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Proverbs chapter 2

New International Version

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding-- 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair--every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. 12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, 13 who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, 14 who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways. 16 Wisdom will save you also from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words, 17 who has left the partner of her youth and ignored the covenant she made before God. 18 Surely her house leads down to death and her paths to the spirits of the dead.
19 None who go to her return or attain the paths of life. 20 Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it.
English Standard Version

1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; 10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, 12 delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, 13 who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, 14 who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil, 15 men whose paths are crooked, and who are devious in their ways. 16 So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17 who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19 none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it, 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
King James Version

1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; 13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths: 16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words; 17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. 18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. 20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
New American Standard Bible

1 My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. 9 Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; 11 Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things; 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who delight in doing evil And rejoice in the perversity of evil; 15 Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways; 16 To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words; 17 That leaves the companion of her youth And forgets the covenant of her God; 18 For her house sinks down to death And her tracks lead to the dead; 19 None who go to her return again, Nor do they reach the paths of life. 20 So you will walk in the way of good men And keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will live in the land And the blameless will remain in it; 22 But the wicked will be cut off from the land And the treacherous will be uprooted from it.
New Living Translation

1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. 2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him.
9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11 Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
12 Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. 13 These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths. 14 They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil. 15 Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong.
16 Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. 17 She has abandoned her husband and ignores the covenant she made before God. 18 Entering her house leads to death; it is the road to the grave. 19 The man who visits her is doomed. He will never reach the paths of life.
20 Follow the steps of good men instead, and stay on the paths of the righteous. 21 For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it. 22 But the wicked will be removed from the land, and the treacherous will be uprooted.
Christian Standard Bible

1 My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; 3 furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up success for the upright; He is a shield for those who live with integrity 8 so that he may guard the paths of justice and protect the way of his faithful followers. 9 Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and integrity--every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will delight you. 11 Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you. 12 It will rescue you from the way of evil--from anyone who says perverse things, 13 from those who abandon the right paths to walk in ways of darkness, 14 from those who enjoy doing evil and celebrate perversion, 15 whose paths are crooked, and whose ways are devious. 16 It will rescue you from a forbidden woman, from a wayward woman with her flattering talk, 17 who abandons the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18 for her house sinks down to death and her ways to the land of the departed spirits. 19 None return who go to her; none reach the paths of life. 20 So follow the way of the good, and keep to the paths of the righteous. 21 For the upright will inhabit the land, and those of integrity will remain in it; 22 but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the treacherous ripped out of it.

What does Proverbs chapter 2 mean?

The Greek philosopher Plato identified four virtues, later called the cardinal virtues, which he theorized were present to some degree in every person. Those virtues, as defined in Plato's terminology, are courage, integrity, wisdom, and justice. Here, within the second chapter of the Book of Proverbs, we see a very similar pattern lain out by Solomon, hundreds of years before Plato, as well as his encouragement to live a virtuous life. This sentiment for virtuous living is echoed throughout Scripture. The book of Leviticus repeats God's statement to His people to "be holy for I am holy" five times (Leviticus 11:44; 11:45; 20:26; 21:8). The book of Deuteronomy teaches the people to be holy before the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:14). And, in the New Testament, Peter reiterates the idea of holy living in 1 Peter 1:15–16.

The second chapter of Proverbs can be split into four basic divisions. Those segments are verses 1–5, which imply wisdom; verses 6–8, which imply courage; verses 9–15, which imply justice; and verses 16–22, which imply integrity. Peter would later expound further on the idea of living and growing in holiness, or virtue. The Greek word used in 2 Peter 1:5 is aretē, sometimes translated as moral excellence or "virtue." This word means "the excellence of a thing." Excellence causes that thing both to be itself in good condition and to perform its function well. Adding virtue to our faith then, is meant to bring our faith into excellence so that it performs its function well.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with saying: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle was a disciple of Plato and he expressed the notion that virtue must also be understood as a kind of moderation. It aims at the mean or moderate amount of anything, so that too much or too little of it would be considered a vice. The easiest example of this is with the virtue of courage, something frequently discussed in Greek philosophy but only alluded to in this portion of Proverbs. Someone who is not courageous is easily recognized as a coward. However, someone who is "too courageous" we would think of as reckless. This version of courage therefore, is the exact point at which we exhibit appropriate care not to be reckless, as well as appropriate fortitude not to be timid.

Adding virtue to our faith is meant to bring our faith to that point of moderation. This is the place where we are completely secure in Christ but not reckless. This place, the median of confidence and caution, is the kind of faith Solomon is trying to teach us in Proverbs chapter 2. It is a place where we live out a holy life for the Lord, not a life of excess and sinful liberty, but not a life marked by legalism. Our lives are meant to be marked by a true faith based relationship with God. This holy lifestyle leads us to be discerning followers of the Lord, not mindless robots nor hypocritical sinners. A people marked by steady faith in God are those who "do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22).