1Every friend declares friendship,
but there are friends who are friends in name only.a
2Is it not a sorrow unto death
when your other self becomes your enemy?
3“Alas, my companion! Why were you created
to fill the earth with deceit?”
4A harmful friend will look to your table,
but in time of trouble he stands aloof.
5A good friend will fight with you against the foe,
and against your enemies he will hold up your shield.
6Do not forget your comrade during the battle,
and do not neglect him when you distribute your spoils.
7Every counselor points out a way,
but some counsel ways of their own.
8Watch out when one offers advice;
find out first of all what he wants.
For he also may be thinking of himself—
Why should the opportunity fall to him?
9He may tell you how good your way will be,
and then stand by to see you impoverished.
10Seek no advice from your father-in-law,
and from one who is envious of you, keep your intentions hidden.
11Seek no advice from a woman about her rival,
from a coward about war,
from a merchant about business,
from a buyer about value,
from a miser about generosity,
from a cruel person about well-being,
from a worthless worker about his work,
from a seasonal laborer about the harvest,
from an idle slave about a great task—
pay no attention to any advice they give.
12Instead, associate with a religious person,
who you know keeps the commandments;
Who is like-minded with yourself
and will grieve for you if you fall.
13Then, too, heed your own heart’s counsel;
for there is nothing you can depend on more.
14The heart can reveal your situation
better than seven sentinels on a tower.
15Then with all this, pray to God
to make your steps firm in the true path.
Wisdom and Temperance
16A word is the source of every deed;*
a thought, of every act.b
17The root of all conduct is the heart;
18four branches it shoots forth:
Good and evil, death and life,
and their absolute mistress is the tongue.c
19One may be wise and benefit many,
yet appear foolish to himself.
20One may be wise, but if his words are rejected,
he will be deprived of all enjoyment.*
22When one is wise to his own advantage,
the fruits of knowledge are seen in his own person.
23When one is wise to the advantage of people,
the fruits of knowledge are lasting.d
24One wise for himself has full enjoyment,
and all who see him praise him.
25The days of one’s life are numbered,
but the life of Israel, days without number.
26One wise among the people wins a heritage of glory,
and his name lives on and on.e
27My son, while you are well, govern your appetite,*
and see that you do not allow it what is bad for you.
28For not everything is good for everyone,
nor is everything suited to every taste.f
29Do not go to excess with any enjoyment,g
neither become a glutton for choice foods;
30For sickness comes with overeating,
and gluttony brings on nausea.
31Through lack of self-control many have died,
but the abstemious one prolongs life.
* [37:16–26] Thoughts determine action. Wisdom is the source of good and life; folly, of evil and death (vv. 16–18). If the fruits of a person’s wisdom benefit himself, he may be praised in his own lifetime; if they benefit others, the praise endures after him, in their lives (vv. 19–26).
* [37:20] Verse 21 appears only in Greek, but not in the Hebrew, which is the basis for the translation here.