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Proverbs 10-15 The Voice (VOICE)

10 The proverbs of Solomon:
A wise son makes his father glad,
    but a foolish one fills his mother with sorrow.

Solomon’s proverbs were originally short, pithy, easily remembered sayings brought together around certain themes. They started as oral traditions and were eventually written in a Hebrew poetic form known as parallelism. Chapters 10–15 are dominated by antithetical parallelism, meaning a statement is made in line 1 and then contrasted in line 2. Chapters 16–22 contain both synonymous and synthetic parallelism. In synonymous parallelism, the ideas in line 1 are repeated in line 2 using different words. In synthetic parallelism, later lines serve to expand, define, and elaborate the first lines.

Riches gained through dishonest means will eventually vanish,
    but doing what is right avoids a deadly consequence.
The Eternal does not allow the right-living to go hungry,
    but He will frustrate the plans of the wicked.
A slack hand produces nothing but poverty,
    but an industrious hand soon takes hold of riches.
A wise son stores up for the winter months while it is still summer,
    but a shameful son lies around even during the harvest.
Blessings come to those who do what is right,
    but words spoken by the wicked cover up violent schemes.
The memory of one who lived with integrity brings joy,
    but the legacy of a wrongdoer will rot away.
The wise at heart will gladly obey direction,
    but one who fills the air with meaningless talk will fall into ruin.
The path of integrity is always safe,
    but a person who follows a crooked way will be exposed.
10 Whoever winks his eye signals trouble,
    and whoever fills the air with meaningless talk will fall into ruin.
11 The mouth of the righteous is a spring of life,
    but words spoken by the wicked cover up violent schemes.
12 Hatred fuels dissension,
    but love calms all rebellions.
13 Wisdom lives where insightful words are spoken,
    but harsh punishment awaits the senseless.
14 The wise store up knowledge as a safeguard,
    but the meaningless chatter of fools means that chaos is near.
15 The wealth of the rich is their powerful fortress;
    the poverty of the poor reduces them to rubble.
16 The reward of those who do right is a satisfied life,
    but the profits gained by those who do wrong is used to sin.
17 Those who accept instruction are travelers on the road to a meaningful life,
    but those who refuse correction wander off and pave a path to ruin.
18 Lips that lie cover deep-seated hatred,
    and whoever spreads a libelous rumor is acting as a fool.
19 The more you talk, the more likely you will cross the line and say the wrong thing;
    but if you are wise, you’ll speak less and with restraint.
20 The speech of those who do right is of greater value than the finest silver,
    but the thoughts of wrongdoers are worthless.
21 The right-living teach many,
    but fools die with no clue how to live well.

Perhaps the ancients knew the power of words better than we do. Words can conceal, reveal, destroy, and encourage. Words are extremely powerful, so Wisdom urges us to use a few carefully chosen words and to pick our conversations equally well.

22 The blessing of the Eternal is what makes someone rich,
    and He doesn’t add pain to it.
23 Mischief is the sport of fools,
    but wise actions bring joy to a person with insight.
24 Whatever wrongdoers fear the most will happen to them,
    but those who do right will receive what they long for.
25 After the storm passes, the wrongdoers are blown away,
    but those who do right are safe and sound on their firm foundations forever.
26 As vinegar vexes the teeth, and as smoke irritates the eyes,
    so a slacker annoys his boss.
27 Reverence for the Eternal makes for a long and peaceful life,
    but a wrongdoer will have years taken away.
28 The hope of those who do right is joy and celebration,
    but the only prospect for those who do wrong is futility.
29 The way of the Eternal offers safety to those who love justice,
    but it destroys those who perpetrate evil.
30 The right-living will never have their land taken away,
    but wrongdoers will be uprooted.
31 Wisdom flows from the mouths of those who do right,
    but tongues that twist the truth will be cut out.
32 The lips of the right-living understand what is proper,
    but the mouths of wrongdoers twist and pervert the truth.

11 Dishonesty in business disgusts the Eternal,
    but fair dealing delights Him.

Business may well be the most common human activity, so God cares deeply about how we conduct our business. Many proverbs address honesty in all forms of business—buying, selling, negotiating, transacting, and working. All of these depend on trust. Deceit in business causes many people to suffer. In fact, world economies and all our livelihoods depend in large measure on truthfulness, honesty, and fair dealings in the market.

