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

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Proverbs 8

1-11 Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling?
    Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice?
She’s taken her stand at First and Main,
    at the busiest intersection.
Right in the city square
    where the traffic is thickest, she shouts,
“You—I’m talking to all of you,
    everyone out here on the streets!
Listen, you idiots—learn good sense!
    You blockheads—shape up!
Don’t miss a word of this—I’m telling you how to live well,
    I’m telling you how to live at your best.
My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth—
    I can’t stand the taste of evil!
You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth;
    not one syllable will be twisted or skewed.
You’ll recognize this as true—you with open minds;
    truth-ready minds will see it at once.
Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money,
    and God-knowledge over a lucrative career.
For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth;
    nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.

12-21 “I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;
    Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.
The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,
    whose ways I hate with a passion—
    pride and arrogance and crooked talk.
Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;
    I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.
With my help, leaders rule,
    and lawmakers legislate fairly;
With my help, governors govern,
    along with all in legitimate authority.
I love those who love me;
    those who look for me find me.
Wealth and Glory accompany me—
    also substantial Honor and a Good Name.
My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary;
    the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.
You can find me on Righteous Road—that’s where I walk—
    at the intersection of Justice Avenue,
Handing out life to those who love me,
    filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

22-31 God sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—
    before he did anything else.
I was brought into being a long time ago,
    well before Earth got its start.
I arrived on the scene before Ocean,
    yes, even before Springs and Rivers and Lakes.
Before Mountains were sculpted and Hills took shape,
    I was already there, newborn;
Long before God stretched out Earth’s Horizons,
    and tended to the minute details of Soil and Weather,
And set Sky firmly in place,
    I was there.
When he mapped and gave borders to wild Ocean,
    built the vast vault of Heaven,
    and installed the fountains that fed Ocean,
When he drew a boundary for Sea,
    posted a sign that said no trespassing,
And then staked out Earth’s Foundations,
    I was right there with him, making sure everything fit.
Day after day I was there, with my joyful applause,
    always enjoying his company,
Delighted with the world of things and creatures,
    happily celebrating the human family.

32-36 “So, my dear friends, listen carefully;
    those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
    don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me,
    awake and ready for me each morning,
    alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
    to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
    when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”

Psalm 36

A David Psalm

1-4 The God-rebel tunes in to sedition—
    all ears, eager to sin.
He has no regard for God,

    he stands insolent before him.
He has smooth-talked himself

    into believing
That his evil

    will never be noticed.
Words gutter from his mouth,

    dishwater dirty.
Can’t remember when he

    did anything decent.
Every time he goes to bed,

    he fathers another evil plot.
When he’s loose on the streets,

    nobody’s safe.
He plays with fire

    and doesn’t care who gets burned.


God’s love is meteoric,
    his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,

    his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness

    nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,

    slips through the cracks.


How exquisite your love, O God!
    How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread

    as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,

    and you open our eyes to light.


Keep on loving your friends;
    do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don’t let the bullies kick me around,

    the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling

    flat on their faces in the mud.

Psalm 37 

A David Psalm

1-2 Don’t bother your head with braggarts
    or wish you could succeed like the wicked.
In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings

    and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.


Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
    settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,

    get in on the best.


Open up before God, keep nothing back;
    he’ll do whatever needs to be done:
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day

    and stamp you with approval at high noon.

Quiet down before God,
    be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,

    who elbow their way to the top.


Bridle your anger, trash your wrath,
    cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.
Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;

    God-investors will soon own the store.


Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
    you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,

    relishing a huge bonanza.


Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
    obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him

    they’re a joke with no punch line.


Bullies brandish their swords,
    pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,

    or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—

    slapstick figures in a moral circus.


Less is more and more is less.
    One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings

    but the righteous are God-strong.


God keeps track of the decent folk;
    what they do won’t soon be forgotten.
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high;

    when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.


God-despisers have had it;
    God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,

    vanished like smoke in thin air.


Wicked borrows and never returns;
    Righteous gives and gives.
Generous gets it all in the end;

    Stingy is cut off at the pass.


Stalwart walks in step with God;
    his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;

    God has a grip on his hand.


I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
    not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
    or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,

    his children making him proud.


Turn your back on evil,
    work for the good and don’t quit.
God loves this kind of thing,

    never turns away from his friends.


Live this way and you’ve got it made,
    but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land

    and put down healthy roots.


Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone,
rolls virtue around on his tongue.
His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins;

    his feet are as sure as a cat’s.


Wicked sets a watch for Righteous,
he’s out for the kill.
God, alert, is also on watch—

    Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.


Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun

    while you watch the wicked lose it.


I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—

    a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.


Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future

    in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;

    insolent souls are on a dead-end street.


The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—

    when we run to him, he saves us.

Psalm 38

A David Psalm

1-2 Take a deep breath, God; calm down—
    don’t be so hasty with your punishing rod.
Your sharp-pointed arrows of rebuke draw blood;

    my backside smarts from your caning.


I’ve lost twenty pounds in two months
    because of your accusation.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks

    because of my sin.
I’m swamped by my bad behavior,

    collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt.


