THESE proverbs were written by David's son Solomon, that was king of Israel, for the better understanding of true wisdom, and self-command. Here is made known the secret of discernment; here men may learn the lesson of insight, the dictates of duty and right and honour. Here simplicity is put on its guard; here youth may find instruction and advice both together. The wise, too, may be the wiser for hearing them; they will aid even the discerning to guide his course aright; he will read both parables and the interpretation of parables, both wise words and the hidden thoughts they signify.
True wisdom is founded on the fear of the Lord; who but a fool would despise such wisdom, and the lessons she teaches?
Heed well, my son, your father's warnings, nor make light of your mother's teaching; no richer heirloom, crown or necklace, can be yours. Turn a deaf ear, my son, to the blandishments of evil-doers that would make you of their company. There are lives to be had for the ambushing, the lives of unsuspecting folk whose uprightness shall little avail them; there are fortunes to be swallowed up whole, as a man is swallowed up by death when he goes to his grave. No lack of treasures here, they say, rich plunder that shall find its way into our houses; you have but to throw in your lot with us; every man shares alike. Such errands, my son, are not for you; never stir a foot in their company; you know well how eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood, and the snare is laid to no purpose if the bird is watching. What do they, but compass their own ruin, plot against their own lives? Such is ever the end of greed; he who cherishes it must fall by it at last.
And all the while Wisdom is publishing her message, crying it aloud in the open streets; never a meeting of roads, never a gateway, but her voice is raised, echoing above the din of it. What, says she, are you still gaping there, simpletons? Do the reckless still court their own ruin? Rash fools, will you never learn? Pay heed, then, to my protest; listen while I speak out my mind to you, give you open warning. Since my call is unheard, since my hand beckons in vain, since my counsel is despised and all my reproof goes for nothing, it will be mine to laugh, to mock at your discomfiture, when perils close about you. Close about you they will, affliction and sore distress, disasters that sweep down suddenly, gathering storms of ruin.
It will be their turn, then, to call aloud; my turn, then, to refuse an answer. They will be early abroad looking for me, but find me never; fools, that grew weary of instruction, and would not fear the Lord. Well for them, if they had followed my counsel, if they had not spurned all the warnings I gave! Now they must eat of the harvest their own wickedness has reaped, make the best of the cheer their own knavish schemes have brought them. Ah, silly souls, what a perilous refusal, what fatal foolhardiness was here!
But let a man give heed to me, peace undisturbed shall be his, happiness shall be his, free from all threat of danger.
Here, then, my son, is counsel for you; take this bidding of mine to heart; ever be your ear attentive to wisdom, your mind eager to attain discernment. Wisdom if you will call to your side, and make discernment welcome, as you would fain hoard riches, or bring hidden treasure to light, then you will learn what it is to fear God, make trial of what it is to know God. Wisdom is the Lord's gift; only by his word spoken comes true knowledge, true discernment. So it is that he watches over the lives of the upright, bids the innocent walk unharmed; safe and sound the chosen friends of God come and go. Duty and right and honour you shall discern, and see ever where the best course lies, if once wisdom finds a lodgement in to your heart, if knowledge once casts her spell upon you. Watch and ward right counsel shall keep over you; it shall save you from the wrong choice, save you from the false counsellor. False counsellors there are, that leave the high road to walk by dark alleys; for sin and shame is all their love and liking; ill guides on a wrong path all of them! And from her, too, right counsel shall protect you, the woman that is no daughter of Israel, with her mincing foreign ways, that has forsaken the love of her youth, forgotten the troth once plighted to her God. The house she dwells in is death's antechamber, the road by which she beckons leads to the grave; never man went in there that came back and set his face towards life.
Yours to choose a nobler course, keeping ever the path of duty; the upright, the innocent, shall have lands of their own and long enjoy them; the godless, the wrongdoer will be lost for ever to the scenes they knew.
Forget not then, my son, the teaching I give you; lock these words of mine close in your bosom; long years they shall bring you of life well spent, and therewith prosperity. Two things must never leave you, kindness and loyalty; be these the seals that hang about your neck, graven be this inscription with your heart for tablet; so both to God and man you shall be friend and confidant. Put all your heart's confidence in the Lord, on your own skill relying never; will you but keep him in your thoughts wherever you go, he will shew you the straight path. Do not give yourself airs of wisdom; enough that you should fear God and shun ill-doing; here is health for the midmost of your being, here is sap for the marrow of your bones. Pay the Lord his due with what goods you have, letting him share the first-fruits of every crop; so shall plenty fill your barn, so shall your wine-press overflow at the vintage.
My son, do not undervalue the correction the Lord sends you, do not be unmanned when he reproves your faults. It is where he loves that he bestows correction, like a father whose son is dear to him.
Happy the man whose treasure-trove is wisdom, who is rich in discernment; silver and finest gold are less profitable in the handling. More rare is it than all things else; no prize you covet that can match it. Long life wisdom holds out to you in one hand, riches and glory in the other; where she guides, journeying is pleasant, where she points the way, all is peace. Take hold of her, clasp her to you, and the Tree of Life itself could not make you more blessed. Not without these, wisdom and discernment, the Lord based earth, the Lord framed heaven; not without skill of his did the waters well up from beneath us, or the dews fall in mist. My son, never lose sight of what I am telling you; cling to the wholesome dictates of prudence, that will quicken life within you, sparkle like jewels on your breast. Securely you shall walk, with no fear of stumbling, fearlessly you shall lie down to rest, and enjoy untroubled sleep; let no sudden alarm affright you, though godless enemies press you hard; the Lord will be at your side, and keep your feet clear of the snares they lay for you.
Suffer him to do kindness who may, and you yourself, when you may, do kindness; never bid a friend come back to-morrow for the gift that might be made to-day. Never plot harm against the friend that suspects no harm of you, or pick a quarrel with one who has done you no injury. Do not envy the prosperity of the wrong-doer, and be led away by his example; knavery the Lord hates, and keeps for honest men his familiar friendship. Still on the home of the wicked the Lord's ban falls, his blessing where uprightness dwells; he laughs at the mocker, grants his favours to the humble, and the wise shall win renown; only to their shame are fools exalted.
Sons of mine, take a lesson from your father; a lesson that will make discerning men of you, will you but heed it. A precious heirloom it is, the tradition I teach, not to be lightly bartered away. Time was when I had a father of my own; and when I was but a boy, my mother's darling, in such words as these he would teach me: Ever be your heart true to my bidding; if thrive you would, hold fast the charge I give you. Wisdom be your quest, your quest discernment still; your father's apt and faithful pupil, keep her at your side, your guardian; cherish her, your preserver. Wisdom be your chief thought, make discernment yours at all hazards; her attainment exalts, her embrace ennobles you; a wreath of fresh graces she will give you a crown of glory, to overshadow your brow.
Listen, then, my son and master the charge I give you, as you would have long life. Here lies the road to wisdom, here is the path that will bring you straight to your goal; here you may walk unhampered, run without fear of stumbling. Hold fast by the instruction you have received, and never let it go; guard it as you would guard your life. For godless ways and the example of sinful men have neither love nor liking; shun their haunts and turn your back upon them. Rest they never without some ill deed done; some traveller's feet must stumble, or they lie sleepless on their beds; godlessness is the very bread they eat, they crave for wrong's doing as for wine. See how the path of the just grows ever brighter, like the light of dawn opening out into full day! But these, the sinners, are fain to walk on in darkness, surprised by every fall. Hear then and heed, my son, these words of warning; never lose sight of them, cherish them in your inmost heart; let a man master them, they will bring life and healing to his whole being. Use all your watchfulness to keep your heart true; that is the fountain whence life springs. Far, very far from your tongue be the cheating word, from your lips the whisper of calumny; let your eyes see straight, your gaze ever scan the path that lies before you. Consider that path well, and on safe ground you shall journey still; swerving neither to right nor left, but keeping your steps ever clear of wrong-doing. (To the right lie such ways as win the Lord's favour, to the left such as miss the goal. He it is that will guide your course aright, and set your journey forward in peace.)
My son, here is good advice for your heeding; listen to wise counsel, if you would be circumspect, if you would have ever on your lips the maxims of prudence. First, give no credence to the wiles of woman; honey-sweet words the temptress may use, all her talk be soothing as oil, but oh, the dregs of that cup are bitter; a two-edged sword brings no sharper pang. Death's road she follows, her feet set towards the grave; far from the highway that leads to life is the maze she treads. Heed, then, my warning, and depart from it never; shun her company, do not go near her doors. Would you squander the pride of your manhood upon heartless strangers like these? If thus you will spend all your hopes, to bestow all your pains, upon an alien home that is no home of yours, a time will come at last when health and strength shall be wasted away. Then you will complain bitterly, Alas, why did I spurn every precept, reject every warning, unheard, unheeded, every lesson I was taught? No marvel, had I paid the last penalty, with the assembled people for my judges!
