This is part four in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of the study is to learn wisdom and discernment from this book. Yesterday’s passage spoke about the blessings of wisdom. We saw how God blesses those who diligently seek for wisdom and how nothing in the entire world compares with the value of wisdom.
The fourth chapter of Proverbs is divided into three sections, each of which is given as an instruction from a father to his child. The first section expands on the previous chapter’s teaching about the value of wisdom. The second shows that wisdom is the path to true life while the third shows how wisdom is a guide for living uprightly. Each of the three sections is premised with the words “hear O sons” or “my son.” The passage shows the tremendous value of parents carefully and deliberately sharing their years of accumulated wisdom with their children.
The first nine verses of the chapter paint a picture of a young Solomon sitting on his father’s knee learning wisdom from David. David shared what he had learned through his life and told him that following in these wise ways would preserve the young child’s life. We can see the role played by a father in the life of his son, teaching the boy to be not just to be wise but to live a life of wisdom.
Verse seven shows again the distinction between wisdom and discernment. In reads “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” Wisdom and discernment (or insight) are not synonymous and it seems possible that I could obtain one without the other. I need to strive not just to have wisdom, but to use wisdom!
The final verse of this section speaks of the graceful garland that we saw in the first chapter and also speaks of a beautiful crown. There is beauty in a life of wisdom. I love the metaphor of a “graceful garland” or as it is known in older translations of the Bible, a garland of grace. When I first began this Web site I wanted it to be called Garland of Grace to always keep me focused on the value of wisdom. Unfortunately, though, that name was already taken!
The second section in this chapter speaks of wisdom as being the path to a true, full life. When I walk in wisdom my steps will be sure and when I run I will not stumble. Wisdom will illuminate my path, keeping my steps secure. I need to keep a firm hold on instruction – on what I have learned – and allow it to guide my life.
Opposed to this path to life is the path of the wicked or the foolish. Those who do not seek wisdom will stop at nothing to cause me to stumble. Their path is the way to certain destruction. This shows again, as we have seen time and again through just the first few chapters, the contrast between the wise and the foolish, between those who seek to do good and those who seek to do evil.
Verses 18 and 19 summarize this section using the metaphor of ever-brighter light to characterize goodness and righteousness while darkness characterizes the foolish. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”
The final section shows that following the path of wisdom which Solomon just introduced is that way to live an upright life. Verse 21 shows that my heart and mind and all that I am need to stay focused on the way of wisdom. The 23rd version is of utmost importance as it shows that a mind filled with wisdom will shape my words and my life. Therefore I need to put away foolishness, which has just as much power, so I can focus fully on wisdom. As Paul and James taught in the New Testament, what is in my heart will come out in my words and in my life.
I need to stay focused on wisdom and use it to interpret what comes my way in life. Wisdom will keep me walking along the narrow path of upright living. Foolishness will lead me down the broad road to destruction.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the fourth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Teaching wisdom to my children is of utmost importance. The power of correct instruction from parents to their children cannot be underestimated.
- Wisdom forms a life. The wise will be seen as beautiful for their wisdom.
- Wisdom and foolishness combat to form my words and influence my actions. I need to focus on wisdom so my words and actions are beautiful before God.