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Proverbs 16-22 The Voice (VOICE)

16 People go about making their plans,
    but the Eternal has the final word.
Even when you think you have good intentions,
    He knows your real motives.
Whatever you do, do it as service to Him,
    and He will guarantee your success.
The Eternal made everything for a reason.
    Even wrongdoers fit in His plans; troubled times await them.
He abhors arrogant people.
    Make no mistake about it! They will be punished!
The penalty of sin is removed by love and loyalty;
    and by devotion to the Eternal, evil is avoided.
When people make good choices, He is pleased;
    He even causes their enemies to live peacefully near them.
Better to have little and stand for what is right
    than to become rich by doing what is wrong.
People do their best making plans for their lives,
    but the Eternal guides each step.
10 The king makes a decision under divine inspiration,
    but he must never render an unfair judgment.
11 The Eternal requires that business be conducted honestly;
    He wants fairness in all your dealings.
12 When kings commit evil, it is despicable,
    because their thrones should be built on justice.
13 Kings admire those who tell the truth;
    they adore those who set the record straight.
14 A king’s rage signals that people will die,
    but whoever is wise will pacify him.
15 If a king is smiling brightly, life will be granted;
    his favor is like a cloud swelled with the first spring rain.
16 How much better it is to receive wisdom than the riches of gold
    and to gain understanding over some silver prize!
17 The highway of the just bypasses evil;
    those who watch where they’re going protect their lives from sin.
18 Pride precedes destruction;
    an arrogant spirit gives way to a nasty fall.
19 It is better to be humble and live among the poor,
    than to divide up stolen property with the proud.
20 Those devoted to instruction will prosper in goodness;
    those who trust in the Eternal will experience His favor.
21 The wise at heart have a reputation for understanding;
    pleasant words make the lips more persuasive.
22 Understanding for those who have it is a spring of life,
    but it is pointless to try and instruct a fool.
23 From a wise heart flow careful words;
    wise words make the lips more persuasive.
24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb:
    they drip sweet food for life and bring health to the body.
25 Before every person lies a road that seems to be right,
    but at the end of that road death and destruction wait.
26 People work to stay alive,
    pressed daily by their need to eat.
27 Good-for-nothings conjure up evil ideas;
    their conversations fuel destructive fires.
28 Perverse people stir up contention;
    gossip makes best friends into enemies.
29 Violent people try to recruit their neighbors,
    wanting to lead them down the vile path of evil they have chosen.
30 Body language can expose a person’s intentions:
    whoever winks the eye is planning perversity;
    whoever purses his lips is intent on evil.
31 Gray hair is a crown of honor,
    earned by living the right kind of life.
32 It is better to be a patient man than a mighty warrior,
    better to be someone who controls his temper than someone who conquers a city.
33 We may try to control the roll of the dice,
    but actually, the Eternal decides what they will determine.

17 Better to gnaw on a bit of dry crust in peace
    than to feast in a house full of stress.
A wise servant will be put in charge of a child who behaves badly
    and will take a share of the inheritance like one of the family.
Silver is purified in the crucible, gold in the furnace,
    but motives of the heart are judged by the Eternal.
Wrongdoers perk up when listening to gossip,
    and liars lean in close to hear talk of mischief.
Anyone who makes fun of the poor disparages his Maker,
    and those who celebrate another’s misfortune will not escape certain punishment.
Grandchildren are the crowning glory and ultimate delight of old age,
    and parents are the pride of their children.
Elegant speech sounds odd when it comes from a fool,
    and a lie on the lips of a leader is even more out of place!
A bribe is like an enchanting charm to one who counts on it—
    everywhere he looks he sees the illusion of success.
Those who forgive faults foster love,
    but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships.
10 A single correction makes a more lasting impression on one who is wise
    than a hundred lashes do on a fool.
11 Evil people are determined to rebel,
    and so a merciless messenger will chase them down.
12 Better to face a mother bear stripped of her cubs
    than to encounter a fool caught up in his foolishness.
13 Those who repay good with evil
    bring unrelenting trouble upon their families.
14 Picking a fight is like leaking water from a crack in a dam,
    so walk away from an argument before the outburst.
15 Both of these deeply offend the Eternal:
    one who acquits the guilty and one who condemns the innocent.
16 Even if fools had the means to obtain wisdom,
    they would not be able to benefit from it.
17 A true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times.
18 Only a fool shakes hands on a deal
    and guarantees repayment of someone else’s loan.
19 A person who loves sin loves a fight,
    and one who builds a grand entrance dares others to tear it down.
20 Crooked-hearted people never recognize anything good,
    and those who distort the truth court disaster.
21 Having a fool for a child is misery;
    there is no joy in parenting a fool.
22 A joy-filled heart is curative balm,
    but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone.
23 A wicked person accepts a bribe under the table
    to derail the course of justice.
24 Those who understand look to wisdom for guidance,
    but fools fasten their eyes on some distant horizon.
25 Foolish children irritate their fathers
    and embitter their mothers.
26 Also know this: It is wrong to penalize those who do what is right
    or to lash the noble because of their integrity.
27 Those with knowledge know when to be quiet,
    and those with understanding know how to remain calm.
28 Even a fool who keeps quiet is considered wise,
    for when he keeps his mouth shut, he appears clever.