Nay, drink, and drink deep, at your own well, your own cistern; thence let your offspring abound, like waters from your own fountain flowing through the public streets; only let them be your own, let there be no commerce between yourself and strangers. A blessing on that fountain of yours! take your pleasure with the bride your manhood wins for you. Your own bride, gentle as a hind, graceful as a doe; be it her bosom that steals away your senses with the delight of a lover that loves still. What, my son, would you yield to the wiles of a stranger, dally with her embraces that is none of yours? The Lord is watching, and knows what a man's errand is, let him betake himself where he will. The sinner will be ensnared by his own guilt, caught in the toils of his own wrong-doing; doomed by his own incontinence, by his own great folly bemused.
My son, has some friend persuaded you to be his surety? Have you pledged yourself for a bond which is none of yours? Believe me, that word of assent has caught you in a snare, you are the prisoner of your own promise made. Do then, my son, as I bid you; obtain your freedom; it is ill done to fall into another man's power. Quick, no time to lose; wake up this neighbour of yours from his bed, ere you yourself close an eye-lid in sleep; deer from captivity nor bird from fowler's hand so swift to escape!
Up with you, idleness, go to school with the ant, and learn the lesson of her ways! Chief or ruler she has none to give her commands; yet in summer hours, when the harvest is a-gathering, she ever lays up food for her own nourishment. And you, idleness, are still a-bed; will you never wake? What, you would sleep a little longer, yawn a little longer; a little longer you must pillow head on hand? Ay, but poverty will not wait, the day of distress will not wait, like an armed vagabond it will fall upon you! (would you see the good grain flow like water, would you see poverty take wing, you must be up and doing.)
Worthless men there be, sinners there be, that go ever with a cunning smile on their lips; a wink here, there a pressure of the foot, there a beckoning finger; all the while their wicked hearts are plotting mischief, are sowing the causes of strife. Such men will be overtaken by their doom ere long, crushed all of a sudden beyond hope of remedy.
Six things I will tell you, and name a seventh for good measure, the Lord hates and will never abide; the haughty look, the lying tongue, the hands that take innocent life, the heart that ever devises thoughts of mischief, the feet that hasten upon an ill errand, the false witness whose every breath is perjury, and the sower of strife among brethren.
Keep true, my son, to the charge your father gives you, nor make light of your mother's teaching; wear them ever close to your heart, hang them like a locket upon your breast; be these, when you walk abroad, your company, when you lie asleep, your safeguard, in waking hours, your counsellors. That charge is a lamp to guide you, that teaching a light to beckon you; the warnings correction gave you are a road leading to life.
Here is protection for you against the temptress that would lure you away with her seductions. Never let her beauty win your heart, never let her bold glance deceive you. A harlot's pay is but the price of a meal; the adulteress costs dearer, her price is a man's whole life. Who can carry fire in his bosom, without singeing the clothes he wears, or walk on hot coals without burn his feet? No more can a man mate with his neighbour's wife, and not be defiled by her touch. Small blame to the thief, when he steals to fill his hungry belly, and if he be caught, why, he can pay sevenfold, or yield up all that he has; the adulterer, in the hunger of his heart, must risk losing life itself. Scathe and scorn he wins for himself, and shame there is no blotting out; no mercy for him, when the day of reckoning comes, from the anger of a jealous husband that will listen to no man's entreaties, will refuse ransom never so abundant.
My son, do not forget these warnings; let this charge of mine be an heirloom, kept jealously, as you love your own life; precious to you as the apple of your eye be the teaching I give you. Bind it fast about your fingers, write it, as upon a tablet, on your heart; give to wisdom a sister's welcome, and hail discernment as your friend. So will you learn to shun the temptress with her honeyed words, the wife that is no wife of yours. Ere now, looking down from my window through the lattice, I have watched the thoughtless crowd, and seen some gallant, more insensate than the rest, crossing the street at the corner where such a woman dwells. Now his steps are taking him near that abode of hers; the day wanes, and the light fades; night spreads her pall of darkness. Who comes to meet him? A woman in right harlot's guise, that goes out, ready of speech, to hunt men's lives. No rest for her, stay at home she cannot; ever in street and marketplace she lies in ambush, at some corner of the ways. She draws him to herself and kisses him, flattering him with her bold speech: Only to-day I have paid a vow that I owed for my preservation, and here are my victims freshly killed; so I came out to find you, longing for the sight of you, and here you are! Soft, soft I have made my bed, spread it with embroidered tapestries of Egyptian woof; freshly scented is that bower of mine with myrrh, and aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us lose ourselves in dalliance, all the night through let us enjoy the long-desired embrace. My home stands masterless, my husband far away, and his purse with him; no fear of his returning till the moon is full.
Alas, the ready speech that beguiles him, the seducing lips that lead him captive away! He follows without more ado, unwitting as the ox that goes to the shambles, or a frisking lamb; nor knows what fetters await him, till the shaft is already deep in his bosom. So joyfully flies bird into snare, heedless of its life's peril. Heed me well, my son; let not this warning be given in vain; do not let her steal your heart away, do not be enticed by her beckoning. Many the wounds such a woman has dealt; a brave retinue she has of men murdered; truly her house is the grave's antechamber, opens the door into the secret closet of death.
And, all the while, the wisdom that grants discernment is crying aloud, is never silent; there she stands, on some high vantage-point by the public way, where the roads meet, or at the city's approach, close beside the gates, making proclamation. To every man, high and low, her voice calls: Here is better counsel for the simpleton; O foolish hearts, take warning! Listen to me, I have matters of high moment to unfold, a plain message to deliver. A tongue that speaks truth, lips that scorn impiety; here all is sound doctrine, no shifts, no evasions here. No discerning heart, no well-stored mind, but will own it right and just. Here is counsel, here is instruction, better worth the winning than silver or the finest gold; wisdom is more to be coveted than any jewel; there is no beauty that can be matched with hers.
What am I, the wisdom that speaks to you? To shrewdness I am a near neighbour, and I occupy myself with deep designs; but, since they must hate evil that fear the Lord, all pride and boastfulness, every mischievous design and every treacherous word I shun. Good counsel is mine, and honourable dealing, discernment and high courage are my gifts; through me kings learn how to reign, lawgivers how to lay down just decrees; through me chieftain and magistrate exercise their power aright. Love me, and you shall earn my love; wait early at my doors, and you shall gain access to me. The gifts I bring with me are riches and honour, princely state and the divine favour. Mine a yield better than gold or jewels, mine are revenues more precious than the finest silver. A faithful course I tread, nor exceed the bounds of just retribution, failing never to enrich the souls that love me with abundant store.
The Lord made me his when first he went about his work, at the birth of time, before his creation began. Long, long ago, before earth was fashioned, I held my course. Already I lay in the womb, when the depths were not yet in being, when no springs of water had yet broken; when I was born, the mountains had not yet sunk on their firm foundations, and there were no hills; not yet had he made the earth, or the rivers, or the solid framework of the world. I was there when he built the heavens, when he fenced in the waters with a vault inviolable, when he fixed the sky overhead, and levelled the fountain-springs of the deep. I was there when he enclosed the sea within its confines, forbidding the waters to transgress their assigned limits, when he poised the foundations of the world. I was at his side, a master-workman, my delight increasing with each day, as I made play before him all the while; made play in this world of dust, with the sons of Adam for my playfellows. Listen to me, then, you that are my sons, that follow, to your happiness, in the paths I shew you; listen to the teaching that will make you wise, instead of turning away from it. Blessed are they who listen to me, keep vigil, day by day, at my threshold, watching till I open my doors. The man who wins me, wins life, drinks deep of the Lord's favour; who fails, fails at his own bitter cost; to be my enemy is to be in love with death.
See, where wisdom has built herself a house, carved out for herself those seven pillars of hers! And now, her sacrificial victims slain, her wine mingled, her banquet spread, this way and that her maidens are dispatched, to city keep and city wall, bidding her guests make haste. Simple hearts, she says, draw near me; and to all that lack learning this is her cry, Come and eat at my table, come and drink of the wine I have brewed for you; say farewell to your childishness, and learn to live; follow all of you in the path that leads to discernment.
