1A few dead flies in perfume
make all of it stink,
and a little foolishness
outweighs a lot of wisdom.
2Sensible thoughts lead you
to do right;
foolish thoughts lead you
to do wrong.
3Fools show their stupidity
by the way they live;
it's easy to see
they have no sense.
4Don't give up your job
when your boss gets angry.
If you stay calm,
you'll be forgiven.
5Some things rulers do are terribly unfair: 6they honour fools, but dishonour the rich; 7they let slaves ride on horses, but force slave owners to walk.
8If you dig a pit,#Ps 7.15; Pr 26.27.
you might fall in;
if you break down a wall,
a snake might bite you.#10.8 a snake might bite you: Walls of houses were often made of stones with mud to fill in the cracks between them. If some of the mud washed out, a snake could be living inside the wall.
9You could even get hurt
by chiselling a stone
or chopping a log.
10If you don't sharpen your axe,
it will be harder to use;
if you are clever,
you'll know what to do.#10.10 do: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
11The power to charm a snake
does you no good
if it bites you anyway.
12If you talk sensibly,
you will have friends;
if you talk foolishly,
you will destroy yourself.
13Fools begin with nonsense,
and their stupid chatter
ends with disaster.
14They never tire of talking,
but none of us really know
what the future will bring.
15Fools wear themselves out—
they don't know enough
to find their way home.#10.15 home: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
16A country is in for trouble
when its ruler is childish,
and its leaders
feast all day long.
17But a nation will prosper
when its ruler is mature,
and its leaders
don't feast too much.
18Some people are too lazy
to fix a leaky roof—
then the house falls in.
19Eating and drinking
make you feel happy,
and bribes can buy
everything you need.
20Don't even think
about cursing the king;
don't curse the rich,
not even in secret.
A little bird might hear
and tell everything.