Proverbs 1:8-33; Proverbs 2:1-22; Proverbs 3:1-35; Proverbs 4:1-27; Proverbs 5:1-23; Proverbs 6:1-35; Proverbs 7:1-27; Proverbs 8:1-36; Proverbs 9:1-18 (The Message)

8 Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother's knee. 9 Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers. 10 Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don't go along with them. 11 If they say - "Let's go out and raise some hell. Let's beat up some old man, mug some old woman. 12 Let's pick them clean and get them ready for their funerals. 13 We'll load up on top-quality loot. We'll haul it home by the truckload. 14 Join us for the time of your life! With us, it's share and share alike!" - 15 Oh, friend, don't give them a second look; don't listen to them for a minute. 16 They're racing to a very bad end, hurrying to ruin everything they lay hands on. 17 Nobody robs a bank with everyone watching, 18 Yet that's what these people are doing - they're doing themselves in. 19 When you grab all you can get, that's what happens: the more you get, the less you are. Lady Wisdom 20 Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech. 21 In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out: 22 "Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn? 23 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. 24 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 "Since you laugh at my counsel and make a joke of my advice, 26 How can I take you seriously? I'll turn the tables and joke about your troubles! 27 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? 28 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 "Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-God, 30 Because you wouldn't take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you, 31 Well, you've made your bed - now lie in it; you wanted your own way - now, how do you like it? 32 Don't you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder. 33 First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy - you're in good hands." 1 Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. 2 Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. 3 That's right - if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for an answer, 4 Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, 5 Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you'll have come upon the Knowledge of God. 6 And here's why: God gives out Wisdom free, is plainspoken in Knowledge and Understanding. 7 He's a rich mine of Common Sense for those who live well, a personal bodyguard to the candid and sincere. 8 He keeps his eye on all who live honestly, and pays special attention to his loyally committed ones. 9 So now you can pick out what's true and fair, find all the good trails! 10 Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion. 11 Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, Insight will keep an eye out for you. 12 They'll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions 13 Of those who are lost themselves and can't tell a trail from a tumbleweed, 14 These losers who make a game of evil and throw parties to celebrate perversity, 15 Traveling paths that go nowhere, wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends. 16 Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress - that smooth-talking Seductress 17 Who's faithless to the husband she married years ago, never gave a second thought to her promises before God. 18 Her whole way of life is doomed; every step she takes brings her closer to hell. 19 No one who joins her company ever comes back, ever sets foot on the path to real living. 20 So - join the company of good men and women, keep your feet on the tried and true paths. 21 It's the men who walk straight who will settle this land, the women with integrity who will last here. 22 The corrupt will lose their lives; the dishonest will be gone for good. 1 Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands. 2 They'll help you live a long, long time, a long life lived full and well. 3 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. 4 Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. 5 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. 7 Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! 8 Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! 9 Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. 10 Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. 11 But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. 12 It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this. The Very Tree of Life 13 You're blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight. 14 She's worth far more than money in the bank; her friendship is better than a big salary. 15 Her value exceeds all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. 16 With one hand she gives long life, with the other she confers recognition. 17 Her manner is beautiful, her life wonderfully complete. 18 She's the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight - and be blessed! 19 With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth; with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven. 20 They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface, and dew to descend from the night skies. Never Walk Away 21 Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don't for a minute lose sight of them. 22 They'll keep your soul alive and well, they'll keep you fit and attractive. 23 You'll travel safely, you'll neither tire nor trip. 24 You'll take afternoon naps without a worry, you'll enjoy a good night's sleep. 25 No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner, 26 Because God will be right there with you; he'll keep you safe and sound. 27 Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. 28 Don't tell your neighbor, "Maybe some other time," or, "Try me tomorrow," when the money's right there in your pocket. 29 Don't figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor when he's sitting there trusting and unsuspecting. 30 Don't walk around with a chip on your shoulder, always spoiling for a fight. 31 Don't try to be like those who shoulder their way through life. Why be a bully? 32 "Why not?" you say. Because God can't stand twisted souls. It's the straightforward who get his respect. 33 God's curse blights the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. 34 He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder, but if you're down on your luck, he's right there to help. 35 Wise living gets rewarded with honor; stupid living gets the booby prize. 1 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live. 2 I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other. 