1Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what any day may bring forth.
2Let another praise you, not your own mouth;
a stranger, not your own lips.
3Stone is heavy, and sand a burden,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.a
4Anger is cruel, and wrath overwhelming,
but before jealousy who can stand?*
5* Better is an open rebuke
than a love that remains hidden.
6Trustworthy are the blows of a friend,
dangerous, the kisses of an enemy.*
7One who is full spurns honey;
but to the hungry, any bitter thing is sweet.
8Like a bird far from the nest
so is anyone far from home.*
9Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
but by grief the soul is torn asunder.
10Do not give up your own friend and your father’s friend;
do not resort to the house of your kindred when trouble strikes.
Better a neighbor near than kin far away.*
11Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart,
so that I can answer whoever taunts me.*
12The astute see an evil and hide;
the naive continue on and pay the penalty.b
13Take the garment of the one who became surety for a stranger;c
if for a foreign woman, exact the pledge!*
14Those who greet their neighbor with a loud voice* in the early morning,
a curse can be laid to their charge.
15For a persistent leak on a rainy day
the match is a quarrelsome wife;d
16Whoever would hide her hides a stormwind
and cannot tell north from south.
17Iron is sharpened by iron;
one person sharpens another.*
18Those who tend a fig tree eat its fruit;
so those attentive to their master will be honored.
19As face mirrors face in water,
so the heart reflects the person.
20Sheol and Abaddon can never be satisfied;e
so the eyes of mortals can never be satisfied.*
21The crucible for silver, the furnace for gold,
so you must assay the praise you receive.
22Though you pound fools with a pestle,
their folly never leaves them.
23* Take good care of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
24For wealth does not last forever,
nor even a crown from age to age.
25When the grass comes up and the new growth appears,
and the mountain greens are gathered in,
26The lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats, the price of a field,
27And there will be ample goat’s milk for your food,
food for your house, sustenance for your maidens.
* [27:4] Anger generally subsides with time but jealousy coolly calculates and plots revenge.
* [27:5–6] Verses 5 and 6 are concerned with true friendship. “Better than” sayings often declare one thing superior to another in view of some value, e.g., 15:17, vegetables are better than meat in view of a milieu of love. In v. 5, a rebuke is better than an act of affection in view of discipline that imparts wisdom.
* [27:6] The present translation is conjectural. The meaning seems to be that a friend’s rebuke can be life-giving and an enemy’s kiss can be deadly (like the kiss of Judas in Mt 26:48).
* [27:8] The bird symbolizes vulnerability as it flees before danger as in Is 10:14; 16:2; and Ps 11:1. For the importance of place in human life, see Jb 20:8–9. People are defined by their place, but, tragically, war, poverty, or illness can force them from it.
* [27:10] The adage is about the difference between friends and kin in a crisis. Two admonitions are grounded in one maxim (colon C). The same Hebrew word means both “one who is near” and “friend.” The whole proverb urges the reader to cultivate old family friends and neighbors and not to rely exclusively on kin in times of trouble, for kin may not be there for us.
* [27:11] A father’s command to a son to be wise, another way of saying that sons or daughters bring joy or shame to their parents.
* [27:14] One interpretation takes the proverb as humorous and the other takes it as serious: (1) an overly loud and ill-timed greeting (lit., “blessing”) invites the response of a curse rather than a “blessing” (greeting); (2) the loud voice suggests hypocrisy in the greeting.
* [27:17] Iron sharpens the “face” (panim = surface, edge) of iron, and a human being sharpens the “face” (panim = face, words) of another. Human beings learn from each other and grow in wisdom by conversing.
* [27:20] Sheol, the underworld abode of the dead, is personified as a force that is never satisfied and always desires more. Cf. Is 5:14 and Hos 13:14. The saying is applicable to modern consumerism.
* [27:23–27] A little treatise on farming in the form of admonitions. It proposes the advantages of field and flock over other forms of wealth. Herds are the most productive wealth, for their value does not diminish; they are a source of money, clothing, and food. The thought is conservative and traditional but the development is vivid and concrete.