READING: Proverbs 4
In chapter 4 the father continues to give his instructions, asking his children to pay attention and heed them (vv. 1 – 9). He seeks to motivate his children to understand what he has learned: that growing in wisdom is the key to truly living. Wisdom is pictured as a beautiful and generous woman who will bestow gifts on those who value her – on those who hold onto her.
In the middle verses of this chapter (vv. 10 – 19) two paths are described and contrasted– the path of wisdom (godliness) and the path of the wicked (hostility toward God – self centeredness). How are the two paths pictured and what are the results of following each of them?
The last several verses (vv. 20 -27) reiterate the importance of paying attention to the father’s teaching and give several important instructions. Notice what they are. Did any of them especially speak to you?
Because I’m writing these comments on BBC I have meditated quite a bit on this chapter this week. I’ve read it in several versions; I’ve looked up the Hebrew meaning of many words; I’ve mulled quite a few of the verses over in my mind throughout the last several days. It has been good – a true blessing for me. So what are some of my thoughts from this chapter that I’ve reflected on? (I won’t bore you with all of them! And I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.)
1. I actually snorted when I got to verse 7 in my first reading this week! “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom.” It almost sounds like an ironic joke – like the way to get rich is to get money! (Yeah, right…) But the more I’ve thought about the statement, the more I see its truth. The first step in becoming wise is to decide get wisdom – to value it enough to be determined in getting it. We have a choice which path to choose and the first thing is to determine to pursue the path of wisdom – something that may not always be easy.
2. I have verse 18 underlined in my Bible – it’s a verse I’ve loved for a long time. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” The more we walk in wisdom the more wisdom (light) we have. The light of wisdom becomes more and more established in us as we continue to walk in it.
3. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (v. 23) I have a nightshirt that has this verse written on the front. It’s a good verse to ponder. We are told to watch over, to guard our affections and desires, our mind, with extra carefulness, like they’re in a prison (that Hebrew word translated “diligence” means literally to guard as in a prison, to confine). Why? Because our affections and desires are what feed the rest of us, like a spring of water. We don’t want that spring poisoned.
4. Just something interesting that I found out about v. 24: “Put away from you a deceitful mouth”. That phrase “deceitful mouth” means distorted speech. I don’t know about you, but that adds a shading to the meaning of “deceitful” that I hadn’t considered before. Distortion is a way of deceiving. It is very easy to present information in a distorted way – to slant it in a way that benefits the speaker’s perspective, rather than in a truthful manner.
5. And finally, vv. 25 - 26 tell us “ Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. ” That word translated “watch” means literally “weigh” or “make level” (as in checking a weight) and implies careful consideration and deliberation. The word translated “path” can also be translated “track” or “course” or “trench” – I get the idea of a route that is taken over and over again. Could this mean our habits? We are to be careful, to be deliberate about what we do over and over again – doing so will help the whole way of our life to be secure and steady – not easily knocked down. (That idea keeps coming up over and over again for us in Psalms and Proverbs.) I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2 as I read this passage. Hebrews 12: 1-2 says, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Make lists from Proverbs 3- 4 of what characterizes a person of wisdom and what the benefits of wisdom are.
It is important that we are doers of the word and not hearers only. If we only hear, but don’t do, we are deceiving ourselves. (James 1: 21 – 25)
Help us to want wisdom, Lord, to be determined to get it. Incline our hearts to desire YOU! You are the giver of wisdom, the way to wisdom. Help us as we read your Word to not only hear it, but to obey it. We don’t want to fool ourselves by reading your Word without being changed by it. Reveal our hearts to us so that we can steadily live for You.