(Rash souls there are, godless souls, that will not be taught or trained; who makes the attempt, gets only injury and abuse for his thanks. With a rash fool never remonstrate; it will make him your enemy; only the wise are grateful for a remonstrance. Ever the wise profit by the opportunity to become wiser yet; ever the godly are the best learners.)
True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord; he best discerns, who has knowledge of holy things. Long life I bring you, and a full tale of years; wisdom yourself shall profit, and misfortune fall only on the rash fools that earned it.
Out upon her silly clamour, the woman that is so crafty, yet knowledge has none! At her door she sits, her chair commanding the city's height, and cries aloud to such as pass by on their lawful errands. Simple hearts, she says, draw near me, and to all that lack learning this is her cry, Stolen waters are sweetest, and bread is better eating when there is none to see. Who shall warn them that dead men are her company, no guest of hers but is guest of the dark world beneath?
A father's smile, a mother's tears, tell of a son well schooled or ill.
No good ever came of money ill gotten; honest living is death's avoiding. Still the Lord gives honesty a full belly, and on the knave's scheming shuts his door.
Idle hand, empty purse; riches come of hard work. (Who trusts in false promises, throws his food to the winds; as well may he chase bird in flight.) Will you gather in harvest time, a son well schooled? Or sleep the summer round, to your father's great shame?
Shines the Lord's favour on the just man's head; the sinner's lips are silenced by his own ill-doing. When blessings are given, the just are remembered still; it is the sinner's name that rusts.
Warning the wise man hears; the fool talks on and is ruined.
He walks secure, who walks pure; cunning will yet be found out.
It needs no more than a wink of the eye so to bring trouble; what wonder if the fool who talks earns a beating? The mouth, for the just man a life-giving well, for the wicked an arsenal of harm. Hatred is ever ready to pick a quarrel; love passes over all kinds of offence. Never wise man's lips but found the right word, or fool's back but felt the rod. Wise men treasure up their knowledge; a fool's talk is ready to mar all.
As the rich man's wealth is his stronghold, and the poor man's need his peril, so the doings of the just evermore win fresh life, the sinner's increase his guilt. Who lives by the lessons he has learned finds life; the way is lost when warnings go unheeded. Lying lips that hide malice, foolish lips that spread slander, what a world of sin there is in talking! Where least is said, most prudence is. Silver refined is the just man's every word, and trash the sinner's every thought. The just man's talk plays the shepherd to many, while the fool dies of his own starved heart.
Of the Lord's gift comes wealth without drudgery.
For the fool, it is but a pastime to make mischief; to act prudently needs all a man's wisdom.
Not in vain the sinner fears, the just man hopes; vanished, like the storm of yesterday, or secure eternally.
What irks a man more than vinegar on the tooth, or smoke in the eyes? A lingering messenger.
If fear of the Lord brings life, few years shall the wicked have; die their hopes must while honest folk wait on contentedly. The Lord's judgements, what comfort they bring to the innocent, what terrors to the evil-doer! An abiding home never the just lacked yet, or the guilty found. A just man's talk breeds wisdom, while the sinner's tongue dies barren; welcome ever the one, cross-grained the other.
A false balance the Lord hates; nothing but full weight will content him.
Pride is neighbour to disesteem; humility to wisdom.
The innocence of the upright guides them safely; the treacherous by their own plots are destroyed. When the time for reckoning comes, little shall wealth avail; right living is death's avoiding. An honest purpose clears a man's path; the wicked are entangled by their own scheming. For his honesty, the upright man shall go free; not so the wrong-doer, caught in the meshes of his own net. No hope follows the godless to the grave; nothing left, now, of all their anxious longing. Honesty shall yet go free, and a knave be heir to its troubles. False speech the hypocrite will use to ruin his neighbour; true knowledge is the saving of the just. Thrive honest men, come ruin on knaves, there is huzza'ing all through the city; how should a city stand or fall, but by good words from the one, ill counsel from the other?
He mocks loud, who lacks wit; discernment holds her tongue. Who bears ill tales, keeps no secrets; trust none with your confidence but a loyal friend.
Ill fares the people, that guidance has none; safety reigns where counsel abounds.
He who goes bail for a stranger has great harm of it; that snare avoid, and sleep sound.
Gracious ways may win a woman renown; man never grew rich but by hardiness.
A kindly man is the friend of his own well-being; cruelty will not spare its own flesh and blood.
Precarious livelihood the godless man wins; would you be sure of your revenue, let honest doings be your crop; mercy breeds life, evil ambitions death. A false heart the Lord cannot endure; nothing but honest dealing will content him. Depend upon it, the sinner shall never be held guiltless; the race of the just shall find acquittal.
A woman fair and fond, a sow ringed with gold.
In the desires of the just only good dwells; the hopes of the wicked only lead to ruin. One spends what he has, and yet has more to spare; another sets his heart on what is none of his, and is a poor man still; give and you shall thrive; he shall have abundance, that bestows abundantly. Corn hoarded shall win you a curse, corn sold freely a blessing, from the lips of a whole people. Plan you good, you can not be afoot too early; plan you evil, on your own head it shall recoil. Fall he must, that relies on riches; never shall the just fade or fail. He shall feed on air, that misrules his own household; the fool will be slave and the wise man master in the end. Where right living bears its fruit, a tree of life grows up; the wise man's reward is living souls. Even honest men cannot go through the world unpunished; what, then, of the godless, what, then, of the sinner?
Ever the friend of admonition is the friend of knowledge; only fools are impatient of warning.
A kindly man wins the Lord's favour, a schemer is his enemy. Wickedness shall never thrive; the just have roots immovable.
Crowned is his brow, who wins a vigorous wife; sooner let your bones rot than marry one who shames you.
Honourable thoughts the just conceive, the wicked are all double-dealing; yet, when the accusations of the wicked lay a fatal snare, the just shall find words to deliver them. A turn in their fortunes, and no more is heard of the wicked; only the just have abiding prosperity.
Good sense is the measure of a man's repute; fond fancies are ever despised.
Better be poor, and toil to support yourself, than play the great lord with an empty belly.
A just man cares for the safety of the beasts he owns; the wicked are heartless through and through.
Till field and fill belly; idle pursuits are but foolishness. (Sit long enjoying your wine, and there is no strong fortress will win you renown.)
In unholy ambitions the wicked put their trust, but it is honesty that strikes deep root. Ruin comes upon the sinner for a word spoken amiss, while honest men find acquittal. When a man is blessed, it is his own words that bear fruit; never son of Adam but had the lot his deeds deserved.
A fool is ever right to his own thinking; the wise listen to advice. Fools betray anger on the instant, when prudence would pass the insult by.
Nothing but his honest thought a lover of truth declares, a false witness nothing but lies. Rash promises can stab the heart with remorse; wise words bring healing. Lips that speak the truth shall fade never; a lie serves but the haste of the moment.
The schemer's thoughts dwell ever on treachery; for peace be all your plotting, if you would have a contented heart. Nothing can befall the just man to do him hurt; the wicked shall have their fill of mischief.
Lying lips the Lord cannot abide; keep faith if you would content him.
Prudence says less than it knows; the fool's heart cannot contain its folly.
Busy hands, hands that shall bear the sceptre; idle hands, hands that shall bring tribute.
A heart bowed down with anxiety, how a kind word can refresh it!
It is well done to put up with loss for a neighbour's need; the calculations of the sinner do but lead him astray. Never yet did cunning achieve the gains it hoped for; a contented heart is precious as fine gold. Would you attain life, honesty is the high road; by-way there is none but leads to death.
By his father's teaching a son grows wise; only the headstrong will not listen to a warning.
Fair words yield a crop to content a man's heart; but not for the treacherous; they have no stomach but for wrong-doing. Guard your tongue, guard your soul; thoughtless speech may bring ruin.
Idleness will and will not, both at once; it is hard work that gives a full belly.
Honesty shuns the false word; the sinner disappointment gives and gets. The upright heart is protected by its own innocence; guilt trips the heel of the wrong-doer.
Some are rich that nothing have; some with a well-lined purse are yet poor. A man's wealth may be his own life's ransom; yet will not the poor man be chidden for his poverty.
Welcome the shining beams of a life well lived; the rush-light of the wicked glimmers and is gone.
Ever there is wrangling among the proud; wisdom's part is to be guided by other men's counsel.
Riches soon won are soon spent; the patient hoard breeds best.
Hope deferred, how it crushes a man's spirits! The granted wish, a tree of life-giving fruit!
