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Proverbs chapter 20

New International Version

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
2 A king's wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.
3 It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
4 Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.
5 The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
6 Many claim to have unfailing love, but a faithful person who can find?
7 The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.
8 When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?
10 Differing weights and differing measures-- the LORD detests them both.
11 Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?
12 Ears that hear and eyes that see-- the LORD has made them both.
13 Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.
14 It's no good, it's no good!' says the buyer-- then goes off and boasts about the purchase.
15 Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.
16 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger; hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
17 Food gained by fraud tastes sweet, but one ends up with a mouth full of gravel.
18 Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance.
19 A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.
20 If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
21 An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end.
22 Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.
23 The LORD detests differing weights, and dishonest scales do not please him.
24 A person's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way?
25 It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one's vows.
26 A wise king winnows out the wicked; he drives the threshing wheel over them.
27 The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one's inmost being.
28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure.
29 The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. 30 Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.
English Standard Version

1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. 2 The terror of a king is like the growling of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger forfeits his life. 3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling. 4 The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing. 5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. 6 Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? 7 The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! 8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment winnows all evil with his eyes. 9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? 10 Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD. 11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. 12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both. 13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread. 14 “Bad, bad,” says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts. 15 There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. 16 Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger, and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for foreigners. 17 Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel. 18 Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war. 19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. 20 If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness. 21 An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. 22 Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you. 23 Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good. 24 A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way? 25 It is a snare to say rashly, “It is holy,” and to reflect only after making vows. 26 A wise king winnows the wicked and drives the wheel over them. 27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts. 28 Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king, and by steadfast love his throne is upheld. 29 The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair. 30 Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.
King James Version

1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
2 The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.
3 It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.
4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.
6 Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.
8 A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
10 Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD.
11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.
13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.
17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.
23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.
24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry.
26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.
27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
28 Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.
29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.
30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
New American Standard Bible

1 Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise. 2 The terror of a king is like the roaring of a lion; One who provokes him to anger forfeits his own life. 3 Avoiding strife is an honor for a person, But any fool will quarrel. 4 The lazy one does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing. 5 A plan in the heart of a person is like deep water, But a person of understanding draws it out. 6 Many a person proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy person? 7 A righteous person who walks in his integrity— How blessed are his sons after him. 8 A king who sits on the throne of justice Disperses all evil with his eyes. 9 Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin'? 10 Differing weights and differing measures, Both of them are abominable to the LORD. 11 It is by his deeds that a boy distinguishes himself, If his conduct is pure and right. 12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them. 13 Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food. 14 'Bad, bad,' says the buyer, But when he goes his way, then he boasts. 15 There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; But lips of knowledge are a more precious thing. 16 Take his garment when he becomes guarantor for a stranger; And for foreigners, seize a pledge from him. 17 Bread obtained by a lie is sweet to a person, But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel. 18 Prepare plans by consultation, And make war by wise guidance. 19 One who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with a gossip. 20 He who curses his father or his mother, His lamp will go out in time of darkness. 21 An inheritance gained in a hurry at the beginning Will not be blessed in the end. 22 Do not say, 'I will repay evil'; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you. 23 Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, And a false scale is not good. 24 A man’s steps are ordained by the LORD; How then can a person understand his way? 25 It is a trap for a person to say carelessly, 'It is holy!' And after the vows to make inquiry. 26 A wise king scatters the wicked, And drives a threshing wheel over them. 27 The spirit of a person is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the innermost parts of his being. 28 Loyalty and truth watch over the king, And he upholds his throne by loyalty. 29 The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair. 30 Bruising wounds clean away evil, And blows cleanse the innermost parts.
New Living Translation

1 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.
2 The king's fury is like a lion's roar; to rouse his anger is to risk your life.
3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.
4 Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.
5 Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out.
6 Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?
7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
8 When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good.
9 Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin'?
10 False weights and unequal measures--the LORD detests double standards of every kind.
11 Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure, and whether it is right.
12 Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the LORD.
13 If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat!
14 The buyer haggles over the price, saying, 'It's worthless,' then brags about getting a bargain!
15 Wise words are more valuable than much gold and many rubies.
16 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger's debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.
17 Stolen bread tastes sweet, but it turns to gravel in the mouth.
18 Plans succeed through good counsel; don't go to war without wise advice.
19 A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don't hang around with chatterers.
20 If you insult your father or mother, your light will be snuffed out in total darkness.
21 An inheritance obtained too early in life is not a blessing in the end.
22 Don't say, 'I will get even for this wrong.' Wait for the LORD to handle the matter.
23 The LORD detests double standards; he is not pleased by dishonest scales.
24 The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
25 Don't trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.
26 A wise king scatters the wicked like wheat, then runs his threshing wheel over them.
27 The LORD's light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive.
28 Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.
29 The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.
30 Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.
Christian Standard Bible

1 Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler; whoever goes astray because of them is not wise.
2 A king's terrible wrath is like the roaring of a lion; anyone who provokes him endangers himself.
3 Honor belongs to the person who ends a dispute, but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.
4 The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing.
5 Counsel in a person's heart is deep water; but a person of understanding draws it out.
6 Many a person proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy person?
7 A righteous person acts with integrity; his children who come after him will be happy.
8 A king sitting on a throne to judge separates out all evil with his eyes.
9 Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin"?
10 Differing weights and varying measures -- both are detestable to the Lord.
11 Even a young man is known by his actions -- by whether his behavior is pure and upright.
12 The hearing ear and the seeing eye -- the Lord made them both.
13 Don't love sleep, or you will become poor; open your eyes, and you'll have enough to eat.
14 "It's worthless, it's worthless! " the buyer says, but after he is on his way, he gloats.
15 There is gold and a multitude of jewels, but knowledgeable lips are a rare treasure.
16 Take his garment, for he has put up security for a stranger; get collateral if it is for foreigners.
17 Food gained by fraud is sweet to a person, but afterward his mouth is full of gravel.
18 Finalize plans with counsel, and wage war with sound guidance.
19 The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth.
20 Whoever curses his father or mother-- his lamp will go out in deep darkness.
21 An inheritance gained prematurely will not be blessed ultimately.
22 Don't say, "I will avenge this evil! " Wait on the Lord, and he will rescue you.
23 Differing weights are detestable to the Lord, and dishonest scales are unfair.
24 Even a courageous person's steps are determined by the Lord, so how can anyone understand his own way?
25 It is a trap for anyone to dedicate something rashly and later to reconsider his vows.
26 A wise king separates out the wicked and drives the threshing wheel over them.
27 The Lord's lamp sheds light on a person's life, searching the innermost parts.
28 Loyalty and faithfulness guard a king; through loyalty he maintains his throne.
29 The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair. 30 Lashes and wounds purge away evil, and beatings cleanse the innermost parts.

What does Proverbs chapter 20 mean?

This chapter begins with an often-cited verse about the dangers of alcohol. Wise persons avoid becoming controlled by anything, including substances (1 Corinthians 6:12). Common sense tells a person to avoid angering authorities unless it's unavoidable. Along the same lines, those who avoid conflict will have a better reputation than those who are constantly involved in scandal and controversy. Loyalty and integrity are hard to find in this world, but those who have them benefit themselves and their children (Proverbs 20:1–11).

Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) also offers several reminders about the value of wisdom. It's especially important to use all the knowledge-seeking resources God gives us—including our senses, advice from others, and respect for experience. Dishonest business practices, gossip, greed, and laziness are all condemned as immoral and dangerous. God knows everything about us, and whatever evil isn't punished by righteous government will be judged by a perfect, holy God (Proverbs 20:12–30).