18 Whoever pulls away from others to focus solely on his own desires
    disregards any sense of sound judgment.
A fool never delights in true knowledge
    but only wants to express what’s on his mind.
When wrongdoers arrive, disgrace is right there with them,
    for shame is the companion of dishonor.
Words bubble up from waters deep within a person;
    a stream gushes from the fountain of wisdom.
It is wrong for a judge to show partiality to the guilty
    or to rob the innocent of justice.
When a fool’s lips move, a fight breaks out;
    it’s as if his mouth is begging for a beating.
The mouths of fools are their destruction,
    and their lips entrap their very souls.
Whispered gossip is like a delicious first course:
    it is devoured with pleasure and penetrates deeply.
Those who slack off at work
    are no different from vandals.
10 The Eternal is known to be like a sturdy watchtower;
    those who do right flee to Him for protection.
11 The rich think their wealth is their sturdy fortress;
    they imagine it to be an invincible wall of security.
12 A proud heart precedes destruction,
    and before honor is humility.
13 To respond to a matter before you hear about it
    shows foolishness and brings shame.
14 The human spirit can endure a long illness,
    but who can survive a crushed spirit?
15 Clever people go after knowledge to obtain it,
    and wise people attune their ears to hear it.
16 The right gift at the right time can open up new opportunities
    and gains access to influential people.
17 The first ones to tell their side of a story seem right
    until cross-examined by their peers.
18 Casting lots can settle conflicts
    and decide between powerful opponents.
19 Winning over an offended brother is harder than breaching a strong city’s defenses;
    such fights are as tough as the iron gates of a castle.
20 Good words satisfy like a fine meal;
    yes, good conversations are sure to satisfy.
21 Words have power in matters of life and death,
    and those who love them will savor their fruit.
22 The man who finds a wife finds something good,
    and the favor of the Eternal is indeed his.
23 The poor plead for help,
    but the rich respond harshly.
24 Someone with many so-called friends may end up friendless,
    but a true friend is closer than a brother.

19 Better to be poor and live with integrity
    than a fool with a foul mouth.
Surely there’s no advantage for a person without knowledge,
    and whoever moves too quickly misses the turn.
Foolishness diverts the course of life,
    yet the heart rebels against the Eternal.
Wealth attracts many friends,
    but the poor are soon separated from theirs.
A false witness will not escape punishment,
    and one who breathes lies will not go free.
Many try to win the favor of a generous person,
    and everyone is a friend to someone who gives gifts.
If a poor man is hated by his relatives,
    it is even more likely his friends will avoid him too!
Anyone who is calling after them
    [is not to be found].[a]
Whoever gains a wise heart loves his own soul,
    and whoever preserves understanding experiences true goodness.
A false witness will not escape punishment,
    and whoever breathes lies will not survive.
10 Something is wrong when a fool lives a pampered life,
    but it is much worse when a slave takes charge of princes.
11 A person with discretion is not easily angered;
    he gains respect by overlooking an offense.
12 A king’s rage is like the thunderous roar of a lion,
    but his favor is like a cooling mist upon the grass.
13 Foolish children bring misery to their fathers,
    and a wife’s bickering is a constant dripping as from a leaky roof.
14 Houses and riches may be inherited from parents,
    but a sensible wife is a gift from the Eternal.
15 Laziness lulls people into a deep sleep;
    a slacker will have nothing to eat.
16 Whoever keeps God’s commands lengthens his life,
    but a careless lifestyle ends in death.
17 Whoever cares for the poor makes a loan to the Eternal;
    such kindness will be repaid in full and with interest.
18 Discipline your children while there is still hope of influencing their future,
    so as not to play a part in their destruction.
19 A hot-tempered man will pay a penalty;
    if you bail him out, it will not be the last time; the cycle will repeat.
20 Heed counsel, act on instruction,
    and you will become wise later in life.
21 The impulses of the human heart may run wild,
    but the Eternal’s plan will prevail.
22 Loyalty is a trait admired in others,
    and being destitute is better than being a liar.
23 Reverence for the Eternal leads to a fulfilled life;
    those who have it will sleep well,
    for disaster will not touch them.
24 Some people are so lazy—they reach for food on the plate
    but lack the will to bring it up to their mouths.
25 If you beat one who mocks, the naive will see and learn a lesson;
    if you correct someone with understanding, that’s all he needs to grow a little wiser.
26 Children who mistreat their father and run down their mother
    are a root of shame and disgrace.
27 My child, should you stop listening to instruction,
    you will wander from the voice of knowledge.
28 A worthless witness ridicules justice,
    and the mouth of the wrongdoer savors every morsel of trouble.
29 Severe penalties are prepared for those who mock,
    and fools expect their backs to be flogged.

