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Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 4

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-10

Pro 4:1-10

Proverbs 4:1-9

"In this chapter, there are three hortatory discourses (Proverbs 4:1-9; Proverbs 4:10-19, and Proverbs 4:20-27), exactly similar to the ones in Proverbs 2 and Proverbs 3. The subject is the praise of Wisdom, and the description of the blessings which she confers.” These are labeled the sixth, seventh and eighth discourses by Walls, but the sixth is called the "seventh" by Deane.” We do not consider these divisions either very clearly marked or very important.

THE SIXTH DISCOURSE

Proverbs 4:1-9

"Hear, my son, the instructions of a father,

And attend to know understanding:

For I give you good doctrine;

Forsake ye not my law.

For I was a son unto my father,

Tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.

And he taught me, and said unto me:

Let thy heart retain my words;

Keep my commandments, and live;

Get wisdom, get understanding;

Forget not, neither decline from the words of my mouth;

Forsake her not, and she will preserve thee;

Love her, and she will keep thee.

Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom;

Yea, with all thy getting get understanding.

Exalt her, and she will promote thee;

She will bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.

She will give to thy head a chaplet of grace;

A crown of beauty will she deliver to thee."

In spite of the fact of these verses being delivered in the form of a father’s instructions to a son, "The entire chapter may be read (and should be read) as though God was speaking to all men everywhere.”

"Forsake ye not my law" (Proverbs 4:2). Deane reminds us that, "The word law here, as also in Proverbs 1:8, is from the Hebrew [~Torah]," which is the technical word for the Pentateuch, or the Law of Moses. The marginal alternative reading counsel should be ignored. The proof of this is found in the reference here, in Proverbs 4:3-4, by Solomon, the author of these lines, to the instructions which his father David had given him, a sample of which may be read in 1 Chronicles 22:12-13, where the Law of Moses is clearly stated to be precisely that doctrine that Solomon here professes to be delivering to his own son. Therefore, we can find no agreement with Tate’s remark that, "The authority mentioned here is the discipline of the teacher." No! The true authority of these words is that of God Himself as revealed to Moses in the Pentateuch.

"My father ... he taught me" (Proverbs 4:3-4). "These words underline the great Old Testament principle that truth and history are maintained through the family, and our own age could well re-learn this lesson.”

"With all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7). Kidner’s comment is, "What it takes is not brains or opportunity, but decision.” We might add that persistence and determination are also involved; and as James Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible, 1929, translated it, "At any cost get knowledge."

We should exercise care, however, to remember the Biblical revelation of what knowledge, or wisdom, really is. It is not merely what some would call a good education. The true wisdom is to know Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) and to obey him. This type of wisdom does not come in the form of university degrees, but from the faithful obedience of humble and contrite hearts.

Proverbs 4:1. Only three times in the entire book does the author address his material to his “sons” (plural) instead of to his “son” (singular): here; Proverbs 5:7; Proverbs 7:24. No reason is easily discernible for the change at this and the other places. “Hear” is used many times in Proverbs as are “instruction” and “understanding”. Similar passages: “My son, hear the instruction of thy father” (Proverbs 1:8); “Come, ye children, hearken unto me” (Psalms 34:11); “Fathers...nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Proverbs 4:2. “Doctrine” means “teaching”. The father is sure that his teaching is “good”, for he has been over the road, has experienced much, has observed a lot, and has come to sound and studied conclusions, and he has the welfare of his children at heart. For the most part children normally accept their parents’ teachings as good. Because what he was teaching was good, he insists that they not forsake his law.

Proverbs 4:3. As Solomon instructs his own children, he recalls that he too was once a child, a son of his father David (who picked him to be his successor: 1 Kings 1:32-35) and tender and beloved in the sight of his mother (Bathsheba). Every grown-up should be able to look back upon his childhood days and feel this way about his parents. Our verse reminds us that those who are now fathers were once sons, and those who now teach were once taught.