When pride comes, shame is not far behind,
    but wisdom accompanies those who are humble.
The right-living are guided by integrity,
    but the crooked ways of the faithless will lead to ruin.
Riches won’t matter on the day of wrath,
    but right living will rescue from death.
The good deeds of the blameless pave a peaceful, productive path,
    but wrongdoers trip over their own faults.
The good deeds of the upright will rescue them,
    but the faithless will be conquered by their shallow desires.
When wrongdoers die, their hopes die with them.
    Their great expectations vanish into nothing more than a dream.
Those who do right are pulled from trouble;
    it falls on wrongdoers instead who are left to sink in their own problems.
The words of the godless ruin those close to them,
    but through insight the right-living are spared.
10 When prosperity comes to those who do right, the whole city celebrates;
    but when the wicked get their just punishment, there is joyous cheering.
11 A city thrives through the blessing of those living right,
    but the words of a wrongdoer will bring it to ruin.
12 Whoever puts down another is not wise,
    but one who knows better keeps quiet.
13 A gossip can’t keep anything confidential,
    but a reliable person protects a secret.
14 Without wise guidance, a nation falls;
    but victory is certain when there are plenty of wise counselors.
15 Trouble compounds when you guarantee a stranger’s debt,
    but you’ll be safe if you refuse the pledge.
16 A gracious woman acquires honor,
    but cruel people are only interested in acquiring money.
17 Kindness is its own reward,
    but cruelty is a self-inflicted wound.
18 The wicked earn a living by deception,
    but the one who plants righteousness gathers a true harvest.
19 Indeed, those who do what is right will live a good life,
    but those who pursue evil will die.
20 The Eternal detests a crooked heart and a warped mind,
    but He takes great pleasure in those who follow the right way.
21 Certainly those who do wrong will not escape punishment,
    but those who do right will go free.
22 Much like a gold ring in the snout of a pig,
    so is a beautiful woman who lacks good judgment.
23 Those who live right crave what is good,
    but the prospect of wrongdoers is wrath.
24 One shares liberally and yet gains even more,
    while another hoards more than is right and still has need.
25 A giving person will receive much in return,
    and someone who gives water will also receive the water he needs.

Generosity places God’s gifts and blessings into circulation. The principle is simply stated: by giving we receive. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is how God’s economy works. As Jesus said, “Don’t hold back—give freely, and you’ll have plenty poured back into your lap—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, brimming over. You’ll receive in the same measure you give” (Luke 6:38).

26 Curses fall upon those who hoard food,
    but blessings come to those who sell food.
27 Those who seek good find the goodwill of others,
    but those who look for evil are sure to find it.
28 Those who trust in their wealth are headed for great disappointment,
    but those who do right will sprout like green leaves in the spring.
29 A person who stirs up trouble in his family will inherit stormy winds,
    and foolish troublers will end up serving the wise.
30 The tree of life grows where the fruit of right-living falls,
    and whoever wins souls is wise.
31 If the righteous can expect to be repaid on earth,
    how much more can the ungodly and the sinners?

12 Those who love discipline love knowledge,
    but fools hate any kind of correction.
The Eternal prefers those who do good,
    but He condemns those who plot evil.
Doing what is wrong keeps everyone off balance and insecure,
    but those who do right will never be uprooted.
A dignified wife brings honor to her husband,
    but a shameful wife is like decay eating away at his bones.
The thoughts of the right-living tend toward justice,
    but the guidance of the wicked is trickery and treachery.
The words of the wicked ambush from the shadows, seeking blood,
    but the speech of the honest keeps them free.
The wrongdoers are overthrown—no one is left!
    But the house of the right-living remains strong.
A person is commended for expressing insight,
    but a perverted heart is despised.
It is better to be overlooked and have a servant
    than to be pretentious and have nothing to eat.
10 Those who are righteous treat their animals humanely,
    but the compassion of the wicked is really inhumane.

A person in a positive relationship with God stands in a right relationship with His creation. How we treat animals may mirror our souls—not just the pets in our home, but the pets in our neighborhood and the animals in our food supply. One who is truly right with God considers the needs of His creatures.

11 Whoever works the land will have more than enough food,
    but whoever follows empty pursuits lacks sense.
12 The wicked envy what the evil plunder,
    but the root of the right-living produces fruit for all.
13 A wrongdoer is soon boxed in by his deceitful talk,
    but the one who does right escapes from trouble unharmed.
14 Words spoken wisely result in much good,
    and working with your hands pays a large reward.
15 Fools follow their own directions and think they are right,
    but wise people listen intently to advice.
16 A fool’s anger is quickly evident,
    but a clever person knows how to hide his flaws.
17 A faithful witness speaks the truth,
    but a false witness utters lies.
18 Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword,
    but the speech of the wise is a healing balm.
19 Truth spoken will stand forever,
    but lies survive only briefly.
20 Deceit darkens the hearts of those who plot evil,
    but advocates of peace have joy.
21 The right-living are not overcome with calamity,
    but wrongdoers have their fill of it.
22 Lying lips disgust the Eternal,
    but those who act faithfully delight Him.
23 A clever man is careful in revealing what he knows,
    but a fool betrays his incompetence.
24 The hand of the hard workers will one day rule,
    and slackers will be forced to labor.
25 The weight of worry drags us down,
    but a good word lightens our day.
26 Those who live right are good guides to those who follow,[a]
    but wrongdoers will steer their friends down the wrong path.
27 Slackers don’t take time to cook their food,[b]
    but hard workers prize everything they have.
28 Life springs up along the path of integrity,
    and death has no place along its course.

