Wisdom Exalts God
1Go ahead and make all the plans you want,
but it’s the Lord who will ultimately direct your steps. # 16:1 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew and Aramaic read “the Lord gives the right reply.”
2We are all in love with our own opinions,
convinced they’re correct.
But the Lord is in the midst of us, # 16:2 Or “in the midst of spirits.”
testing and probing our every motive.
3Before you do anything,
put your trust totally in God and not in yourself. # 16:3 Or “commit your business to God.”
Then every plan you make will succeed.
4The Lord works everything together to accomplish his purpose. # 16:4 Or “for its answer.”
Even the wicked are included in his plans—
he sets them aside for the day of disaster.
5Yahweh detests all the proud # 16:5 The Hebrew word for “proud” is gavah, which comes from a root word that means “locust” (as a reference to a locust swarm that devours all the crops). Pride is like a locust swarm that always hinders a true spiritual harvest within us. of heart,
for pride attracts his punishment—
and you can count on that!
6You can avoid evil through surrendered worship
and the fear of God,
for the power of his faithful love
removes sin’s guilt and grip over you.
7When the Lord is pleased with the decisions you’ve made,
he activates grace to turn enemies into friends.
8It is better to have little with a heart that loves justice
than to be rich and not have God on your side.
9Within your heart you can make plans for your future,
but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.
Living like a King
10A king speaks the revelation of truth,
so he must be extraordinarily careful in the decrees that he makes.
11The Lord expects you to be fair in every business deal,
for he is the one who sets the standards for righteousness. # 16:11 Or “Honesty with scales and balances is the way of the Lord, for all the stones in the bag are established by him.”
12Kings and leaders despise wrongdoing,
for the true authority to rule and reign
is built on a foundation of righteousness.
13Kings and leaders love to hear godly counsel,
and they love those who tell them the truth.
14The anger of a king releases the messenger of death, # 16:14 See 1 Kings 2:25, 29–34, 46.
but a wise person will know how to pacify his wrath.
15Life-giving light streams from the presence of a king, # 16:15 The Septuagint reads “The king’s son is in the light of life.”
and his favor is showered upon those who please him.
16Everyone wants gold, but wisdom’s worth # 16:16 The Septuagint is “nests of wisdom.” is far greater.
Silver is sought after,
but a heart of understanding yields a greater return.
17Repenting from evil places you on the highway of holiness.
Protect purity and you protect your life. # 16:17 There are two proverbs inserted here in the Septuagint that are not found in the Hebrew or Aramaic: “Receive instruction and you’ll be prosperous; he who listens to correction shall be made wise.” “He who guards his ways preserves his own soul; he who loves his life will watch his words.”
18Your boast becomes a prophecy of a future failure.
The higher you lift yourself up in pride, # 16:18 Or “overconfidence.”
the harder you’ll fall in disgrace.
19It’s better to be meek and lowly and live among the poor
than to live high and mighty among the rich and famous.
20One skilled in business discovers prosperity,
but the one who trusts in God is blessed beyond belief!
Walking with Wisdom
21The one with a wise heart is called “discerning,”
and speaking sweetly to others
makes your teaching even more convincing.
22Wisdom is a deep well of understanding
opened up within you as a fountain of life for others,
but it’s senseless to try to instruct a fool.
23Winsome words pour from a heart of wisdom,
adding value to all you teach.
24Nothing is more appealing
than speaking beautiful, life-giving words.
For they release sweetness to our souls
and inner healing to our spirits. # 16:24 Or “healing to the bones.” Bones are a metaphor for our inner being.
25Before every person there is a path
that seems like the right one to take,
but it leads straight to hell! # 16:25 As translated from the Septuagint. The Hebrew is “the ways of death.”
26Life motivation comes from the deep longings of the heart,
and the passion to see them fulfilled urges you onward. # 16:26 The meaning of the Hebrew in this verse is uncertain.
27A wicked scoundrel wants to dig up dirt on others,
only to spread slander and shred their reputation.
28A twisted person spreads rumors;
a whispering gossip ruins good friendships.
29A vicious criminal can be persuasive,
enticing others to join him as partners in crime,
but he leads them all down a despicable path.
30It’s easy to tell when a wicked man
is hatching some crooked scheme—
it’s written all over his face.
His looks betray him as he gives birth to his sin.
31Old age with wisdom will crown you with dignity and honor, # 16:31 Or “Gray hair is a crown of splendor.” In the Hebrew culture the old were honored above all, especially if they acquired wisdom. See Lev. 19:32.
for it takes a lifetime of righteousness to acquire it.
32Do you want to be a mighty warrior?
It’s better to be known as one who is patient and slow to anger. # 16:32 The Septuagint is “It’s better to be forgiving than strong.”
Do you want to conquer a city?
Rule over your temper before you attempt to rule a city.
33We may toss the coin and roll the dice,
but God’s will is greater than luck. # 16:33 Or “Into the center the lot is cast and from Yahweh is all its judgment.” The casting of lots was a common form of divination in premodern societies.