Proverbs 4:4. David took time to teach and prepare Solomon for the great task that was before him in life. Such a constant, several-years’ task takes a father’s time and attention, and it involves a recognition of divine responsibility and a desire to see one’s son grow up to be what he ought to be. Fathers should be more than sires and material providers for their children: “Fathers...nuture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), The direct quotation begins in this verse, but it is debatable just where the quotation ends. Some say the quotation runs to the end of the chapter; some say through Proverbs 4:9 (where the Hebrew paragraph ends). As a conjecture we would place the end quotation at the conclusion of Proverbs 4:9. David urged Solomon to keep his teachings within his heart, and he assured him of “life” as a result. Proverbs 7:1-2 is very similar: “My son, keep my words, And lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments and live.”

Proverbs 4:5. “Get” is used many times in the book of Proverbs. In English we might make a play on words within this verse by saying, “Get wisdom and understanding and forget not what I am teaching you.” Good parents are ambitious for what their children will grow out to become—actually more so than the children themselves at the time.

Proverbs 4:6. That which we “love”, we do not “forsake”. Therefore, David called upon Solomon to love wisdom, “forsake her not”, and his promise was that wisdom would “preserve” and “keep” him. Wisdom would keep him from evil, from evil men, from evil women, from mistakes, from sorrows and disappointments, and from a sad ending. And it will do the same for each of us today! The forgetting in Proverbs 4:5 would be unintentional while the forsaking in this verse could be done while realizing what one was doing.

Proverbs 4:7. With all of thy getting of various things in life, be sure to get wisdom, and this Solomon did (1 Kings 4:29-34; 1 Kings 10:1-7). The New Testament would teach that the salvation of one’s soul is the principal thing in life, but Proverbs, preceding the Christian age, makes wisdom the principal thing, and yet there need not be a clash, for wisdom—true wisdom—will cause one to be saved: the “wise” man builds his house upon the rock of Christ (Matthew 7:24-25); a knowledge of God’s Word causes one to be “wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). But how does one go about getting wisdom? First of all it must be sought by prayer (James 1:5; 1 Kings 3:5-12), and then man must constantly sit at the feet of the three great “teachers”. They are: (1) instruction (learning by listening to what others would teach us—Proverbs 9:9); (2) observation (learning by keeping one’s eyes open, learning from the experiences of others—Psalms 37:25; Proverbs 24:30-34); and (3) experience—learning from your own experiences—Philippians 4:10-12).

Proverbs 4:8. The son would “exalt” wisdom, by making it his chief concern, and his love for wisdom is couched in the words, “When thou dost embrace her.” If he would exalt wisdom, wisdom would exalt him just as if he turned his back on wisdom, wisdom would turn her back upon him (Proverbs 1:24-31). Learning cannot be over-emphasized unless one learns the wrong thing (Colossians 2:8), unless one fails to add the other essentials to character-development (2 Peter 1:5-7), and unless one becomes conceited over his knowledge (Romans 12:16). “Knowledge is power; and it is truly astonishing to see what influence true learning has. Nothing is so universally respected” (“Clarke”).

Proverbs 4:9. Wisdom will (in time) give or deliver to one’s head a chaplet (wreath or garland) of grace, a crown of beauty. Similar passages: Proverbs 1:9; Proverbs 3:22. These promotions and honors among men is the exalting referred to in Proverbs 4:8.

Proverbs 4:10. If our conjecture is right, the direct quotation of David’s words to Solomon ended with Proverbs 4:9, in which case we return to this verse in Solomon’s words to his son. Just as Solomon had received the “sayings” of his father and had passed some of them on in Proverbs 4:4-9, so now he calls upon his son to receive his sayings. While his son Rehoboam did not demonstrate wisdom in 1 Kings 12:13-14, he was probably wise as a rule. Honoring one’s parents by listening to them and doing as they teach carry the promise of length of life: here and in Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3; Proverbs 3:2. Wisdom itself can be the means of lengthening one’s life just as folly can shorten it. The promise of God can of itself lengthen it just as disobedience to His will can nullify the promise. But so can sin enter into the length of one’s life: “Vice and intemperance impair the health and shorten the days of the wicked; while true religion, sobriety, and temperance prolong them. The principal part of our diseases spring from indolence, intemperance, and disorderly passions. Religion excites to industry, promotes sober habits, destroys evil passions, and harmonizes the soul; and thus, by preventing many diseases, necessarily prolongs life” (“Clarke”).

