Proverbs 4

V. 1
I have wondered many times as I read this book how in the world Solomon could have gone so wrong, and his children turned out so bad.

This chapter starts a little different than the previous ones started. It is a father pleading with his children, rather than just with his son. The previous pleadings has been with his son, now he includes all of his children. The cross reference is Psalms 34:11-22.

Solomon continues to repeat himself concerning the necessity of wisdom. Isaiah speaks of the need for precept upon precept, Isaiah 28:13.

13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

The father here in Proverbs 4 is pleading with all of his children to listen to him. And we should mention that no mater how dumb the father may appear to the child, he still knows more just from experience than the child does. Although this book does take for granted that the father is godly and giving godly instruction, v. 2.

Solomon is passing on the instructions he received from his father, David. I have often wondered why David did not spend the time instructing his other sons.

I have mentioned this several times. The older I got the wiser by dad got. Many children do not find out that their dad knew what he was talking about until they either get into some serious trouble (and many don't even then), grow up at about the age of 25, or have their own children.

Vv. 1, 2. There is more here than just a requirement on the children to learn. Also included is the father teaching or instructing his children. I think this is extremely important in our day. Most people today turn over the instruction and training of their children to the state or even to church. Then they wonder why the children fail to carry on the godly values of the parents.

The priority of the parant must be instilling in their children the necessity of seeking and knowing the will of God as revealed in God's word.

Here in v. 1 the father is calling for his children to listen to him. And not just listen, but Attend. Parents say to their children, Look me in the eye and pay attention. That is, are you hearing me? Do you understand?

Not only does the word of God require the parents to teach godly principles to their children (the way of the Lord), it also requires that the children learn. If fact, it is just as much a sin for the children not to learn as it is for the parents not to teach.

The most agonizing thing for a parent is when their children will not listen to them.

If the child will listen, he will gain understanding.
My how I wish we could get our own children to heed to this pleading. They think that we are just preaching to them when actually, we are pleading with them so they will not get involved in things that we might have been involved in and that we know will lead to their ruin. In addition, parents know their children better than the child knows themselves. The parent should know what precaution to take for and with them.

If they will hear our instructions they will have understanding that will see them through life.

Instruction of a father. To me this speaks of loving instructions. This pleading might even be from a broken heart.

He tells his children that he is not talking to hear himself talk. He points out that the doctrine or teaching that he is giving to them is good, it is tried and tested. In fact, we have seen that it is the word of God.

"What I am telling you is good for you, though it may not seem to be at the time. The law which I am giving you is for your benefit, so please don't forsake it." And to the young person, any restraint at all to them is like a prison. Their hearts are going after youthful lusts to their own destruction. The more the stand of the parent against these youthful lusts, the more strict, spiritual and holy they are considered by the young people.

The heart calls good evil and evil good. Therefore, the ones who try to prevent the youth from going in the way of their heart, are considered evil also.

Good doctrine vs good speculation, good hearsay, or good public opinions. We must not be carried away with what others think or do.

Vv. 3-9

Here he gives the reason he was taught good doctrine. His father loved him. Worldly indulgence is not a sign of love. Rather, teaching sound doctrine is the sign of love by a father.

The untaught child will bring shame the family, and ruin to himself.

We see that very thing in Solomon's father. Why did he not teach godly doctrine to all his children, especially his sons? Those he did not teach certainly brought shame, such as Absolom and Amnon

He taught me... Parents should teach their children the important things of life, which is not a good job, good money &c. Rather, it is sould wisdom from Scripture.

Let thine heart retain... Memorize scripture as a child. Parents should insist their children memorize Scripture, thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:11.

Solomon says that his parents loved him, so they gave him this instruction to seek wisdom above everything else.

The parents that truly love their children will instruct them in the ways of the Lord as David did Solomon here. The parent who truly loves their child will urge them to seek the Lord's wisdom above all else.

Solomon sounds like a stuck record: Get wisdom above everything else.

However, the major emphasis today is, get an education which will lead to wealth, honor, glory and power.

Love from his parents caused them to teach him the important thing of life. Wisdom. Our parents taught us many good things that need to be passed on, and they also taught us some things that need to be left behind.

