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Proverbs chapter 1

New International Version

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-- 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance--
6 for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. 10 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. 11 If they say, 'Come along with us; let's lie in wait for innocent blood, let's ambush some harmless soul; 12 let's swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; 14 cast lots with us; we will all share the loot'-- 15 my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood. 17 How useless to spread a net where every bird can see it! 18 These men lie in wait for their own blood; they ambush only themselves! 19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it. 20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: 22 How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you--
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD. 30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.'
English Standard Version

1 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, 3 to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; 4 to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— 5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, 6 to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, 9 for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. 10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; 12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; 14 throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— 15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, 16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. 17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, 18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. 19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. 20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; 21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: 22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? 23 If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, 25 because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, 27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. 28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, 30 would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, 31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. 32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; 33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”
King James Version

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; 2 To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; 3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; 4 To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. 5 A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
New American Standard Bible

1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
2 To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, 3 To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice, and integrity; 4 To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, 5 A wise person will hear and increase in learning, And a person of understanding will acquire wise counsel, 6 To understand a proverb and a saying, The words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, And do not ignore your mother’s teaching; 9 For they are a graceful wreath for your head And necklaces for your neck. 10 My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. 11 If they say, 'Come with us, Let’s lie in wait for blood, Let’s ambush the innocent without cause; 12 Let’s swallow them alive like Sheol, Even whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth, We will fill our houses with plunder; 14 Throw in your lot with us; We will all have one money bag,' 15 My son, do not walk on the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, 16 For their feet run to evil, And they are quick to shed blood. 17 Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net In the sight of any bird; 18 But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives. 19 Such are the ways of everyone who makes unjust gain; It takes away the life of its possessors. 20 Wisdom shouts in the street, She raises her voice in the public square; 21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she declares her sayings: 22 'How long, you naive ones, will you love simplistic thinking? And how long will scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn to my rebuke, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. 24 Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; 25 And you neglected all my advice And did not want my rebuke; 26 I will also laugh at your disaster; I will mock when your dread comes, 27 When your dread comes like a storm And your disaster comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. 28 Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but will not find me, 29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. 30 They did not accept my advice, They disdainfully rejected every rebuke from me. 31 So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be filled with their own schemes. 32 For the faithlessness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. 33 But whoever listens to me will live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.'
New Living Translation

1 These are the proverbs of Solomon, David's son, king of Israel.
2 Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. 3 Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. 4 These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.
5 Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance 6 by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
8 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don't neglect your mother's instruction. 9 What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.
10 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! 11 They may say, 'Come and join us. Let's hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let's ambush the innocent! 12 Let's swallow them alive, like the grave; let's swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. 13 Think of the great things we'll get! We'll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. 14 Come, throw in your lot with us; we'll all share the loot.'
15 My child, don't go along with them! Stay far away from their paths. 16 They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. 17 If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. 18 But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. 19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.
20 Wisdom shouts in the streets. She cries out in the public square. 21 She calls to the crowds along the main street, to those gathered in front of the city gate: 22 'How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? 23 Come and listen to my counsel. I'll share my heart with you and make you wise.
24 'I called you so often, but you wouldn't come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. 25 You ignored my advice and rejected the correction I offered. 26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you-- 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
28 'When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me. 29 For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear the LORD. 30 They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. 31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. 32 For simpletons turn away from me--to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency. 33 But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.'
Christian Standard Bible

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; 3 for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; 4 for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man-- 5 let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance--
6 for understanding a proverb or a parable, the words of the wise, and their riddles. 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. 8 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and don't reject your mother's teaching, 9 for they will be a garland of favor on your head and pendants around your neck. 10 My son, if sinners entice you, don't be persuaded. 11 If they say--"Come with us! Let's set an ambush and kill someone. Let's attack some innocent person just for fun! 12 Let's swallow them alive, like Sheol, whole, like those who go down to the Pit. 13 We'll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. 14 Throw in your lot with us, and we'll all share the loot"-- 15 my son, don't travel that road with them or set foot on their path, 16 because their feet run toward evil and they hurry to shed blood. 17 It is useless to spread a net where any bird can see it, 18 but they set an ambush to kill themselves; they attack their own lives. 19 Such are the paths of all who make profit dishonestly; it takes the lives of those who receive it. 20 Wisdom calls out in the street; she makes her voice heard in the public squares. 21 She cries out above the commotion; she speaks at the entrance of the city gates: 22 "How long, inexperienced ones, will you love ignorance? How long will you mockers enjoy mocking and you fools hate knowledge? 23 If you respond to my warning, then I will pour out my spirit on you and teach you my words. 24 Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, 26 I, in turn, will laugh at your calamity. I will mock when terror strikes you, 27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you. 28 Then they will call me, but I won't answer; they will search for me, but won't find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge, didn't choose to fear the LORD, 30 were not interested in my counsel, and rejected all my correction, 31 they will eat the fruit of their way and be glutted with their own schemes. 32 For the apostasy of the inexperienced will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them. 33 But whoever listens to me will live securely and be undisturbed by the dread of danger."

