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

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Proverbs 4

1-2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice;
    sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live.
I’m giving you good counsel;
    don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.

3-9 When I was a boy at my father’s knee,
    the pride and joy of my mother,
He would sit me down and drill me:
    “Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!
Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding!
    Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch!
Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life;
    love her—she keeps her eye on you.
Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
    Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!
Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it;
    never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.
She’ll garland your life with grace,
    she’ll festoon your days with beauty.”

10-15 Dear friend, take my advice;
    it will add years to your life.
I’m writing out clear directions to Wisdom Way,
    I’m drawing a map to Righteous Road.
I don’t want you ending up in blind alleys,
    or wasting time making wrong turns.
Hold tight to good advice; don’t relax your grip.
    Guard it well—your life is at stake!
Don’t take Wicked Bypass;
    don’t so much as set foot on that road.
Stay clear of it; give it a wide berth.
    Make a detour and be on your way.

16-17 Evil people are restless
    unless they’re making trouble;
They can’t get a good night’s sleep
    unless they’ve made life miserable for somebody.
Perversity is their food and drink,
    violence their drug of choice.

18-19 The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
    travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

Learn It by Heart

20-22 Dear friend, listen well to my words;
    tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
    Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
    body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Psalm 17

A David Prayer

1-2 Listen while I build my case, God,
    the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear.
Show the world I’m innocent—

    in your heart you know I am.

Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
    surprise me in the middle of the night—
You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.

    My words don’t run loose.


I’m not trying to get my way
    in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way,

    your Word’s way.
I’m staying on your trail;

    I’m putting one foot
In front of the other.

    I’m not giving up.


I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.
    So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;

    take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies

    straight to you.


Keep your eye on me;
    hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,

    from mortal enemies closing in.


Their hearts are hard as nails,
    their mouths blast hot air.
They are after me, nipping my heels,

    determined to bring me down,
Lions ready to rip me apart,

    young lions poised to pounce.
Up, God: beard them! break them!

    By your sword, free me from their clutches;
Barehanded, God, break these mortals,

    these flat-earth people who can’t think beyond today.

I’d like to see their bellies
    swollen with famine food,
The weeds they’ve sown

    harvested and baked into famine bread,
With second helpings for their children

    and crusts for their babies to chew on.


And me? I plan on looking
    you full in the face. When I get up,
I’ll see your full stature

    and live heaven on earth.

Psalm 18

A David Song, Which He Sang to God After Being Saved from All His Enemies and from Saul

1-2 I love you, God—
    you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,

    the castle in which I live,
    my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag

    where I run for dear life,
    hiding behind the boulders,
    safe in the granite hideout.

I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
    and find myself safe and saved.


The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat;
    devil waters rushed over me.
Hell’s ropes cinched me tight;

    death traps barred every exit.

A hostile world! I call to God,
    I cry to God to help me.
From his palace he hears my call;

    my cry brings me right into his presence—
    a private audience!


Earth wobbles and lurches;
    huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves

    because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;

    his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;

    he lowers the sky.
He steps down;

    under his feet an abyss opens up.
He’s riding a winged creature,

    swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself

    in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,

    spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;

    the High God gave a great shout,
    spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!

    He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,

    the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,

    let loose your hurricane anger.


But me he caught—reached all the way
    from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,

    the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,

    but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;

    I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!


God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,

    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;

    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;

    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,

    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life

    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.


The good people taste your goodness,
The whole people taste your health,
The true people taste your truth,
The bad ones can’t figure you out.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
But the stuck-up you take down a peg.


Suddenly, God, you floodlight my life;
    I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory!
I smash the bands of marauders,

    I vault the highest fences.


What a God! His road
    stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.

    Everyone who runs toward him
Makes it.


Is there any god like God?
    Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,

    then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;

    I’m king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;

    I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;

    you hold me up with a firm hand,
    caress me with your gentle ways.
You cleared the ground under me

    so my footing was firm.
When I chased my enemies I caught them;

    I didn’t let go till they were dead men.
I nailed them; they were down for good;

    then I walked all over them.
You armed me well for this fight,

    you smashed the upstarts.
You made my enemies turn tail,

    and I wiped out the haters.
They cried “uncle”

    but Uncle didn’t come;
They yelled for God

    and got no for an answer.
I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind.

    I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter.


You rescued me from a squabbling people;
    you made me a leader of nations.
People I’d never heard of served me;

    the moment they got wind of me they listened.
The foreign devils gave up; they came

    on their bellies, crawling from their hideouts.


Live, God! Blessings from my Rock,
    my free and freeing God, towering!
This God set things right for me

    and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger,

    he pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
He saved me from the bullies.


That’s why I’m thanking you, God,
    all over the world.
That’s why I’m singing songs

    that rhyme your name.
God’s king takes the trophy;

    God’s chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—


Psalm 19

A David Psalm

1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,

    Professor Night lectures each evening.


Their words aren’t heard,
    their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:

    unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.


God makes a huge dome
    for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband

    leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete

    racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
    from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,

    warming hearts to faith.


The revelation of God is whole
    and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear

    and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,

    showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain

    and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,

    with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate

    down to the nth degree.


God’s Word is better than a diamond,
    better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,

    better than red, ripe strawberries.


There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
    and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?

    Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!

    Keep me from stupid sins,
    from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,

    scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;

    these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them

    on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,

    God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

Psalm 20

A David Psalm

1-4 God answer you on the day you crash,
The name God-of-Jacob put you out of harm’s reach,
Send reinforcements from Holy Hill,
Dispatch from Zion fresh supplies,
Exclaim over your offerings,
Celebrate your sacrifices,
Give you what your heart desires,
Accomplish your plans.

When you win, we plan to raise the roof
    and lead the parade with our banners.
May all your wishes come true!

That clinches it—help’s coming,
    an answer’s on the way,
    everything’s going to work out.


See those people polishing their chariots,
    and those others grooming their horses?
    But we’re making garlands for God our God.
The chariots will rust,

    those horses pull up lame—
    and we’ll be on our feet, standing tall.

Make the king a winner, God;
    the day we call, give us your answer.

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