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 4:1-10

1. Why the change from the usual “son” to “sons” in Proverbs 4:1?

2. What does “doctrine” mean?

3. What does Proverbs 4:3 show to be the way parents should feel concerning their children?

4. What kind of parent is described in Proverbs 4:4?

5. How many times is “get” used in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 4:5)?

6. Reword Proverbs 4:6.

7. Connect the thought of Proverbs 4:7 with the author of Proverbs.

8. What will wisdom do for its possessor (Proverbs 4:8)?

9. What was a chaplet (Proverbs 4:9)?

10. Tie Proverbs 4:10 in with the first commandment of the Ten Commandments that contains a promise.

Verses 1-13

Pro 4:1-13

The young are encouraged to gladly receive

instructions and obtain Wisdom (Proverbs 4:1-13):

"Hear, my sons, the instruction of a father, And attend to know understanding: For I give you good doctrine; Forsake ye not my law" (Proverbs 4:1-2). Once again, Solomon advises his readers to "Hear the instruction of a father" (see Proverbs 1:8). The foolish and unloving could care less about the instruction of a father. Fathers have lived long and gained experience. A son would do well to listen to his father’s instructions. The foolish mock and ignore their parents instructions. The mark of the wise is that they are willing to "hear" their fathers and "attend to know understanding." Those who are wise are interested in doing what is right and being respectful to those who are due honor. Such people will "attend" to gaining wisdom and understanding because they view these spiritual matters as great treasure to be gained (see Proverbs 2:3-5; Proverbs 3:13-15).

"For I was a son unto my father, Tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. And he taught me, and said unto me: Let thy heart retain my words; Keep my commandments, and live; Get wisdom, get understanding; Forget not, neither decline from the words of my mouth; Forsake her not, and she will preserve thee; Love her, and she will keep thee" (Proverbs 4:3-6).

Solomon fondly remembers his childhood of sitting at his own father’s feet and gaining understanding. How many times have you young people heard your dad say, "When I was your age..."? Though you may role your eyes as though dad has no clue remember he has lived at least twice as long as you and has gained a degree of wisdom and understanding. You owe them, by divine decree, your attention and honor. The father of wisdom is Jehovah God (see Proverbs 8:22 ff). Solomon’s father (king David) taught him to "retain" the words he was taught. Young people should not listen to their fathers to amuse them but listen with an ear to learn and then "retain" those words for future use. Such retention will be an investment in wisdom and understanding.

"Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom; Yea, with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote thee; She will bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. She will give to thy head a chaplet of grace; A crown of beauty will she deliver to thee" (Proverbs 4:7-9). What is the "principle thing" in your life (i.e., what is most important to you)? Sometimes people live and talk as though entertainment were the principle thing in life to obtain. Others seem to believe that financial security is the principle thing to strive after. There are many things of this world that people strive after as though they could not live without; however, Solomon tells us that "Wisdom is the principle or most important thing." To this point of our study this may be the principle statement. Man may fail to have many friend, fame, or riches yet if he fails in attaining wisdom he has failed at obtaining the principle thing in this life.

Seeing that wisdom is the most important thing for you to possess you ought to search after her with all diligence (see Proverbs 2:1-5; Proverbs 3:13-18. Those who treat wisdom as the principle thing in life will bring honor, grace, and a crown of beauty to their lives.

"Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; And the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in paths of uprightness. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; And if thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble" (Proverbs 4:10-12). Solomon, as a father to a son, pleads that his readers would receive the wise sayings of a dad (don’t be so quick to ignore your father’s instruction). A father should be able to say to his son, "I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in paths of uprightness" (see Ephesians 6:1 ff). When a father has done his job of teaching a child in the ways of wisdom the child will be kept from the ways of the wicked. Solomon is not teaching once saved always saved but rather saying that those who continue in wisdom and paths of righteousness "shall not stumble." The key to not stumbling is remaining faithful to divine revelation (see 2 Peter 1:10).

