Purpose and theme
1The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3for receiving instruction in prudent behaviour,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4for giving prudence to those who are simple,1:4 The Hebrew word rendered simple in Proverbs denotes a person who is gullible, without moral direction and inclined to evil.
knowledge and discretion to the young –
5let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance –
6for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.1:6 Or understanding a proverb, namely, a parable, / and the sayings of the wise, their riddles
7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools1:7 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote a person who is morally deficient. despise wisdom and instruction.
Prologue: exhortations to embrace wisdom
Warning against the invitation of sinful men
8Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.
10My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11If they say, ‘Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot’ –
15my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.
20Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21on top of the wall1:21 Septuagint; Hebrew / at noisy street corners she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
22‘How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
24But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no-one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you –
27when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
28‘Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
31they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.’
The Usefulness of Proverbs
1The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
To discern the sayings of understanding,
3 To receive instruction in wise behavior,
Righteousness, justice and equity;
4 To give prudence to the [a]naive,
To the youth knowledge and discretion,
5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and a figure,
The words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The Enticement of Sinners
8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
9 Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And [b]ornaments about your neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot [c]with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.
17 Indeed, it is [d]useless to spread the baited net
In the sight of any [e]bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood;
They ambush their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence;
It takes away the life of its possessors.
20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She [f]lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O [g]naive ones, will you love [h]being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 “Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the [i]naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall [j]live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”