The Word Made Fresh
1If you cosign a loan for a neighbor
and bind yourself to someone in that way,
2you will be trapped by your own foolishness
and imprisoned by your own words,
3and you may have little opportunity to rescue yourself.
But go immediately and plead with your neighbor.
4Don’t allow your eyes to sleep.
Don’t let your eyelids rest.
5Struggle to free yourself like a doe from the hunter,
or like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
6Don’t be lazy! Study the ant and learn its wisdom.
7The ant has no general.
The ant has no king.
8The ant scouts out its own food in the summer
and gathers it up at harvesttime.
9So, don’t be lazy! How long will you just lie there?
How much sleep do you need?
10A little nap now, a little slumber later,
a little reclining now and then,
11and poverty will steal into your door.
Neediness will soon pursue you like an enemy.
12You can’t trust anything a scoundrel says.
They go around spreading gossip.
13They’ll wink and pretend they know things,
pointing here and there as if they have the latest scoop.
14But they are troublemakers,
always looking to spread rumors.
15Trouble will fall on them out of nowhere
and suddenly they are overcome by calamity.
16There are six things that the LORD especially hates –
indeed, there are seven that the LORD cannot conscience –
17haughty eyes, lying tongues, murder,
18wicked hearts, feet that hurry to take part in some evildoing,
19a witness who testifies falsely,
and anyone who tries to divide a family.
20Children should always obey their father
and never turn away from what their mother has taught them.
21Always keep what they have taught you in your heart.
Wear them like jewelry around your neck.
22Their teachings will guide your steps.
They will be your security when you sleep
and your companions when you awake.
23God’s commandment is a guiding light,
and discipline is the path of life.
24It will protect you from the temptations of an adulterous woman.
25Do not be captivated by her beauty.
Ignore her flirtatious advances.
26A prostitute may only charge a loaf of bread,
but another man’s wife will take your reputation.
27Can you carry hot coals in your pocket without getting burned?
28Can you walk on hot coals without burning your feet?
29Such is the fate of the man who sleeps with his neighbor’s wife.
No one who touches her will escape punishment.
30No one who steals because they are starving
can be detested,
31but if they are caught they will be punished
and will have to pay for what they have stolen,
even if they must forfeit all they have.
32The one who commits adultery, though, is an idiot,
because he has only destroyed himself.
33His character will be damaged,
and he will be forever disgraced.
34Remember that a husband’s fury is aroused by jealousy
and when he seeks revenge, he has no restraint.
35No compensation nor bribe will be acceptable to him.
1-5: More wisdom passed down regarding sexual misbehavior. The chapter begins, however, with advice on how to extricate oneself from a pledge they should not have made in the first place. Jesus, perhaps familiar with this passage, gave similar advice for similar situations (Matthew 5:23-25).
6-11: One of my favorite passages: the consequences of sloth, or laziness — which, by the way is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
12-15: Advice is given on how to recognize a scoundrel and avoid such a one.
16-19: Verse 16 is a common literary device we will see several times in the book. Deceitfulness is at the root of most of the “abominations.”
20-22: Long after mother and father have passed away, their wisdom lives on in the life of the child.
23-35: Adultery and prostitution are condemned, especially adultery. It is like walking on hot coals, says the author, because adulterers are subject to the angry vengeance of the wronged spouse.
Personal character, lifestyle, and sexual behavior are primary areas in which one can be tempted and pulled away from the exemplary life. If you want an idea of God’s assessment of your life, these are good places to examine. And correct.