The path of the careless seems so easy, but make every effort to seek out and live in wisdom.
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Proverbs 4 (ESV)
1 Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight,
2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, 4 he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments,
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget,
and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her,
and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this:
Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly,
and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
10 Hear, my son,
and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk,
your step will not be hampered,
and if you run,
you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction;
do not let go; guard her,
for she is your life.
14 Do not
enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it;
do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.
they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble.
20 My son,
be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart
with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
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Proverbs 4 Summary
As the wise father continues to teach his young son, chapter four opens with the father looking back to the instruction he received from his own father, who taught him to prize wisdom highly (v8).
It's clear that over the course of his life, he's seen first hand how wisdom, again personified as a woman, has kept him and guarded him (v6).
The desperation the father has for his son, who like many young sons was probably more impressed with and interested in the shiny glamours of the world at this point in his life than in stodgy wisdom lessons, comes through in the way he pleads with his son to stay on the path of righteousness rather than to stumble down the way of the wicked (v18-19).
Look at the strong words the father uses to encourage wisdom:
v13 - Keep hold... do not let go;
v10, 20-25 - Hear and accept my words; be attentive; Don't let this advice escape; Let your eyes look directly forward;
The father uses even stronger words to warn of the dangers of the wicked world:
v14 - Do not enter, and do not walk in wicked & evil;
v15 - Avoid wickedness and do not go into it; turn away and keep going;
v24 - Put away crooked speech and devious talk;
v27 - Don't swerve to the right or left.
It doesn't take a person very long to look over the societal landscape and realize that wisdom is not the default condition of the world. We're surrounded by all sorts of people who eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence (v17).
Proverbs 4 helps illustrate two fundamental principles of the world:
Wickedness leads to wickedness, and wisdom leads to wisdom. Those raised in wickedness will likely pass it on to their offspring, and those given wisdom at a young age will likely continue to model it to future generations.
The first statement is only a general truth: sometimes those raised in wickedness find wisdom, and those raised in wisdom wander into wickedness. In either case, this chapter makes it clear that staying on the path of righteousness takes hard work and concerted effort.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who pleads with us to follow wisdom;
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask for the strength to keep your eyes locked on the wisdom that comes from above (v25).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: