Whether you believe in the Bible or not, the book of Proverbs has a wealth of wisdom for anyone who is listening, so I encourage you to read this article and hopefully gather a few nuggets from this book. I’ll be picking out one main lesson from every chapter, but there is a lot more to be had from this amazing book of the Bible, so I would also encourage you to read some of it for yourself. Without further ado, here is my list of 31 lessons from the book of Proverbs in the English Standard Version.
1. Wise men never stop learning
“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…” — Proverbs 1:5
This message is stressed a lot in the book of Proverbs. Wise men take correction, they listen to what people have to say, and never stop getting wiser. The fool rejects the advice of others.
2. If you seek wisdom, you will find it
“…if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” — Proverbs 2:4–5
You can’t expect to be walking through life and eventually get a pile of wisdom dumped on your head. You also can’t expect to continually search for it and never find it. If you prioritize wisdom higher than wealth, the Bible promises that you will find it.
3. Stay humble
“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” — Proverbs 3:7
If you are blessed with wisdom beyond your years, always stay in a humble mindset. The Bible is very clear that God resists the proud but blesses a humble heart.
4. Wisdom will eventually reward you
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” — Proverbs 4:7–9
There will be some times in life that you will have to say no to wealth or material possessions in the name of wisdom. However, if you seek wisdom above all else, you will eventually reap the rewards.
5. Stay away from temptations
“Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” — Proverbs 5:8
This verse is speaking of the door of an adulteress, which is good advice in general, but really this lesson can be applied to all areas of life. If you are dieting, don’t keep junk food lying around. Make no provision for your temptations. Turn your phone off while you are working. Get rid of all distractions.
6. Work, work, work
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” — Proverbs 6:6–11
Wise men are always at work. Don’t waste your time watching Netflix and playing video games. If you don’t want to live your life in poverty, you must develop a strong work ethic. Be like the ant.
7. Don’t let lust destroy you
“Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” — Proverbs 7:25–27
Pornography and masturbation can seem harmless at first, but they are very dangerous and very destructive. Not only will they mess you up, but they will destroy your relationships. Stay away from lust; it is a trap that will eventually be the death of you.
8. Anybody can learn to be wise
“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.” — Proverbs 8:4–5
If you are immature or lack discipline, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life living that way. God knows that I am far from being mature or wise, but I am asking him for direction and for wisdom. I know that He is blessing me.
9. Listen to people when they correct you
“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” — Proverbs 9:8
This one is hard to swallow, but it’s very important. It can be hard to take correction from someone, especially when they are younger than you or lack experience. However, a wise man will stay humble and listen to what anyone has to say.
10. Don’t hold resentment or grudges
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” — Proverbs 10:12
If someone has wronged you but repented, do not dwell on what they did to you. Move on and give them another chance; you will reap the benefits.
11. Be honest
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” — Proverbs 11:1
It can be tempting to be a little dishonest in order to gain a profit. If you value wisdom and integrity, however, your honesty won’t go unnoticed.
12. The rulers are the hard workers
“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” — Proverbs 12:24
If you keep failing at your startup and are forced to work a 9–5, you’re not working hard enough. You can’t get to the top of the ladder without climbing the rungs.
13. Stay away from get-rich-quick schemes
“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” — Proverbs 13:11
Be patient. Even if you’re not bathing in gold after a year of blood, sweat, and tears, stick with it. Wealth will come little by little and then grow exponentially. And this doesn’t just apply to wealth. This goes for relationships, skills, habits, etc.
14. Surround yourself with wise people
“Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” — Proverbs 14:7
You will become like the people you hang around with. If you know that your friend is one who often makes bad decisions, cut off that relationship. Stick with people who challenge you and encourage you to grow.
15. Speak softly and carry a big stick
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” — Proverbs 15:1
If you find yourself in a heated argument, do not respond by shouting. Speak gently and sensibly, and you will both be more likely to reach a conclusion.
16. Wealth is not the aim of the game
“Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” — Proverbs 16:8
The Bible has a lot to say about money because it knows how important money is. It’s great to have the financial freedom to travel the world and do what you love. However, your integrity is even more important, so be happy with what you have. Never be satisfied, but don’t let money control you.
17. Use trials to grow
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” — Proverbs 17:3
It’s not easy to make it through tough times, but this verse says it well. When we go through the furnace we will come out as gold. Whenever you are struggling, know that you will come out of that situation, and when you do you will be stronger than you were before.
18. Be open-minded
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” — Proverbs 18:2
Understand that often times you will be wrong. Have the humility to let others change your mind and learn from your mistakes.
19. Be slow to anger
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” — Proverbs 19:11
Be known for being even-tempered. Don’t let little things throw you off, and always be willing to give someone a second chance. When you wrong someone else they will also be forgiving towards you.
20. Take action
“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” — Proverbs 20:5
Everybody has big dreams sitting around on the inside of them. Very few will actually draw from that well and fulfill their purpose.
21. Don’t settle for short-term pleasures
“Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” — Proverbs 21:17
The reason that games are so popular is that they give us a sense of accomplishment with little effort. Be wary of things that reward you for little work. Don’t give in to short-term temptations, but invest in the long-term.
22. Your reputation is more important than your net worth
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” — Proverbs 22:1
When you die, do you want to be remembered for how much money you left behind or for being an honest and uplifting person? This is why the book of Proverbs stresses the importance of honesty and integrity over wealth. They will always serve you better than money ever could.
23. Be a man of discipline
“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” — Proverbs 23:13–14
Not only should you discipline your children, but practice self-discipline in your own life. Let others praise you, and be your toughest critic. Don’t accept your mistakes and strive to be better. You’ll thank yourself later.
24. Do not seek revenge
“Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.’” — Proverbs 24:29
The best revenge is to beat out the competition with hard work. If you try to seek revenge against your enemy through name-calling or sabotage, it will not end well for you. Vengeance belongs to God.
25. Repay evil with good
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” — Proverbs 25:21–22
Imagine a scenario where your competitor publicly shames you. If you respond with kindness, you will be regarded as the hero and your enemy will be put to shame. It’s very difficult to do so, but God will reward you for it.
26. Do not repeat your mistakes
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” — Proverbs 26:11
Mistakes are inevitable; we’re all going to make them. Every once and a while you are going to “vomit.” But when you do, learn why that happened and resolve to never do it again. The fool is not the one who makes a mistake, but the one who continually makes the same mistake without learning from it.
27. Leave the bragging to your fans
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” — Proverbs 27:2
Not only is a cocky man resented by the majority of his viewers, but a compliment that comes from someone other than yourself is more credible. Do not brag; let your actions speak for themselves.
28. Don’t give in to fear
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” — Proverbs 28:1
So often we run away when nothing is chasing us. Be as bold as a lion, and stand up to your fears. In most scenarios, you will find that there was nothing to be scared of in the first place.
29. People will support your integrity
“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” — Proverbs 29:2
What good is it to reach the top of the ladder if everyone is booing? This is why it’s important to implement the previous lessons of character. Don’t boast, be honest, stay humble, speak softly, etc. You’ll have everyone’s support in your climb to success.
30. Respect your parents
“The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.” — Proverbs 30:17
The Bible is big on obedience and respect when it comes to your parents. Honor them with your words and your actions.
31. Use discernment in choosing your partner
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” — Proverbs 31:10
It is repeated several times throughout the book of Proverbs that it is better to remain alone than to live with a quarrelsome wife.
These are just little tidbits from the book of Proverbs. I would encourage you to read all of it for yourself, not once, but over and over again. Embed the words of Solomon into your heart and live them out through your life.