by Elder Deborah Morrison
Proverbs 4: 1-9 & 20-27 NKJV
God is not explicitly mentioned in Proverbs 4, but his presence is woven throughout as a wise Father continues to exhort his son to pursue wisdom. The message of Proverbs 4 is simple; will you pursue the way of wisdom or the way of wickedness? The decision, while simple, is not an easy one.
How do we pursue wisdom? It is not a matter of just trying harder, but a matter of the heart.
· For the LORD giveth wisdom; out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
· Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. Prov 9:10 NLT
In Proverbs Chapter 4, we have a father teaching his children. We know the Word of God established the Man as the head, and the responsibility of instructing the children was the father’s responsibility (See Ephesians 5:2-33); the wife also instructed the children along with her husband, as the bible says the husband and wife are one flesh – In Biblical times once a male child was weaned from their mother, the son was taught by the father – traditions, beliefs, and values. In today’s society, we see an increase in single-parent households, grandparents, Aunts, and uncles being responsible for raising and instructing children.
1. (Pro 4:1-2) A plea to listen to a father’s wisdom.
· Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, and give attention to know understanding; For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
King Solomon is speaking as a father to his children. These are the instructions of a father for the benefit of his children. King Solomon is qualified to write about wisdom. He asked God for a heart that understands the difference between good and evil. Solomon’s request pleased God, and God gave him a wise and understanding heart (1 Kgs 3:9-13). King Solomon was the wisest of all the kings of the earth (1 Kgs 10:23).
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention, to gain understanding. I am giving you sound teaching, so do not forsake my instruction. The home continues to be the prominent arena of teaching and learning, this is not only where the parents pass on, but model the traditions, beliefs, and values to their children.
· These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your [a]children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. (Deut 6:6-7)
In verse 1 - The first appeal to the children is to “Hear”, my children, to a father’s instructions, there are many distractions, and forces aimed at our children (young and adults). The sole intention of these forces is to cause our children to live contrary to what was taught and modeled, thus forfeiting their God-given purpose.
This is why it is so important as Parents and Leaders that we live what we talk /Preach about.
Not only does the godly parent point out the way of godliness, trust in Christ, obedience to His commands, and life-oriented around Christ; they also set the example. In this day and age, people will be quick to point out when we fail to model what we say!
The second appeal "Give attention to know to understand: This appeal, and the appeal to hear in the first line means there may be hesitancy or resistance on part of the children that must be overcome by the appeal. Parents are often discouraged by a child’s resistance to their wisdom and instruction, but it still must be spoken, and with heartfelt appeals. No matter how they act, our responsibility as parents is to instruct our children.
· Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
Q - Are there any witnesses to the above scripture Prov 22:6? Rather you or your child(ren)?
2.(Pro 4:3-5) Guidance from previous generations: Get wisdom!
· When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
**Note: The only one in the sight of my mother: 1 Chronicles 3:5 indicates that Bathsheba had other sons through David, but Solomon was her special son, God’s chose heir to the throne of Israel. “Though Abraham had other sons, only Isaac is called his heir, thy only son (Genesis 22:2, 12, 16) to emphasize the special status of Sarah’s offspring.”
King Solomon had confidence in his instructions, no doubt because it was based on Scriptural wisdom. Confident that he spoke good doctrine, he could exhort them to his children, “do not forsake my law”. Solomon remembered the lessons his father taught him. This would be a special remembrance of any son with any father, but even more so, when we consider that Solomon’s father was King David, the greatest of Israel’s earthly kings. By recalling his upbringing and referring to his father, the teacher both identified with the present struggles in his son’s life and reinforces the paternal dignity of his words. These teachings have stood the test of time. As parents, we are to draw on what we were previously taught, from life experiences, and the wisdom we now walk in. We are all familiar with the famous statement… “Experience is the best teacher”.
Verses 1-4 exhort us to pass on to our children the godly teaching we have received. The godly father of Proverbs is seeking to impart to his son the spiritual teaching and relationship with the Lord that he received from his father; he now urges his son to receive it as his own. In an age of various beliefs and doctrines, and when so few know truth from error and right from wrong, it is so important to make known to our children the Word of God!
Q- King Solomon mentions how godly wisdom was passed down to him from his father. What does this tell us about the value of investing in the next generation?
Children who receive their parent’s direction in the fear of God, have that to be forever thankful for. They can never escape its power. It may be that they will initially reject its appeal, but the fact that they have received it will create for them a way of escape from evil through all life’s pilgrimage. Our responsibility as a parent, a leader is to instruct in the way of the Lord, we may not know where life will take our children, after all our teaching. But one thing remains, if it is in them, they will be able to draw on it when needed.