Neglect your errand, whatever it be, and you are in default; carry out your orders, and be at peace.
Faithless hearts wander far in their transgressions, but the just are ever pitying, ever merciful.
The teaching of the wise is a fountain where men may drink life far removed from all mortal perils. Good instruction breeds gracious thoughts; the headstrong are for the morass. For the prudent, skill guides every action; ignorance betrays the fool.
Who runs a sinner's errand, falls into mischief by the way; a faithful envoy mends all.
Comes want, comes shame from warnings unheeded; he achieves great things who will accept reproof.
Each man loves his own way best, and to a fool, there is no shame like sin's avoiding. Wise company brings wisdom; fool he ends that fool befriends.
Calamity is hard on the heels of wickedness, and honest men shall yet be rewarded. Son and grandson shall be the good man's heirs; the sinner lays up wealth for nobler men; the rich harvest of those ancestral fields, lack he honest worth, shall be reaped for strangers.
Spare the rod, and you are no friend to your son; ever a kind father is quick to punish. The just man eats his fill; the godless craves and never has enough.
It is by woman's wisdom a home thrives; a foolish wife pulls it down about her ears.
Does a man fear the Lord? He holds an even course; the knave has little regard for him.
Pride burgeons from the lips of fools; in modesty of speech the wise find safety.
No need for a full crib, where oxen are none; yet ever rich harvest tells of the ox at work.
It is a faithful witness that never lies; the perjurer breathes out lies continually.
Vainly the rash aspire to wisdom; the discerning come by their knowledge with little pains. Go your way, and let the fool go his; good sense is a strange language to him. Prudence picks its way wisely; the fool blunders and is lost. Fools make light of the guilt that needs atonement, and leave honest men to enjoy the Lord's favour.
Heart's bitterness none may know but the heart that feels it; no prying stranger can tell when it finds relief.
Fall it must, the house of the wicked; where the upright dwell, all is increase.
The right road in a man's thinking may be one whose goal is death. Joy blends with grief, and laughter marches with tears. The incorrigible shall have a taste of his own ill-doings and honest men shall have the better of him.
The simpleton takes all on trust; wisdom considers each step. (A treacherous son no part shall have; better shall a wise servant thrive and prosper.) Caution teaches the wise to shun danger; the fool is carried away by rash confidence. The impatient man blunders, as surely as the schemer makes enemies. Folly is the simpleton's heirloom; skill crowns the wise.
Vice lies prostrate before virtue, the sinner at the gates of the just.
Of the beggar, his own neighbours grow weary; wealth never lacks friends. Shame on the man who holds his neighbour in contempt; mercy to the poor brings a blessing. (Mercy he loves, who puts his trust in the Lord.) They follow a false path, that plot mischief; mercy and faithfulness mercy and faith shall find.
Hard work is sure wealth; of chattering comes only poverty.
Made rich, the wise are crowned, the folly of the thoughtless will be folly yet.
Men owe their lives to truthful witnesses; the very breath of the perjurer is treason.
The fear of the Lord gives strong confidence, bequeaths hope from the father to the children. The fear of the Lord is a fountain where men may drink life, far removed from all mortal peril.
Great people, great king; it is for want of men crowns are lost.
Patience comes of sovereign prudence, impatience of unchecked folly. Peace of mind is health of body; more than all else, envy wastes the frame.
He who oppresses the poor, insults man's Maker; him if you would honour, take pity on human need.
When the wicked is paid in his own coin, there is an end of him; at death's door, the just still hope.
In the discerning heart, wisdom finds a resting-place; even among fools it can impart learning.
Duty well done, a whole nation becomes great; suffer whole peoples for guilt incurred.
A king shews favour to a wise servant; disappoint him, and you shall feel his anger.
A gentle answer is a quarrel averted; a word that gives pain does but fan the flame of resentment. The speech of the wise is learning's ornament; the fool babbles on. Go where you will, the Lord's eye is watching; good nor evil escapes his scrutiny. Tongue that speaks peaceably is a tree whose fruit gives life; tongue undisciplined can break hearts.
He is a fool that makes light of his father's warnings; would he but listen to reproof, he should be prudent yet.
(Might is most where right is most; root and branch the sinner shall be plucked up.) The just man's home guards its treasure well; the hopes of the wicked are all confusion.
The talk of the wise is a seed-ground of learning; the thoughts of fools are ill matched with it.
From the wicked man's sacrifice the Lord turns away with loathing; only the just with their vows win his favour. The whole course of the sinner's life he cannot brook; pursue the right, if you would win his love. Forsake the right path, and correction shall seem hard to you; grow weary of reproof, and your life shall pay for it. Shall the Lord read the secrets of the devouring grave, and not men's hearts? Warn the headstrong, and you will get no thanks for it; not for him the company of the wise.
Gay heart, gay looks; sad thoughts crush the spirit.
Truth is the quest of discerning minds, trifling the pasture-ground of the foolish.
To the friendless, every day brings trouble, but every day is a feast-day to a contented heart. Better a humble lot, and the fear of the Lord present, than great riches that leave a man unsatisfied. Better sit down to a dish of herbs seasoned with charity, than feast on a fattened ox in ill-will.
Any brawler can provoke a quarrel; it needs a patient man to lay it by.
Idleness finds ever a hedge of thorns in its path; the man of duty walks on unhampered.
A father well content, a mother slighted, tell of a son's wisdom or mortal folly.
A man of little sense is in love with his follies; prudence keeps to its chosen path. Counsel lacking, all designs go amiss; with the advice of many, they should have thriven. There are times when a counsellor has good cause to be proud; nothing better than the right word spoken.
A mind well schooled sees the way of life stretching upwards, leading away from the pit beneath.
A house where pride reigns the Lord will pull down at last; will have no encroaching on the lands of the friendless widow. The schemes of wickedness he abhors; the dreams of innocence he loves, and brings true. Let avarice lead you away, your home shall be ruined; long life is his, who scorns the bribe. (Kindness and honour are sin's purging; ever it is the fear of the Lord turns men away from harm.)
Attentive and docile is the upright heart; from the lips of the wicked comes mischief in full flood. From the wicked, the Lord withholds his presence, listens only to the prayer of the just.
The eye that smiles, how it cheers the heart! Good news, how it lends vigour to a man's frame!
A man's ear once attentive to the discipline that brings life, no company shall be welcome thenceforward, but the wise. He holds his life cheap, that will not listen to a warning; heed reproof, and be master of your soul. It is the fear of the Lord teaches the lessons of wisdom; humility goes first, and honour comes in her train.
Man's heart is ever full of devising; from the Lord comes the ordering of right speech. His own path man scans, and nothing sees amiss, but the divine balance weighs our thoughts; share with the Lord the burden of all your doings, if you would be sincere in your intent.
God, who made all, made all for his own purposes, even the godless man, with doom awaiting him.
A proud man the Lord holds in abhorrence; depend upon it, no acquittal shall he find. (To do right, that is the first step on the way of blessedness, a more welcome thing in God's sight than any sacrifice a man can offer.) Kindness and honour are sin's purging; ever it is the fear of the Lord turns men away from harm. Live as the Lord would have you live, and he will make even your enemies into well-wishers.
Better a penny honestly come by than great revenues ill gotten.
Heart of man must plan his course, but his steps will fall as the Lord guides them.
Speaks king, speaks oracle; never a word amiss. Scale and balance are emblems of the Lord's own justice; no weight in the merchant's wallet but is of divine fashioning. Wrong-doing the king will not abide; on right his own throne rests. Kings are for honest talk; free-spoken is well loved. The king's frown is death at your door; wisdom will appease it; his smile is life; not more welcome the spring rains, than royal favour.
Not of gold or silver be your hoard; make wisdom yours, discernment yours, more precious than these.
The just man travels by the high road, safe from harm, watching his path anxiously, as he values his life.
Presumption comes first, and ruin close behind it; pride ever goes before a fall. Better a humble lot among peaceful folk, than all the spoil a tyrant's friendship can bring you.
Well versed in doctrine, happiness you shall win; trust in the Lord, and find a blessing. Good judgement a wise heart can claim; winning words bring greater prizes yet. The prudent man drinks from a living fountain; fools only learn the lessons of their folly. Wisdom distils from heart to mouth, and lends the lips persuasion. Honey itself cannot vie with well-framed words, for heart's comfort and body's refreshment. The right road in a man's thinking may be one whose goal is death.
No better friend drudgery has than appetite; hunger drives a man to his task.
