Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
1A false balance and dishonest business practices are extremely offensive to the Lord,
But an accurate scale is His delight.
2When pride comes [boiling up with an arrogant attitude of self-importance], then come dishonor and shame,
But with the humble [the teachable who have been chiseled by trial and who have learned to walk humbly with God] there is wisdom and soundness of mind.
3The integrity and moral courage of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.
4Riches will not provide security in the day of wrath and judgment,
But righteousness rescues from death.
5The righteousness of the blameless will smooth their way and keep it straight,
But the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.
6The righteousness of the upright will rescue them,
But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.
7When the wicked man dies, his expectation will perish;
And the hope of [godless] strong men perishes.
8 # The famous eleventh-century rabbi known as Rashi told a fable illustrating this verse. He said that a fox once told a wolf to come with him and he would give him abundant food. It was night, and the fox led the wolf to a well with a bucket at each end of the rope. The fox got into the bucket at the top of the well and rode down to the bottom. When the wolf asked him what he was doing, the fox pointed to the reflection of the moon in the water and said, “There is plenty of cheese and meat down here. Get in the other bucket and come down right away!” The wolf did, and as he went down the fox was pulled up in the first bucket. When the fox got to the top, the wolf said, “How am I supposed to get out?” Thereupon the fox quoted this verse to him. The righteous is rescued from trouble,
And the wicked takes his place.
9With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor,
But through knowledge and discernment the righteous will be rescued.
10When it goes well for the righteous, the city rejoices,
And when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11By the blessing [of the influence] of the upright the city is exalted,
But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.
12He who despises his neighbor lacks sense,
But a man of understanding keeps silent.
13He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets,
But he who is trustworthy and faithful keeps a matter hidden.
14Where there is no [wise, intelligent] guidance, the people fall [and go off course like a ship without a helm],
But in the abundance of [wise and godly] counselors there is victory.
15He who puts up security and guarantees a debt for an outsider will surely suffer [for his foolishness],
But he who hates (declines) being a guarantor is secure [from its penalties].
16A gracious and good woman attains honor,
And ruthless men attain riches [but not respect].
17The merciful and generous man benefits his soul [for his behavior returns to bless him],
But the cruel and callous man does himself harm.
18The wicked man earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness and lives his life with integrity will have a true reward [that is both permanent and satisfying].
19He who is steadfast in righteousness attains life,
But he who pursues evil attains his own death.
20The perverse in heart are repulsive and shamefully vile to the Lord,
But those who are blameless and above reproach in their walk are His delight!
21Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished,
But the descendants of the righteous will be freed.
22As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a beautiful woman who is without discretion [her lack of character mocks her beauty].
23The desire of the righteous brings only good,
But the expectation of the wicked brings wrath.
24There is the one who [generously] scatters [abroad], and yet increases all the more;
And there is the one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want and poverty.
25The generous man [is a source of blessing and] shall be prosperous and enriched,
And he who waters will himself be watered [reaping the generosity he has sown].
26The people curse him who holds back grain [when the public needs it],
But a blessing [from God and man] is upon the head of him who sells it.
27He who diligently seeks good seeks favor and grace,
But he who seeks evil, evil will come to him.
28He who leans on and trusts in and is confident in his riches will fall,
But the righteous [who trust in God’s provision] will flourish like a green leaf.
29He who troubles (mismanages) his own house will inherit the wind (nothing),
And the foolish will be a servant to the wise-hearted.
30The fruit of the [consistently] righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise captures and wins souls [for God—he gathers them for eternity].
31If the righteous will be rewarded on the earth [with godly blessings],
How much more [will] the wicked and the sinner [be repaid with punishment]!