Proverbs 3

Chapter 3

Blessed Is the Person Who Has Found Wisdom[a]

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but cherish my commandments in your heart,
2 for they will bring you length of days,
more years of life,[b] and an abundance of prosperity.
3 Do not let kindness and fidelity leave you;
fasten them around your neck
and inscribe them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will gain favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust wholeheartedly in the Lord
rather than relying on your own intelligence.
6 In everything you do, acknowledge him,
and he will see that your paths are straight.
7 Do not pride yourself on your own wisdom;
fear the Lord and turn your back on evil.
8 This will provide healing for your flesh
and restore strength to your body.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your crops.[c]
10 Then your barns will be filled with plenty,[d]
and your vats will overflow with new wine.
11 [e]My son, do not ignore the Lord’s discipline
or refuse to accept his rebuke.
12 For the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
just as a father chastises a beloved son.
13 Blessed[f] is the person who has found wisdom,
the one who has gained understanding.
14 For she is far more valuable than silver,
and her revenue is greater than that of gold.
15 She is more precious than pearls,[g]
and nothing that you desire can compare with her.
16 In her right hand is length of days;
in her left hand, riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant to follow,
and all her paths lead to peace.
18 She is a tree of life to all who embrace her,
and blessed are all who hold her fast.

By His Wisdom the Lord Laid the Earth’s Foundations[h]

19 By his wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations;
by his understanding he established the heavens.
20 Through his knowledge the depths broke open
and the clouds dropped down dew.

You Will Proceed on Your Way Securely[i]

21 My son, without letting them slip out of your sight
safeguard sound wisdom and prudence.
22 They will give life to your soul
and provide adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will proceed on your way securely,
and your feet will avoid stumbling.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid,[j]
and on your bed your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden terror
or of the destruction[k] that overtakes the wicked.
26 For the Lord will be your assurance
and will keep your feet from the trap.
27 Do not withhold kindness from anyone to whom it is due
when it is in your power to grant it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Go away and come back again; I will repay you tomorrow,”
when you can give him what is owed right then.
29 Do not plot any evil against your neighbor
who is living in peace beside you.
30 Do not quarrel with someone without cause
when that person has done you no harm.
31 Do not envy a violent man
or choose to emulate any of his ways.
32 For the perverse man is an abomination to the Lord
whose friendship is bestowed only upon the upright.
33 The curse of the Lord falls on the house of the wicked,[l]
but he blesses the abode of the righteous.
34 He shows only disdain to those who are scornful,
but he showers his kindness on the humble.
35 Glory is the crown given to the wise;
fools inherit nothing but disgrace.

Footnotes

  1. Proverbs 3:1 Wisdom is religious fidelity, attentiveness to God. Those who observe this are under the eye of the Lord like a child. The author has no doubt, that even in the present, the best of rewards are coming to him. In fact, true happiness is much more than our desires to possess things and to put on appearances, and the author already experiences it. In verses 14-18, he suggests something of this profound secret of life, which Christ will call the hidden treasure or pearl of great price (Mt 13:44-46). Wisdom is a tree of life, not the fruit prohibited to human beings that sprouted on the tree in paradise (see Gen 3).
  2. Proverbs 3:2 Bring you length of days, more years of life: the “fear of the Lord” brings health to the body (v. 8) and “prolongs life” (Prov 10:27; see also Prov 9:10-11). Abundance of prosperity: generally speaking, the righteous are prosperous and happy while the wicked are overwhelmed with misfortune and miserable (see Prov 12:21). However, sometimes the wicked prosper and lead a carefree life (see Ps 73:3, 12)—at least for a time (see Ps 73:17-19)—while the righteous suffer (see Job 1–2).
  3. Proverbs 3:9 Firstfruits of all your crops: the people of God were commanded to give to the priests the first part of the crops of olive oil, wine, and grains well as other products they grew each year (see Lev 23:10; Num 18:12-13).
  4. Proverbs 3:10 Filled with plenty: those who bring their offerings to God will receive still greater blessings from him (see Mal 3:10; see also Deut 28:8-12; 2 Cor 9:8).
  5. Proverbs 3:11 As already seen (v. 2 and note), the righteous are not always prosperous. They suffer affliction as a way of learning how to live (see Prov 12:1; Job 5:17; 36:22; Ps 119:71). The author of Hebrews quotes these two verses (Heb 12:5-6) and then adds: “[God disciplines us] for our benefit” (Heb 12:10).
  6. Proverbs 3:13 Blessed: see note on Prov 31:28.
  7. Proverbs 3:15 [Wisdom] is more precious than pearls: similar to Job 28:18. A worthy wife is also “more precious than pearls” (Prov 31:10).
  8. Proverbs 3:19 The author has a lofty idea of the knowledge of life proposed to humans. Is it not the reflection of the thought that presides in the very projects of God (see Prov 8:22-31) and about which Job (chs. 38–40) never ceased being astounded?
  9. Proverbs 3:21 There is a serenity that one sometimes discovers in a person whose life is above all profound fidelity. True wisdom is found neither in beautiful ideas nor in fine sentiments but in the practice of peace, trust, self-offering, and true human relationships. Opposed to it are wickedness, vain mockery, foolishness, and the like. To call down God’s maledictions upon this folly is, for the ancients, a way of breaking away from it.
  10. Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid: this is one of the blessings of the covenant (see Lev 26:6; Job 11:18-19; Mic 4:4; Zep 3:13; see also Prov 1:33). Your sleep will be sweet: see Prov 6:22; Ps 4:9.
  11. Proverbs 3:25 Sudden terror . . . destruction: the Lord shields the righteous from harm of any kind (see Prov 10:25; Job 5:21; Ps 91:3-16). The wicked: see Prov 1:26-27.
  12. Proverbs 3:33 The contrasting fate of the wicked and the righteous at God’s hands indicated in this verse is also set forth in Deut 11:26-28. Curse of the Lord falls on the house of the wicked: see Jos 7:24-25; Zec 5:3-4. Blesses the abode of the righteous: see Job 42:12-14.

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