"Take fast hold of instruction; Let her not go: Keep her; For she is thy life" (Proverbs 4:13). Solomon had just said that "wisdom is the principle (most important) thing." The wise man now states that wisdom "is thy life." Wisdom, the precious treasures of knowledge, are to be equated to oxygen in level of importance in our lives. Wisdom should be viewed as something that not only sustains our lives but something that we simply cannot do without for a moment. When wisdom is viewed as this important and this precious then the young will "take fast hold of instruction." Rather than scoffing at your dad’s instructions you will be ready, willing, and anxious to hear more and more of your father’s teaching.

Study Questions - Proverbs 4:1-13

1. Why the change from the usual “son” to “sons” in Proverbs 4:1?

2. What does “doctrine” mean?

3. What does Proverbs 4:3 show to be the way parents should feel concerning their children?

4. What kind of parent is described in Proverbs 4:4?

5. How many times is “get” used in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 4:5)?

6. Reword Proverbs 4:6.

7. Connect the thought of Proverbs 4:7 with the author of Proverbs.

8. What will wisdom do for its possessor (Proverbs 4:8)?

9. What was a chaplet (Proverbs 4:9)?

10. Tie Proverbs 4:10 in with the first commandment of the Ten Commandments that contains a promise.

11. What is the difference between “taught” and “led” in Proverbs 4:11?

12. What does “straitened” mean (Proverbs 4:12)?

13. What is the significance of taking “fast hold” of instruction (Proverbs 4:13)?

Verses 11-19

Pro 4:11-19

Proverbs 4:10-19

THE SEVENTH DISCOURSE

"Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings;

And the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom;

I have led thee in the paths of uprightness.

When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened;

And if thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go:

Keep her; for she is thy life.

Enter not into the path of the wicked,

And walk not in the way of evil men.

Avoid it, pass not by it;

Turn from it, and pass on.

For they sleep not, except they do evil;

And their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.

For they eat the bread of wickedness,

And drink the wine of violence.

But the path of the righteous is as the dawning light,

That shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

The day of the wicked is as darkness:

They know not at what they stumble."

"The years of thy life shall be many" (Proverbs 4:10). "The Hebrew in this line actually means, `thy years shall be multiplied’.” The fact of the life of Solomon having been cut short indicates that he did not follow his own good advice.

In this section, two ways of living are presented; and then they are compared. "Proverbs 4:10-13 describe the way of wisdom; Proverbs 4:14-17 describe the way of the wicked; and Proverbs 4:18-19 present a comparison of the two ways.”

"Thy steps shall not be straitened" (Proverbs 4:12). "The word `straitened’ here is a derivative from an old English word strait which does not mean straight, but `strict’ or `narrow.’” The way of wisdom is "the narrow way" (Matthew 7:13-14), or the straitened way. This really should surprise no one, for the truth is always narrow, exact and minutely perfect. For example, the exact ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle is so precise that no exact statement of it is possible. It is placed at 3.1416159+!

"She is thy life" (Proverbs 4:13). "Here is another parallel between Wisdom personified in Proverbs and Jesus Christ the Incarnate Wisdom of John 1:4."

"Enter not ... walk not in ... avoid ... pass not by ...turn from it ... pass on" (Proverbs 4:14-15). The object of all these impressive verbs is the way of the wicked. There is no way that language could more forcibly warn God’s servant against the way of wickedness.

"They sleep not except they do evil" (Proverbs 4:16). "This and the following verses exhibit the extreme depravity and wickedness" of hardened sinners. In a metaphor they are said to eat the bread of wickedness and to drink the wine of violence. They cannot sleep unless they have first exerted themselves in the perpetration of evil; and upon those days when they have not caused someone to fall, they cannot sleep at all! "The Bible does not hide the fact that one can become just as zealous for evil as for good." Iniquity of the worst kind can become the food and drink of those who depart from the way of Truth.

"The path of the righteous ... is light ... the way of the wicked ... darkness" (Proverbs 4:18-19). There is nothing in these verses that is hard to understand or that requires any emphasis from scholarly comment. The most common metaphor in the New Testament is that which contrasts the way of God’s children who, "Walk in the light as He is in the Light," and that of the sons of the devil who revel in "The works of darkness."

Proverbs 4:11. As a father he had “taught” with words, and he had “led” with example, and unless the latter combines with the former, a father is wasting his words. The inspired Luke was as much interested in what Jesus did as he was in what He said (Acts 1:1). Paul both taught and set an example (Acts 20:20; Acts 20:35). Our verse indicates that the wisdom contained in teaching leads to uprightness of living.

