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

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Proverbs 16

1 Mortals make elaborate plans,
    but God has the last word.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
    God probes for what is good.

Put God in charge of your work,
    then what you’ve planned will take place.

God made everything with a place and purpose;
    even the wicked are included—but for judgment.

God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense;
    believe me, he’ll put those upstarts in their place.

Guilt is banished through love and truth;
    Fear-of-God deflects evil.

When God approves of your life,
    even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.

Far better to be right and poor
    than to be wrong and rich.

We plan the way we want to live,
    but only God makes us able to live it.

It Pays to Take Life Seriously

10 A good leader motivates,
    doesn’t mislead, doesn’t exploit.

11 God cares about honesty in the workplace;
    your business is his business.

12 Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds;
    sound leadership has a moral foundation.

13 Good leaders cultivate honest speech;
    they love advisors who tell them the truth.

14 An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives;
    you’re smart to stay clear of someone like that.

15 Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives;
    they’re like spring rain and sunshine.

16 Get wisdom—it’s worth more than money;
    choose insight over income every time.

17 The road of right living bypasses evil;
    watch your step and save your life.

18 First pride, then the crash—
    the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.

19 It’s better to live humbly among the poor
    than to live it up among the rich and famous.

20 It pays to take life seriously;
    things work out when you trust in God.

21 A wise person gets known for insight;
    gracious words add to one’s reputation.

22 True intelligence is a spring of fresh water,
    while fools sweat it out the hard way.

23 They make a lot of sense, these wise folks;
    whenever they speak, their reputation increases.

24 Gracious speech is like clover honey—
    good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.

25 There’s a way that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.

26 Appetite is an incentive to work;
    hunger makes you work all the harder.

27 Mean people spread mean gossip;
    their words smart and burn.

28 Troublemakers start fights;
    gossips break up friendships.

29 Calloused climbers betray their very own friends;
    they’d stab their own grandmothers in the back.

30 A shifty eye betrays an evil intention;
    a clenched jaw signals trouble ahead.

31 Gray hair is a mark of distinction,
    the award for a God-loyal life.

32 Moderation is better than muscle,
    self-control better than political power.

33 Make your motions and cast your votes,
    but God has the final say.

Psalm 78

An Asaph Psalm

1-4 Listen, dear friends, to God’s truth,
    bend your ears to what I tell you.
I’m chewing on the morsel of a proverb;

    I’ll let you in on the sweet old truths,
Stories we heard from our fathers,

    counsel we learned at our mother’s knee.
We’re not keeping this to ourselves,

    we’re passing it along to the next generation—
God’s fame and fortune,

    the marvelous things he has done.


He planted a witness in Jacob,
    set his Word firmly in Israel,
Then commanded our parents

    to teach it to their children
So the next generation would know,

    and all the generations to come—
Know the truth and tell the stories

    so their children can trust in God,
Never forget the works of God

    but keep his commands to the letter.
Heaven forbid they should be like their parents,

    bullheaded and bad,
A fickle and faithless bunch

    who never stayed true to God.


The Ephraimites, armed to the teeth,
    ran off when the battle began.
They were cowards to God’s Covenant,

    refused to walk by his Word.
They forgot what he had done—

    marvels he’d done right before their eyes.
He performed miracles in plain sight of their parents

    in Egypt, out on the fields of Zoan.
He split the Sea and they walked right through it;

    he piled the waters to the right and the left.
He led them by day with a cloud,

    led them all the night long with a fiery torch.
He split rocks in the wilderness,

    gave them all they could drink from underground springs;
He made creeks flow out from sheer rock,

    and water pour out like a river.


All they did was sin even more,
    rebel in the desert against the High God.
They tried to get their own way with God,

    clamored for favors, for special attention.
They whined like spoiled children,

    “Why can’t God give us a decent meal in this desert?
Sure, he struck the rock and the water flowed,

    creeks cascaded from the rock.
But how about some fresh-baked bread?

    How about a nice cut of meat?”


