How to spot a bad person
Warnings for the greedy, lazy, and crooks1It’s better to have a good reputation than a good financial portfolio.
Silver and gold aren’t as valuable as the respect others have for you.
2Rich and poor have one thing in common.
The LORD made them both.
3Insightful folks recognize trouble, and run from it.
Foolish people walk right into the mess, and pay for it later.
4If you respect the LORD and don’t get snooty,
You’ll live an honorable and wealthy life.
5Crooks walk a dangerous path in life, through briars and traps.
If you want to protect yourself, stay far away from them.
Point kids in right direction6Point your kids in the right direction
Then as adults, they’ll find the right trail.
7Rich people boss the poor.
And a borrower does whatever the lender says.
8If you stir trouble, at some point it’ll bite you.
It will grab that club you used to beat others, and break it into splinters.
9Generous people are happy
Because that’s what happens when you share food with the poor.
10Show the door to chronic critics and watch your troubles leave.
No more hurtful arguments and insults.
11If good motives drive your life,
And you speak kindly,
Kings will love having you around.
God guards facts, erases lies12The LORD himself guards knowledge and facts.
He silences liars and erases their shameful words.
13Lazy people come up with crazy excuses for not working.
“I can’t go to work today. There’s a lion on the loose.”
14Inviting words of an unfaithful woman are as dangerous as a hole in the ground.
If you upset the LORD, you’ll fall in.
Free your kids of foolishness15Kids are enslaved by foolishness.
A stick and some discipline will free them.
16If you exploit the poor, to benefit yourself,
Or to give more to the rich,
You’re going to end up poor.
Thirty wise nuggets ahead17Listen up. Hear what some wise men have to say.
Now here it comes. Wise words. So focus.
18Park the words in your memory.
Recite them over and over.
19The words will help you trust the LORD.
That’s what I’m telling you today. Yes, you. So, stay with me.
20I’ve written 30 nuggets of wisdom for you.
21These are reliable words. Trust them
When you need to answer someone, and get it right.
1 of 30, poor22Don’t exploit the poor just because you can.
Don’t lawyer up to destroy them in court.
23Their defense attorney is the LORD.
He’ll crush you and anyone else trying to rob the poor.
2 of 30, anger24Don’t get friendly with angry people.
If you see someone has a hot temper, stay far away.
25If you don’t stay away, that person might rub off on you.
And you’ll end up hot-tempered, too.
3 of 30, loans26Don’t be one of those fools who backs someone else’s debt.
Don’t guarantee debts of other people.
27When it comes time to pay, and you can’t cover the debt,
You might suddenly find yourself with no place to sleep.
4 of 30, boundaries28Don’t cheat others by moving the ancient property boundary,
Which your ancestors put in place.
5 of 30, skills29Do you see people skilled in what they do?
They’ll work for kings,
But not for you. Not if you’re just ordinary.
The Hebrew word can mean a switch, club, or staff—something you could bop a kid with. Some who argue against corporal punishment remind us that shepherds used a staff to gently nudge a straying sheep away from trouble. They didn’t club sheep like some parents wallop their rowdy kid in the candy aisle of the grocery store. People in Bible times—Jews and non-Jews alike—taught contact discipline, so to speak. We’re talking a spanking. Check out Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 23:13-14; 29:15. The question for many parents of faith today is whether wise advice for farmers and herders 3,000 years ago is good advice today. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings, some of which were picked up almost verbatim from earlier Egyptian wise sayings. With that in mind, many Bible teachers would argue this advice is best read as a snippet from history, not a rule intended for everyone everywhere until Jesus comes. Besides, they add, how many parents walloping kids in the candy aisle look loving—as opposed to looking like they’re leading the Charge of the Light Brigade. To which some parents would add that we really need to meet their kid.
Many of these 30 sayings sound very much like wise sayings from the Egyptian work known as The Wisdom of Amenope. It looks like someone copied off the other. Scholars disagree over which came first: the 30 sayings in Proverbs or The Wisdom of Amenope. Both collections appear to be wise sayings from different sources, much like a book of famous quotations today.
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