Ever the godless man digs a well of mischief, ever his lips are aflame. His the scheming that breeds quarrels, the whispering that divides his clan, the love of wrong that misleads his neighbours and carries them off into evil ways; spellbound with dreams of treachery, he shuts his lips tight and goes about his false errand.
No prize so honourable as old age, and it is won by innocence of life.
Patience is worth more than valour; better a disciplined heart than a stormed city.
Into the lap's fold the lot falls haphazard, but the Lord rules the issue.
Better dry crust and gay heart, than a house where all is feasting and all is quarrelling.
Where sons are fools, slaves will be masters, and share the inheritance like heirs born.
For silver and gold, furnace and crucible; men's hearts are for the Lord's assaying.
Ever ill-will gives heed to injurious talk, false faith listens to the slander.
He who shews contempt to the poor, insults man's Maker; at your own peril you will take delight in another's ruin.
Crown of old age, when a man sees his children's children; pride of youth, when a man can boast of the fathers that begot him.
Solemn talk matches ill with folly, lying speech with royalty.
When a man has hope in view, like a jewel it shines before him; look where he will, his way lies clear..
If good will be your quest, hide the wrong done; gossip unknits the bond of friendship.
One word of warning in a prudent man's ear does more than a hundred lashes given to a fool. Still the godless man will be for stirring up strife, till at last an angel visits him with no kindly message. Better meet the she-bear reft of her cubs, than a fool in his blind confidence.
Evil shall still haunt his dwelling, that repays kindness with injury.
Who began the quarrel? He who let loose the flood-gates of it; and before he can suffer injury, he stands aside from the debate.
Misjudgement the Lord will never abide, whether the guilty go free, or the innocent are condemned.
Little the fool's wealth avails; he may not buy wisdom if he would. (Build high, and court your ruin; despise learning, and you shall come to mischief.) He is your friend, who is your friend at all times; of a brother's love there is no test like adversity.
He is a fool, that lightly goes bail for his friend.
He loves a feud, that loves contention; build high, and court your ruin. False heart never found happiness, nor lying tongue escaped mischief.
A fool's birthday is a day of shame; never father had joy of a reckless son.
A cheerful heart makes a quick recovery, it is crushed spirits that waste a man's frame.
Out comes bribe from bosom, and the godless man turns justice aside from its course.
Wisdom is a beacon-light to the discerning; the fool's eyes roam this way and that, as wide as earth. Poor fool, his father's bane, sorrow of the mother that bore him!
Foul shame it is to make the innocent suffer, to strike a blow against the chieftain that gives redress.
Skilful is he who has skill to check his tongue, learned he is that knows how to spare his breath. Let him keep his own counsel, a fool may pass for a wise man; shut lips can claim discernment.
None so quick to find pretexts, as he that would break with a friend; he is in fault continually.
For prudent warnings a fool has no stomach; nothing will serve but to echo his own thought.
Little the godless man recks of it, when he falls into sin's mire, but shame and reproach go with him.
Man's utterance has currents like the waters that run deep; from wisdom's well flows a stream in full flood.
Foul shame it is to court favour with the wrong-doer by turning justice aside from its course.
A fool's talk is for ever embroiling him; let him but open his mouth, blows will follow. From his own words his undoing comes, from his own lips the snare. Innocent enough seem the words of the backbiter, yet their poison sinks deep into a man's belly.
(Slow natures every fear disarms; womanish souls shall go hungry.) Dainty and listless go to work, you are own brother to that work's undoer.
No stronghold like the Lord's name; to there the just take refuge, high above reach. What citadel has the rich man? His own possessions; he seems shut in by a wall impregnable; yet hearts are proudest when ruin is nearest; humility is the antechamber of renown.
Let a man hear the tale out before he answer, or he is a fool manifest, marked out for shame.
All mortal ills the spirit of man can bear; if the spirit itself be impatient, there is no lightening his lot.
Prize of the discerning heart, quest of the wise man's ear, is to learn truth.
The gift made, how it opens a man's path for him, wins him access to the great!
An innocent man is the first to lay bare the truth; let his neighbour come and search him as he will.
The lot brings feuds to an end; greatness itself must bow to the lot's decision.
When brother helps brother, theirs is the strength of a fortress; their cause is like a city gate barred, unassailable.
As mouth speaks, belly shall find its fare; a man's own words bear the fruit that must needs content him. Of life and death, tongue holds the keys; use it lovingly, and it will requite you.
A good wife found is treasure found; the Lord is filling your cup with happiness. (A good wife cast away is treasure cast away; leave to fools, and godless fools, the adulterous embrace.)
Poor men must cringe, for the rich to rate them.
A man endeared to you by fellowship will prove a better friend to you than your own kin.
Better the poverty which keeps to honest ways, than the lot of a rich man who never learned to speak truth. Lack learning, all is not well within; ever the hasty stumble. Tripped by his own folly, a man eats his heart out, finding fault with the Lord.
Riches will make you new friends a many, poverty rob you of the old.
Perjury will bring its own punishment; never was liar yet that escaped his doom.
Suitors a many the princely heart shall have; give, and you shall find friends. The beggar wearies out his kinsmen; his friends, too, will shun him.
Who hunts idle talk, comes home a empty-handed; as you love your life get wisdom; discernment at your side, you shall speed well.
Perjury will bring its own punishment; never was liar but met his doom.
Ill days, when fools live in comfort; worse yet, when servants sway their own masters.
Patience is wisdom's livery; there is no is such boast as a wrong overlooked.
Of the king's frown beware, as of lion roaring; welcome as dew on the grass his smile.
Great hurt it is to be a fool's father; he has a roof that drips unendingly, who is husband to a scold. House and hoard a man may inherit; it is the Lord's gift only, if he have a wife that minds her ways.
Sloth brings the sleep that has no awaking; idle hands, empty belly.
Law observed is life preserved; the careless step leads the way to death.
Befriend the poor, and lend to the Lord; he will repay faithfully.
Chasten your son still, nor despair of his amendment; still let the death of him be far from your thoughts.
He injures himself, that is ungovernable in rage; every advantage he seizes does but injure him the more. Give heed to counsel, accept correction, and you shall be wise at last. Thought jostles thought in man's heart; the Lord's will stands firm.
Poverty is the school of piety; better need than knavery. Fear of the Lord leads on to life, life where all is contentment, and no ill may come.
With folded hands the sluggard sits by, and never puts hand to mouth.
The lash for the reckless, if you would turn a fool into a wise man; only cool heads will profit by a rebuke.
Shame on the wretch that brings ruin on his own father, drives his own mother out of doors.
Never weary, my son, of giving heed to warnings; never let the counsels of experience pass you by.
Out on the faithless witness that scorns right; the sinful souls that are ever greedy for wrong-doing! There is a doom awaits the reckless; there are thick cudgels ready for the fool's back.
A reckless counsellor is wine, strong drink a riotous friend; the man who is swayed by these, call not wise. Beware of the king's power, as of lion roaring; challenge it, and your life is forfeit. Well may he boast, that keeps clear of strife; every fool will be quarrelling.
Too cold to plough, says Sloth; vainly, when harvest comes, he will go a-begging.
Prudent counsel is a well buried deep in man's heart; but the wise know how to draw from it. Many there are that pass for kindly souls, but a faithful friend is hard to come by. An upright man that goes armed with honest intent, leaves a blessing to his children. Let a king rule justly, wrong-doing shall be winnowed away under his scrutiny.
Who dares to boast, My heart is unsullied now, I have cleansed myself of every fault?
One balance for getting and one for giving, one yard-wand for selling and one for buying, the Lord will not endure.
Watch a boy even at his play, you can tell whether his heart is pure and true. The ear that listens, the watchful eye, are both of the Lord's fashioning.
Love not your sleep, or poverty will overtake you unawares; the open eye means a full belly.
A poor thing, says the buyer, a poor thing! Then off he goes, and boasts of it.
Gold you may have in abundance, and jewels a many, but the finest ware of all is wise speech.
Does a man go bail for a stranger? Without more ado, take his garment from him; who trusts without knowledge, forfeits the pledge.
Ill-gotten wealth is bread most appetizing, that will yet turn to grit in the mouth.
Counsel is the sure buttress of determination; wars must ever be won by statecraft.
With the whisperer, that goes about open-mouthed on his errand of gossip, never throw in your lot.
