These proverbs were written by David’s son Solomon, that was king of Israel,
for the better understanding of true wisdom, and self-command.
Here is made known the secret of discernment; here men may learn the lesson of insight, the dictates of duty and right and honour.
Here simplicity is put on its guard; here youth may find instruction and advice both together.
The wise, too, may be the wiser for hearing them; they will aid even the discerning to guide his course aright;
he will read both parables and the interpretation of parables, both wise words and the hidden thoughts they signify.
True wisdom is founded on the fear of the Lord; who but a fool would despise such wisdom, and the lessons she teaches?
Heed well, my son, thy father’s warnings, nor make light of thy mother’s teaching;
no richer heirloom, crown or necklace, can be thine.
Turn a deaf ear, my son, to the blandishments of evil-doers that would make thee of their company.
There are lives to be had for the ambushing, the lives of unsuspecting folk whose uprightness shall little avail them;
there are fortunes to be swallowed up whole, as a man is swallowed up by death when he goes to his grave.
No lack of treasures here, they say, rich plunder that shall find its way into our houses;
thou hast but to throw in thy lot with us; every man shares alike.
Such errands, my son, are not for thee; never stir a foot in their company;
thou knowest well how eager they are for mischief, how greedy for blood,
and the snare is laid to no purpose if the bird is watching.
What do they, but compass their own ruin, plot against their own lives?
Such is ever the end of greed; he who cherishes it must fall by it at last.
And all the while Wisdom is publishing her message, crying it aloud in the open streets;
never a meeting of roads, never a gateway, but her voice is raised, echoing above the din of it.
What, says she, are you still gaping there, simpletons? Do the reckless still court their own ruin? Rash fools, will you never learn?
Pay heed, then, to my protest; listen while I speak out my mind to you, give you open warning.
Since my call is unheard, since my hand beckons in vain,
since my counsel is despised and all my reproof goes for nothing,
it will be mine to laugh, to mock at your discomfiture, when perils close about you.
Close about you they will, affliction and sore distress, disasters that sweep down suddenly, gathering storms of ruin.
It will be their turn, then, to call aloud; my turn, then, to refuse an answer. They will be early abroad looking for me, but find me never;
fools, that grew weary of instruction, and would not fear the Lord.
Well for them, if they had followed my counsel, if they had not spurned all the warnings I gave!
Now they must eat of the harvest their own wickedness has reaped, make the best of the cheer their own knavish schemes have brought them.
Ah, silly souls, what a perilous refusal, what fatal foolhardiness was here!
But let a man give heed to me, peace undisturbed shall be his, happiness shall be his, free from all threat of danger.