One of the litmus tests I use is how a translation approaches the battle over gender neutrality. Many modern translations show a tendency to mistranslate in order to be gender neutral and thus politically correct. This means that when the Hebrew says “son” they will translate it “child” and so forth. The first place I saw a difference was in 1:5
(Proverbs 1:5 ESV) Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
(Proverbs 1:5 NAS77) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,In actuality the ESV is more accurate here because in both cases the word “man” is absent from the Hebrew.
In 8:4 the ESV uses “children” instead of “sons.” That is within the range of meanings because it is plural and in the Hebrew the plural form can be understood that way.
(Proverbs 8:4 ESV) "To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man.
(Proverbs 8:4 NAS77) "To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men.Later we see in inconsistency in both the ESV and KJV but not in the NASB. The word for “sons” and “children” is the same in all cases.
(Proverbs 8:31-32 NAS77) Rejoicing in the world, His earth, And having my delight in the sons of men. "Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways.
(Proverbs 8:31-32 KJV) Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
(Proverbs 8:31-32 ESV) rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. "And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.Overall I would say that in Proverbs the ESV has not succumbed to the voice of political correctness.
I compared the ESV mainly to the KJV and the NASB. I saw a lot of variations but they were all the type of differences that you would find in an honest attempt to translate. At different places you saw some that were more literal or closer to the original. You saw more colorful word pictures. I saw places I liked the ESV more and places I liked it less.
So, overall what I saw was a translation that I felt was trustworthy. No translation will ever be perfect but I think I could use the ESV. I will continue to stick with the NASB though because I have so much work already done in it and, like the KJV, it has the best study tools available.