In deepest night the lamp of his hopes shall be quenched, that turns upon father or mother with a curse. The inheritance too soon come by, too late you shall find unblessed. Never promise yourself vengeance; await the Lord's hour, and redress shall be yours. One weight for getting and one for giving, the Lord cannot endure; a false balance is great wrong. Every step man takes is of the Lord's choosing; and you, poor mortal, would you plot out your path?
He is trapped, that consecrates his gift in haste; the vow made, repentance comes too late.
Fan and flail a wise king has for the ill-doer.
Man's spirit is a lamp the Lord gives, to search out the hidden corners of his being.
What is a king's best body-guard? Mercy and faithfulness; on mercy his throne rests.
Youth has strong arms to boast of, old age white hairs for a crown.
Hurts that bruise cruelly, chastisement felt deep within, are sin's best remedy.
The thoughts of a king are in the Lord's hand, streams he can sluice which way he wills. His own path man scans, and nothing sees amiss, but the divine balance weighs our thoughts. Mercy shewn and justice done win the Lord's favour beyond any sacrifice. Lordly looks, proud heart; the hopes of the wicked are all at fault.
Ever diligence plans for plenty; sloth must be content to starve.
Illusion it is and madness, wealth to win by perjury; death has caught you in his snare. Wicked men, that refuse the right, by their own violence come to ruin. Crooked is man's course, and belies his own nature, but pure souls there are whose life runs true.
Better lodge in a garret than share your house with a scold.
A godless man has set his heart on doing; no ruth has he for his fellows. The lash for the reckless, if you would turn a fool into a wise man; a wise master, and he shall learn yet. Good heed the just man gives to the sinner's household, in hope of diverting sinners from harm.
Who shuts his ear to the poor man's plea, himself one day shall plead in vain.
Carry a secret gift in your bosom for your enemy's appeasing; the open hand no grudge will ever resist.
Right done, honest folk rejoice, and knaves tremble.
Stray from the path you were taught, and you shall lodge with the dead.
Of greed comes want; he grows not rich that loves wine and oil.
The wicked is still the price of the just man's ransom; for honest folk, treachery pays the score.
Better dwell in a wilderness than with a scold who rails at you.
Precious store there is and good cheer where justice dwells; the fool devours all at once.
Honest living be your quest and kindly deeds, life shall be yours, and blessing, and honour. Wisdom can scale the fortress great warriors hold, and bring low its boasted strength. Guard lips and tongue, as you would guard your life from peril. I know one, Sir Reckless is the name of him, that is all proud airs, and does nothing but in over-bearing scorn.
Day-dreams are the sluggard's downfall; work his hands will not; all day long dreaming and scheming, while honest men never spare themselves, nor take their ease.
Tainted is the sinner's sacrifice; the hand that offers it is stained with guilt. The false witness shall meet his doom; obey the commandment, and your pleadings shall triumph. The ill-doer has eyes for nothing but his wanton designs; the upright scans well his path.
Wisdom is none, prudence is none, counsel is none that can be matched against the Lord's will; well armed your horse may be on the eve of battle, but the Lord sends victory.
Precious beyond all treasure is good repute; not gold or silver is so worth the winning, as to be loved. Rich and poor dwell ever side by side, God's creatures both of them.
When ill times come, prudence is on its guard, and takes refuge; the unwary march on, and pay the penalty.
Humility brings fear of the Lord, and therewith riches, honour and long life.
Stake and caltrop beset the path of the wicked; as you love life, keep your distance.
There is a proverb; a boy will keep the course he has begun; even when he grows old, he will not leave it.
Rich rules poor, debtor must wait on creditor.
Who sows mischief, reaps a sorry crop; ere long, the flail of his malice will have done its work. For every loaf of bread given to the hungry, blessing shall be the reward of kindly hearts. (A renowned victory he wins, that is a bestower of gifts, and living men are the spoils of it.)
Banish the reckless spirit, and strife goes out with him; you are rid of quarrelling and of disgrace.
Love purity of heart, and you shall find such gracious words as shall win you a king's friendship. True knowledge has the Lord's smile for its protection; the schemer's cause he will overthrow.
Out? says Sloth; why, there is a lion without; would you have me slain in the open street?
Like a deep pit is the flattery of wanton wife; they only are ensnared, whom the Lord loves little.
Boyhood's mind is loaded with a pack of folly, that needs the rod of correction to shift it.
Oppress the poor for your enrichment, and ere long a richer man's claim shall impoverish you.
Would you but give heed, and listen to wise counsels, take these my warnings to heart! Digest them well, and they shall bring back a sweet taste to your lips; to fill your own heart too with confidence in the Lord, is the sum of my present teaching. Not once nor twice have I warned you and instructed you, so as to ground you in true doctrine, and send you home supplied with ready answers concerning it.
Never oppress the poor; his poverty protects him; never bear hard on the friendless at law; be sure the Lord will grant them redress, and claim life for life. Never let a quarreller, a man of angry moods, be your friend; go your way, and let him go his; ill habits are soon learned, to the sudden peril of your life. Leave it to others to engage themselves, and go bail for their neighbour's debts; for yourself, you have no means of payment; would you see the clothes stripped from your bed? Pass not beyond the ancient bounds which your fathers have set. Mark me the man whose task is deftly done; he is for the court, no common service shall be his.
When you are sitting at table with a prince, mark well what is set before you, and, have you your appetite under control, guard as with a drawn knife your gullet. Hanker you never after those good things of his; they are bait to lure you.
Do not be at pains to amass riches; let your scheming have its bounds. Never let your eyes soar to the wealth that is beyond your reach, eagle-winged against your pursuit.
Shun the niggard's table; not for you his dainties. Abstracted he sits, like soothsayer brooding over false dreams; Eat and drink, he tells you, but his mind is far away. For that grudged food you will have no stomach; all gracious speech will die away on your tongue.
Speak not with fools for your hearers; of your warning utterance they will reck nothing.
Leave undisturbed the landmarks of friendless folk, nor encroach on the orphan's patrimony; a strong Champion they have, to grant them redress.
Still let your heart be attentive to warnings, open be your ear to words of instruction. Nor ever from child of yours withhold chastisement; he will not die under the rod; rather, the rod you wield shall baulk the grave of its prey. Wise heart of yours, my son, is glad heart of mine; speak you aright, all my being thrills. Do not envy sinners their good fortune, but abide in the fear of the Lord continually; the future holds blessings for you, never shall that hope play you false.
Listen, then, my son, and shew yourself wise, keeping still an even course. Be not of their company, that drink deep and pile the dishes high at their revels; ruined they shall be, sot and trencherman, and wake from their drunken sleep to find themselves dressed in rags. Yours to obey the father who begot you, nor leave your mother without reverence in her grey hairs; truth to covet, hold wisdom, and self-command, and discernment for treasured heirlooms. Joy there is and pride in an upright man's begetting for the glad father of a wise son; such joy let your father have, such pride be hers, the mother who bore you!
My son, give me the gift of your heart, scan closely the path I shew you. What pit so deep as the harlot's greed, what snare holds so close as wanton wife? Like a footpad she lurks beside the way, a deadly peril to all that forget their troth.
Unhappy son of an unhappy father, who is this, ever brawling, ever falling, scarred but not from battle, blood-shot of eye? Who but the tosspot that sits long over his wine? Look not at the wine's tawny glow, sparkling there in the glass beside you; how insinuating its address! Yet at last adder bites not so fatally, poison it distils like the basilisk's own. Eyes that stray to forbidden charms, a mind uttering thoughts that are none of yours, shall make you helpless as mariner asleep in mid ocean, when the tiller drops from the helmsman's drowsy grasp. What! you will say, blows all unfelt, wounds that left no sting! Could I but come to myself, and be back, even now, at my wine!
Not for you to emulate wrongdoers, and aspire to be of their company; what minds are theirs, who think only of men's undoing, what talk, whose every word is treachery!
No foundation for a house like wisdom, no buttress like discernment; no furnishing may be found for the rooms of it so rare and so pleasant, as true knowledge. Only the wise are strong; well taught is firm of sinew. War must be planned first, before you wage it, and he will prosper best who most takes counsel; wisdom hangs high beyond the fool's reach; tongue-tied he stands when there are consultations at the gate.
Consecrate close thought to evil ends, and you will earn no better name than mischief-maker. Craft of his own the fool has, but all used amiss; the insidious rogue no man can stomach.
What, hang your hands down in time of peril? Little shalt you avail. Yours to rescue the doomed, to cheat the gallows of its prey; not plead your lack of strength, when he, the Searcher of all hearts, the Saviour of your life, knows all, sees all, and requites the actions of men.
