1Don’t envy the wealth of the wicked or crave their company.
2For they’re obsessed with causing trouble
and their conversations are corrupt.
3Wise people are builders # 24:3 Or “A house is built by wisdom.” The house is more than a structure with roof and a floor. It becomes a metaphor for families, churches, businesses, and enterprises. —
they build families, businesses, communities.
And through intelligence and insight
their enterprises are established and endure.
4Because of their skilled leadership,
the hearts # 24:4 Or “inner chambers.” of people are filled with the treasures of wisdom
and the pleasures of spiritual wealth.
5Wisdom can make anyone into a mighty warrior, # 24:5 Or “Wisdom makes anyone into a hero.” The Aramaic and the Septuagint read “It’s better to be wise than to be strong.”
and revelation-knowledge increases strength.
6Wise strategy is necessary to wage war,
and with many astute advisers
you’ll see the path to victory more clearly.
7Wisdom is a treasure too lofty for a quarreling fool # 24:7 The Hebrew is actually “Wisdom is coral to a fool.” That is, it is unattainable, deep, and hidden. —
he’ll have nothing to say when leaders gather together.
8There is one who makes plans to do evil—
Master Schemer is his name.
9If you plan to do evil, it’s as wrong as doing it.
And everyone detests a troublemaker.
10If you faint when under pressure,
you have need of courage. # 24:10 Or “your strength is limited.” Our weakness often becomes an excuse to quit, but strength and courage come as the result of faithfulness under pressure. Some interpret this to mean “If you fail to help others in their time of need, you will grow too weak to help yourself.”
11Go and rescue the perishing! Be their savior!
Why would you stand back and watch them stagger to their death?
12And why would you say, “But it’s none of my business”?
The one who knows you completely and judges your every motive
is also the keeper of souls—and not just yours!
He sees through your excuses and holds you responsible
for failing to help those whose lives are threatened.
13Revelation-knowledge is a delicacy,
sweet like flowing honey that melts in your mouth.
Eat as much of it as you can, my friend!
14For then you will perceive what is true wisdom,
your future will be bright, # 24:14 The Septuagint is “your death will be good.”
and this hope living within you will never disappoint you.
15Listen up, you wicked, irreverent ones—
don’t harass the lovers of God # 24:15 Or “the righteous.”
and don’t invade their resting place.
16For the lovers of God may suffer adversity
and stumble seven times,
but they will continue to rise over and over again.
But the unrighteous are brought down by just one calamity
and will never be able to rise again. # 24:16 Implied in the text, as it completes the parallelism.
17Never gloat when your enemy meets disaster,
and don’t be quick to rejoice if he falls.
18For the Lord, who sees your heart,
will be displeased with you and will pity your foe.
19Don’t be angrily offended over evildoers or be agitated by them. # 24:19 The Septuagint is “Don’t rejoice with those who do evil or be jealous of them.”
20For the wicked have no life and no future—
their light of life will die out. # 24:20 Not only will they die out, but the implication is they will also have no posterity.
21My child, stand in awe of Yahweh!
Give counsel to others,
but don’t mingle with those who are rebellious.
22For sudden destruction will fall upon them
and their lives will be ruined in a moment.
And who knows what retribution they will face! # 24:22 Verses 21 and 22 are translated from the Aramaic.
Revelation from the Wise
23Those enlightened with wisdom have spoken these proverbs:
Judgment must be impartial,
for it is always wrong to be swayed by a person’s status.
24If you say to the guilty, “You are innocent,”
the nation will curse you and the people will revile you.
25But when you convict the guilty,
the people will thank you and reward you with favor.
26Speaking honestly is a sign of true friendship. # 24:26 The Hebrew is literally “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” In the culture of the day, kissing was a sign of authentic friendship and a mark of relationship, which was often expressed in public among friends.
27Go ahead, build your career and give yourself to your work.
But if you put me first, you’ll see your family built up! # 24:27 As translated from the Septuagint.
28Why would you be a false accuser and slander with your words?
29Don’t ever spitefully say, “I’ll get even with him!
I’ll do to him what he did to me!”
30-31One day I passed by the field of a lazy man,
and I noticed the vineyards of a slacker.
I observed nothing but thorns, weeds, and broken-down walls.
32So I considered their lack of wisdom,
and I pondered the lessons I could learn from this:
33-34Professional work habits prevent poverty from becoming
your permanent business partner. And:
If you put off until tomorrow the work you could do today,
tomorrow never seems to come.