What does Proverbs chapter 1 mean?

To fully understand Proverbs, it is important to define four key terms used throughout the book. These words are often used interchangeably in English, but in the book of Proverbs they tend to have individual meanings. The four terms are "learning," "knowledge," "wisdom," and "understanding."

Learning, as used in Proverbs, is the simple acquisition of information. This could be defined as short-term memory. Anything absorbed for a specific use and then discarded, like a phone number, is this kind of learning. It is needed for a specific purpose; when that purpose is over, the information is forgotten.

However, if that phone number belonged to a best friend or spouse and was called on a regular basis, it would move from short-term memory into long-term memory. This is what Proverbs refers to as knowledge, or any information that is retained for later use.

Wisdom is the capacity for action produced because of knowledge. Solomon asked for wisdom so that he could govern God's people. God acknowledges that this wisdom is given to Solomon so that he can properly rule God's people. Therefore, as used in the book of Proverbs, wisdom is the ability to make appropriate and compassionate actions, based upon knowledge. Note that this is an ability, not a guarantee. Solomon possessed extraordinary wisdom. But as the book of Ecclesiastes shows, he did not always choose to listen to it. The opposite of wisdom, "folly," or "foolishness," is inappropriate action founded in selfish and sinful desire. It is acting against wisdom, rather than according to it.

Finally, understanding is the complete knowledge of a subject with a responsibility to pass on that knowledge. Only after something is learned, retained, and used wisely, can it be taught to others. The book of Proverbs, therefore, is the fullness of understanding. Solomon was gifted with great wisdom, which he handed down, through Proverbs, to his sons, his sons' sons, and to all of the generations. One of the great ironies of human experience is that we can gain wisdom, fail to use it, and the pain of that experience can generate a better "understanding," which we are then compelled to tell others about.

Proverbs 1:1–7 outlines the four distinct "to" statements, or purpose statements of the book of Proverbs. This section culminates with the identification of the only source of true wisdom, the Lord Himself. The purpose of the book of Proverbs is to recognize wise instruction and apply knowledge wisely. Most importantly, this all begins with a reverent respect—"fear"—of the Lord and the rejection of foolish ways.

Proverbs 1:8–19 is a warning against foolishness and the allure of sinful behavior. Solomon begins this warning by appealing to his children to honor their parents' teaching. As most parents know, it's helpful to outline negative behavior before stating what happens when one engages in it.

Proverbs 1:20–33 concludes the first chapter of Proverbs. This passage lists the dire consequences of the behaviors defined in the previous section. This section of Scripture is a famous and important metaphor: the first personification of wisdom, as a woman. Throughout Proverbs Solomon describes wisdom as a beautiful woman shouting out for others to hear. The point of this imagery is that wisdom is not hiding. It is out in the open for all to hear, even though it often goes overlooked.

To understand the book of Proverbs, it is essential to consider the human author, Solomon. The first chapter of 2 Chronicles records the conversation between God and Solomon shortly after Solomon has been named the new king of Israel (2 Chronicles 1:10). Solomon's request for "wisdom and knowledge" in order to govern God's people shows his humility before the Lord, and God responds with a promise as well as a blessing (2 Chronicles 1:11–12).

Thanks to Solomon's humble approach, the Lord blessed him abundantly. He was given not only what he asked for (wisdom and knowledge), but also the other blessings he didn't mention (riches, possessions, and honor). True to the nature of God, none have been as wise as Solomon before or since (1 Kings 3:12). However, even with his wisdom, Solomon turned away from God and followed after worldly pursuits. First Kings 11 records that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Through his life, he found no earthly pleasure to replace the love of God. In Ecclesiastes 1:2, Solomon proclaims "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."

The book of Proverbs, therefore, is a collection of wise instructions to Solomon's sons, based on his knowledge and experience, so that they can avoid his foolish mistakes. While Solomon had great wisdom and knowledge, he did not always apply his knowledge wisely. Solomon used his power and influence to get what he wanted, even though he knew it was not wise to do so. Therefore, consider the words of Proverbs carefully. They are divinely inspired, penned by the wisest man to ever live, with a wisdom given fully by the Lord Himself.

Of the books of wisdom literature—Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Job—the book of Proverbs is the easiest to understand while providing an incomparable amount of knowledge to the reader. The book of Proverbs also makes a great family devotional book as it has 31 chapters. One chapter can be studied each day throughout a month. Altogether, there are 915 verses in the book of Proverbs. If a chapter a day seems too much to read, studying two or three verses a day will take about a year.