When God heard that, he was furious—
    his anger flared against Jacob,
    he lost his temper with Israel.
It was clear they didn’t believe God,

    had no intention of trusting in his help.
But God helped them anyway, commanded the clouds

    and gave orders that opened the gates of heaven.
He rained down showers of manna to eat,

    he gave them the Bread of Heaven.
They ate the bread of the mighty angels;

    he sent them all the food they could eat.
He let East Wind break loose from the skies,

    gave a strong push to South Wind.
This time it was birds that rained down—

    succulent birds, an abundance of birds.
He aimed them right for the center of their camp;

    all round their tents there were birds.
They ate and had their fill;

    he handed them everything they craved on a platter.
But their greed knew no bounds;

    they stuffed their mouths with more and more.
Finally, God was fed up, his anger erupted—

    he cut down their brightest and best,
    he laid low Israel’s finest young men.


And—can you believe it?—they kept right on sinning;
    all those wonders and they still wouldn’t believe!
So their lives dribbled off to nothing—

    nothing to show for their lives but a ghost town.
When he cut them down, they came running for help;

    they turned and pled for mercy.
They gave witness that God was their rock,

    that High God was their redeemer,
But they didn’t mean a word of it;

    they lied through their teeth the whole time.
They could not have cared less about him,

    wanted nothing to do with his Covenant.


And God? Compassionate!
    Forgave the sin! Didn’t destroy!
Over and over he reined in his anger,

    restrained his considerable wrath.
He knew what they were made of;

    he knew there wasn’t much to them,
How often in the desert they had spurned him,

    tried his patience in those wilderness years.
Time and again they pushed him to the limit,

    provoked Israel’s Holy God.
How quickly they forgot what he’d done,

    forgot their day of rescue from the enemy,
When he did miracles in Egypt,

    wonders on the plain of Zoan.
He turned the River and its streams to blood—

    not a drop of water fit to drink.
He sent flies, which ate them alive,

    and frogs, which bedeviled them.
He turned their harvest over to caterpillars,

    everything they had worked for to the locusts.
He flattened their grapevines with hail;

    a killing frost ruined their orchards.
He pounded their cattle with hail,

    let thunderbolts loose on their herds.
His anger flared,

    a wild firestorm of havoc,
An advance guard of disease-carrying angels

    to clear the ground, preparing the way before him.
He didn’t spare those people,

    he let the plague rage through their lives.
He killed all the Egyptian firstborns,

    lusty infants, offspring of Ham’s virility.
Then he led his people out like sheep,

    took his flock safely through the wilderness.
He took good care of them; they had nothing to fear.

    The Sea took care of their enemies for good.
He brought them into his holy land,

    this mountain he claimed for his own.
He scattered everyone who got in their way;

    he staked out an inheritance for them—
    the tribes of Israel all had their own places.


But they kept on giving him a hard time,
    rebelled against God, the High God,
    refused to do anything he told them.
They were worse, if that’s possible, than their parents:

    traitors—crooked as a corkscrew.
Their pagan orgies provoked God’s anger,

    their obscene idolatries broke his heart.
When God heard their carryings-on, he was furious;

    he posted a huge No over Israel.
He walked off and left Shiloh empty,

    abandoned the shrine where he had met with Israel.
He let his pride and joy go to the dogs,

    turned his back on the pride of his life.
He turned them loose on fields of battle;

    angry, he let them fend for themselves.
Their young men went to war and never came back;

    their young women waited in vain.
Their priests were massacred,

    and their widows never shed a tear.


Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet
    like someone roused from deep sleep,
    shouting like a drunken warrior.
He hit his enemies hard, sent them running,

    yelping, not daring to look back.
He disqualified Joseph as leader,

    told Ephraim he didn’t have what it takes,
And chose the Tribe of Judah instead,

    Mount Zion, which he loves so much.
He built his sanctuary there, resplendent,

    solid and lasting as the earth itself.
Then he chose David, his servant,

    handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens.
One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs,

    the next day God had him shepherding Jacob,
    his people Israel, his prize possession.
His good heart made him a good shepherd;

    he guided the people wisely and well.