3 When I was a boy at my father's knee, the pride and joy of my mother, 4 He would sit me down and drill me: "Take this to heart. Do what I tell you - live! 5 Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! 6 Never walk away from Wisdom - she guards your life; love her - she keeps her eye on you. 7 Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! 8 Throw your arms around her - believe me, you won't regret it; never let her go - she'll make your life glorious. 9 She'll garland your life with grace, she'll festoon your days with beauty." 10 Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life. 11 I'm writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way, I'm drawing a map to Righteous Road. 12 I don't want you ending up in blind alleys, or wasting time making wrong turns. 13 Hold tight to good advice; don't relax your grip. Guard it well - your life is at stake! 14 Don't take Wicked Bypass; don't so much as set foot on that road. 15 Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth. Make a detour and be on your way. 16 Evil people are restless unless they're making trouble; They can't get a good night's sleep unless they've made life miserable for somebody. 17 Perversity is their food and drink, violence their drug of choice. 18 The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. 19 But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker - travelers can't see a thing; they fall flat on their faces. Learn It by Heart 20 Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. 21 Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! 22 Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they're bursting with health. 23 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. 24 Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. 25 Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. 26 Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. 27 Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust. 1 Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it. 2 Then you'll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble. 3 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. 4 But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. 5 She's dancing down the primrose path to Death; she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. 6 She hasn't a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she's going. 7 So, my friend, listen closely; don't treat my words casually. 8 Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. 9 You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. 10 Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? 11 You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, 12 Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? 13 Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? 14 My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!" Never Take Love for Granted 15 Do you know the saying, "Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well"? 16 It's true. Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted. 17 Your spring water is for you and you only, not to be passed around among strangers. 18 Bless your fresh-flowing fountain! Enjoy the wife you married as a young man! 19 Lovely as an angel, beautiful as a rose - don't ever quit taking delight in her body. Never take her love for granted! 20 Why would you trade enduring intimacies for cheap thrills with a whore? for dalliance with a promiscuous stranger? 21 Mark well that God doesn't miss a move you make; he's aware of every step you take. 22 The shadow of your sin will overtake you; you'll find yourself stumbling all over yourself in the dark. 23 Death is the reward of an undisciplined life; your foolish decisions trap you in a dead end. 1 Dear friend, if you've gone into hock with your neighbor or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger, 2 If you've impulsively promised the shirt off your back and now find yourself shivering out in the cold, 3 Friend, don't waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess. You're in that man's clutches! Go, put on a long face; act desperate. 4 Don't procrastinate - there's no time to lose. 5 Run like a deer from the hunter, fly like a bird from the trapper! A Lesson from the Ant 6 You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. 7 Nobody has to tell it what to do. 8 All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. 9 So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? 10 A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy - do you know what comes next? 11 Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest! Always Cooking Up Something Nasty 12 Riffraff and rascals talk out of both sides of their mouths. 13 They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet, they cross their fingers behind their backs. 14 Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty, always stirring up trouble. 15 Catastrophe is just around the corner for them, a total smash-up, their lives ruined beyond repair. Seven Things God Hates 16 Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: 17 eyes that are arrogant, a tongue that lies, hands that murder the innocent, 18 a heart that hatches evil plots, feet that race down a wicked track, 19 a mouth that lies under oath, a troublemaker in the family. Warning on Adultery 20 Good friend, follow your father's good advice; don't wander off from your mother's teachings. 21 Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. 22 Wherever you walk, they'll guide you; whenever you rest, they'll guard you; when you wake up, they'll tell you what's next. 23 For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path. 24 They'll protect you from wanton women, from the seductive talk of some temptress. 25 Don't lustfully fantasize on her beauty, nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes. 26 You can buy an hour with a whore for a loaf of bread, but a wanton woman may well eat you alive. 27 Can you build a fire in your lap and not burn your pants? 28 Can you walk barefoot on hot coals and not get blisters? 29 It's the same when you have sex with your neighbor's wife: Touch her and you'll pay for it. No excuses. 30 Hunger is no excuse for a thief to steal; 31 When he's caught he has to pay it back, even if he has to put his whole house in hock. 32 Adultery is a brainless act, soul-destroying, self-destructive; 33 Expect a bloody nose, a black eye, and a reputation ruined for good. 34 For jealousy detonates rage in a cheated husband; wild for revenge, he won't make allowances. 