to waste your precious life among the hardhearted.
Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you?
Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you?
You don’t want to end your life full of regrets,
nothing but sin and bones,
Saying, “Oh, why didn’t I do what they told me?
Why did I reject a disciplined life?
Why didn’t I listen to my mentors,
or take my teachers seriously?
My life is ruined!
I haven’t one blessed thing to show for my life!”
-Proverbs 5:7-14 The Message
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life, you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12, and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
Verses 11-13 studies: Thre are no second chances as it will be too late to ask for advice come judgment day. When the desire is activated, people don’t want advice; they want satisfaction. Resistance is the best way to learn before temptation. So don’t wait to see what happens. Instead, prepare for it by deciding how you will act when you face it.
5 1-2 Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom;
listen very closely to the way I see it.
Then you’ll acquire a taste for good sense;
what I tell you will keep you out of trouble.
3-6 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet,
her soft words are oh so smooth.
But it won’t be long before she’s gravel in your mouth,
a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart.
She’s dancing down the perfumed path to Death;
she’s headed straight for Hell and taking you with her.
She hasn’t a clue about Real Life,
about who she is, or where she’s going.
-Proverbs 5:1-6 The Message
Warning Against Adultery
5 My son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep discretion,
and your lips may guard knowledge.
3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
4, but in the end, she is bitter as wormwood,
sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6 she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
Verse 3 study: An adulteress is a prostitute. Proverbs share many warnings against illicit sex for several reasons. First, the charm of a prostitute is used as any temptation to do wrong or leave the pursuit of wisdom. Second, sexual immorality is dangerous and still is of any kind. It destroys family life, interferes with a person’s ability to love, downgrades human beings, and turns them into objects. It can lead to diseases and wanted children. Third, it is against God’s law.
Verses 3-8 studies: Be on guard for people that use flattery and smooth talk that lead to sin. The best advice is to detour it and avoid conversation with those people.
Verses 13-17 studies: Friends and family can make you fall. The concept of failing is difficult for people to accept, but yes, friends and family can lure you into doing wrong. For example, young people want to be accepted. So what happens is that they won’t criticize or confront another friend for either wrong plans or actions. Other people can’t see how their actions can lead to trouble. We should be acceptable to others but understand that we need some healthy skepticism about human behavior. When you feel heavily influenced, think before acting. Don’t let your friends cause you to fail.
Verses 20-27 studies: Our heart and feelings of love and desire show us to what extent we always find time to do what we enjoy. Solomon tells us to guard our hearts above everything to make sure we concentrate on those desires and goals that will keep us on track. Your affections should push you in the right direction. Keep your boundaries, keep your eyes on your goal, and don’t get sidetracked by those situations that lead you to sin.
18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;
the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.
-Proverbs 4:10-19 The Message
10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
guard her, for she is your life.
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
Verses 13-17 studies: Friends and family can make you fall. This is difficult for people to accept, but yes, friends and family can lure you into doing wrong. For example, young people want to be accepted, so they won’t criticize or confront another friend for other wrong plans or actions. Another example is a family member shooting down your ideal dreams. They want to make sure they don’t see you succeed. I’ve personally seen this within my family. But other people can’t see how their actions can lead to trouble. We should be accepting of others but understand that we do need some healthy form of skepticism about human behavior. When you feel heavily influenced, think before acting. Don’t let your friends cause you to fail.
sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.
I’m giving you good counsel;
don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.
3-9 When I was a boy at my father’s knee,
the pride and joy of my mother,
He would sit me down and drill me:
“Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!
Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding!
Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!
Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it;
never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.
She’ll garland your life with grace,
she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”
-Proverbs 4:1-9 The Message
A Father’s Wise Instruction
4 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts;
do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
Verses 3-4 studies: As parents, one of the most extraordinary responsibilities is encouraging your children to become wise. Solomon talks about his father, David, who encouraged him to get wisdom when he was young (2 Chronicles 28-29). Because of David’s encouragement to Solomon prompted Solomon to ask God for an understanding heart above everything else. Wisdom can be passed on from generation to generation. But, wisdom comes from God; parents can only encourage their children to gain knowledge and turn to God. If your parents didn’t encourage you or teach this, God’s Word is full of understanding in place of your parents’ teaching it. You can learn wisdom and then create a legacy of learning when you teach your children.
David's Instructions to Solomon
2 When David's time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3 and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4 that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack[a] a man on the throne of Israel.’