V. 4, wisdom is identified here with keeping the good advice he received from his father. We see that good advice in David's writings as he passed that advice on for all to read. His advice is found in places such as Psalms 119, where he extoles the value of the Law of God.

Solomon's father taught him to obey him, to keep his comandments and live.

1 Kings 2:1 ¶ Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: 4 That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.

1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

His father made the way of life clear to Solomon.

Solomon's father, David, was identified as a man after God's own heart. He taught Solomon Godly principles to live by. He encouraged Solomon (who is giving instructions here to his children) to remember what he was taught. The results would be life.

I realize it most of the time it is a waste of breath to remind young people that they will reap what they sow. A pastor friend told me one time (Bob Cosby), To a teenager, reaping is forever in the future and it will never get here.

But we as adults look back and say, "Where did the time go?" As we look beck we see the importance of young people following the godly ways that were instilled into us, and also the importance of avoiding the bad ways which we went in.

Proverbs 4:5

V. 5, Solomon's further continues his instruction to his son. Solomon seems to be telling his children what his dad told him. Or he could be starting a new thought; that is, passing on to his own children what he was told by his father and what he has learned from his own experience.

Solomon's words here need to be continually repeated to not only the young people of our day, but to older people as well. Godly wisdom is the most important and valuable thing anyone can gain.

Wisdom... skill, prudence. Of course, throughout Proverbs, wisdom is defined as fear of God and avoidance of evil.

1 Corinthians 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

Understanding or insight. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament:

While understanding is a gift of God, it does not come automatically. The possession of it requires a persistent diligence. It is more than IQ; it connotes character. One is at fault if he doesn?t have it and in fact, not to pursue it will incur God?s punishment. {#Pr 2:1f; Ru 1:21ff} When one acts on the objective presentations of God?s revelation, he will attain the ideal of the significance of understanding.

The instructions of Solomon's father to him may least through v. 9.

We see in 1 Kings 3:5-9, that Solomon did listen to his father when he came to the throne. Wisdom was what he requested, rather than worldly wealth and fame.

Solomon's emphasis on wisdom is proved in his life to be true. Look where wisdom got him. Of course, the Lord had to give him the wealth and fame.

However, the message from every corner of the world today, even from pastors who claim to believe the word of God, is Get an education. Everything you ever wanted will be yours if you only get a good education. But that message as proved and is proving to be false. The major advantage of an education is for the schools and the teachers who make their living from the education enterprises.

The message is clear not only in Proverbs, but throughout Scripture. Get wisdom above all else, get wisdom. The most valuable and productive "thing" one can obtain is wisdom.

David's instructions to his son were not wasted. Nor were Solomon's instructions empty. They both sought Godly wisdom above all else. Solomon lived what he preached to his children at the start of his reign when he wrote this Book. But the blessings of God that came with the wisdom destroyed him.

However, as we consider Solomon, we easily see God's purpose in allowing him to gain wisdom and wealth. The book of Ecclesiastes resulted, showing us the folly of building ones life around material wealth, and the dangers of wealth.

How many times to children have different desires from the parents? The parents urge them to seek after God at all costs, yet they do not. They are told that faithfulness to the Lord will bless them, yet they ignore the instructions. The sad thing is that the parents are trying to instruct the children in something they will not do---seek and follow God's wisdom.

Notice here what Solomon says, which is almost identical to what has already been said about wisdom. Wisdom is personified as a woman here. And we have already mentioned, Christ is the wisdom of God. The word of God is the wisdom of God placed on a level that we can understand it.

Notice the urgency in these words get wisdom.

1. Get wisdom. Wisdom and understanding are identified together. This is understanding how the principles of God's word apply to every situation at hand. This is the most important thing that can be obtained in life.

2. Don't turn from wisdom, Forsake her not. If young people would stay close to this wisdom from the Lord, they will be preserved. They will not get into presumptuous situations. Wisdom will protect those who love her.

V. 5 gives an important statement. Words... Watch what we allow out of our mouth. Do our words reflect the wisdom of God or the wisdom of his world?

V. 7 continues as a father instructing his children.

Wisdom is the principle thing. Wisdom is above all else. If you do not get anything or learn anything else, get wisdom. He did not say what is the common cry today: get an education above all things. An education will preserve you and keep you.

Of course, they do not continue with the thought: Get an education, for those of us in the education industry depend on it for our wealth.