· I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
This is one of my favorite scriptures, (1 Corinthians 3:6-7) and I often pray, that the Lord sends someone to minister His grace and love to my child because it does not matter who plants, who waters, but that God gives the increase, and that my child is delivered, set free and saved!
Let your heart retain my words: Before David spoke to Solomon, he cultivated a receptive heart. David did not want his words to fall upon deaf ears or a hard heart, so he addressed this first. In some situations, as parents, we must be mindful of our approach when instructing our children, and not to use the Word of God as some sort of weapon against them or to paint a picture of a God of doom and gloom when it is convenient.
· Fathers do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
Parents, we must remember than an untaught child will be a living shame. Prov 29:15
· The rod and reproof (godly instruction) give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. (Amplified Version)
· Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents.( The Message Bible)
· To discipline a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child. (NLT)
Keep my commands, and live: One of the ways that David cultivated a receptive heart was to communicate the importance of his instruction. Because the teachings, faithfully communicated God’s truth, obedience to the commands of his father meant life or death for Solomon.
· In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death. Prov 12:28
This is as plain as it gets, the pathway of righteousness is life and the opposite pathway is unrighteousness, which is death. (Death meaning separation from God)
· For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV)
· The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
A wise person can understand the difference between good and evil. As we know, something may appear to be good although it is bad. Good appearances can trap us into believing that a thing is good, and that very thing might end up hurting or destroying us. A wise person sees consequences ahead of time.
Get wisdom! Before David gave him the actual words of wisdom, he first encouraged the pursuit of wisdom in Solomon. Value wisdom, pursue wisdom, sacrifice for wisdom, and Get wisdom and understanding.
Get wisdom ‘suggests, ‘buy wisdom,’ because the Hebrew word “get “carries the idea of a financial transaction. There’s a price to pay if you want to know God’s truth and obey it. We know the old saying, anything worth having will cost you something. Therefore, the idea is that wisdom will cost something, but it is worth it!
Q - In your own words explain the cost of Wisdom and its value in your life
3. (Prov 4:6-9) The benefits of getting wisdom.
· Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you; She will bring you honor, when you embrace her. She will place on your head an ornament of grace; A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you: Solomon continued in his remembrance of his father’s teaching to him. If he remained on the path of wisdom and loved wisdom (love her), it would preserve him and keep him safe.
· Note: The teacher uses feminine verbs to promise protection and safety. Here we find wisdom personified as a woman, at first reading like a bride that is to be loved and embraced (v. 8), but also having the qualities of an influential patron who can protect.
Wisdom is the principal thing: King David communicated more than the facts of wisdom; he wanted Solomon to love and value and honor wisdom. Men and women often regard money or fame or romance as the principle thing; God’s people should give a higher place to wisdom.
Ecclesiastes 7:11-22: Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, yea better. It shelters from the storms and scorching heat of trouble. Wealth will not lengthen out the natural life; but true wisdom will give spiritual life, and strengthen men for services under their sufferings. Wisdom gives perspective!
Q - How have you been able to apply Wisdom in the current pandemic of 2020?
Exalt her, and she will promote you: The love and pursuit of wisdom is rewarded. She brings with her honor and ornament. Early in his life, Solomon was richly rewarded for his pursuit of wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-12).
Just as Solomon prayed for God to give him an understanding heart, James 1:5 says that a person who lacks wisdom may ask God for it. God will give it generously and will not make that person feel embarrassed about asking for it. People who do not know God have their type of wisdom, but that wisdom does not work for your good. God wants you to have His wisdom that is found in His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18-31).
In your life, exalt wisdom; give it a priority and it will exalt you. The wisdom of God is the Word of God, so pursue the Word. Give it the deserved attention and importance, and it'll promote you and bring you to honor and glory. I always say attached to me, is God’s glory!
Let your eyes look straight ahead: We often depart the path of the just out of distraction. The blinders used on horses do them much good and would do many of us good as well.
Wisdom says – Don’t get distracted – Fix your eyes on Jesus:
· Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)
Jesus said that if we will be fit for His kingdom, we must keep our eyes forward, not distracted side to side or backward.
· And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
Ponder the path of your feet: If one would consider the destination of their present path, it would lead to much more wise living. When we carefully ponder where we are headed, it helps to establish our wise direction and help us to not turn to the right or the left.
The son must take care that every step conforms with the right path; one false step could prove fatal. Your foot calls attention to every step taken in the road of life.
· Establish my footsteps in the way of Your word; Do not let any human weakness have power over me causing me to be separated from You. (Psalm 119:133 Amplified version)
Q – Can you recall a time that wisdom called you back to the pathway of righteousness?
4. (Prov 4: 20-22) A plea to be heard
· My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
The lessons of wisdom can be given but never received. Solomon often exhorted his son to pay attention and to keep the lessons of wisdom before his eyes.