Proverbs 4:12. “Straitened” means “limited”. Following the wisdom of parental teaching will lead to a full and not a limited life; life will open itself to a wise person. He may be born in obscurity but become a well known person of renown. He may begin at the bottom and end up on top. “Runnest” would signify “going fast”; “stumble” would signify an “abrupt stopping of that progress”. Wisdom would keep one from becoming broken and ruined at the height of progress. Psalms 18:36 is a similar verse: “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped.”

Proverbs 4:13. Do not dilly-dally about the matter of learning. Be in earnest about it. The wording of this verse shows how important instruction is. It is about like saying to a man overboard who cannot swim, “Take fast hold of the lifeline; let it not go; keep a tight hold on it, for it is thy life.” How many of us fully grasp as we should the importance of learning?

Proverbs 4:14. Neither begin (“enter not”) nor continue (“walk not”) in the way of the wicked. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked” (Psalms 1:1). “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; Refrain thy foot from their path” (Proverbs 1:15). “Clarke”: “Never associate with those whose life is irregular or sinful; never accompany them in any of their acts of transgression.” One will never walk the way of an evil man unless he enters their path; to do so is to prefer their way to God’s way. The Horatio Alger, Jr. series of books for boys was good for sounding the same warning, and they were good reading matter for growing, developing minds.

Proverbs 4:15. How can one keep from entering the wrong path? Know that it is wrong, and then “avoid” it—stay away from it, stay as far away from it as you can (like you would a rattlesnake den or a vicious dog). Adam and Eve walked with God as long as they did not go near the forbidden tree. The careful Joseph tried never to be with the wicked wife of Potipher (Genesis 39:10). Proverbs 5:8 says, “Remove thy way from her, And come not nigh the door of her house.”

Proverbs 4:16. Some are so wicked that they live just as this verse says. Instead of living as a Christian (“To me to live is Christ”—Philippians 1:21), to them to live is to “do evil” and to “cause some to fall” (others to join them in the sin-game). When an older Christian woman was asked about the two men she was caring for, she said, “All they do is sit in front of the television all day, smoke their cigarettes, and run down the church of Christ.” What a way to live! They know not God, and they are not obedient to the gospel; therefore, they will be punished with everlasting destruction: “...the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Proverbs 4:17. “Violence” is the only item in some people’s “diet” of life—this is what they “eat” and “drink” everyday. With such perverted “appetites”, they have no “hunger” for God and no “thirst” for righteousness.

Proverbs 4:18. “But” is set in contrast with the foregoing verse. Besides the way the wicked life, there is also a “path” that the righteous follow. This good path is illuminated with the light of God. When we begin in that path, it is like beholding the first rays of dawn; as we follow, the day gets brighter and brighter, and we can see the righteousness of God’s way more and more; in time this path will bring us to the “perfect day” (eternity with God). “This verse contains a fine metaphor; it refers to the sun rising above the horizon and the increasing twilight till its beams shine full upon the earth” (“Clarke”).

Proverbs 4:19. In this verse about the wicked we are back in “darkness”. Living in sin is like walking in darkness in which one can stumble and fall to his hurt because he could not see what there was to trip over. Jeremiah 23:12 talks of the wicked walking in “slippery places in the darkness” (can you think of anything more “scary”?). Jesus urged men to walk in His light to avoid the darkness that would come upon them if they didn’t; He also said that “he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth” (John 12:35).

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 4:11-19

1. What is the difference between “taught” and “led” in Proverbs 4:11?

2. What does “straitened” mean (Proverbs 4:12)?

3. What is the significance of taking “fast hold” of instruction (Proverbs 4:13)?

4. What was the practical value of the Horatio Alger, Jr. books for boys years ago (Proverbs 4:14)?

5. What 4 pointed instructions are given in Proverbs 4:15?

6. According to Proverbs 4:16 how perverse can some people get?

7. What is the “diet” of perverse people (Proverbs 4:17)?

8. Comment upon “beautiful” in Proverbs 4:18.

9. Living in sin is like walking in ............... (Proverbs 4:19).

Verses 14-27

Pro 4:14-27

The Direction of the Wise (Proverbs 4:14-27):