13 A wise child is attentive to his parents’ instruction,
    but the mocker is deaf to correction.
A person eats well when he speaks wisely,
    but the treacherous crave violence.
Those who guard their speech insure they will take another breath,
    but those who talk without thinking guarantee their demise.
Slackers crave but have their fill of nothing,
    but the hardworking desire and are completely satisfied.
The right-living will not tolerate any lie,
    but wrongdoers come to shame and embarrassment.
Doing right keeps the innocent on the path of life,
    but doing wrong is the downfall of the wicked.
One pretends he is wealthy but has nothing,
    while another seems to be poor but has great wealth.
The rich are targeted and must ransom their lives,
    but no one bothers to threaten the poor.
The light of the right-living brings joy as it burns brightly;
    the lamp of a wrongdoer will be snuffed out.
10 Arrogance only produces arguments,
    but wisdom accompanies those well advised.
11 Money earned hastily is easily lost,
    but hard-earned money continues to grow.
12 Hope postponed grieves the heart;
    but when a dream comes true, life is full and sweet.
13 The one who hates good counsel will reap failure and ruin,
    but the one who reveres God’s instruction will be rewarded.
14 Wise instruction is a spring yielding a satisfied life;
    those who follow it avoid the traps that lead to death.
15 Good sense brings blessing,
    but the road of the treacherous is long and rough.
16 A clever person acquires knowledge and then acts on it;
    but a fool advertises his folly for all to see.
17 An untrustworthy messenger stirs up trouble,
    but a faithful emissary is curative balm.
18 A person who turns from correction faces poverty and shame,
    but one who regards constructive criticism is well respected.
19 A dream fulfilled is the sweetness of life,
    but abandoning evil is repulsive to fools.
20 One who walks with the wise becomes wise,
    but whoever keeps company with fools only hurts himself.
21 Trouble eagerly pursues the sinner,
    but success rewards the right-living.
22 A good person leaves an inheritance for his grandchildren,
    but the wealth of the sinner is eventually passed on to the right-living.
23 Though the fields of the poor yield a bumper crop
    in a land without justice, it is stolen out from under them.
24 Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children,
    but those who are quick to correct them show true love.
25 Those who do right have plenty to eat,
    while those who do wrong go hungry.

14 A wise woman builds her house,
    but a foolish one picks it to splinters with her own hands.
Whoever travels through life with integrity respects the Eternal,
    but whoever turns from it hates Him.
A fool’s words betray his pride and invite punishment,
    but the humble speech of the wise will spare them.
A farm without oxen has a manger without grain;
    there’s a good return in the strength of an ox.
An honest witness can always be trusted,
    but a false witness breathes out nothing but lies.
Wisdom eludes mockers, though they seek it,
    but insight comes quickly to those with understanding.
Walk away from the company of fools,
    for you cannot find insight in their words.
It takes wisdom for the clever to understand the path they are on,
    but the fool is deceived by his own foolishness.
Fools make a mockery of guilt and repentance,
    but those who do what is right receive special standing.[c]
10 Only the heart can know its own resentment;
    likewise no stranger can experience its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
    while the tent of the upright will prosper.
12 Before every person lies a road that seems to be right,
    but the end of that road is death and destruction.
13 Laughter can mask heartache,
    and joy often gives way to grief.
14 A disloyal heart has its fill of disloyal ways,
    but a good person will be satisfied from above.
15 The gullible believe anything they are told,
    but clever people know to question every step.
16 The wise are cautious and stay far from evil,
    but fools are hotheaded and careless.
17 Quick-tempered people make fools of themselves,
    and evil schemers make many enemies.
18 The naive are heirs to foolishness,
    but the clever are honored with insight.
19 Evil people will be humbled before the good;
    the wicked will stoop at the doorstep of the righteous.
20 The poor are hated even by their own neighbors,
    but the rich are loved by many friends.
21 Those who have contempt for their neighbors are sinners,
    but those who are kind to the poor are happy.
22 Don’t those who work evil stray from the truth?
    Those who plan goodness experience unfailing love and faithfulness.
23 Prosperity comes from hard work,
    but talking too much leads to great scarcity.
24 The wise are honored for their wealth;
    the reward of fools is more foolishness.
25 A truthful witness protects lives by not allowing evil to triumph,
    but a deceitful witness speaks lies and puts the innocent in jeopardy.
26 Reverence for the Eternal brings bold confidence,
    and one’s offspring will have hope of protection.
27 Respect and honor for Him is the basis of a satisfied life,
    which guards a person from being trapped in the snares of death.
28 A king’s splendor is in his many people,
    but a declining population will lead to his ruin.
29 Whoever is patient and slow to anger shows great understanding,
    but whoever has a quick temper magnifies his foolishness.
30 A serene heart can add years to one’s life;
    but jealous passion rots the bones.