The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots
    because I’ve lived so badly.
And now I’m flat on my face

    feeling sorry for myself morning to night.
All my insides are on fire,

    my body is a wreck.
I’m on my last legs; I’ve had it—

    my life is a vomit of groans.


Lord, my longings are sitting in plain sight,
    my groans an old story to you.
My heart’s about to break;

    I’m a burned-out case.
Cataracts blind me to God and good;

    old friends avoid me like the plague.
My cousins never visit,

    my neighbors stab me in the back.
My competitors blacken my name,

    devoutly they pray for my ruin.
But I’m deaf and mute to it all,

    ears shut, mouth shut.
I don’t hear a word they say,

    don’t speak a word in response.
What I do, God, is wait for you,

    wait for my Lord, my God—you will answer!
I wait and pray so they won’t laugh me off,

    won’t smugly strut off when I stumble.


I’m on the edge of losing it—
    the pain in my gut keeps burning.
I’m ready to tell my story of failure,

    I’m no longer smug in my sin.
My enemies are alive and in action,

    a lynch mob after my neck.
I give out good and get back evil

    from God-haters who can’t stand a God-lover.


Don’t dump me, God;
    my God, don’t stand me up.
Hurry and help me;

    I want some wide-open space in my life!

Psalm 39

A David Psalm

1-3 I’m determined to watch steps and tongue
    so they won’t land me in trouble.
I decided to hold my tongue

    as long as Wicked is in the room.
“Mum’s the word,” I said, and kept quiet.

    But the longer I kept silence
The worse it got—

    my insides got hotter and hotter.
My thoughts boiled over;

    I spilled my guts.


“Tell me, what’s going on, God?
    How long do I have to live?
    Give me the bad news!
You’ve kept me on pretty short rations;

    my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we’re all puffs of air.

    Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we’re just spit in the wind.

    We make our pile, and then we leave it.


“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
    Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping
You’ll save me from a rebel life,

    save me from the contempt of dunces.
I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth,

    since you, Lord, are behind all this.
    But I can’t take it much longer.
When you put us through the fire

    to purge us from our sin,
    our dearest idols go up in smoke.
Are we also nothing but smoke?


“Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my
    cry—open your ears.
Don’t be callous;

    just look at these tears of mine.
I’m a stranger here. I don’t know my way—

    a migrant like my whole family.
Give me a break, cut me some slack

    before it’s too late and I’m out of here.”

Psalm 40

A David Psalm

1-3 I waited and waited and waited for God.
    At last he looked; finally he listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,

    pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock

    to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,

    a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:

    they enter the mystery,
    abandoning themselves to God.


Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,
    turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,”
    ignore what the world worships;
The world’s a huge stockpile

    of God-wonders and God-thoughts.
Nothing and no one

    comes close to you!
I start talking about you, telling what I know,

    and quickly run out of words.
Neither numbers nor words

    account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you—
    that’s not what you’re after.
Being religious, acting pious—

    that’s not what you’re asking for.
You’ve opened my ears

    so I can listen.


So I answered, “I’m coming.
    I read in your letter what you wrote about me,
And I’m coming to the party

    you’re throwing for me.”
That’s when God’s Word entered my life,

    became part of my very being.


I’ve preached you to the whole congregation,
    I’ve kept back nothing, God—you know that.
I didn’t keep the news of your ways

    a secret, didn’t keep it to myself.
I told it all, how dependable you are, how thorough.

    I didn’t hold back pieces of love and truth
For myself alone. I told it all,

    let the congregation know the whole story.


Now God, don’t hold out on me,
    don’t hold back your passion.
Your love and truth

    are all that keeps me together.
When troubles ganged up on me,

    a mob of sins past counting,
I was so swamped by guilt

    I couldn’t see my way clear.
More guilt in my heart than hair on my head,

    so heavy the guilt that my heart gave out.


Soften up, God, and intervene;
    hurry and get me some help,
So those who are trying to kidnap my soul

    will be embarrassed and lose face,
So anyone who gets a kick out of making me miserable

    will be heckled and disgraced,
So those who pray for my ruin

    will be booed and jeered without mercy.


But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about

    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:

    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—

    but God, don’t put it off.

Psalm 41

A David Psalm

1-3 Dignify those who are down on their luck;
    you’ll feel good—that’s what God does.
God looks after us all,

    makes us robust with life—
Lucky to be in the land,

    we’re free from enemy worries.
Whenever we’re sick and in bed,

    God becomes our nurse,
    nurses us back to health.


I said, “God, be gracious!
    Put me together again—
    my sins have torn me to pieces.”
My enemies are wishing the worst for me;

    they make bets on what day I will die.
If someone comes to see me,

    he mouths empty platitudes,
All the while gathering gossip about me

    to entertain the street-corner crowd.
These “friends” who hate me

    whisper slanders all over town.
They form committees

    to plan misery for me.


The rumor goes out, “He’s got some dirty,
    deadly disease. The doctors
    have given up on him.”
Even my best friend, the one I always told everything

    —he ate meals at my house all the time!—
    has bitten my hand.


God, give grace, get me up on my feet.
    I’ll show them a thing or two.


Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side—
    no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp!
You know me inside and out, you hold me together,

    you never fail to stand me tall in your presence
    so I can look you in the eye.


Blessed is God, Israel’s God,
    always, always, always.
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

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