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If You Desert God’s Law
[1-18] The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off
even when no one’s after them;
Honest people are relaxed and confident,
bold as lions.
When the country is in chaos,
everybody has a plan to fix it—
But it takes a leader of real understanding
to straighten things out.
The wicked who oppress the poor
are like a hailstorm that beats down the harvest.
If you desert God’s law, you’re free to embrace depravity;
if you love God’s law, you fight for it tooth and nail.
Justice makes no sense to the evilminded;
those who seek God know it inside and out.
It’s better to be poor and direct
than rich and crooked.
Practice God’s law—get a reputation for wisdom;
hang out with a loose crowd—embarrass your family.
Get as rich as you want
through cheating and extortion,
But eventually some friend of the poor
is going to give it all back to them.
God has no use for the prayers
of the people who won’t listen to him.
Lead good people down a wrong path
and you’ll come to a bad end;
do good and you’ll be rewarded for it.
The rich think they know it all,
but the poor can see right through them.
When good people are promoted, everything is great,
but when the bad are in charge, watch out!
You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.
A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life;
a hardhearted person lives a hard life.
Lions roar and bears charge—
and the wicked lord it over the poor.
Among leaders who lack insight, abuse abounds,
but for one who hates corruption, the future is bright.
A murderer haunted by guilt
is doomed—there’s no helping him.
Walk straight—live well and be saved;
a devious life is a doomed life.
Doing Great Harm in Seemingly Harmless Ways
[19-28] Work your garden—you’ll end up with plenty of food;
play and party—you’ll end up with an empty plate.
Committed and persistent work pays off;
get-rich-quick schemes are ripoffs.
Playing favorites is always a bad thing;
you can do great harm in seemingly harmless ways.
A miser in a hurry to get rich
doesn’t know that he’ll end up broke.
In the end, serious reprimand is appreciated
far more than bootlicking flattery.
Anyone who robs father and mother
and says, “So, what’s wrong with that?”
is worse than a pirate.
A grasping person stirs up trouble,
but trust in God brings a sense of well-being.
If you think you know it all, you’re a fool for sure;
real survivors learn wisdom from others.
Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry;
shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses.
When corruption takes over, good people go underground,
but when the crooks are thrown out, it’s safe to come out.
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.