20 Too much wine begins to mock you,
    too much strong drink leads to noisy fights,
    and whoever is misled by either is not wise.
A king’s wrath strikes fear like a lion’s roar;
    those who provoke him to anger sentence themselves to death.
Honor is due those who refuse to fight at the drop of a hat,
    but every fool jumps at an opportunity to quarrel.
A slacker procrastinates when it is time to plow;
    so when it’s time for harvest, there are no crops in the field.
The real motives come from deep within a person—as from deep waters—
    but a discerning person is able to draw them up and expose them.
Most people claim to be loyal,
    but can anyone find a trustworthy person?
The right-living act with integrity;
    the children who follow their example are happy.
When a king sits on his throne as judge,
    he ferrets out all evil and scatters it with his royal stare.
Who can say, “I have cleaned my heart”?
    or who can proclaim, “I am purified from sin”?
10 False weights and differing measures are alike:
    both are disgusting to the Eternal.
11 Youth reveal their true natures by their actions
    whether they do what is pure and right or not.
12 Ears to listen, eyes to see—
    the Eternal designed them both.
13 Do not fall in love with sleep, or you will awake a poor person.
    Stay awake, get to work, and you will have more than enough food.
14 “Bad quality for a bad price,” bargains the buyer;
    but then he runs off with his prize in tow, bragging, “What a steal!”
15 Gold and rubies abound,
    but lips that utter knowledge are a rare jewel.
16 If someone guarantees a stranger’s debt, hold his garment as collateral;
    if that stranger is a foreigner, hold the creditor responsible.
17 At first the bread of lies tastes sweet
    until guilt reduces it to gravel in the mouth.
18 Plans are finalized on the basis of good counsel,
    so only go to war when you have wise instructions.
19 A gossip will reveal your secrets!
    So avoid the company of people who talk openly and foolishly.
20 If someone pronounces a curse on his parents,[b]
    the lamp of his life will be snuffed out as complete darkness creeps in.
21 An inheritance acquired hastily at first
    will end up not being blessed after all.
22 Do not say, “I will get even for this evil.”
    Wait for the Eternal; He will defend you.
23 He despises dishonesty in business;
    false weights and deceptive scales are wrong.
24 Every one of our steps is directed by Him;
    so how can we attempt to figure out our own way?
25 Those who rashly dedicate something to God are trapped;
    only afterward do they realize what they’ve promised.
26 A wise king weeds out the wrongdoers,
    then drives over them with his threshing wheel of justice.
27 The lamp of the Eternal illuminates the human spirit,
    searching our most intimate thoughts.
28 Loyal love and faithfulness safeguard the king;
    his throne is perpetuated through loyal love.
29 The best asset of youth is the strength of the body,
    but the beauty of age is gray hair.
30 Severe punishment scrubs away evil,
    and tough blows scour the innermost parts.

