These are the sayings of Solomon the son of David, King of Israel. They are intended to help you learn to accept wise teaching, to understand the meaning of things, and to know how to behave wisely, rightly, justly, and fairly.
Even the simple-minded can learn to be sensible, and children can know more and use judgement beyond their years. Wise learners of any age will gain more wisdom from these words, and those willing to grasp the truth will have insights into these sayings, illustrations, and puzzles.
If you want to benefit from these words, you must start with fear and respect for the Lord. You will never be more than a fool if you scoff at what you don’t understand and turn your back when you have the opportunity to learn.
Listen to what your father and mother teach you – when others look at your life they will appreciate what they see because you’ve applied these lessons.
Bad company corrupts good morals – don’t give in to those who would lead you to do what you know is wrong. Don’t listen when they say “Let’s take what isn’t ours, just because we can get away with it. Let’s be mean to those who can’t defend themselves. We’ll torture them and take everything they have of value. We’ll live off of their stuff. Come along with us and have an equal share of our loot.”
Don’t go with them even one step! You know what’s right, don’t let them sway you! Their path leads to no good, they won’t think twice about hurting others. Even animals won’t fall into a trap that they watch you set, but these evil friends will fall into the very traps that they set for others. It’s their own lives that will be ruined. That’s the way it is with people that seek to get ahead by violence – they wind up getting hurt themselves.
Wisdom isn’t hard to find – it’s everywhere! You can hear it calling out to those who will listen – in the streets, in places of business, in the marketplace – everywhere you turn. Wisdom cries out to be heard, “How long will you remain ignorant? Why do you enjoy turning your back on me? Why do you choose to remain foolish? Let me correct your ways, I can change you, make you wise. I’ve called out to you, but you’ve turned your back and ignored my offers. You’ve neglected my advice and didn’t want my correction. Now it’s my turn to laugh as you fall prey to disasters of your own making. I’ll be teasing you as you cry for shelter from the storms that surround your life. The distress and anguish of your own calamities will swallow you up.
“Then you’ll look for me when it’s too late. Because you hated my teaching and didn’t fear and respect the Lord like I tried to tell you, now you won’t know where to find me when you decide you need me. You wouldn’t take my advice and thought you were too good for my warnings. Now you’ll endure hardships of your own making and be overcome by your own wickedness. You’ll be destroyed by your laziness, killed by insisting on doing things your own way.
But those who listen to my words of wisdom will be secure and free from fear of evil.”
Listen, son, to what I’m telling you. If you value my lessons, stay attentive to wisdom, and steer your heart toward understanding – apply yourself to it as if it were a buried treasure – then you will have a deep personal respect for God and understand the meaning of His Lordship. Wisdom and understanding come from God. He saves His choicest insights for those who walk righteously. He protects those who maintain their integrity, seek to be Godly, and assure justice is preserved. Follow these principles and you will be able to discern what is right, just, fair, and the proper course of action.
You can be filled with wisdom and know the deep satisfaction of true knowledge. Discretion and understanding will guard you and keep you from falling into evil ways. They’ll protect you from the man that would deceive you by masquerading lies as truth and lead you into sinful ways; from those who delight in doing perverse things and deviously try to take you with them; from the flattering woman who would leave her own husband and her vows before God to lead you down a sinful path that results in death.
Hear the truth of what I’m saying so you can walk righteously in the company of godly men. The righteous and blameless will enjoy their inheritance but the wicked and treacherous will lose everything.
Don’t let yourself forget what I’m telling you! Make these teachings an integral part of your life and you’ll live long and peacefully.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to always be kind and truthful. Burn these traits into your heart and mind every chance you get. They will help you maintain a good reputation with both God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart – you can trust him far more than you can trust yourself! Get in the habit of recognizing everything He does for you and He’ll do even more!
Don’t get too enamored with your own wisdom. Keep in perspective how little you know compared to God and just concentrate on keeping yourself out of trouble. Fear God and you’ll stay healthy and happy.
Honor the Lord with your money – make giving for His purposes your first priority and He’ll take care of you far more abundantly than you could ever do on your own.
That doesn’t mean life will always be easy – the Lord loves you too much to hold back on the discipline and correction He knows you need. Any father who loves his son would do the same.
If you let Him, He will lead you into wisdom and understanding. Nothing you could buy with money is anywhere near as valuable as that! No gem shines as bright as the man who has wisdom and understanding. They are the source of long life, riches, and honor. Peace and pleasure are in store for those who have them. They bring fullness of life and happiness – but only if you tenaciously commit yourself to them.
It was the Lord’s wisdom that He used to create the earth, and His understanding is foundational to everything. His knowledge enabled Him to create the oceans and keep them filled with rain from the skies.
Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of sound wisdom and discernment. If you live their lifestyle it will make you look good to everyone. You’ll be able to walk around confident of your decisions. You’ll sleep well at night without tossing and turning because you’ll have nothing to fear.
You won’t need to worry about unexpected troubles or the efforts of evil men. You’ll be walking with the Lord’s protection and He won’t let you stumble.
But for your part, use your strength and power for God’s good purposes. Be good to those who deserve it, and be quick to meet the needs of other people. Don’t stab your neighbors in the back or let yourself make a federal case out of minor irritations.
You may see some wicked people who seem to be living in style, but don’t be deceived – their ways are devious and the Lord won’t let them get away with it. You want to be close to the Lord and receive His blessings. The wicked may scoff at Him now but they will ultimately experience the Lord’s curses. God will give grace to anyone they harm.
Be wise and you will inherit honor. Be a fool and everyone will see your foolishness.
As a father, I have enough experience to be able to teach you well. Listen and I will tell you how to become an understanding man. Learn this lesson well and follow it.
When I was very young my father told me the same thing I’m telling you: “Take these words to heart and follow them passionately if you want to live: You must get wisdom! You must get understanding! Don’t ever forget or be distracted by anything else. These are the things that will protect you if you value them; love them and you’ll be safe.
“The first step to getting wisdom is this: Determine to get it! Go after understanding with all you’re worth.
“Value these and you will be valued; embrace them and you will be honored. They will make you look good and be admired by all.”
Take me seriously and you will have a long life.
I’m telling you how to be wise – I won’t steer you wrong. Follow my lead and nothing will stop you; you can go full speed ahead and not make a mistake.
Take advantage of opportunities to learn; turn your back on learning and you turn your back on life.
Don’t let yourself be lead around by evil men – stay away from their ideas. Run the other way, don’t go anywhere near them.
They lay awake at night thinking of ways to do evil. They are only content when they’ve caused trouble for someone else.
They live off of causing trouble and find violence to be like a refreshing drink.
The path of a righteous man is always well lit even in the midst of darkness. But the wicked don’t see the light and stumble in the darkness.
I’m telling you again, pay attention – you’ll never hear more important words than these! Keep them in your sights and burn them into your heart. Find the truth in what I’m saying and you will live a healthy life.
Guard your heart diligently, for it is the source of life. Keep you speech pure and honest. Don’t start down that slippery slope of being even a little bit deceptive. Keep your eyes fixed straight ahead on the prize, not being distracted to the left or the right. Keep your eyes and your feet on the straight and narrow path and you’ll remain strong. Run from evil!