who [absurdly] binds a stone in a sling [making it impossible to throw],
So is he who [absurdly] gives honor to a fool.
Like a thorn that goes [without being felt] into the hand of a drunken man,
So is a proverb in the mouth of a fool [who remains unaffected by its wisdom].
Like a [careless] archer who [shoots arrows wildly and] wounds everyone,
So is he who hires a fool or those who [by chance just] pass by.
Like a dog that returns to his vomit
Is a fool who repeats his foolishness.
Do you see a man [who is unteachable and] wise in his own eyes and full of self-conceit?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.
The lazy person [who is self-indulgent and relies on lame excuses] says, “There is a lion in the road!
A lion is in the open square [and if I go outside to work I will be killed]!”
As the door turns on its hinges,
So does the lazy person on his bed [never getting out of it].
The lazy person buries his hand in the dish [losing opportunity after opportunity];
It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.
The lazy person is wiser in his own eyes
Than seven [sensible] men who can give a discreet answer.
Like one who grabs a dog by the ears [and is likely to be bitten]
Is he who, passing by, stops to meddle with a dispute that is none of his business.
Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows, and death,
So is the man who deceives his neighbor (acquaintance, friend)
And then says, “Was I not joking?”
For lack of wood the fire goes out,
And where there is no whisperer [who gossips], contention quiets down.
Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire,
So is a contentious man to kindle strife.
The words of a whisperer (gossip) are like dainty morsels [to be greedily eaten];
They go down into the innermost chambers of the body [to be remembered and mused upon].
Like a [common] clay vessel covered with the silver dross [making it appear silver when it has no real value]
Are burning lips [murmuring manipulative words] and a wicked heart.
He who hates, disguises it with his lips,
But he stores up deceit in his heart.
When he speaks graciously and kindly [to conceal his malice], do not trust him,
For seven abominations are in his heart.
Though his hatred covers itself with guile and deceit,
His malevolence will be revealed openly before the assembly.
Whoever digs a pit [for another man’s feet] will fall into it,
And he who rolls a stone [up a hill to do mischief], it will come back on him.
A lying tongue hates those it wounds and crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin.
9 Now it is unnecessary for me to write to you about the offering [that is to be made] for the saints [in Jerusalem]; 2 for I know your eagerness [to promote this cause], and I have [proudly] boasted to the people of Macedonia about it, telling them that [a]Achaia has been prepared since last year [for this contribution], and your enthusiasm has inspired the majority of them [to respond]. 3 Still, I am sending the brothers [on to you], so that our pride in you may not be an empty boast in this case, and so that you may be prepared, just as I told them you would be; 4 otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—to say nothing of yourselves—will be humiliated for being so confident. 5 That is why I thought it necessary to urge these brothers to go to you [before I come] and make arrangements in advance for this generous, previously promised gift of yours, so that it would be ready, not as something extorted [or wrung out of you], but as a [voluntary and] generous gift.
6 Now [remember] this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows [b]generously [that blessings may come to others] will also reap [c]generously [and be blessed]. 7 Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]. 8 And God is able to make all grace [every favor and earthly blessing] come in abundance to you, so that you may always [under all circumstances, regardless of the need] have complete sufficiency in everything [being completely self-sufficient in Him], and have an abundance for every good work and act of charity. 9 As it is written and forever remains written,
“He [the benevolent and generous person] scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever!”
10 Now He who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed for sowing [that is, your resources] and increase the harvest of your righteousness [which shows itself in active goodness, kindness, and love]. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this [generosity, administered] through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit]. 12 For the ministry of this service (offering) is not only supplying the needs of the saints (God’s people), but is also overflowing through many expressions of thanksgiving to God. 13 Because of this act of ministry, [d]they will glorify God for your obedience to the gospel of Christ which you confess, as well as for your generous participation [in this gift] for them and for all [the other believers in need], 14 and they also long for you while they pray on your behalf, because of the surpassing measure of God’s grace [His undeserved favor, mercy, and blessing which is revealed] in you. 15 Now thanks be to God for His indescribable gift [which is precious beyond words]!