"Enter not into the path of the wicked, And walk not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it; Turn from it, and pass on. For they sleep not, except they do evil; And their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is as the dawning light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: They know not at what they stumble" (Proverbs 4:14-19). The wise who listen to their father and gain understanding will have the ability to differentiate between the ways of the wicked and the ways of the wise. The wise will identify the directions of the wicked and will thereby in no way "walk" in their ways. So opposed to the ways of the wicked are we to be that we altogether "avoid" their hangouts. Those who do not go to the places where the wicked are will not be tempted to be involved in the ways of the wicked. The instructions are simple: Don’t go where they go (see 1 Corinthians 15:33). Why do the wise not want to go where the wicked go? Solomon says its because their every waking hour is spent "doing evil" and trying to get one who is good to "fall" into their lifestyle of wickedness. The more that do what they are doing the more they will feel comfortable. Don’t be taken by the wicked! The great contrast of light and darkness is used to differentiate between the wise and the wicked.

"My son, attend to my words; Incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; Keep them in the midst of thy heart. For they are life unto those that find them, And health to all their flesh" (Proverbs 4:20-22). The wise king pleads with his audience to "attend, incline thine ear to know, never let instruction depart thine eyes, and keep divine instructions within thy heart." The devil and wicked men are at work constantly. They will bring you down if you do not continuously contemplate the ways of wisdom and understanding. Life and spiritual health belong to those whose quest it is in life to find wisdom and understanding.

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). With the heart we think (Proverbs 23:7), reason (Mark 2:8), understand things (Matthew 13:15), plan or intend things (Hebrews 4:12), purpose to do things (2 Corinthians 9:7), desire (Romans 10:1), love (Matthew 22:37), and trust (Proverbs 3:5). The wise should keep or possess their heart rather than permitting the wicked and the ways of the world to possess the heart. When we keep or possess things we hold on "with all diligence." Our purpose should always be spiritual (see Colossians 3:1 ff). We live in a world where sin and the availability to sin is all around us. To walk in the paths of the wicked is to relinquish our hearts to folly. We cannot afford to slip. All issues of life are summed up in man’s ability to reason, understand, purpose to do things, plan to do things, and desires. All of the wise man’s interest and abilities ought to be kept within the bounds of wisdom. All issues of life will have wisdom applied to them and thereby the one who so lives will be blessed eternally.

"Put away from thee a wayward mouth, And perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, And let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Make level the path of thy feet, And let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: Remove thy foot from evil" (Proverbs 4:24-27).

The wise will "put away" things like a filthy. The wise will keep their eyes looking straight ahead rather than being distracted by lust and wicked ways. The wise will "make level the path of thy feet" in relation to directions in life to go. While the wicked are quick to turn after evil deeds the wise do not permit themselves to be in such situations.

Study Questions Proverbs 4:14-27

1. What was the practical value of the Horatio Alger, Jr. books for boys years ago (Proverbs 4:14)?

2. What 4 pointed instructions are given in Proverbs 4:15?

3. According to Proverbs 4:16 how perverse can some people get?

4. What is the “diet” of perverse people (Proverbs 4:17)?

5. Comment upon “beautiful” in Proverbs 4:18.

6. Living in sin is like walking in ............... (Proverbs 4:19).

7. Why does the father go over the same thought so often (Proverbs 4:20)?

8. What 2 parts of a person are spoken of in Proverbs 4:21?

9. Is Proverbs 4:22 speaking literally or figuratively?

10. Memorize Proverbs 4:23.

11. Find the parallels in Proverbs 4:24.

12. What is the meaning of Proverbs 4:25?

13. In life what should one be interested in as brought out in Proverbs 4:26?

14. How much deviation from the proper path is allowed (Proverbs 4:27)?

Verses 20-27

Pro 4:20-27

Proverbs 4:20-27

THE EIGHTH DISCOURSE

"My son, attend to my words;

Incline thine ear unto my sayings.

Let them not depart from thine eyes;

Keep them in the midst of thy heart.

For they are life unto those that find them,

And health to all their flesh.