35 Nothing you say or pay will make it all right; neither bribes nor reason will satisfy him. 1 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. 2 Do what I say and you'll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight - guard it! 3 Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart. 4 Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion. 5 They'll be with you to fend off the Temptress - that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress. 6 As I stood at the window of my house looking out through the shutters, 7 Watching the mindless crowd stroll by, I spotted a young man without any sense 8 Arriving at the corner of the street where she lived, then turning up the path to her house. 9 It was dusk, the evening coming on, the darkness thickening into night. 10 Just then, a woman met him - she'd been lying in wait for him, dressed to seduce him. 11 Brazen and brash she was, restless and roaming, never at home, 12 Walking the streets, loitering in the mall, hanging out at every corner in town. 13 She threw her arms around him and kissed him, boldly took his arm and said, 14 "I've got all the makings for a feast - today I made my offerings, my vows are all paid, 15 So now I've come to find you, hoping to catch sight of your face - and here you are! 16 I've spread fresh, clean sheets on my bed, colorful imported linens. 17 My bed is aromatic with spices and exotic fragrances. 18 Come, let's make love all night, spend the night in ecstatic lovemaking! 19 My husband's not home; he's away on business, and he won't be back for a month." 20 21 Soon she has him eating out of her hand, bewitched by her honeyed speech. 22 Before you know it, he's trotting behind her, like a calf led to the butcher shop, Like a stag lured into ambush 23 and then shot with an arrow, Like a bird flying into a net not knowing that its flying life is over. 24 So, friends, listen to me, take these words of mine most seriously. 25 Don't fool around with a woman like that; don't even stroll through her neighborhood. 26 Countless victims come under her spell; she's the death of many a poor man. 27 She runs a halfway house to hell, fits you out with a shroud and a coffin. 1 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? 2 She's taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. 3 Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, 4 "You - I'm talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets! 5 Listen, you idiots - learn good sense! You blockheads - shape up! 6 Don't miss a word of this - I'm telling you how to live well, I'm telling you how to live at your best. 7 My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth - I can't stand the taste of evil! 8 You'll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed. 9 You'll recognize this as true - you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. 10 Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. 11 For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her. 12 "I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. 13 The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion - pride and arrogance and crooked talk. 14 Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. 15 With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; 16 With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. 17 I love those who love me; those who look for me find me. 18 Wealth and Glory accompany me - also substantial Honor and a Good Name. 19 My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus. 20 You can find me on Righteous Road - that's where I walk - at the intersection of Justice Avenue, 21 Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life - armloads of life! 22 "God sovereignly made me - the first, the basic - before he did anything else. 23 I was brought into being a long time ago, well before Earth got its start. 24 I arrived on the scene before Ocean, yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes. 25 Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape, I was already there, newborn; 26 Long before God stretched out Earth's Horizons, and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather, 27 And set Sky firmly in place, I was there. When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean, 28 built the vast vault of Heaven, and installed the fountains that fed Ocean, 29 When he drew a boundary for Sea, posted a sign that said, no trespassing, And then staked out Earth's foundations, 30 I was right there with him, making sure everything fit. Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause, always enjoying his company, 31 Delighted with the world of things and creatures, happily celebrating the human family. 32 "So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. 33 Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don't squander your precious life. 34 Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work. 35 When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God's good pleasure. 36 But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul; when you reject me, you're flirting with death." 1 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it's supported by seven hewn timbers. 2 The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers. 3 Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: 4 "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! 5 I've prepared a wonderful spread - fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. 6 Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning." 7 If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you'll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. 8 So don't waste your time on a scoffer; all you'll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that's different - they'll love you for it! 9 Save your breath for the wise - they'll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know - they'll profit from it. 10 Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God, insight into life from knowing a Holy God. 11 It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen. 12 Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life; mock life and life will mock you. Madame Whore Calls Out, Too 13 Then there's this other woman, Madame Whore - brazen, empty-headed, frivolous. 14 She sits on the front porch of her house on Main Street, 15 And as people walk by minding their own business, calls out, 16 "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? 17 Steal off with me, I'll show you a good time! No one will ever know - I'll give you the time of your life." 18 But they don't know about all the skeletons in her closet, that all her guests end up in hell.
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