Like a Deer from the Hunter

1–5  Dear friend, if you’ve gone into hock with your neighbor

or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger,

If you’ve impulsively promised the shirt off your back

and now find yourself shivering out in the cold,

Friend, don’t waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess.

You’re in that man’s clutches!

Go, put on a long face; act desperate.

Don’t procrastinate—

there’s no time to lose.

Run like a deer from the hunter,

fly like a bird from the trapper!

A Lesson from the Ant

6–11  You lazy fool, look at an ant.

Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.

Nobody has to tell it what to do.

All summer it stores up food;

at harvest it stockpiles provisions.

So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?

How long before you get out of bed?

A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,

sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?

Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,

poverty your permanent houseguest!

Always Cooking Up Something Nasty

12–15  Riffraff and rascals

talk out of both sides of their mouths.

They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,

they cross their fingers behind their backs.

Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,

always stirring up trouble.

Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,

a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

Seven Things God Hates

16–19  Here are six things God hates,

and one more that he loathes with a passion:

eyes that are arrogant,

a tongue that lies,

hands that murder the innocent,

a heart that hatches evil plots,

feet that race down a wicked track,

a mouth that lies under oath,

a troublemaker in the family.

Warning on Adultery

20–23  Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;

don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.

Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;

wear them like a scarf around your neck.

Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;

whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;

when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.

For sound advice is a beacon,

good teaching is a light,

moral discipline is a life path.

24–35  They’ll protect you from wanton women,

from the seductive talk of some temptress.

Don’t lustfully fantasize on her beauty,

nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes.

You can buy an hour with a whore for a loaf of bread,

but a wanton woman may well eat you alive.

Can you build a fire in your lap

and not burn your pants?

Can you walk barefoot on hot coals

and not get blisters?

It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife:

Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.

Hunger is no excuse

for a thief to steal;

When he’s caught he has to pay it back,

even if he has to put his whole house in hock.

Adultery is a brainless act,

soul-destroying, self-destructive;

Expect a bloody nose, a black eye,

and a reputation ruined for good.

For jealousy detonates rage in a cheated husband;

wild for revenge, he won’t make allowances.

Nothing you say or pay will make it all right;

neither bribes nor reason will satisfy him.


About The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Many people assume that a book about a holy God should sound elevated, stately, and ceremonial. If this is how you’ve always viewed the Bible, you’re about to make a surprising discovery. The Message brings the life-changing power of the New Testament, the vibrant passion of the Psalms, and the rich, practical wisdom of Proverbs into easy-to-read modern language that echoes the rhythm and idioms of the original Greek and Hebrew. Written in the same kind of language you’d use to talk with friends, write a letter, or discuss politics, The Message preserves the authentic, earthy flavor and the expressive character of the Bible’s best-loved books. Whether you’ve been reading the Bible for years or are exploring it for the first time, The Message will startle and surprise you. And it will allow you to experience firsthand the same power and directness that motivated its original readers to change the course of history so many centuries ago.


Copyright 2005 Eugene H. Peterson.

THE MESSAGE text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses, without express written permission of the publisher, NavPress Publishing Group, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible and do not account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.

Notice of copyright must appear as follows on either the title page or the copyright page of the work in which THE MESSAGE is quoted: “Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”

When quotations from THE MESSAGE text are used in nonsaleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but “The Message” must appear at the end of each quotation.

Permission requests for commercial and noncommercial use that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to and approved in writing by NavPress Publishing Group, Permissions, P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935.

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