Keep thy heart with all diligence;

For out of it are the issues of life.

Put away from thee a wayward mouth,

And perverse lips put far from thee.

Let thine eyes look right on,

And let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Make level the path of thy feet,

And let all thy ways be established.

Turn not to the right hand nor to the left:

Remove thy foot from evil."

"My son, attend to my words" (Proverbs 4:20). It is just as reasonable to construe these words as being spoken by the teacher (or the father) during a given speech as it is to make them invariably the beginning of another discourse. Such an address could have come in the middle of an exhortation as the attention of the listener diminished and needed to be stimulated.

"Let them not depart from thine eyes" (Proverbs 4:21). This is exactly the same as Proverbs 3:21, another example of the constant repetition in Proverbs. "The repeated message is that, `it is not enough to hear wise instruction; it must be assimilated, pondered and kept at the center of man’s being.’”

"Keep thy heart with all diligence ... etc." (Proverbs 4:23). Here is another favorite verse which many have committed to memory. The heart, as the word is used in the Bible, means the mind, which is the center of human intelligence, emotions and the will. "The fact here stated is that the whole moral conduct of human life, and its every action, attitude and purpose are determined by what one thinks and believes.” The great corollary of this is that "thought control" is the prerequisite of all moral rectitude and uprightness. See Proverbs 23:7.

"The last verses of this discourse are put together around the discipline of (1) the heart, (2) the mouth, (3) the eyes, and (3) the feet.” This is true, but if one takes charge of his mind and controls his thoughts he is not likely to have much trouble with the other organs mentioned. The attainment of such power is greatly aided by the admonition of the apostle Paul (Philippians 4:8). "Whatsoever things are true ... honorable ... just ... pure ... lovely ... of good report ... any virtue ... any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS"!

"Let thine eyelids look straight before thee ...turn not to the right hand nor to the left" (Proverbs 4:25; Proverbs 4:27). These instructions have found their way into the vernacular as, "Keep your eye on the ball, and stay in the middle of the road."! The great goal of earthly existence, for every wise man, is that of receiving at last the blessed welcome of the Lord, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Looking straight ahead means that men should not allow sensual, earthly, selfish, or material temptations to turn their eyes and their purpose away from the true goal and toward such other considerations. The mention of the right and the left hand is a warning against extreme positions. It should always be remembered that there is a ditch on either side, (the right or the left) of the road!

Proverbs 4:20. Oh, the earnestness of the father’s instructions and entreaties as he thinks upon these matters!

Proverbs 4:21. That Rehoboam would keep what his father was teaching him ever before his eyes and ever in his heart was so important that Solomon mentions it so often in this section of the book. Proverbs 3:21 is similar: “My son, let them not depart from thine eyes; Keep sound wisdom and discretion.”

Proverbs 4:22. The great physical blessings of “life” and “health” are promised if the son will follow the father’s good teachings throughout life. Several times is “life” promised on this basis: “Length of days, and long life...shall they add to thee” (Proverbs 3:2); “Length of days is in her right hand” (Proverbs 3:16); “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Proverbs 4:10). Proverbs 3:8 also promises “health” on this basis: “It shall be health to thy naval and marrow to thy bones.”

Proverbs 4:23. Here is one of the best known, most memorized verses in all of Proverbs. The reason is obvious: the outward words and deeds and course of life are but the manifestation of what is in one’s heart. Other passages: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The good man out of his good treasure bringeth forth good things: and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35); “The things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart...Out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings” (Matthew 15:18-19); “Let each man do as he hath purposed in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The Pharisees kept the outside but neglected the inside. Jesus pointed out that if they cleaned the inside, the outside would automatically be all right: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:25-26).

