These proverbs of Solomon, scattered and sown,
by King David's son, ruling Israel's throne,
that wisdom and godly instruction is learned,
that insight of words is perceived and discerned
to bring understanding of prudence to bear,
for doing what's just and is honest and fair.
To give to the simple what's simply the truth;
discretion and knowledge bestowed on the youth.
A wise man will hear and have much learning gained;
the man who seeks counsel has wisdom obtained,
perceiving these proverbs and figures of speech,
the word of the wise and the riddles they teach.
For knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD,
but wisdom, by fools, is despised and ignored.
Son, hear the instructions your father has got,
forsake not the teachings your mother has taught;
for they, like a wreath, on your head will be crowned,
like pendants of gold round your neck, they'll be found.
My son, should the sinners entice you to sin,
yield not, turn away and don't ever give in.
Suppose they propose, "Come with us for a kill!
We'll ambush some innocent soul for the thrill!
We'll take them alive to their grave, to Sheol,
like those who descend to the pit, swallowed whole.
We'll find all their precious goods, plunder their shelves,
then fill up our homes with their wealth for ourselves.
Now cast in your lot with us, join if you dare,
our purse will be common and you'll get your share."
My son, do not join them when they go their way,
do not set your foot on their path lest you stray,
because their feet hurry toward evil and dread,
and hasten for innocent blood to be shed.
Indeed, it is futile to spread out a net
where birds will have seen where the trap has been set.
Yet for their own blood do these men lie in wait;
they secretly scheme for their very own fate.
For such are the paths of these gluttonous men:
the sin of their greed robs their lives in the end.
Oh, listen! For wisdom is crying aloud,
she raises her voice in the square, through the crowd;
on top of the wall, through the concourse and streets,
the gates of the city, she's making her speech:
"How long will you simpletons love how you live?
How long will you fools despise knowledge I give?
If you will repent, then I'll pour out my heart;
my words will I make known to you and impart.
Refusing to answer when I have called you,
I've stretched forth my hand -- you're ignoring that, too;
neglecting my counsel and shunning the truth,
rejecting my warnings and righteous reproof.
In turn, I will laugh when disasters appear,
I also will mock as you tremble with fear,
when terrors, calamities, whirlwinds come,
when anguish and troubles are leaving you numb.
Then they'll call upon me, but I'll make no sound;
they'll earnestly seek me, but I won't be found.
For they hated knowledge, and wisdom, ignored;
and they did not choose to have fear of the LORD.
The foolish rejected the things I advised,
they spurned my reproof and my warnings, despised.
Then they'll eat the fruit of their fragmented dreams,
and choke on the outcomes of their wicked schemes.
For turning away, are the simpletons killed;
by smugness, the foolish are ruined and stilled.
But all who will listen to me live in peace;
their fear and their dread of all evil will cease."
This poem was a finalist in the January 2023 poetry contest