5 “Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner, and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging[b] in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war[c] on the belt around his[d] waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to Sheol in peace. 7 But deal loyally with the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and let them be among those who eat at your table, for with such loyalty[e] they met me when I fled from Absalom your brother. 8 And there is also with you Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a grievous curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim. But when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ 9 Now therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man. You will know what you ought to do to him, and you shall bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”
-1 Kings 2:1-9 ESV
9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
-1 Kings 3:9 ESV
Verses 5-7 studies: If you choose to get wisdom, get after it! It takes a good amount of determination. There are days you want to abandon getting knowledge, but this is a process you shouldn’t give up, no matter how hard it is. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime step, but it is a daily learning process to choose between the wicked (4:14-17, 19) or righteousness (4:18). There is nothing else more important or valuable.
Verse 7 study: David taught Solomon to seek God’s wisdom as a young boy. This is important because this is a choice that Solomon can make, and Solomon learned this lesson well. Solomon chose wisdom over everything when God approached the new king to see about new requests. We should make God’s wisdom our first choice. We don’t have to wait for God to come to us. Through prayer, we can ask for it. James 1:5 reminds us we can get wisdom through God, and he will grant it.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
-James 1:5 ESV
21-26 Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
don’t for a minute lose sight of them.
They’ll keep your soul alive, and well,
they’ll keep you fit and attractive.
You’ll travel safely; you’ll neither tire nor trip.
You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry,
and you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
he’ll keep you safe and sound.
27-29 Never walk away from someone who deserves help;
your hand is God’s hand for that person.
Don’t tell your neighbor, “Maybe some other time”
or “Try me tomorrow”
when the money’s right there in your pocket.
Don’t figure ways of taking advantage of your neighbor
when he’s sitting there trusting and unsuspecting.
30-32 Don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder,
always spoiling for a fight.
Don’t try to be like those who shoulder their way through life.
Why be a bully?
“Why not?” you say. Because God can’t stand twisted souls.
It’s the straightforward who get his respect.
33-35 God’s curse blights the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder,
but if you’re down on your luck, he’s right there to help.
Wise living gets rewarded with honor;
stupid living gets the booby prize.
-Proverbs 3:21-35 The Message
21 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
22 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
23 Then, you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
30 Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
32 for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners, he is scornful,
but to the humble, he gives favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace.
Verses 27-28 studies: Holding on to things that is good inconsiderate, and unfair. It can be repaying a loan, returning a tool, or fulfilling a promise. Keeping things quiet can destroy trust and can be an inconvenience. Instead, do good and be eager to do it as you will have good done to you.
With one hand, she gives long life; with the other, she confers recognition.
Her manner is beautiful,
her life wonderfully complete.
She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her.
Hold her tight—and be blessed!
19-20 With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth;
with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven.
They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface,
and dew to descend from the night skies.
-Proverbs 3:13-20 The Message
Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.
19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
20 by his knowledge, the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
Verses 16-17 studies: You will read in Proverbs many strong statements about the benefits of wisdom; long life, wealth, honor, and peace. What if you are not experiencing the benefits? Does this mean you are short on wisdom? Not really. These statements are made for basic living, not guarantees. In a perfect world, wise behavior would lead to these benefits. Living wisely usually results in apparent blessings in our troubled world, but not always. Sin would intervene, and blessings would be delayed until Jesus returns to establish His eternal kingdom. This is why we should “walk by faith,” “not by sight.” We can be sure that wisdom will lead to blessings.
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
-2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this.
-Proverbs 3:5-12 The Message
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways, acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10, then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
Verses 5-6 studies: Leaning from a physical aspect puts weight on something while resting. You are trusting that person or thing to hold you up. When we have an essential decision to make, we usually believe that we can’t trust anyone, not even God. God knows what’s best for us; he created us! He is a better judge of what we want than we are. We have to trust him in the choices we make. We shouldn’t overlook careful thinking or belittle our God-given ability to reason, but we shouldn’t trust our own ideas to the point that we ignore them. We should not be wise in our own eyes. We should be willing to listen and be corrected by God’s Word and wise counselors. Bring all decisions to God in prayer, use the Bible as your guide, and follow God’s leading. He will make your paths right by guiding and protecting you.
Verse 6 study: To receive God’s guidance, we must acknowledge God. This means we have to turn every area of our lives over to God. Matthew 6:33 reminds us that Jesus emphasized the same truth. Take a look at your core values and priorities. Ask yourself what is important to you? In your areas, where have you not acknowledged him? What is his advice to you? In many of your areas, you acknowledge him, but there are some areas where you restrict him or ignore him. That will cause grief in your life. To steer away from it, make him a vital part of your decision-making; he will guide you because you are working to accomplish his purpose.
Verses 11-12 studies: Righteous people are not always successful; we regard life adversity and discipline. Discipline means to “teach and train.” Discipline is shined negatively because disciplinarians are not loving. God is the source of our love. He doesn’t punish us because he likes to see us in pain; he is concerned about our development. To become strong and good, God knows we have to learn right and wrong. His loving discipline activates us to do that.
