It is better to have virtue, even if it means having no children. Your virtue will be recognized by other people and by God, and you will be remembered for it for ever. 2Virtue provides an example for people to follow; when it is not there, they miss it. It has always been the finest prize a person can win, and it will always be so. It is the noblest of all the good qualities a person can have.
3No matter how many children are born of a forbidden union, none of them will ever amount to anything. They are illegitimate; they can never lay a firm foundation for themselves, never take deep root. 4Like trees with shallow roots, they put out leaves for a while, but they sway in the wind, and storms uproot them. 5Their branches snap off before they mature; their fruit never ripens, and it is good for nothing. 6On Judgement Day children born of a forbidden union will testify to the sin of their parents and act as witnesses against them.
7Righteous people, however, will find rest, even if they die young. 8We honour old age, but not just because a person has lived a long time. 9Wisdom and righteousness are signs of the maturity that should come with old age.
Once there was a man named Enoch who pleased God, and God loved him. While Enoch was still living among sinners, God took him away, 11so that evil and falsehood could not corrupt his mind and soul. 12(We all know that people can be so fascinated by evil that they cannot recognize what is good even when they are looking right at it. Innocent people can be so corrupted with desire that they can think of nothing but what they want.) 13This man Enoch achieved in a few years' time a perfection that other people could never attain in a complete lifetime. 14The Lord was pleased with Enoch's life and quickly took him out of this wicked world. People were aware of his departure but didn't understand. They never seemed to learn the lesson 15that God is kind and merciful to his own people; he protects those whom he has chosen.
16Even when righteous people are dead and gone, they put to shame the wicked people who live on after them. In their old age the wicked will be disgraced by young people who have already achieved perfection. 17The wise may die young, but the wicked will never understand that this is the Lord's way of taking them off to safety. 18They make light of a wise person's death, but the Lord will soon be laughing at them. When they die, they will not be given an honourable burial. Even the dead will hold them in scorn and disgust for ever. 19God will throw them to the ground and make them speechless. Like buildings shaken from their foundations, they will be reduced to piles of ruins. They will be in torment. People will soon forget all about them. 20They will come in fear to the Judgement, where their sins will be counted; they will stand condemned by their own lawless actions.
51On that day the righteous, full of confidence, will stand before those who oppressed them and made light of their labours. 2They will be amazed to see them safe and will tremble with terrible fear. 3Then the oppressors will regret what they did, and groaning in anguish they will say to one another: 4“These are the people we made fun of. We thought they were a joke. What fools we were! We thought they were mad to live in the way they did, and when they died, we didn't honour them. 5And now here they are, God's own children, with a place of their own among God's people. 6We were the ones who wandered off the right road. We never lived in the light of righteousness; we never caught the first glimmer of its light. 7All our lives we wandered across unmarked deserts, instead of following the road which the Lord wanted us to travel. And this lawlessness led us to ruin. 8We were so proud of ourselves — we bragged about how rich we were — and now, what good has it done us? 9All those things are gone now; they have disappeared like a shadow, like something you hear and then forget.
10“A ship sails across the waves of the ocean, but when it is gone, it leaves no trace. You cannot tell it was ever there. 11A bird flies through the air, but leaves no sign that it has been there. It speeds along, riding through the thin air by the force of its wings, leaving behind no trace of its passing. 12An arrow splits the air when it is shot at a target, but at once the air closes up behind it, and no one can tell where it passed. 13It is the same with us — we were born, and then we ceased to be. We left no sign of virtue behind us; we were destroyed by our wickedness.”
14What hope do wicked people have? Only the hope of straw blown about in the wind, the hope of ocean foam5.14 ocean foam; some manuscripts have frost. that disappears in the storm, the hope of smoke in the breeze. Their hope lasts no longer than our memory of a guest who stays one day and leaves the next.
15But the righteous live on for ever. The Lord will reward them; the Most High will protect them. 16He will give them royal splendour and a magnificent crown. He will shield them with his powerful arm. 17
He will go out into battle determined to defeat his enemies, and use the creation itself as a weapon. 18Righteousness will be his armour, genuine justice will be his helmet, 19holiness will be his invincible shield. 20He will sharpen his stern anger into a sword, and the forces of nature will join him in battle against those who are foolish enough to oppose him. 21Bolts of lightning will strike right on target, as if the Lord had made a bow out of the clouds and was shooting arrows. 22Hailstones will beat down on his enemies with terrible force. The oceans and rivers will come rushing over them in a devastating flood. 23Great windstorms will blow them away like straw. Lawlessness will be the ruin of the whole world. Evil actions will cause governments to fall.
61So then, you kings, you rulers the world over, listen to what I say, and learn from it. 2You govern many lands and are proud that so many people are under your rule, 3
but this authority has been given to you by the Lord Most High. He will examine what you have done and what you plan to do. 4You rule on behalf of God and his kingdom, and if you do not govern justly, if you do not uphold the law, if you do not live according to God's will, 5you will suffer sudden and terrible punishment. Judgement is especially severe on those in power. 6Common people may be mercifully forgiven for their wrongs, but those in power will face a severe judgement. 7The Lord of all is not afraid of anyone, no matter how great they are. He himself made everyone, great and common alike, and he provides for all equally, 8but he will judge the conduct of rulers more strictly. 9It is for you, mighty kings, that I write these words, so that you may know how to act wisely and avoid mistakes. 10These are holy matters, and if you treat them in a holy manner, you yourselves will be considered holy. If you have learnt this lesson, you will be able to defend yourselves at the Judgement. 11So then, make my teaching your treasure and joy, and you will be well instructed.
12Wisdom shines bright and never grows dim; those who love her and look for her can easily find her. 13She is quick to make herself known to anyone who desires her. 14Get up early in the morning to find her, and you will have no problem; you will find her sitting at your door. 15To fasten your attention on Wisdom is to gain perfect understanding. If you look for her, you will soon find peace of mind, 16because she will be looking for those who are worthy of her, and she will find you wherever you are. She is kind and will be with you in your every thought.
17Wisdom begins when you sincerely want to learn. To desire Wisdom is to love her; 18to love her is to keep her laws; to keep her laws is to be certain of immortality; 19immortality will bring you close to God. 20This desire for Wisdom can prepare you to rule a kingdom. 21So then, you that rule the nations, if you value your thrones and symbols of authority, honour Wisdom so that you may rule for ever.
22I will tell you what Wisdom is, and how she came to be. I will not keep anything secret. I will trace her history from the beginning and make knowledge of her open to all. I will not ignore any part of the truth. 23No jealous desire to guard my own knowledge will make me hold back anything. Wisdom has nothing in common with such an attitude. 24No indeed — the more wise people there are, the safer the world will be. A sensible king can be depended on to give his people this kind of security. 25So then, learn what I am about to teach you, and you will profit from it.