The wise man continually tells us to get wisdom. Get understanding of how to apply the word of God to every situation. By our words and actions, what do we teach others is the principle thing? Maybe money or a good job. Or do our actions say Get wisdom from God's word?

Vv. 8-13

Solomon speaks from experience. He sought wisdom from God first of all, and his live showed the result.

He gives us here several reasons again why wisdom should be sought. Clearly wisdom, the application of the law of God, will keep us in every way.

This section gives the results of following Christ's instructions as found in Matthew 6:33, seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. That is, all the things sought after by the unsaved.

Every voice around us screams in our ears: Seek first an education, and you will have all your heart could desire. It is being proved that the "education" message is a lie; it is full of promises it cannot deliver, as multitudes of young people are tied to debt they will never be able to repay. They find out that their expensive education does not translate into a nice well-paying job.

Wisdom promises honour with both God and man. Solomon wrote from first hand experience

ornament ... Wisdom will be as obvious for others to see as a crown.

Wisdom will add days to our lives. Wisdom will keep us away from those things that shorten life.

As we said, Solomon was not talking through his hat about some spiritual attitude which would do the person no good. Wisdom was the first thing that he ask for at the very start of his reign, and it worked out in his everyday life.

Solomon was proof that wisdom delivers on its promises.

Wisdom promises:

promotion, honour and long life.

Some of the richest men in the world today prove that education does not deliver on its promises. In fact, the men I personally know whom I would consider wealthy obtained that wealth through wisdom, not education.

How could Solomon say these things about wisdom? Why did he ask for wisdom at the very start?

It is obvious that his father taught him. But there is more to it than his father. The Lord impressed him to ask for wisdom.

We see from v. 5, he could have been quoting what his dad had told him. We know that he listened because when the chance came to make a choice, he made the right one.

V. 11 Either David says to Solomon, or Solomon says to his children that he has taught him the proper ways.

Not only has he taught them the right way, but he has led them in the right path.

Proper attitudes and goals are caught not taught.

He set the right example, and now it is up to the children to follow the proper way. This man not only told them to do right, he lived it and fully expected them to follow his ways. There is probably nothing more devastating to children than to urge them and expect them to live something that their parents, fathers especially, will not live. Parents cannot expect their children to hold important things they do not hold important.

Illustration: We lived in Bowlingreen In until I was about 9, or the 4th. grade. I think my dad was ordained when I was in about the second grade or so. There are a few things that stand out in my memory from those early years and one of clearest is that he led us to church, before he was ordained. It was maybe 10 blocks to church, and if the weather was nice, we walked as a family. My dad, mom, brother and I. In other words, dad led us to church. He tried the best he could to consistently lead us in the right way, as he understood the right way.

The godly father in Proverbs tells us that he led his children in the right way. How many men can say this today? I'm afraid that most of the children of this generation will have to say that mom tried to lead us in the right way, but dad was indifferent.

We need real men who will lead their families in the ways of the Lord.

No doubt the judgment of God is against this nation today because fathers are too busy to lead their children in the ways of the Lord.

By the time children leave home can the parents say to them, "Follow in the way that I have led you?"

V. 12 Thou shalt not be straitened. Apparently this is something like the word which Paul used to describe the distress he was in between two decisions:

Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

V. 12 says that the more wisdom we have gained from God's word, the better we will be able to deal with difficult decisions.

V. 13. Get wisdom, and hold fast to it. Everything around us screams to us to abandon God's wisdom for the world's wisdom, or self-wisdom. Wisdom is a matter of life and death. for she is thy life.

Illustration: I can well remember working for my dad between my jr and sr year of HS in a gravel pit that he owned. It was not uncommon to have to set some steel beams in the tower which the gravel was pumped to for washing and separation.

At times, I would be the one on the tower to guide the beams into place while another operated the crane. Then my dad would do the welding.

He kept telling me that one hand was for me and one for the company. In other words, one hand was to hang on with, the other to work with. And like it was yesterday, he said that no matter what happened, always hang on. The term would be "Hang on for dear life."

This is what this father is telling his children about wisdom, advise and instruction from the word of God. "Hang on to it for dear life. Your life depends on you being able to hang on."

While others turn back and walk according to their own understanding, we must continue in God's wisdom.