The wrong kind of passion can be a dangerous thing. Too often people are ruled by strong emotions, thoughts that cannot be checked, and actions that cannot be controlled. If that’s the case, then you are putting your life and well-being in jeopardy. Peace of mind, tranquility of soul, and serenity of heart become the recipe for a long, happy life.

31 Whoever oppresses the poor insults his Maker,
    but anyone who is gracious to the needy honors Him.
32 The wicked are waylaid by their evil actions,
    but the right-living find hope’s sanctuary even in their death.[d]
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of one with insight
    and can even be experienced by fools.
34 Living according to God’s instructions makes a nation great,
    but sin colors those who commit it with disgrace.
35 The king shows kindness to a servant who acts wisely,
    but his anger burns toward one who brings shame.

15 A tender answer turns away rage,
    but a prickly reply spikes anger.
The words of the wise extend knowledge,
    but foolish people utter nonsense.
The Eternal can see all things;
    His gaze is fixed on both the evil and the good.
A word of encouragement heals the one who receives it,
    but a deceitful word breaks the spirit.
Fools refuse their parents’ guidance,
    but sensible children accept correction.
Great treasure may be found where the right-living make their home,
    but trouble awaits the wicked at every turn.
When the wise speak, knowledge spreads far and wide,
    but fools care nothing about such matters.
When the wicked offer sacrifices, they disgust the Eternal,
    but the prayers of those who do right are a pleasure to Him.
The lifestyle of the wicked is repulsive to Him,
    while those who do right delight Him.
10 Harsh punishment is waiting for those who reject the path of life,
    and those who hate correction will die.
11 The grave and destruction are fully exposed before the Eternal;
    how much more does He know the thoughts of Adam’s children!
12 Those who mock others don’t like being corrected,
    so they keep their distance from the wise.
13 A warm, smiling face reveals a joy-filled heart,
    but heartache crushes the spirit and darkens the appearance.
14 Those who have understanding hearts hunger after knowledge,
    but those with no understanding feast on foolishness.
15 The poor and oppressed suffer hardship day after day,
    but those with kind hearts continually feast.
16 It is better to live with less and honor the Eternal
    than to have riches and carry the burdens that come with them.
17 Better to eat only vegetables served lovingly
    than a fattened ox served hatefully.
18 A hot-headed person stirs up trouble,
    but one with patience settles a fight.
19 Lazy people walk a path overgrown with thornbushes,
    but those with integrity travel a wide, level road.
20 A wise child makes his father happy,
    but a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Foolishness brings sheer joy to those who have no sense,
    but people with insight steer a straight course through life.
22 Plans fall apart without proper advice;
    but with the right guidance, they come together nicely.
23 There is great joy in having the right answer,
    and how sweet is the right word at the right time!
24 For the wise the road of life climbs up steep grades
    in order to avoid the slide down to the grave.
25 The Eternal splinters the house of the haughty,
    but He secures the property of widows.

It is ironic that we may have more to fear from the proud and powerful than from the poor and needy. Those who have want more, and so they take it. Oh, maybe they won’t pick your pocket or break into your home. Their ways are more subtle and more effective. As James, Jesus’ brother, wrote, “Isn’t it the rich who step on you while climbing the ladder of success? And isn’t it the rich who take advantage of you and drag you into court?” (James 2:6b). James isn’t describing all the rich, of course, but many have made their fortunes off the backs of others. God is the One who can protect the poor, the One who can reduce the grand houses of the haughty to splinters.

26 The thoughts of the wrongdoers repulse the Eternal,
    but kind words are pure pleasure for Him.
27 Those who take illegal gains injure their families,
    but those who refuse a bribe will live in peace.
28 The right-living think before they speak,
    but wrongdoers simply spew evil.
29 The Eternal stays far from the wrongdoers,
    but He listens to the prayer of the right-living.
30 Bright eyes and a cheerful expression bring joy to the heart,
    and good news revives the spirit and renews health.
31 Those who learn from the lessons of life
    will join the others who are wise.
32 Those who disregard discipline sabotage themselves,
    but those who are open to correction gain understanding.
33 Reverence for the Eternal is the first lesson of wisdom,
    and humility always precedes honor.


  1. 12:26 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  2. 12:27 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  3. 14:9 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  4. 14:32 Greek manuscripts read “integrity.”
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.


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