Today’s proverbs (chapter 4) are focused on acquiring wisdom for the purpose of living righteously. While the Lord is not specifically mentioned in today’s proverbs, it is implied from chapters 1 through 3 that the reason for acquiring wisdom is to honor God with our lives, in everything we think and say and do.
Today’s proverbs are grouped as follows:
- Encouragement to seek wisdom (vv. 1-9)
- Introduction of seeking wisdom (vv. 1-4a)
- Instruction passed down from one generation to the next (vv. 4b-9)
- Righteous and unrighteous living contrasted (vv. 10-19)
- Benefits of living righteously (vv. 10-13)
- Warning against a wicked lifestyle (vv. 14-19)
- Focus on living a righteous life (vv. 20-27)
Solomon starts each section with “my son” or something similar, to be sure he is keeping his young children’s attention. This is Solomon’s way of saying “listen carefully” or “this is important” or “pay attention”.
In verses 1 – 10, Solomon passes along important teaching that he learned from his father (King David). As a young child, it is one thing if we hear something from our parents. But when our parents share a truth or nugget of wisdom from their parents, it carries extra weight and meaning. Seeing and hearing a truth that is passed down from one generation to the next implies both its importance, as well as the need to retain the truth so it can be preserved and passed down to the next generation as well.
As Solomon points out, acquiring wisdom and understanding is neither easy nor cheap (v. 7). In fact, there will be many who will try to take wisdom away from us, to steal it from us.
You might ask, “how can that be? How can someone steal wisdom from us?”.
It’s really quite simple, actually… two simple ways:
- Offer something that gets a person to drop what they know and believe for something seemingly better (i.e., forsaking wisdom – the opposite of vv. 6, 8, 13)
- Get a person to think they are “smarter than the average bear”, and can get away with a small wrong to obtain something bigger and better than they thought possible (scamming or lying to someone, bullying a person, cheating on a business deal, etc. – examples in vv. 14-17)
In either case above, Solomon knows that both scenarios lead to a short and unhappy life, and ultimately harm us in the end. Get-rich-quick schemes, bullying, power plays, and everything similar do not work out in the end.
Solomon wraps up and summarizes the teaching to his kids (and to us) in verses 20-27. In particular, Solomon gives his son (and us) the most important lesson in today’s reading:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
Why does Solomon say this is the most important proverb for today? Because it answers the “why” question… why we do what we do. This gets to the root of our thoughts, our words, our actions. When we understand the “why”, we quickly see if we are lining up with Scripture and God’s instruction for our lives, or not.
What’s the burning issue in your life (and mine) today? And why?
Time for a heart check…