Dictums about Every Circumstance[a]
1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you can never be certain what today may bring.[b]
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
let it come from the lips of someone else and not your own.
3 Stone is heavy and sand is a dead weight,
but heavier than both is a fool’s provocation.
4 Wrath is cruel and anger is overwhelming,
but who can withstand jealousy?
5 Better is an open rebuke
than concealed love.[c]
6 The blows given by a friend[d] are well meant,
but the kisses of an enemy are filled with deceit.
7 One whose appetite is sated refuses honey,
but to the man who is hungry even bitter food tastes sweet.
8 Like a bird that strays from its nest
is anyone who is far away from home.
9 Perfume and incense gladden the heart,
and friendship’s sweetness comforts the soul.[e]
10 Do not forsake your friend or the friend of your father,
and do not run to your brother’s house when troubles befall you;
far better is a friend nearby
than a brother who is far away.
11 Acquire wisdom, my son, and gladden my heart,
so that I may rebut anyone who insults me.
12 The prudent man perceives danger and seeks shelter,
while the simple[f] continue forward and pay the penalty.
13 Take the garment of anyone who becomes surety for a stranger;
demand a pledge for persons unknown[g] to you.
14 If someone blesses his neighbor at dawn with a loud voice,
it will be reckoned to him as a curse.[h]
15 A constant dripping on a rainy day
is much like a nagging wife;[i]
16 one might as well try to restrain the wind as to control her,
or to pick up oil with one’s fingers.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so a man sharpens the wits of his neighbor.
18 Whoever tends a fig tree eats its fruit,
and whoever looks after his master will be honored.
19 Just as water reflects one’s face,
so does one human heart reflect another.[j]
20 The netherworld and the abyss[k] are never satisfied;
the same is true of human eyes.
21 As silver is tested by a crucible and gold by a furnace,
so too is a man tested by the praise he is given.
22 You may use a pestle to pound a fool into a mortar,
but his folly will never be driven out of him.
Take Good Care of Your Herds[l]
23 Be aware at all times of the condition of your flocks
and take good care of your herds.
24 For riches do not last forever,
nor will a crown endure from age to age.
25 When the grass is gone and the aftergrowth appears
and the green growth of the mountains is gathered,
26 the lambs will provide for your clothing,
and the goats will give you the price of a field;
27 there will be enough goats’ milk[m]
to feed you and your household
and to provide sustenance for your servant girls.
- Proverbs 27:1 Among these simple but striking proverbs, several evoke the cost of friendship (vv. 6-10), one in verse 13 places people on guard against surety for foreigners (see Prov 6:1-5; 20:16), and one in verse 15 brings together the pessimistic proposal about a nagging wife (see Prov 19:13).
- Proverbs 27:1 See Prov 16:9; Mt 6:34; Jas 4:13-16; see also Isa 56:12 and the words of the rich fool in Lk 12:19-20.
- Proverbs 27:5 A true friend brings out not only his friend’s virtues but also his vices, thus rendering a great service to his friend.
- Proverbs 27:6 The blows given by a friend: these are termed a “kindness” in Ps 141:5. Kisses of an enemy: see Mt 26:49.
- Proverbs 27:9 Friendship’s sweetness comforts the soul: see Prov 16:21, 24.
- Proverbs 27:12 The simple: see note on Prov 1:4.
- Proverbs 27:13 See Prov 20:16 and note. Persons unknown: Vulgate reading; the Hebrew has: “a foreign woman.”
- Proverbs 27:14 Premature praise can become an affliction (see Ps 12:3).
- Proverbs 27:15 See note on Prov 19:13.
- Proverbs 27:19 The Greek has: “As no two faces are ever alike, / unlike also are the hearts of men.”
- Proverbs 27:20 The netherworld and the abyss: see note on Job 26:6; see also Prov 15:11. Are never satisfied: see Isa 5:14. The same is true of human eyes: see Eccl 4:8.
- Proverbs 27:23 For the wisdom of the countryside, it is an art and a duty, both of prudence and humanity, to make one’s goods bear fruit.
- Proverbs 27:27 Goats’ milk: the milk of both goats and cows was drunk (see Deut 32:13-14; Isa 7:21-22).