Proverbs 24

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Intelligence Outranks Muscle

Precept 19

[1-2] Don’t envy bad people;
don’t even want to be around them.
All they think about is causing a disturbance;
all they talk about is making trouble.

Precept 20

[3-4] It takes wisdom to build a house,
and understanding to set it on a firm foundation;
It takes knowledge to furnish its rooms
with fine furniture and beautiful draperies.

Precept 21

[5-6] It’s better to be wise than strong;
intelligence outranks muscle any day.
Strategic planning is the key to warfare;
to win, you need a lot of good counsel.

Precept 22

[7] Wise conversation is way over the head of fools;
in a serious discussion they haven’t a clue.

Precept 23

[8-9] The person who’s always cooking up some evil
soon gets a reputation as prince of rogues.
Fools incubate sin;
cynics desecrate beauty.

Rescue the Perishing

Precept 24

[10] If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
there wasn’t much to you in the first place.

Precept 25

[11-12] Rescue the perishing;
don’t hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,”
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
Someone not impressed with weak excuses.

Precept 26

[13-14] Eat honey, dear child—it’s good for you—
and delicacies that melt in your mouth.
Likewise knowledge,
and wisdom for your soul—
Get that and your future’s secured,
your hope is on solid rock.

Precept 27

[15-16] Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
while the wicked end up flat on their faces.

Precept 28

[17-18] Don’t laugh when your enemy falls;
don’t crow over his collapse.
God might see, and become very provoked,
and then take pity on his plight.

Precept 29

[19-20] Don’t bother your head with braggarts
or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
Those people have no future at all;
they’re headed down a dead-end street.

Precept 30

[21-22] Fear God, dear child—respect your leaders;
don’t be defiant or mutinous.
Without warning your life can turn upside down,
and who knows how or when it might happen?

An Honest Answer

More Sayings of the Wise

[23-29] It’s wrong, very wrong,
to go along with injustice.

Whoever whitewashes the wicked
gets a black mark in the history books,
But whoever exposes the wicked
will be thanked and rewarded.

An honest answer
is like a warm hug.

First plant your fields;
then build your barn.

Don’t talk about your neighbors behind their backs—
no slander or gossip, please.
Don’t say to anyone, “I’ll get back at you for what you did to me.
I’ll make you pay for what you did!”

[30-34] One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones,
and then passed the vineyard of a lout;
They were overgrown with weeds,
thick with thistles, all the fences broken down.
I took a long look and pondered what I saw;
the fields preached me a sermon and I listened:
“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?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
with poverty as your permanent houseguest!”

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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