Sweet to your palate, my son, is honey from the comb; why then, eat; but wise teaching is no less your soul's food, tomorrow's resource, and a resource unfailing.
Lie not in wait, treacherously, to despoil the homes where honest men take their ease; seven times the just may stumble, and rise to their feet again, it is the wicked fall headlong into ruin. Not yours to triumph over a fallen foe; that thrill of rejoicing in your heart over his calamity the Lord will see, and little love; his vengeance may yet change its course. Do not be impatient when the wicked thrive, do not envy the lot of evil-doers; villainy has no hope in store, its light flickers and is gone.
Fear God, my son, and fear the king; have nothing to do with malcontents. How sudden their ruin, how swift falls, from either hand, the blow!
More maxims of the wise. It is ill done, to let partiality sway your judgement; if you acquit the guilty, what race will have a good word for you, what people will love you? Condemn him, and you shall have renown, blessings shall fall on your head.
The right word spoken seals all like a kiss on the lips.
Be your first care what lies without; till your lands first with all diligence; then build up your home.
Do not come forward as a witness against your neighbour; would you spread lying tales? Nor be content to say, I am but serving him as he served me; I pay off old scores.
Passing by field or vineyard where idleness reigned and improvidence, what sights I have seen! Nettles were everywhere, briers had covered the ground, the stone wall was ruinous. That sight I took to heart, found a warning in that ill example. Sleep on (thought I) a little longer, yawn a little longer, a little longer pillow head on hand; ay, but poverty will not wait, the day of distress will not wait; like an armed vagabond it will fall upon you!
Here are more of Solomon's proverbs, copied out by Ezechias' men, that was king of Juda.
For mysteries unfathomable, praise God; for mysteries revealed, the king. High as heaven you must look, deep as earth, ere the mind of kings shall be made known to you. Rid silver of dross, and the cup shines bright; rid the court of knaves, and the throne stands firm. Never play the great lord at court, and mingle with men of rank; who would not rather be beckoned to a higher place, than be put to the blush, and in the king's presence?
When men go to law, do not disclose hastily what your eyes have witnessed; it may be you have tainted a friend's name, and there is no undoing the mischief. To your friend's private ear open your wrongs; vent the secret abroad, and he, hearing it, will turn on you with reproaches, nor will you lightly recover your good name. (Favour and friendship are your protection; to lose them is a foul blot.)
Like a boss of gold amid silver tracery it shines out, the right word spoken. Golden ear-ring nor pearl drop fits so well, as wise reproof given to a wise listener. Find a trusty messenger; not snow in harvest-time will bring you more relief. Storm-wrack and cloud and no rain to follow; such thanks he wins that boasts much, and nothing accomplishes.
A prince, in his forbearance, may yet be won over to your cause; hard heart gives place to soft tongue.
Honey if you find, eat your fill and no more; nothing comes of surfeit but vomiting. Rare be your visits to a neighbour; he will soon have enough, and weary of you.
What is worse than javelin, sword, and arrow all at once? One that bears false witness against his neighbour. What is more frail than rotting tooth, or sprained foot? A false friend trusted in the hour of need; as well lose your cloak in mid winter. Vinegar goes ill with natron, and song with a discontented heart. (Moth cannot fret garment, or worm wood, as care the heart.)
Hungers your enemy? Here is your chance; feed him. Thirsts he? Of your well let him drink. So doing, you will heap burning coals upon his head, and for yourself, the Lord will recompense you.
The north wind stops rain, and a frown the backbiter.
Better lodge in a garret than share your house with a scold.
Good news from a far land, refreshing as cold water to parched lips.
Fouled the spring, poisoned the well, when honest men bow down before knaves.
A surfeit harms, though it be of honey; search too high, and the brightness shall dazzle you. Like a city unwalled he lies defenceless, that cannot master himself, but ever speaks his mind.
As well snow in summer or rain in harvest, as honour paid to a fool.
Light as a bird of passage, light as sparrow on the wing, the curse that is undeserved shall reach you.
Whip for horse, bridle for ass, and never a rod for the fool's back?
Leave the fool's challenge unanswered, and prove yourself wise; or answer it, if you will, and prove him fool.
Send a fool on your errand, you have a lame journey, and mischief brewing for you. Give a fool leave to speak, it is all fair legs and no walking. Pay a fool reverence, you have wasted one more stone on Mercury's cairn. Speech fits as well in a fool's mouth as branch of bramble in the hand of a drunkard. The law settles quarrels at last, yet silence the fool, and feud there shall be none. Like a dog at his vomit, the fool goes back ever to his own folly. Who is in more perilous case than the fool himself? The man who lays claim to wisdom.
What, go abroad? says Sloth; there is a lion there; trust me, a lion's dam loose in the street. Sloth turns about, but keeps his bed, true as the door to its hinge. With folded hands the sluggard sits by, too idle to put hand to mouth. Wiser than seven sages is the sluggard in his own thought.
Better pull a dog by the ears than meddle in another's quarrels; pass on in quiet.
No excuse he finds, that deadly brand and arrow casts about him; nor he either, that hurts a friend by treachery and pleads that it was done in jest.
No fuel, no fire; no tell-tale, no quarrel. Coal needs ember, and fire tinder, and strife a quarreller, for their kindling. Innocent enough seem the words of the backbiter, yet their poison sinks deep into a man's belly. When the heart is wicked, fine talk is but lustre ware. The enemy that has treacherous thoughts is betrayed by his friendly talk; trust him not when he speaks you fair; here are seven depths of wickedness in a single heart. Vain the pretences that cloak his malice; before the whole assembly it shall be made known; dig pit, and you shall fall into it, shift rock, and it shall roll back on you. Fie on the glib tongues that hate all honesty, the treacherous lips that plot men's downfall!
Do not flatter yourself with hopes of to-morrow; what lies in the womb of the future you can not tell.
Seek praise, but not of your own bestowing; another's lips, not yours, must sound it.
What is more crushing than stone, more burdensome than sand? A fool's ill humour. Fierce, fierce is rage, and indignation mounts like a flood, but the pangs of jealousy, these there is no resisting.
Better open reproof than the love that gives no sign. Better the love that scourges, than hate's false kiss.
Full-fed spurns the honeycomb; to Hunger's lips, bitter is sweet.
When bird leaves nest, let a man leave his home.
Sweeter than ointment, sweeter than any perfume, when man's heart talks to heart of friend. Friend of yours, and friend that was your father's, never forsake; so, in your sore need, no kinsman's door you shall need to enter.
Neighbour over the way is better than kinsman at a distance.
My son, would you be your father's pride? Court wisdom, and silence your detractors.
When ill times come, prudence is on its guard, and takes refuge; the unwary march on, and pay the penalty.
Does a man go bail for a stranger? Without more ado, take his garment from him; who trusts without knowledge, forfeits the pledge.
So early abroad, so loudly wishing your neighbour well? This is curse, not blessing.
Between a scold and a roof that drips in winter there is nothing to choose. As well store up the wind in your house, though you call her the marrow of your right hand.
Iron whets iron, friend shapes friend.
If figs you would eat, tend your fig-tree well; if honour you would have, wait well on your master.
Clear as a face mirrored in water, the wise see men's hearts.
Death and the grave were never yet content, nor man's eyes with gazing.
Silver and gold are judged by furnace and crucible, man by his repute. (Heart of knave is ever set on mischief, heart of true man on wisdom.)
Bray a fool like corn, with pestle and mortar, he will be a fool still.
Spent be your care, your eyes watchful, over flock and herd of yours; riches will slip from your grasp, and crowns, will they last for ever? See, where the meadows are laid bare, and the aftermath is springing, the hay all carried, now, from the hill-slopes! Pasture for the lambs that shall clothe you, for the goats that shall be the price of more fields yet; goat's milk, too, shall suffice to feed you, give life and strength to your men and your serving-maids.
Bad conscience takes to its heels, with none in pursuit; fearless as a lion the unreproved heart.
Short reigns and many, where a land is plagued for its guilt; by wise counsel, and men's talk overheard, long lives the king.
Tempest threatens and famine when poor men oppress the poor.
Sound teaching is forgotten where the wrong-doer is well spoken of; honest folk will still be up in arms. No skill the knave has to discern the right; quest of the Lord's will makes that craft perfect. Better a poor life lived honestly than crooked ways that bring riches. A son's wisdom is to obey his father's teaching, not to shame him by keeping riotous company. Wealth that the usurer by extortion amassed, a more generous than he shall have the spending of. Turn a deaf ear to your teachers, and your so prayer shall be all sacrilege. Ruin he brings on himself, that leads the innocent into ill ways, and honest men shall be the heirs of him. Wisdom he claims, that wealth has; yet there is many a poor man will put him down.
