A proverb a day to order your public life...

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Proverbs 11

1 God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    he loves it when business is above board.

The stuck-up fall flat on their faces,
    but down-to-earth people stand firm.

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track;
    the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin.

A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart,
    but a principled life can stand up to the worst.

Moral character makes for smooth traveling;
    an evil life is a hard life.

Good character is the best insurance;
    crooks get trapped in their sinful lust.

When the wicked die, that’s it—
    the story’s over, end of hope.

A good person is saved from much trouble;
    a bad person runs straight into it.

The loose tongue of the godless spreads destruction;
    the common sense of the godly preserves them.

10 When it goes well for good people, the whole town cheers;
    when it goes badly for bad people, the town celebrates.

11 When right-living people bless the city, it flourishes;
    evil talk turns it into a ghost town in no time.

12 Mean-spirited slander is heartless;
    quiet discretion accompanies good sense.

13 A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret,
    but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence.

14 Without good direction, people lose their way;
    the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

15 Whoever makes deals with strangers is sure to get burned;
    if you keep a cool head, you’ll avoid rash bargains.

16 A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
    but men of rough violence grab for loot.

A God-Shaped Life

17 When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
    when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.

18 Bad work gets paid with a bad check;
    good work gets solid pay.

19 Take your stand with God’s loyal community and live,
    or chase after phantoms of evil and die.

20 God can’t stand deceivers,
    but oh how he relishes integrity.

21 Count on this: The wicked won’t get off scot-free,
    and God’s loyal people will triumph.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
    is a beautiful face on an empty head.

23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
    but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.

24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
    the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
    those who help others are helped.

26 Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
    Blessings on all who play fair and square!

27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
    the student of evil becomes evil.

28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
    a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.

29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
    common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live.

30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
    a violent life destroys souls.

31 If good people barely make it,
    what’s in store for the bad!

Psalm 52

A David Psalm, When Doeg the Edomite Reported to Saul, “David’s at Ahimelech’s House” 

1-4 Why do you brag of evil, “Big Man”?
    God’s mercy carries the day.
You scheme catastrophe;

    your tongue cuts razor-sharp,
    artisan in lies.
You love evil more than good,

    you call black white.
You love malicious gossip,

    you foul-mouth.

God will tear you limb from limb,
    sweep you up and throw you out,
Pull you up by the roots

    from the land of life.

6-7 

Good people will watch and
    worship. They’ll laugh in relief:
“Big Man bet on the wrong horse,

    trusted in big money,
    made his living from catastrophe.”

And I’m an olive tree,
    growing green in God’s house.
I trusted in the generous mercy

    of God then and now.

I thank you always
    that you went into action.
And I’ll stay right here,

    your good name my hope,
    in company with your faithful friends.

Psalm 53

A David Psalm

1-2 Bilious and bloated, they gas,
    “God is gone.”
It’s poison gas—

    they foul themselves, they poison
Rivers and skies;

    thistles are their cash crop.
God sticks his head out of heaven.

    He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—

    one man, even, God-expectant,
    just one God-ready woman.

He comes up empty. A string
    of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending

    to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine

    follow the one.

Don’t they know anything,
    all these impostors?
Don’t they know

    they can’t get away with this,
Treating people like a fast-food meal

    over which they’re too busy to pray?

Night is coming for them, and nightmare—
    a nightmare they’ll never wake up from.
God will make hash of these squatters,

    send them packing for good.

Is there anyone around to save Israel?
    God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,

    turned-around Israel sings laughter.

Psalm 54

A David Psalm, When the Ziphites Reported to Saul, “David Is Hiding Out with Us” 

1-2 God, for your sake, help me!
    Use your influence to clear me.
Listen, God—I’m desperate.

    Don’t be too busy to hear me.

Outlaws are out to get me,
    hit men are trying to kill me.
Nothing will stop them;

    God means nothing to them.

4-5 

Oh, look! God’s right here helping!
    God’s on my side,
Evil is looping back on my enemies.

    Don’t let up! Finish them off!

6-7 

I’m ready now to worship, so ready.
    I thank you, God—you’re so good.
You got me out of every scrape,

    and I saw my enemies get it.

Psalm 55

A David Psalm

1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer;
    don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer.

    I really need you.
I shudder at the mean voice,

    quail before the evil eye,
As they pile on the guilt,

    stockpile angry slander.

4-8 

My insides are turned inside out;
    specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,

    I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—

    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;

    I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,

    I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change

    from rage and stormy weather.

9-11 

Come down hard, Lord—slit their tongues.
    I’m appalled how they’ve split the city
Into rival gangs

    prowling the alleys
Day and night spoiling for a fight,

    trash piled in the streets,
Even shopkeepers gouging and cheating

    in broad daylight.

12-14 

This isn’t the neighborhood bully
    mocking me—I could take that.
This isn’t a foreign devil spitting

    invective—I could tune that out.
It’s you! We grew up together!

    You! My best friend!
Those long hours of leisure as we walked

    arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation.

15 

Haul my betrayers off alive to hell—let them
    experience the horror, let them
    feel every desolate detail of a damned life.

16-19 

I call to God;
    God will help me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh

    deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
My life is well and whole, secure

    in the middle of danger
Even while thousands

    are lined up against me.
God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench

    puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won’t change;

    they pay him no mind.

20-21 

And this, my best friend, betrayed his best friends;
    his life betrayed his word.
All my life I’ve been charmed by his speech,

    never dreaming he’d turn on me.
His words, which were music to my ears,

    turned to daggers in my heart.

22-23 

Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
    he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people

    topple into ruin.
But you, God, will throw the others

    into a muddy bog,
Cut the lifespan of assassins

    and traitors in half.

And I trust in you.

Psalm 56

A David Psalm, When He Was Captured by the Philistines in Gath 

1-4 Take my side, God—I’m getting kicked around,
    stomped on every day.
Not a day goes by

    but somebody beats me up;
They make it their duty

    to beat me up.
When I get really afraid

    I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;

    fearless now, I trust in God.
    What can mere mortals do?

5-6 

They don’t let up—
    they smear my reputation
    and huddle to plot my collapse.
They gang up,

    sneak together through the alleys
To take me by surprise,

    wait their chance to get me.

Pay them back in evil!
    Get angry, God!
    Down with these people!

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,

    each ache written in your book.

If my enemies run away,
    turn tail when I yell at them,
Then I’ll know

    that God is on my side.

10-11 

I’m proud to praise God,
    proud to praise God.
Fearless now, I trust in God;

    what can mere mortals do to me?

12-13 

God, you did everything you promised,
    and I’m thanking you with all my heart.
You pulled me from the brink of death,

    my feet from the cliff-edge of doom.
Now I stroll at leisure with God

    in the sunlit fields of life.

The Message Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson