10 Dead flies will make a bottle of perfume stink, and then it is spoiled. A little foolishness outweighs wisdom ⌞and⌟ honor.
Proverbs about Life in General
2 A wise person’s heart leads the right way. The heart of a fool leads the wrong way. 3 Even when a fool goes walking, he has no sense and shows everyone else that he’s a fool.
4 If a ruler becomes angry with you, don’t resign your position. If you remain calm, you can make up for serious offenses.
5 There is a tragedy that I’ve seen under the sun, an error often made by rulers. 6 Foolish people are often given high positions, and rich people are left to fill lower positions. 7 I have seen slaves sitting on horses and influential people going on foot like slaves.
8 Whoever digs a pit may fall into it. Whoever breaks through a stone wall may be bitten by a snake. 9 Whoever works in a stone quarry may get hurt. Whoever splits wood may be injured.
10 If an ax is blunt and the edge isn’t sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success. 11 If a snake bites before it has been charmed, then there is no advantage in being a snake charmer.
12 A wise person’s words win favors, but a fool’s lips are self-destructive. 13 A fool starts out by talking foolishness and ends up saying crazy things that are dangerous. 14 He never stops talking. No one knows what the future will bring, or what will happen after ⌞death⌟. Who can say! 15 Fools wear themselves out with hard work, because they don’t even know the way to town.
16 How horrible it will be for any country where the king used to be a servant and where the high officials throw parties in the morning. 17 A country is blessed when the king is from a noble family and when the high officials eat at the right time in order to get strength and not to get drunk.
18 A roof sags because of laziness. A house leaks because of idle hands.
19 A meal is made for laughter, and wine makes life pleasant, but money is the answer for everything.
20 Don’t curse the king even in your thoughts, and don’t curse rich people even in your bedroom. A bird may carry your words, or some winged creature may repeat what you say.
11 Throw your bread on the surface of the water, because you will find it again after many days.
2 Divide what you have into seven parts, or even into eight, because you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth.
3 If the clouds are full of rain, they will let it pour down on the earth. If a tree falls north or south, the tree will remain where it fell.
4 Whoever watches the wind will never plant. Whoever looks at the clouds will never harvest.
5 Just as you don’t know how the breath of life enters the limbs of a child within its mother’s womb, you also don’t understand how God, who made everything, works.
6 Plant your seed in the morning, and don’t let your hands rest until evening. You don’t know whether this field or that field will be profitable or whether both of them will ⌞turn out⌟ equally well.
7 Light is sweet, and it is good for one’s eyes to see the sun. 8 Even though people may live for many years, they should enjoy every one of them. But they should also remember there will be many dark days. Everything that is coming is pointless.
Remember Your Creator While You’re Young
9 You young people should enjoy yourselves while you’re young. You should let your hearts make you happy when you’re young. Follow wherever your heart leads you and whatever your eyes see. But realize that God will make you give an account for all these things when he judges everyone. 10 Get rid of what troubles you or wears down your body, because childhood and youth are pointless.
12 Remember your Creator when you are young,
before the days of trouble come
and the years catch up with you.
They will make you say,
“I have found no pleasure in them.”
2 Remember your Creator before the sun, the light, the moon,
and the stars turn dark, ⌞and⌟ the clouds come back with rain.
3 Remember your Creator when those who guard the house tremble,
strong men are stooped over,
the women at the mill stop grinding
because there are so few of them,
⌞and⌟ those who look out of the windows
see a dim light.
4 Remember your Creator when the doors to the street are closed,
the sound of the mill is muffled,
you are startled at the sound of a bird,
⌞and⌟ those who sing songs become quiet.
5 Remember your Creator when someone is afraid of heights
and of dangers along the road,
the almond tree blossoms,
the grasshopper drags itself along,
⌞and⌟ the caper bush has ⌞no⌟ fruit.
Mortals go to their eternal rest, and mourners go out in the streets.
6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped,
the golden bowl is broken,
the pitcher is smashed near the spring,
and the water wheel is broken at the cistern.