John 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Vv. 14-17.

Now some points here.

I. The father gives his children instruction and direction. That is, responsibility must be given with instruction. Instruction without responsibility, or the sense of duty, to follow that instruction is not much use to men nor to God. I know a great many folks who know what to do, but they see no responsibility to do what they know they should do. They lack character.

II. Notice how much this father is pleading with his children. He keeps hitting the same theme over and over. He knows from his own experience that very few young people see any need to seek the wisdom of the word of God. The average young person will only want to seek after money and a good time, therefore he continues on this theme for some time at the opening of this book. The ones who will not listen do not realize that they are storing up regrets for latter in life when they ignore their parents instructions, as well as disobeying God, and our kids think that we say one thing a lot.

III. This brings up this problem also. The parents. The world has presented many substitutes for this wisdom called for here. Sad to say, the secularization of Christianity has been almost complete. Even Christian parents and pastors are telling their children, "Get education. Education is the principle thing. Love her, hang on to her for dear life, get her understanding and she will give you understanding of all things. She will exalt and keep you. She will give you a crown of glory and deliver thee from the many evils that lurk to shorten your life."

Certainly there are disciplines that require advance education, such math, medicine and the sciences.

The two young ladies who interned with Bettie were being pressured by their parents to go to college. Neither wanted to go. We urged them to tell their parents their concerns, and the pressure was off to go to college. Both are now pursuing what they feel they have God's gift to do.

Parents and even Pastors pressure young people to get a 'good education,' and argue the point until they are out of breath, yet stress very little if anything at all the importance of seeking Godly wisdom.

Even the church is turning out "Christian Humanists" who replace Godly wisdom with worldly wisdom. This secular education has almost completely replaced these promises that are made by wisdom. The sad thing is that the secular education cannot deliver.

We need this instruction as much as do young people because we do not place God's value on wisdom, or we would act a lot different toward the word of God in our own personal study and our hearing when it is taught.

Vv. 14-17.

Now the Wise Man compares the two paths. He has emphasized the path and results of seeking godly wisdom and understanding. Now he gives the results of the path of evil men.

The book of Proverbs opened with avoiding the path of the wicked and the way of evil men, 1:10ff.

This avoidance is emphasized many times in the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The theme of avoiding the wrong kind of people is throughout Scripture.

There is probably nothing more distressing than to see our children running with the wrong crowd. We know where their path leads, destruction. I remember when Jessica, as a 14 year old, wanted to hang with the wrong crowd.

V. 16, the life of the wicked is to do evil. They cannot rest without eating of the bread of wickedness and drunk of the wine of violence.

Geneva note for v. 16,

Meaning that to do evil is more proper and natural to the wicked than to sleep, eat or drink.

Evil companions are probably the most tempting thing there is to get a young person to depart from the proper path. Amnon had a friend. How much evil has been pursued at the urging of evil companions? But the evil cannot be blamed on the friend.

Our nature is so inclined to the wrong way, that it does not take much to get a young person to follow wrong companions. Rehaboam did not learn from his father. He followed the wrong advice of those he grew up with, and the kingdom was split.

The whole scripture is on the side of caution.

Enter not, go not, avoid it, pass not, turn from, pass away from the paths of the path of the wicked.

Do not even get near those who are determined to do evil. Wickedness is a highly contagious atmosphere. It is much easier to stay away from the occasion of evil than it is to extract ourselves from the way of evil.

No person comes out of the path of evil unhurt.

Augustine (354-430) who was converted out of a life of Debauchery, said of his youth:

"By myself alone I would not have done it. It was the company that I loved, with whom I did it." He adds, "Come, let us go and do it, I was ashamed not to be as shameless as they."

First the evil company is loved; then the evil of the company is loved.

Remember, this is the instructions of a father to his children. Young people have a difficult time seeing the evil in those they are around. Peer pressure can be devastating to anyone, young or old. It is a slippery path down once it is entered into.

v. 18-19

Matthew 5:14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

V. 18, the Lord tells us in Luke 19 (v. 26) that if we do not increase in light, what we have will be removed from us.

The choice is before the youth, as it is before every one. The path of light and life, or the path of darkness and death.

The Wise Man continually presents the choice between light and darkness, and explains the end results of both.