Proverbs 4:24. A “wayward” person is one who has gone astray, so a “wayward” mouth is a mouth that speaks wrong things. “Perverse lips” is but a repetition of the same type of mouth. Wrong, speech is so detrimental and out of place that our verse says it should be “put away”, “put far” away! So, say nothing wrong-don’t even come close. In other words, use nothing that is out-and-out wrong and not even that which is “shady”. One will be judged by his speech: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

Proverbs 4:25. After urging the son’s care of his “heart” in Proverbs 4:23 and bidding him to put away “perverse lips” in Proverbs 4:24, he now calls upon him to direct his “eyes” and not let them wander upon sights that would be detrimental. In the next 2 verses he will speak of his “feet”. Especially when it comes to “women”, this is such an important and right way to keep from lusting in one’s heart (Matthew 5:28; 2 Peter 2:14). Job said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; How then should I look upon a virgin?” (Job 31:1). This is a covenant that every man needs to make with his eyes. Let his own wife be the “desire of” his “eyes” even as Ezekiel’s wife was to his (Ezekiel 24:16; Ezekiel 24:18).

Proverbs 4:26. In everyday life we try to keep from falling. Every irregularity in the sidewalk and every object in the pathway is a potential stumbling block that could result in a fall. In life we should avoid everything that would cause us to stumble and fall; we should want our ways to be “established.”

Proverbs 4:27. Don’t deviate from the right path in either way. We have to be careful of ditches on both sides of the road. One who is in the ditch is going nowhere. Other passages: “Ye shall observe to do therefore as Jehovah your God hat commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32); “Thou shalt hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah thy God...to observe them and do them, and shalt not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left” (Deuteronomy 28:13-14); “Observe to do according to all the law...turn not from it to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 1:7). In putting away pride, we must be careful not to become sloven; in putting away rashness, we should not become soft; etc.

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 4:20-27

1. Why does the father go over the same thought so often (Proverbs 4:20)?

2. What 2 parts of a person are spoken of in Proverbs 4:21?

3. Is Proverbs 4:22 speaking literally or figuratively?

4. Memorize Proverbs 4:23.

5. Find the parallels in Proverbs 4:24.

6. What is the meaning of Proverbs 4:25?

7. In life what should one be interested in as brought out in Proverbs 4:26?

8. How much deviation from the proper path is allowed (Proverbs 4:27)?

Wisdom Is Supreme - Proverbs 4:1-27

Open It

1. How did peer pressure influence you when you were a teenager?

2. To what sort of things do people look for protection in life?

3. What’s one of the best pieces of advice your parents ever gave you?

4. In your opinion what is the most important thing parents can teach their children?

Explore It

5. Why should the reader listen to Solomon? (Proverbs 4:1-2)

6. What is one of the central messages of these verses? (Proverbs 4:1-27)

7. What did Solomon’s father say would happen if he kept his commandments? (Proverbs 4:3-4)

8. What will wisdom do for the person who does not forsake it? (Proverbs 4:5-6)

9. Why did Solomon say to get wisdom? (Proverbs 4:7)

10. Whom does wisdom exalt? (Proverbs 4:8)

11. Why did Solomon tell his reader to accept what he said? (Proverbs 4:10-12)

12. What is the value of listening to instruction? (Proverbs 4:13)

13. Why did Solomon warn us to avoid the path of the wicked? (Proverbs 4:14-15)

14. What did Solomon say about the wicked? (Proverbs 4:16-17)

15. How do the path of the righteous and the way of the wicked differ? (Proverbs 4:18-19)

16. What did Solomon tell us to do with his words? (Proverbs 4:20-21)

17. How do Solomon’s words help the people who find them? (Proverbs 4:22)

18. Why should we guard our hearts? (Proverbs 4:23)

19. What did Solomon say about perversity and corrupt talk? (Proverbs 4:24)

20. How should we proceed in life? (Proverbs 4:25-27)

Get It

21. How does a person get wisdom?

22. How do wisdom and understanding bring life and health to a person?

23. In what way is wisdom supreme?

24. What can we learn from our parents?

25. If wisdom is so good, why do we need encouragement to seek it and to hang on to it?

26. Why is it difficult to listen to instruction?

27. What does it take to learn from others, including our elders?

28. How is the heart the wellspring of life?

29. When and why is it hard to keep your eyes straight ahead, to keep your feet on ways that are firm, and to keep your foot from evil?

30. What is it about evil that makes it so tempting?

Apply It

31. What is one thing you can do this week to get wisdom?

32. What will you do today to avoid following the way of the wicked?

33. What tempting situation will you purposefully avoid this week?

34. What is something you can do to guard your heart today?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 4". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-4.html.
 
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