7 Then the dust ⌞of mortals⌟ goes back to the ground as it was before,
and the breath of life goes back to God who gave it.
8 “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Everything is pointless!”
Lifelong Duty—Fear God and Keep His Commands
9 Besides being wise, the spokesman also taught the people what he knew. He very carefully thought about it, studied it, and arranged it in many proverbs. 10 The spokesman tried to find just the right words. He wrote the words of truth very carefully.
11 Words from wise people are like spurs. Their collected sayings are like nails that have been driven in firmly. They come from one shepherd. 12 Be warned, my children, against anything more than these. People never stop writing books. Too much studying will wear out your body. 13 After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. 14 God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
8 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know how God showed his kindness [a] to the churches in the province of Macedonia. 2 While they were being severely tested by suffering, their overflowing joy, along with their extreme poverty, has made them even more generous. 3 I assure you that by their own free will they have given all they could, even more than they could afford. 4 They made an appeal to us, begging us to let them participate in the ministry of God’s kindness to his holy people ⌞in Jerusalem⌟. 5 They did more than we had expected. First, they gave themselves to the Lord and to us, since this was God’s will. 6 This led us to urge Titus to finish his work of God’s kindness among you in the same way as he had already started it.
7 Indeed, the more your faith, your ability to speak, your knowledge, your dedication, and your love for us increase, the more we want you to participate in this work of God’s kindness.
8 I’m not commanding you, but I’m testing how genuine your love is by pointing out the dedication of others. 9 You know about the kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor in order to make you rich through his poverty.
10 I’m giving you my opinion because it will be helpful to you. Last year you were not only willing ⌞to take a collection⌟ but had already started to do it. 11 So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish 12 with whatever contributions you have. Since you are willing to do this, ⌞remember⌟ that people are accepted if they give what they are able to give. God doesn’t ask for what they don’t have.
13 I don’t mean that others should have relief while you have hardship. Rather, it’s a matter of striking a balance. 14 At the present time, your surplus fills their need so that their surplus may fill your need. In this way things balance out. 15 This is what Scripture says: “Those who had gathered a lot didn’t have too much, and those who gathered a little didn’t have too little.”
- 8:1 Or “grace.”
For the choir director; a psalm by Korah’s descendants.
49 Listen to this, all you people.
Open your ears, all who live in the world—
2 common people and important ones,
rich people and poor ones.
3 My mouth will speak wise sayings,
the insights I have carefully considered.
4 I will turn my attention to a proverb.
I will explain my riddle with the ⌞music of⌟ a lyre.
5 Why should I be afraid in times of trouble,
when slanderers surround me with evil?
6 They trust their riches
and brag about their abundant wealth.
7 No one can ever buy back another person
or pay God a ransom for his life.
8 The price to be paid for his soul is too costly.
He must always give up
9 in order to live forever and never see the pit.
10 Indeed, one can see that wise people die,
that foolish and stupid people meet the same end.
They leave their riches to others.
11 Although they named their lands after themselves,
their graves [a] have become their homes for ages to come,
their dwelling places throughout every generation.
12 But mortals will not continue here with what they treasure.
They are like animals that die.
13 This is the final outcome for fools and their followers
who are delighted by what they say: Selah
14 Like sheep, they are driven to hell
with death as their shepherd.
(Decent people will rule them in the morning.)
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far away from their comfortable homes.
15 But God will buy me back from the power of hell
because he will take me. Selah
16 Do not be afraid when someone becomes rich,
when the greatness of his house increases.
17 He will not take anything with him when he dies.
His greatness cannot follow him.
18 Even though he blesses himself while he is alive
(and they praise you when you do well for yourself),
19 he must join the generation of his ancestors,
who will never see light ⌞again⌟.
20 Mortals, with what they treasure, still don’t have understanding.
They are like animals that die.
- 49:11 Greek, Syriac, Targum; Masoretic Text “their insides.”
20 Didn’t I write to you previously with advice and knowledge
21 in order to teach you the words of truth
so that you can give an accurate report to those who send you?