A fair sight it is, to see honest folk rejoicing; knaves' rule is the people's ruin.
Never shall you thrive by keeping sin hidden; confess it and leave it, if you would find pardon. Blessed evermore is the timorous conscience; it is hardened hearts that fall to their ruin.
Nation without bread and prince without scruple, here is ravening lion and hungry bear all at once. Let prince lack prudence, everywhere is wrongful oppression; less covetous, he should have lived longer.
Compass you a man's death, you may flee to the depths of earth, none will shield you.
Keep the path of innocence, and you shall be safe; at one blow the double-dealer shall fall.
Till field and fill belly; idleness shall have a bellyful of nothing but want. Of honesty comes much honour, and how shall wealth reach you suddenly, yet leave your hands clean? Great wrong it is to sell judgement; would you barter truth away for a mouthful of bread? Eye on his rivals in the race for wealth, a man sees nothing, when want is hard at his heels.
More thanks you will have, in the end, for honest reproof than for designing flattery.
Shall he who robs father or mother make light of it? He is next door to a murderer.
Jostling pride it is that stirs up enmity; trust in the Lord, and you shall prosper. He is a fool that trusts his own wit; follow the rule of wise men, if you would reach safety.
Give to the poor, and nothing lack; turn away from their plea, and blessing you shall have none.
When knaves flourish, all the world takes to hiding; come they by their end, you shall see honest folk abroad.
Who spurns the yoke of correction shall meet sudden doom, and past all remedy.
When right thrives, the city is all rejoicing; when there be knaves that rule it, all lament.
Glad the father's heart, when the son takes wisdom for his mistress, nor spends on wantons his patrimony.
Kings by justice or exaction make the fortunes of a state or mar them.
By empty flattery you may lay a snare for your friend's feet.
By his own false steps the sinner is entangled; innocence goes singing and rejoicing on its way. An eye the upright man has for the friendless cause; the sinner is all darkness.
Rashness in a city ruins all; that madness, wisdom must turn aside.
Alas for the wise man that goes to law with a fool! Between bluster and mockery, there is no end to it.
He makes murderous enemies, that lives so innocently... and honest men demand his life.
Folly blurts out its whole mind; wise men reserve utterance till by and by.
King that listens to false rumour has a worthless court. Poor men and their masters dwell side by side, sharing the Lord's sunlight. King that gives due redress to the poor has a throne unshakeable.
Wisdom comes of reproof, comes of the rod; leave a child to go its own way, and a mother's care is wasted.
Thrive the godless, there will be wrongs a many; but the just will yet see them put down.
A son well schooled is rest well earned; great joy you shall have of him.
What revel among the host, the power of prophecy once withdrawn! Happy is he that keeps the law unbroken.
Word was never yet that would check a slave; he listens only to defy it.
Who is in more perilous case than the fool himself? The man who speaks too soon.
Pamper your slave young, and breed a pert manservant.
Ever the quarreller breeds strife; quick temper is ever at fault.
Pride will come low; honour awaits the humble.
As you love your life, aid thieves never; would you hear appeal made, and keep your own counsel?
Fear of man's judgements will bring you quickly to ruin; in the Lord put your trust, and rise high above them. Suitors a many an earthly prince has for his favour; but it is God that judges all.
Eyesores alike, the rogue to honest men the plain-dealer to villains. (Let the son heed a father's warnings, he shall fear no ruin.)
Here are the words of Agur, son of Jacé. Here is revelation made known by one that had God with him, God's near presence to comfort him, as he spoke.
What though I be ignorant, beyond human wont? What though the knowledge of man has passed me by, wisdom's dull pupil, without skill in holy lore? Who may he be that has scaled heaven, and come back to tell its secrets; held the winds in the hollow of his hand, wrapped away the storm-clouds under his mantle, fixed the bounds of earth? Tell me his name; tell me, if you can, where son of his may be found?
All God's promises are like metal tested in the fire; he is the sure defence of all who trust in him. Add to his word no word of yours; speedily your practices shall come to light.
Two requests I would make of you; be they mine while life lasts. Keep my thoughts ever far from treachery and lying; and for my state of life, be neither poverty mine nor riches. Grant me only the livelihood I need; so shall not abundance tempt me to disown you, and doubt if Lord there be, nor want bid me steal, and dishonour my God's name with perjury.
Never accuse a slave to his master; curse you he may, and to your undoing.
A bad breed it is, that curse their fathers and for their mothers have no good word. A bad breed, that owns no blot, yet is all unpurged from its defilement. A bad breed, all haughty looks and scornful brow. A bad breed, that has teeth sharp as swords, jaws that grind slowly on, till poor folk none are left, their friendless neighbours.
Two sisters there are, men say, brood of the leech, that still cry, Give us more, give us more! But stay, there is a third Insatiable; nay, a fourth I can name that never says, Enough! The grave, and the barren womb, and earth that soaks up the rain, and fire; did fire ever say, Enough?
Proud looks, that tell of a father mocked, a mother's pangs despised! That eye the ravens shall pick out on the hill-side, the vulture's brood shall prey on it.
Three mysteries there are too high for me, and a fourth is beyond my ken; eagle that flies in air, viper that crawls on rock, ship that sails the sea, and man that goes courting maid. Nor less I marvel at wanton wife that licks her greedy lips, and will have it that she did no harm.
Three sights there are set earth trembling, and a fourth it cannot endure; slave turned king, churl full fed, a scold married, and a maid that supplants her mistress.
Of four little things in nature, wise men cannot match the skill. How puny a race the ants, that hoard their food in harvest time; how defenceless the rock-rabbits, that hide their burrows in the clefts! No prince have the locusts, yet ever they march in rank; the lizard climbs high, and makes its home in the palaces of kings.
Three creatures there are that walk majestically, and a fourth goes proudly on his way; bravest of beasts, the lion, that fears no encounter, the cock (Loins-girt they call him), and the ram; and the king, too, for who can say him nay?
Fool that thrusts himself forward will prove a fool; he had been better advised to hold his tongue. First milk, then butter you may have for the wringing; blow your nose lustily, and blood shall flow at last; how then can you press your quarrel home, and no strife come of it?
Here are words of king Lamuel; here is revelation his mother made known to him for his instruction.
What word have I for my son, the child of my own womb, the fulfilment of my prayers? Would you give yourself up to the love of women, spend your all on a king's undoing? Wine was never made for kings, Lamuel, never for kings; carouse befits ill your council-chamber. Not for them to drink deep, and forget the claims of right, and misjudge the plea of the friendless. Strong drink for the mourner, wine for the afflicted heart; deep let them drink, and forget their need, and think of their misery no more. Do you, meanwhile, give your voice for dumb pleader and for doomed prisoner; ever let that voice of yours pronounce true sentence, giving redress to the friendless and the poor.
A man who has found a vigorous wife has found a rare treasure, brought from distant shores. Bound to her in loving confidence, he will have no need of spoil. Content, not sorrow, she will bring him as long as life lasts. Does she not busy herself with wool and thread, plying her hands with ready skill? Ever she steers her course like some merchant ship, bringing provision from far away. From early dawn she is up, assigning food to the household, so that each waiting-woman has her share. Ground must be examined, and bought, and planted out as a vineyard, with the earnings of her toil. How briskly she girds herself to the task, how tireless are her arms! Industry, she knows, is well rewarded, and all night long her lamp does not go out. Jealously she sets her hands to work, her fingers clutch the spindle. Kindly is her welcome to the poor, her purse ever open to those in need. Let the snow lie cold if it will, she has no fears for her household; no servant of hers but is warmly clad. Made by her own hands was the coverlet on her bed, the clothes of lawn and purple that she wears. None so honoured at the city gate as that husband of hers, when he sits in council with the elders of the land. Often she will sell linen of her own weaving, or make a girdle for the travelling merchant to buy. Protected by her own industry and good repute, she greets the morrow with a smile. Ripe wisdom governs her speech, but it is kindly instruction she gives. She keeps watch over all that goes on in her house, not content to go through life eating and sleeping. That is why her children are the first to call her blessed, her husband is loud in her praise: Unrivalled are you among all the women that have enriched their homes. Vain are the winning ways, beauty is a snare; it is the woman who fears the Lord that will achieve renown. Work such as hers claims its reward; let her life be spoken of with praise at the city gates.