Passage: Proverbs 4, 5, 6 (RSV)

Proverbs 4

1Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
2for I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching.
3When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
4he taught me, and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live;
5do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Get wisdom; get insight.
6Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
7The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
8Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.
9She will place on your head a fair garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown."
10Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many.
11I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble.
13Keep hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.
14Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made some one stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
20My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
21Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
22For they are life to him who finds them, and healing to all his flesh.
23Keep your heart with all vigilance; for from it flow the springs of life.
24Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
26Take heed to the path of your feet, then all your ways will be sure.
27Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 5

1My son, be attentive to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding;
2that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.
3For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;
4but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
5Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol;
6she does not take heed to the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house;
9lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless;
10lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of an alien;
11and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed,
12and you say, "How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!
13I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.
14I was at the point of utter ruin in the assembled congregation."
15Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
16Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
17Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
18Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19a lovely hind, a graceful doe. Let her affection fill you at all times with delight, be infatuated always with her love.
20Why should you be infatuated, my son, with a loose woman and embrace the bosom of an adventuress?
21For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he watches all his paths.
22The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is caught in the toils of his sin.
23He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is lost.

Proverbs 6

1My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger;
2if you are snared in the utterance of your lips, caught in the words of your mouth;
3then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into your neighbor's power: go, hasten, and importune your neighbor.
4Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber;
5save yourself like a gazelle from the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
6Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.
7Without having any chief, officer or ruler,
8she prepares her food in summer, and gathers her sustenance in harvest.
9How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?
10A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,
11and poverty will come upon you like a vagabond, and want like an armed man.
12A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech,
13winks with his eyes, scrapes with his feet, points with his finger,
14with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;
15therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
16There are six things which the LORD hates, seven which are an abomination to him:
17haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
19a false witness who breathes out lies, and a man who sows discord among brothers.
20My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching.
21Bind them upon your heart always; tie them about your neck.
22When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.
23For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
24to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adventuress.
25Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
26for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread, but an adulteress stalks a man's very life.
27Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?
28Or can one walk upon hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
29So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.
30Do not men despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry?
31And if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house.
32He who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself.
33Wounds and dishonor will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
34For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.
35He will accept no compensation, nor be appeased though you multiply gifts.

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