Proverbs 4:20-27 make mention of the body at least 11 times (eyes, feet, and heart are mentioned twice, and ear, flesh, mouth, lips, and eyelids once each). It is a section that speaks powerfully on how we can dedicate each part of our body to wisdom and God’s honor.
Later the Apostle Paul wrote in the 6th Chapter of Romans, of yielding the parts (members) of our body to God:
· Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:12-13
The Bible speaks of the heart 826 times -- based on those numbers – the spiritual heart must be important, just like the natural heart is important for without one there is no life!
· The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 KJV)
The meaningless habits of talk react on the mind; so that, cynical chatter, fashionable grumbles, flippancy, half-truths, will cause a hardening into our established habits of thought. This is why Wisdom; the Word of God tells us:
· Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV)
Q - Can godly wisdom aid us in living quality lives?
5. (Prov 4:23) Keep your heart
· Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (KJV)
Keep your heart with all diligence: Since wisdom belongs in the midst of the heart (Prov 4:21), it also is necessary to keep the heart in the sense of guarding it.
· Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. Prov 4:21 KJV
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. the sense Solomon meant here, the heart should be kept for wisdom, guarding it against the way of the wicked (Prov 4:19).— “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not what they stumble”
The way of the wicked is like darkness: Considering where each path leads should help a man or woman make the right choice. One of the tempter’s chief strategies is to hide the consequences of our path.
From the perspective of the new covenant, which promises a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), we can say that keep your heart implies a heart worth keeping – a new heart, one worth guarding.
Something to consider:
· The heart is the reservoir, and change must begin there. If the reservoir is polluted, it does no good to fix the pipes and the valves.
The Bible warns us to avoid a double heart (Psalm 12:2), a hard heart (Proverbs 28:14), a proud heart (Proverbs 21:4), an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12), a cold heart (Matthew 24:12), and an unclean heart (Psalm 51:10).
When the bible says, “with all diligence”, this implies that it isn’t easy to guard or keep one’s heart. There will be many opportunities to give our hearts to a person or a path that wisdom would warn against.
Keep them in your heart: Though it goes against our inherited sinful nature, we can and must cultivate a heart that loves wisdom and is focused upon her. If wisdom is regarded as only a system of rules and threats, then her purpose is never achieved. We should pray for and pursue wisdom amid our hearts.
· But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. (James 3:17)
Q - How important is wisdom in life?
They are life to all who find them: God’s word – communicated through the words and sayings of this father to his children – brings life and health. The pursuit of wisdom is rewarded.
Just as Solomon prayed for God to give him an understanding heart, James 1:5 says that a person who lacks wisdom may ask God for it. God will give it generously, and will not make that person feel embarrassed about asking for it. People who do not know God have their type of wisdom, but that wisdom does not work for your good. God wants you to have His wisdom that is found in His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18-31).
Just as the Father in Proverbs 4 was a recipient of godly wisdom from the previous generation, Christians today are privileged to benefit from previous generations of faithful Christians. Just as the Father in Proverbs 4 was a recipient of godly wisdom from the previous generation, Christians today are privileged to benefit from previous generations of faithful Christians.
· The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 KJV
Going Deeper: - For further study:
· Verses 24-27 give 4 specific commands: Evaluate your life in light of these verses. What corrections need to be made? What sins need to be repented of? What progress in grace have you seen?
· “Get wisdom” and “Keep your heart” seem like straightforward commands. But how do we do this? Discuss some practical ways to grow in wisdom and diligently keep your heart grounded in Christ.
· When your children and/or others look at your life, do they see that you cherish divine wisdom above all else? That you practice the counsel the godly father gave in verse 7?
About the Author
Deborah Morrison is an ordained Elder and faithfully serves under the leadership of Dr. Shana Wise at Wise Choice Ministries. She has served in various capacities and Leadership positions in ministry for over 16 years.
Elder Deborah is actively involved in Community Evangelism through outreach efforts with The Well Christian Women’s Network, Christian Women Preachers United Clergy and The Early Learning Coalition of Duval Children’s Closet.
Tasked with the burden to see Women set free and delivered, in 2010 Deborah founded Times of Refreshing Women’s Ministry – “Ladies Day Out” Prayer, Praise and Fellowship, where the focus is on Being Refreshed, Reconnected, Restored, Revived and Renewed in the Presence of the Lord.
She is blessed to be a mother of 1 child and many spiritual daughters, and 5 glam babies which she adores. Deborah is a two-year Breast Cancer Survivor and is the epitome of the word Sur.vi.vor - A person who is able to continue living their life successfully despite experiencing difficulties.
Deborah declares I am not just a survivor, but I am “Thriving”, and I have a lot ahead that I want to accomplish as I “Journey forward” in my expected end in Christ Jesus!