1The vengeful will face the Lord’s vengeance;
indeed he remembers their sins in detail.a
2Forgive your neighbor the wrong done to you;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.b
3Does anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?c
4Can one refuse mercy to a sinner like oneself,
yet seek pardon for one’s own sins?
5If a mere mortal cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
6Remember your last days and set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!d
7Remember the commandments and do not be angry with your neighbor;
remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook faults.
8Avoid strife and your sins will be fewer,
for the hot-tempered kindle strife;
9The sinner disrupts friendships
and sows discord among those who are at peace.e
10The more the wood, the greater the fire,f
the more the cruelty, the fiercer the strife;
The greater the strength, the sterner the anger,
the greater the wealth, the greater the wrath.
11Pitch and resin make fire flare up,
and a hasty quarrel provokes bloodshed.
The Evil Tongue*
12If you blow on a spark, it turns into flame,
if you spit on it, it dies out;
yet both you do with your mouth!
13Cursed be gossips and the double-tongued,
for they destroy the peace of many.g
14A meddlesome tongue subverts many,
and makes them refugees among peoples.
It destroys strong cities,
and overthrows the houses of the great.
15A meddlesome tongue drives virtuous women from their homes,
and robs them of the fruit of their toil.
16Whoever heed it will find no rest,
nor will they dwell in peace.
17A blow from a whip raises a welt,
but a blow from the tongue will break bones.
18Many have fallen by the edge of the sword,
but not as many as by the tongue.h
19Happy the one who is sheltered from it,
and has not endured its wrath;
Who has not borne its yoke
nor been bound with its chains.
20For its yoke is a yoke of iron,
and its chains are chains of bronze;
21The death it inflicts is an evil death,
even Sheol is preferable to it.
22It will have no power over the godly,
nor will they be burned in its flame.
23But those who forsake the Lord will fall victim to it,
as it burns among them unquenchably;
It will hurl itself against them like a lion,
and like a leopard, it will tear them to pieces.
24As you fence in your property with thorns,
so make a door and a bolt for your mouth.i
25As you lock up your silver and gold,
so make balances and scales for your words.
26Take care not to slip by your tongue
and fall victim to one lying in ambush.
* [28:12–26] Further treatment of sins of the tongue and the havoc that results; cf. 5:9–6:1; 19:5–17; 20:18–26; 23:7–15. Gossips and the double-tongued destroy domestic peace (vv. 12–16). The whip, the sword, chains, even Sheol, are not so cruel as the suffering inflicted by an evil tongue (vv. 17–21). Not the godly but those who forsake the Lord are victims of their evil tongues (vv. 22–23). Therefore, guard your mouth and tongue as you would guard treasure against an enemy (vv. 24–26).
a. [28:1] Dt 32:35; Rom 12:19.