Proverbs 4 – Follow the Lord’s Words for a Safe Path

1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.

“Tender” – youthful and inexperienced (cf David’s words about Solomon (1 Chr 22:5; 29:1).  This is part of an autobiographical statement, such as was sometimes used by the wisdom teachers (see 24:30-34; see also the book of Ecclesiastes).

“only beloved” – an only son, and thus, deeply loved (cf Gen 37:3; Zech 12:10).

4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.

6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

“preserve…keep” –  the Hebrew for those two verbs is used together also in 2:8, 11.

“Love her” –  to love wisdom is to prosper (8:21); to hate wisdom is to “love death” (8:36).

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.

9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.

11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.

12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straightened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.

13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.

14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.

“path of the w
icked” –  cf the destructive paths of the adulteress in
2:18; 7:25; see Ps 1:1; 17:4-5.

15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.

17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

“eat the bread…drink the wine” –  they thrive on wickedness and violence (see 13:2; Job 15:16).

18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

“path of the just is as the shining light” –  the godly have all the guidance and protection they need and are able to lead others to righteousness (see Is 59:9-10; Jer 23:12; Jn 11:10; 12:35).

19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.

20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

“health” –  physical, psychological, and spiritual.

23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

“issues of life” –  if we store up good things in our hearts, our words and actions will be good.  “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh: (Matt 12:34; cf Mk 7:21).

24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

“put away from thee a froward mouth” –  put away lying and deceit.

25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

“Let thine eyes look right on” –  straight ahead towards Jesus, not at worthless things.

26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.

“Ponder the path of thy feet” –  pay attention to what is good and remove every moral hindrance.

27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

”Turn not to the right hand nor to the left” –   a warning found also in Deut 5:32-33; 28:14; Josh 1:7.

“foot from evil” –  see 1:15.