1My child, do not mock the life of the poor;
do not keep needy eyes* waiting.a
2Do not grieve the hungry,
nor anger the needy.
3Do not aggravate a heart already angry,
nor delay giving to the needy.
4A beggar’s request do not reject;
do not turn your face away from the poor.
5From the needy do not turn your eyes;
do not give them reason to curse you.
6If in their pain they cry out bitterly,
their Rock will hear the sound of their cry.
7Endear yourself to the assembly;
before the city’s ruler bow your head.
8Give a hearing to the poor,
and return their greeting with deference;
9Deliver the oppressed from their oppressors;b
right judgment should not be repugnant to you.
10Be like a father to orphans,
and take the place of a husband to widows.
Then God will call you his child,
and he will be merciful to you and deliver you from the pit.
The Rewards of Wisdom*
11Wisdom teaches her children
and admonishes all who can understand her.
12Those who love her love life;
those who seek her out win the LORD’s favor.
13Those who hold her fast will attain glory,
and they shall abide in the blessing of the LORD.
14Those who serve her serve the Holy One;
those who love her the Lord loves.c
15“Whoever obeys me will judge nations;
whoever listens to me will dwell in my inmost chambers.
16If they remain faithful, they will possess me;
their descendants too will inherit me.
17“I will walk with them in disguise,
and at first I will test them with trials.
Fear and dread I will bring upon them
and I will discipline them with my constraints.
When their hearts are fully with me,
18then I will set them again on the straight path
and reveal my secrets to them.
19But if they turn away from me, I will abandon them
and deliver them over to robbers.”
Sincerity and Justice*
20My son, watch for the right time; fear what is evil;
do not bring shame upon yourself.
21There is a shame heavy with guilt,
and a shame that brings glory and respect.
22Show no favoritism to your own discredit;
let no one intimidate you to your own downfall.
23Do not refrain from speaking at the proper time,
and do not hide your wisdom;
24For wisdom becomes known through speech,
and knowledge through the tongue’s response.
25Never speak against the truth,
but of your own ignorance be ashamed.
26Do not be ashamed to acknowledge your sins,
and do not struggle against a rushing stream.
27Do not abase yourself before a fool;
do not refuse to do so before rulers.
28Even to the death, fight for what is right,
and the LORD will do battle for you.
29Do not be haughty in your speech,
or lazy and slack in your deeds.
30Do not be like a lion at home,
or sly and suspicious with your servants.
31Do not let your hand be open to receive,
but clenched when it is time to give.
* [4:1] Needy eyes: when the poor look for help; cf. 18:18.
* [4:11–19] The Hebrew text in vv. 15–19 presents wisdom speaking in the first person, as in chap. 24. The precious fruits of wisdom—life, favor, glory, blessings, God’s love—arouse desire for her (vv. 11–14). Her disciples are like ministers (v. 14) and judges (v. 15), whose descendants have her for their heritage (v. 16). They enjoy happiness and learn her secrets after surviving her tests (vv. 17–18). Those who fail her are abandoned to destruction (v. 19).
* [4:20–31] The student of wisdom is warned about interior trials of discipline and external dangers to sincerity and justice, namely evil, human respect (vv. 20–22), compromise of liberty in speech and action (vv. 23–25), false shame (v. 26). The student must fight for the truth (vv. 25, 28), avoiding cynicism and laziness (v. 29), and inconsistency (v. 30).