PROVERBS CHAPTER 4.
The Weight of Parental Counsel.
ADMONITIONS CONCERNING WISDOM. — V. 1. Hear, ye children, the affectionate address being intended to arouse attention in his readers, the instruction of a father, one who, for that reason, had the experience needed to teach others, and attend to know understanding, to make it their property. V. 2. For I give you good doctrine, teachings which he had received from his father, the value of which had been proved, which he could therefore hand over to the younger generation with words of warm commendation; forsake ye not my law, by setting his advice aside, by neglecting it. V. 3. For I was my father’s son, an object of special care and tender regard in David’s eyes, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother, the one whom she surrounded with particular love. V. 4. He taught me also and said unto me, David thus proving himself a wise teacher, Let thine heart retain my words, holding them fast for the purpose of following them always; keep my commandments and live, for by observing them he would become the possessor of true life and enjoy its advantages. V. 5. Get wisdom, get understanding, that being the sum total of David’s instruction; forget it not, clinging to it as a most valuable possession; neither decline from the words of my mouth, literally, “forget not, turn not aside from, the sayings of my mouth,” as they were offered in the maxims which Solomon heard time and again. V. 6. Forsake her not, the wisdom which was here so highly praised, and she shall preserve thee, serve as a protection against bad influences and uphold true life; love her, and she shall keep thee, this being the reward dispensed by wisdom. V. 7. Wisdom is the principal thing, the highest and most desirable possession; therefore get wisdom, this being suggested as the guiding rule of life; and with all thy getting, at the price of all one’s possessions, no matter how much it costs, get understanding, the prudence and discretion needed for a virtuous life. V. 8. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee, this being the wonderful exchange made by wisdom in rewarding her followers; she shall bring thee to honor when thou dost embrace her, wisdom being personified here as a beloved and honored wife, queen of the home. V. 9. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace, a graceful or charming wreath, for so wisdom serves to adorn its possessor; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee, a glorious diadem, which bestows dignity. V. 10. Hear, o my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of thy life shall be many, a long and happy life being one of the rewards granted to him who uses knowledge aright and happy life being one of the rewards granted to him who uses knowledge aright. V. 11. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom, in the conduct which is in agreement with the precepts of true wisdom; I have led thee in right paths, literally, “in the paths of straightness,” following the standard of right always. V. 12. When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened, be hindered and confined by obstructions, and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble, rather have ample room for a full and free stride. V. 13. Take fast hold of instruction, the moral training given by wisdom; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life, by bestowing long life and happiness upon those who are devoted to her. That is the sum of instruction which should be given to all young people in an appropriate and effective manner.
WARNING AGAINST WICKEDNESS. — V. 14. Enter not into the path of the wicked, to join them in their godless conduct, and go not in the way of evil men, such behavior being incompatible with true wisdom. V. 15. Avoid it, pass not by it, not only by ignoring, but by utterly rejecting the way of evil, turn from it and pass away, if one should inadvertently have strayed into such paths. V. 16. For they, the wicked, sleep not except they have done mischief, the fact that they have not committed some trespass keeps the sleep from their eyes; and their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall, by betraying others and leading them into sin. V. 17. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence, of violent deeds, they seem to derive their strength from wicked acts, their means of subsistence are obtained in that manner. V. 18. But the path of the just is as the shining light, like the growing brightness of dawn as it heralds and ushers in the day, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, growing brighter with each succeeding minute, the comparison of the moral conduct of the righteous with the light of the rising sun being most appropriate; for he goes forward to ever greater clearness and perfection, not only in his inward knowledge, but also in its outward manifestation. V. 19. The way of the wicked is as darkness, directly opposite to that of the righteous; they know not at what they stumble, they flounder around in immorality, going from bad to worse in their behavior. V. 20. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings, the admonition and warning going out once more, with a special reference to the ruinous consequences which the forgetting and ignoring of wisdom is sure to bring about. V. 21. Let them not depart from thine eyes, so that they escape when vigilance is relaxed for so much as a moment; keep them in the midst of thine heart, so that this treasure will not be lost. V. 22. For they are life unto those that find them, cp. chap. 3, 2. 16; 4, 13, and health to all their flesh, to their whole body, since observing them results not only in moral and mental, but also in physical advantages, by a healthful reaction. V. 23. Keep thy heart with all diligence, literally, “more than every object of watching guard thy heart,” the seat of moral life; for out of it are the issues of life, as Jesus also points out, Matt. 12, 35; 15, 19. V. 24. Put away from thee a froward mouth, deceitful and malicious speaking, and perverse lips, those misdirected toward evil, put far from thee. V. 25. Let thine eyes look right on, straight ahead, without any self-seeking, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee, intent upon the duties of each day and hour. V. 26. Ponder the path of thy feet, making it straight, avoiding errors and sins, and let all thy ways be established, the entire conduct guided by wise forethought. V. 27. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, to by-paths of evil; remove thy foot from evil, withdrawing it at once in case of danger. The entire admonition may fitly be summarized in the words of the Lord: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matt. 26, 41.