It is hard to know if God is disciplining us until we look back at the situation. Not all the time does it come from God, but we rebel against God and refuse to repent when God has identified sin; he may use guilt, crises, or bad experiences to bring us back. Difficult times come when there is no sin in our lives. Our response should be patience, integrity, and confidence that God will show us what to do.
3 1-2 Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
a long life lived full and well.
3-4 Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
-Proverbs 3:1-4 The Message
Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart
3 Verse 1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for a length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Verse 3 study: Kindness and truth are the two most important character qualities. Both involve actions as well as attitudes. A kind person acts with love and compassion. A truthful person believes in truth and works for justice for others. Always help people for justice; it indeed shows your character. If you claim you care but are the first in line to shoot down, justice is not served shows what kind of person you are. Thoughts and words are not enough. Our lives reveal whether we are genuinely kind and truthful. I had to call out a Christian person for their hatred and wrong actions. A person who claims to be wise is automatically a fool, but to say you are being wise based on a conversation about your hatred and actions does not make you wise. Ask yourself if your actions measure your attitude. Don’t be that person that displays hate, but say you love Jesus. That’s not a good representation of who you are or who Jesus is.
9-15 So now you can pick out what’s true and fair,
find all the good trails!
Lady Wisdom will be your close friend,
and Brother Knowledge, your pleasant companion.
Good Sense will scout ahead for danger,
Insight will keep an eye out for you.
They’ll keep you from making wrong turns,
or following the bad directions
Of those who are lost themselves
and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed,
These losers who make a game of evil
and throw parties to celebrate perversity,
Traveling paths that go nowhere,
wandering in a maze of detours and dead ends.
16-19 Wise friends will rescue you from the Temptress—
that smooth-talking Seductress
Who’s faithless to the husband she married years ago,
never gave a second thought to her promises before God.
Her whole way of life is doomed;
every step she takes brings her closer to hell.
No one who joins her company ever comes back,
ever sets foot on the path to real living.
20-22 So—join the company of good men and women,
keep your feet on the tried-and-true paths.
It’s the men who walk straight who will settle this land,
the women with integrity who will last here.
The corrupt will lose their lives;
the dishonest will be gone for good.
-Proverbs 2:9-22 The Message
9 Then, you will understand righteousness and justice
and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
and who are devious in their ways.
16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words,
17 who forsakes the companion of her youth
and forgets the covenant of her God;
18 for her house sinks down to death,
and her paths to the departed;
19 none who go to her come back,
nor do they regain the paths of life.
20 So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
Verses 9-10 studies: Growing is a way to gain wisdom, constantly growing. First, we must trust and honor God. Second, realize that the Bible reveals God’s wisdom to us. Third, making lifelong right choices and avoiding pitfalls. Not every decision is right; that’s where our wisdom comes from. Fourth, when we commit sin or make mistakes, we learn from them. Many people do not develop all aspects of wisdom all in one sitting. For example, some people have some insight than discretion. Other people have more knowledge than common sense. I am constantly reminded that someone with a degree doesn’t always have common sense. Education is one thing, but having experience comes a long way toward wisdom. We should pray for all aspects of wisdom and take these steps to develop them in our lives.
Verse 11 study: Discretion is a way to see right from wrong. As a believer, you can use discretion to detect evil motives in men (2:12) and women (2:16). Of course, this comes with practice; it helps us evaluate a plan of action and consequences. This is a gift for some, but most have to have it developed by using God’s truth to make wise choices day by day. Hebrews 5:14 reminds us to train ourselves to build discretion. Like an athlete in training, discretion is what you train for.
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
from men of perverted speech.
-Proverbs 2:12 ESV
16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
-Proverbs 2:16 ESV
14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
-Hebrews 5:14 ESV
Verses 16-17 studies: An adulteress is a seductive woman or a prostitute. Two of the most difficult sins to resist are pride and sexual immorality. I can speak to this; it is difficult. Pride is something I battle with to always make sure I’m right, but I have to understand that it is okay to put your pride to the side and learn something. I also struggle with sexual immorality because of pornography. This is a continuous struggle for me, but I battle every day. I make mistakes and still work every day to get 1% better. Pride says, “I deserve it,” it is me who has to change. “I need it” is sexual desire. I don’t necessarily need it, but I always want it, so pornography comes into the picture.
Solomon says that relying on God’s strength can we overcome them. Now I witnessed this in me. I did fine depending on God’s strength and staying in the Word, but soon as I wandered away from the Word, pride and sexual immorality crept back into my life. Pride appeals to the empty head; sexual enticement is to the empty heart. Looking to God is a way to fill our heads with his wisdom, compassion, and love. Don’t be fooled; remember what God says about who you are and what you are meant to be. Pride and sexual immorality do not define you. Ask for strength to resist temptation.