Avoid bad drinking buddies
- 20:1 Wine is a heckler and beer gets into too many fights.
It’s not wise to get drunk with them.
- 20:2 An angry king sounds as terrifying as a roaring lion.
Provoke him and you’ll regret it to death.
- 20:3 It takes a big person to walk away from an argument.
Any idiot can get into a fight.
- 20:4 Lazy farmers won’t plow after autumn harvest.
They’ll look for food at the next harvest, and won’t find any.
- 20:5 A person’s plans are like a deep well of water.
A smart person will find a way of getting water out of that well.
Wanted: One person I can trust
- 20:6 It’s easy to say, “Trust me,” and many do.
But where on earth can you find anyone you can really trust?
- 20:7 Integrity of good people shows in the way they live.
Their kids are lucky to have parents like them.
- 20:8 When it’s time for the king to judge a case,
He can spot evil when he sees it.
- 20:9 Be honest. Who can say, “I’ve got a pure heart,
And I’m living my life in the sin-free zone?”
- 20:10 Dishonest scales and measurements.
Two things that disgust the LORD.
- 20:11 Young people distinguish themselves by what they do with their lives,
If they live good and honest lives.
- 20:12 Whenever you hear and whatever you see,
Those are the LORD’s gifts to you.
Sleep is an expensive lover
- 20:13 Don’t make sleep your lover unless you want to wake up poor.
Get up and eat your fill.
- 20:14 “What a terrible deal!” people say when they’re negotiating to buy something.
Then they go home and brag about what a great deal they got.
- 20:15 There is gold and there are jewels,
But more valuable are people who know what they’re talking about.
- 20:16 If you guarantee the debt of a stranger, you’re going to lose the shirt off your back.
People will take your property and hold it until the stranger’s debt is paid.
- 20:17 Stolen food seems to taste better than the rest.
But it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- 20:18 Get advice from others when you’re making plans.
You need wise advisors before going to war.
- 20:19 People slander others by telling secrets.
So, don’t hang out with a gossip.
- 20:20 Kids who hurt their parents
Are going to get their lights put out.1
Fast money, then a bad ending
- 20:21 If you suddenly inherit your way into luxury,
It’s not going to end well.
- 20:22 Don’t retaliate and say, “I’m going to even the score.”
Wait for the LORD. He packs a bigger punch.
- 20:23 God detests it when people cheat others by using dishonest weights.
It’s just wrong to use scales like that for weighing merchandise.
- 20:24 The LORD alone knows where we’re going in life.
We don’t have a clue.
Donations rashly promised
- 20:25 It’s not a good idea to make a rash promise about a sacred offering.
Think about what you’re promising before you make the promise.2
- 20:26 A wise king lines up the wicked
And mows them down with his chariots.3
- 20:27 The LORD is the spiritual light inside us.
He sees everything there is to see about us.
- 20:28 A king survives when he surrounds himself with people who are honest and loyal.
He hangs onto his throne by ruling with goodness and justice.
- 20:29 People praise young folks for showing strength.
Older folks are respected for their life experiences, reflected in gray hair.
- 20:30 A good whupping can beat the Dickens out of someone,
And give them a genuine change of perspective, for the better.
This is not a biblical invitation for parents to kill their children. It’s a poetic way of saying there’s hell to pay, and that the Lord will make the call about when to invoke the death sentence.
This verse is tough enough to figure out that some Bible experts say they think the text has been messed up. They use the word “corrupted.” One of the questions is what the word means that is translated as “rash.” The meaning of the Hebrew word yala, is uncertain. Some scholars associate it with a similar-sounding Arabic word laga, which means to babble on incessantly. Yak yak yak. As in, “Sure, I’ll cash the money I’ve been saving for my kids’ college and contribute it to the building fund if you name a classroom after me.”
The writer actually uses a farming metaphor involving winnowing the wicked and running over them with a threshing wheel. If you know what that means, thank you for your service. Whatever metaphor we use to describe what happens to the bad people, it involves a bad ending for them. Run over by a thresher, by chariots, or a bulldozer with a Kansas City Chiefs sticker on the blade. With whatever method, the wise king levels the playing field. Pun intended because this is Proverbs.