21 The king’s heart is like a channel of water directed by the Eternal:
    He chooses which way He bends it.
Everyone may think his own way of living is right,
    but the Eternal examines our hearts.
To do what is right and to seek justice—
    these please Him more than sacrifice.
The lamp of the wicked lights his way;
    a proud look, an arrogant heart—all sin.
A well-thought-out plan will work to your advantage,
    but hasty actions will cost you dearly.
The fortune made by a swindler
    is a fast-burning fog and a recipe for death.
Wicked people will be swept up in their own violence
    because they refuse to seek justice.
Dishonest people walk along the crooked path they have made,
    but the innocent travel the straight course they have laid.
It is better to dwell outside on the corner of your roof
    than to live inside your house with a badgering wife.
10 Wicked people delight in doing bad things;
    their neighbors never see even a hint of compassion.
11 A naive person wises up when he sees a mocker punished.
    A wise person becomes even wiser just by being instructed.
12 The right-living understands how evildoers operate;
    he subverts them and ruins their plans.
13 If you ignore the groans of the poor,
    one day your own cries for help will go unanswered.
14 A gift given in secret soothes anger,
    and a present offered privately calms fierce rage.
15 When justice is done, those who are in the right celebrate,
    but those who make trouble are terrified.
16 People who wander from the way of wise living
    will lie down in the company of corpses.
17 Those who live to party, who pursue pleasure, will end up penniless;
    those who enjoy lots of wine and rich food will never have money.
18 The wicked become a ransom for those who live right,
    and the faithless pay the penalty for their treachery against the upright.
19 You would be better off living in the middle of the desert
    than with an angry and argumentative wife.
20 The wise have a generous supply of fine food and oil in their homes,
    but fools are wasteful, consuming every last drop.
21 Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness
    discovers true life marked by integrity and respect.
22 One wise person can rise against a city of mighty men
    and cause the citadel they trust to collapse.
23 Guard your words, mind what you say,
    and you will keep yourself out of trouble.
24 The name “mocker” applies to one who is proud and pompous
    because he is defiantly arrogant.
25 What slackers crave will surely kill them
    because they refuse to work.
26 All day, every day the greedy want more,
    while those who live right give generously.
27 The offerings of wrongdoers are despicable to God;
    it’s even worse when they bring them with evil motives.
28 The testimony of a false witness is eventually impeached,
    but the person who truly listens will have the last word.
29 The wicked wears a defiant face,
    but the right-living plans his path.
30 No one is wise enough or smart enough,
    and no plan is good enough to stand up to the Eternal.
31 No matter how well you arm for battle,
    victory is determined by Him.

We do not like or want to believe it, but there are limits to what humans can accomplish. Whatever wisdom and knowledge we think we possess is nothing compared to God’s. Whatever plans we make will come to nothing unless they line up with God’s plans and purposes for us.

22 A good reputation is preferable to riches,
    and the approval of others is better than precious silver or gold.
Rich and poor have something in common:
    both are created by the Eternal.
Prudent people see trouble coming and hide,
    but the naive walk right into it and take a beating.
A humble person who fears the Eternal
    can expect to receive wealth, honor, and life.
Thorny branches and traps lie ahead for those who follow perverse paths;
    those who want to preserve themselves will steer clear of them.
Teach a child how to follow the right way;
    even when he is old, he will stay on course.
The rich lord it over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave to the lender.
Those who sow injustice reap disaster,
    and their methods of oppression will fail.
Generous people are genuinely blessed
    because they share their food with the poor.
10 Expel a mocker, and watch the wrangling go with him;
    rivalry and rude remarks will also stop.
11 Those who love a pure heart and speak with grace
    will find that the king is their friend.
12 The Eternal keeps a watchful eye on those with knowledge,
    but He subverts the words of the faithless.
13 A lazy person says, “A lion! Right outside!
    I will surely die in the streets!
    Yet another good reason to stay in today.
14 The alluring words of a seductive woman are a deep hole;
    the Eternal is incensed toward those who fall in.
15 Foolishness consumes the heart of a child,
    but corporal punishment, properly administered, drives it far away.
16 If you take advantage of the poor or coddle the rich to get ahead,
    you will end up destitute.

The Words of the Wise

17 Lend an ear, listen to these words of the wise,
    and align your thoughts with my instructions
18 Because true pleasure will be yours by learning them, living them,
    and being ready to repeat them to others.
19 In order that you will trust only in the Eternal,
    I teach them to you this day—yes, even you!
20 In fact, didn’t I already write down for you
    Thirty axioms of good advice and sound knowledge
21 To reveal to you what is reliably true
    so you can answer those who sent you with these truths you’ve learned?

22 Do not cheat poor people just because they are vulnerable
    or use shady tactics in court to crush those already suffering;
23 For the Eternal is ready to take their case,
    and He ruins anyone who is out to ruin them.
24 Do not befriend someone given to anger
    or hang around with a hothead.
25 Odds are, you’ll learn his ways, become angry as well,
    and get caught in a trap.
26 Do not be a person to guarantee someone else’s loan
    or put up collateral for the debts of an acquaintance;
27 For if you do and you can’t repay,
    won’t you risk having your bed ripped out from under you?
28 Do not steal property from your neighbors by moving the boundary markers
    your ancestors established.
29 And as for those who are skilled in their work,
    they will be recognized and invited to serve kings
    rather than regular folk.


  1. 19:7 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  2. 20:20 Exodus 21:7; Leviticus 20:9
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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