Psalm 79

An Asaph Psalm

1-4 God! Barbarians have broken into your home,
    violated your holy temple,
    left Jerusalem a pile of rubble!
They’ve served up the corpses of your servants

    as carrion food for birds of prey,
Threw the bones of your holy people

    out to the wild animals to gnaw on.
They dumped out their blood

    like buckets of water.
All around Jerusalem, their bodies

    were left to rot, unburied.
We’re nothing but a joke to our neighbors,

    graffiti scrawled on the city walls.


How long do we have to put up with this, God?
    Do you have it in for us for good?
    Will your smoldering rage never cool down?
If you’re going to be angry, be angry

    with the pagans who care nothing about you,
    or your rival kingdoms who ignore you.
They’re the ones who ruined Jacob,

    who wrecked and looted the place where he lived.


Don’t blame us for the sins of our parents.
    Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope.
You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.

    Your reputation is on the line.
Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins—

    do what you’re famous for doing!
Don’t let the heathen get by with their sneers:

    “Where’s your God? Is he out to lunch?”
Go public and show the godless world

    that they can’t kill your servants and get by with it.


Give groaning prisoners a hearing;
    pardon those on death row from their doom—you can do it!
Give our jeering neighbors what they’ve got coming to them;

    let their God-taunts boomerang and knock them flat.
Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,

    will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet

    how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!

Psalm 80

An Asaph Psalm

1-2 Listen, Shepherd, Israel’s Shepherd—
    get all your Joseph sheep together.
Throw beams of light

    from your dazzling throne
So Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh

    can see where they’re going.
Get out of bed—you’ve slept long enough!

    Come on the run before it’s too late.

God, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
    That will be our salvation.


God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    how long will you smolder like a sleeping volcano
    while your people call for fire and brimstone?
You put us on a diet of tears,

    bucket after bucket of salty tears to drink.
You make us look ridiculous to our friends;

    our enemies poke fun day after day.

God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
        That will be our salvation.


Remember how you brought a young vine from Egypt,
    cleared out the brambles and briers
    and planted your very own vineyard?
You prepared the good earth,

    you planted her roots deep;
    the vineyard filled the land.
Your vine soared high and shaded the mountains,

    even dwarfing the giant cedars.
Your vine ranged west to the Sea,

    east to the River.
So why do you no longer protect your vine?

    Trespassers pick its grapes at will;
Wild pigs crash through and crush it,

    and the mice nibble away at what’s left.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, turn our way!

    Take a good look at what’s happened
    and attend to this vine.
Care for what you once tenderly planted—

    the vine you raised from a shoot.
And those who dared to set it on fire—

    give them a look that will kill!
Then take the hand of your once-favorite child,

    the child you raised to adulthood.
We will never turn our back on you;

    breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!


God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
    That will be our salvation.

Psalm 81

An Asaph Psalm

1-5 A song to our strong God!
    a shout to the God of Jacob!
Anthems from the choir, music from the band,

    sweet sounds from lute and harp,
Trumpets and trombones and horns:

    it’s festival day, a feast to God!
A day decreed by God,

    solemnly ordered by the God of Jacob.
He commanded Joseph to keep this day

    so we’d never forget what he did in Egypt.

I hear this most gentle whisper from One
I never guessed would speak to me:


“I took the world off your shoulders,
    freed you from a life of hard labor.
You called to me in your pain;

    I got you out of a bad place.
I answered you from where the thunder hides,

    I proved you at Meribah Fountain.


“Listen, dear ones—get this straight;
    O Israel, don’t take this lightly.
Don’t take up with strange gods,

    don’t worship the latest in gods.
I’m God, your God, the very God

    who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,

    filled your hungry stomachs.


“But my people didn’t listen,
    Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!

    Do it your own way!’


“Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
    Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,

    give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,

    never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread

    spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”

Psalm 82 

An Asaph Psalm

God calls the judges into his courtroom,
    he puts all the judges in the dock.


“Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,

    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,

    and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
    They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,

    the world’s coming unglued.


“I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
    deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission

    and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them their just deserts!
    You’ve got the whole world in your hands!

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