Again, the contrast is emphasized between the path of the just, and the way of the wicked.

The path of the just is as if it were on a bright day. The just can see the path clearly, v. 12. The light of the just will increase as he uses it.

V. 19, Vv. 12, 14. the way of the wicked is as if it were on the darkest night. He continues on the path to destruction. He is headed for a fall, and will not know what happened when the fall comes to pass.

1 John 2:11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

They know not at what they stumble. They will not understand why everything fell apart as the world tells them that they failed because they did not follow enough the ways of the world: Not enough education.

Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

John 12:35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

Vv. 20-22.

Repeated instructions are need both for children and adults, and Solomon continues with is same message, only with different words.

Addend to my words? The only words we have now are found in the Word of God. We must read:

A neglected Bible is the sad or miserable proof of a heart ?alienated from God.? How can we say we love God, when we neglect his word?

Ears, eyes, heart. Let the wise words keep all of our attention, and control our actions.

Life to those that find it, and health to their flesh. To God?s people, religion is not a cross to bear. It is not a chain around them. Christian duty is not a drag.

Godliness has the element of joy for his people.

He has warned what has happened to others.
He has lived it.
He has instructed from the word of God. This would speak maybe of memorizing and certainly speaks of meditation.

Reminds again of what has been said so many times previously. The result will be life and health (the marg. reads medicine). No matter how much is spent on health care, on research, on proper exercise, the end result is that it is obedience to the principles of God's word that brings about good health. This includes both diet and emotional.

Vv. 23-27.

The most important thing a person can do is fond in v. 27.

A very important point about Satan is mentioned by one of the greatest American theologians, Charles Hodges in his SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY. This was published 1871.

Look at the implications of these two views. Luther's view was very much like the natural view that lays the blame for sin outside to the individual. The implications of this thinking are all around us today. "It is my parent's fault, etc."

Calvin is the one that I must agree with because of our Lord's words in Matthew 15:19 (cf. Mk 7). He told His disciples that evil proceeds from an evil heart, not from the Evil One. This evil is a result of the sin of establishing man's law for God's, IN THE HEART. Outward sin is when this man-established law is acted on. This lays the blame for sin on the sinner, who MUST bring his sinful heart under the control of the word of God, 1 Corinthians 10:5. It is important what we believe, right down to the most minute detail. Every thought, idea and belief has implications, therefore, every thought, idea and belief, must be brought into the obedience of Christ. We must know God's word, the truth.

The father here in Proverbs 4:23 is telling his son that sin and evil originate in the heart. Therefore, guard the heart, keep it subdued to the word of God.

The heart is the most difficult thing to know, though the devil knows it well. He knows the weaknesses we have, and takes full advantage of them.

Out of the heart are the issues of life. Evil proceeds from the heart of evil men. The mouth, eyes and feet are controlled by the heart.

Eyes look straight before thee? Lot?s wife looked back. David looked in his neighbor?s house. Achan?s heart controlled his eyes. The pleasure of sin for a season is from the un-kept heart. But the end thereof is death.

The feet?

V. 24. Put away from thee a froward (6143-1684b, twisted - as a woman would twist her hair. Would refer to words which deliberately pervert right, or give a false impression.) mouth, and perverse (3891-1090a Basically means a double dealer. Thus, words that are for our own advancement, seeking their own self rather than the Word of God.) lips put far from thee.

The urgency to avoid the wicked and their ways was stressed in vs. 14, 15. They make their way through life with crooked words and actions. Young people especially are quick to pick this up from the wicked. The father tells the son here to avoid the ways and the words of the wicked at all cost.

V. 25 Here we have all that is necessary to follow the right path. It starts in v. 23:

1. Keep the heart.
2. Keep the mouth.
3. Keep the eyes.
4. Keep the feet.

And even a young person can and should seek to have the blessings of God.

All of our actions are to be directed by good and biblical intentions. Keep our mind fixed on the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Do not look nor turn aside to the right or left.

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 ¶ Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

V. 26, consider our actions well before we do them. Let us be constantly godly regardless of the temptations otherwise. If we ponder our paths, walk in the right way, we can expect God?s blessings and good success.

V. 27. Walk the "straight and narrow" if we want God?s blessings. Defined by his word.

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