A Righteous Life Keeps Wickedness in Check

Proverbs 4 SCC 6/28/15



Do so because this instruction is from loving parents committed to your welfare 1-4

Verse1: Here is a double call for such a use of wisdom. It comes from ‘instruction’ in the context of a parent-child relationship. This is something one must pay attention to especially since other counsel can ‘leak into’ one’s life to compete with this traditional means of gaining wisdom. Broken homes complicate the communication with conflicting messages about what is truly wisdom.

Verse 2: This tradition being passed on is described as ‘sound’. Instead of being abandoned for better wisdom from somewhere else, it should be received and embraced. The point is that wisdom learned by means of parenting can assume to be challenged ‘out there’. It will be susceptible to rival ideology.

Verse 3-4: Here it may be David and Bathsheba who took the initiative to teach Solomon v 3. So he learned wisdom that was lovingly handed down by his parents—a mom and a dad—a man and a woman. So the home continues to be the prominent arena of learning as parents in turn pass on the traditions—not youth leaders, pastors, priests or schoolteachers! The outcome is the ability to live life.

Do so because this instruction is practical in nature needed for everyday life 5-6

Verse 5: The point is to ‘get’ wisdom. Do not let it slip away. Three times he shouts ‘acquire’! No matter the cost. No matter the energy expended. Watch out for spurious instruction. It will not do at all. Not in a pinch. Not in your life. Bogus wisdom abounds so ‘do not forget’ what you learned ‘on the farm.’ The cities wisdom may seem relevant but if you turn to it you turn way from the sound wisdom of a solid home. It will burn you.

Verse 6: While one is getting this wisdom into his or her system, the reason for not forsaking it later is that she serves as a sentry in your life. She will guard you. She will warn of approaching danger and clarify the way before you. ‘Loving’ wisdom is valuing her, here personified as a woman like a bride to be loved and cherished.

Do so because this instruction is essential for a life to be lived well 7-9

Verse 7: There is nothing more important than acquiring wisdom. It should be done at all costs because of its supreme value. Parents can only offer wisdom. They cannot force it upon their child or disciple. No matter how much the parents or discipler teaches it, the child and disciple must decide to acquire it or it will never take root in the person’s life. So the appeal again and again to receive, take, not forget.

Verse 8-9: Here wisdom is personified as one who is beautiful and worth embracing. So ‘prize her’ is part of the appeal to his son. Maybe her beauty will compel him to embrace wisdom. Why not. Beautiful looking woman can turn the heads of men. There are four benefits of caressing this lover ‘she’:

First, wisdom will exalt you v 8. It lifts one up and over hurdles, barriers, and potholes.

Second, wisdom will bring you honor. Essentially has to do with character wisdom produce.

Third, wisdom will make your life attractive v 9. A wreath represents reward and bounty.

Fourth, wisdom will replenish your entire life. A ‘crown of beauty’ is a life lived with dignity.



It’s protection against influences that could destroy your life 10-13

Verse 10: The appeal here is to ‘receive’ this traditional wisdom from home. The fear is that it might not be received but discarded for something else that seems more promising as life moves from the home into the marketplace of ideas. There home wisdom and moral instruction may seem stale and ineffective. But if it is received, it will keep you off of the wrong path so that avoiding pitfalls that would endanger it can extend life.

Verse 11: Solomon once again underscores the need to appropriate home wisdom in the context of the family and parents. That instruction was deliberate but not negotiable. It was firm but not demanding. It was clear but not forced. So we have some insight as to how Solomon taught wisdom as a father. These were straight paths without spurs leading to nowhere.

Verse 12: The figure of a road is used to compare wisdom to a safe road free of obstacles so progress can be unimpeded. When one lives by this teaching his walking is not disrupted. Running will never produce stumbling no matter how fast or how far your life extends. Nothing will impede progress and protection as you live your life.

Verse 13: The fact is this teaching protects one from the crooked and devious paths of life that bring unintended hardships. The focal point, though, is that wisdom is not only the means of making progress in life—it is life itself! Think about it. Anything this essential is worth enthusiastically guarding!

It’s protection from the consequences of wicked choices 14-19

Verse 14-15: These are warnings—‘do not enter’, ‘do not proceed’ and ‘turn away’ against two things. First, ‘the path of the wicked.’ Do not even start down that path.

Second, ‘the way of evil men.’ The point is do not take the first step for you may not be the master of your destiny thereafter. The ‘path’ and the ‘way’ are how one gets apprenticed in evil. These are the constructs of evil—there is a path and there is a way. Do not learn it. The protection comes from traditional wisdom—parental instruction.

Verse 16-17: The lifestyle of evil is only masquerading as what is true and right. There are two reasons for avoiding an evil lifestyle.

First, it is enslaving v 16. One becomes addicted to evil and so devoted to evil conduct they cannot sleep until they can express it in some way. That’s its nature. Evil attaches to good and destroys it. Second, evil becomes one’s diet v 17. Wickedness is what the wicked regularly consume. (Eddie Haskell and Larry Kryzenski personify this).

Verse 18-19: Okay so in case I need to explain it another way--here is a contrast made vivid with similes. On the one hand the path of the righteous moves from early morning sunrise to full clear bright noon day sun. On the other hand the way of the wicked has no movement—it is automatically full darkness that one can only stumble around in. One must realize involvement with evil is dangerous.



Verse 20-21: Here is the third stanza—‘my son.’ By using the ‘ears’, ‘eyes’, and ‘heart’ the teacher exhorts the whole entire person to receive these traditions from home. The ears listen closely to the instruction: the eyes diligently observe the instruction; the heart determines to pursue and apply that instruction. So the entire person is engaged and needs to be to thwart competing influences.

Verse 22: Here are two major incentives for adopting this traditional wisdom.

First, is the offer of life.

The second is the offer of health.

The implication is restoration to full life—physical, emotional, personal, and spiritual. Wisdom benefits the whole person.

Verse 23: So he picks up the ‘heart’ again and takes a moment to lift it up and peer at it. Here where the mind and will merge, the source of choices in life, must be guarded—with all diligence. It must be restrained from evil urges and impulses. We may have to pull it back from the brink of evil intentions. Why is this so necessary? Because the heart determines your course of life—it is ‘the wellspring of life.’ What’s going on in there? It will determine your destiny.

Verse 24: What about your mouth? It is also in need of traditional wisdom. Your tongue needs to be controlled from twisted and crooked talk. This is a logical progression since ‘for the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart’ Matt 12:34. Wisdom will produce truthful speech. Deceitful and devious, corrupt and perverse language is not the product of wisdom.

Verse 25: Do not text while living your life. Keep your eyes on the wisdom of sages. Otherwise you will become distracted by the wisdom of the world and swerve here and there. This is why today one needs to look directly into the wisdom of God straight in front of you. There is no supporting cast today.

Verse 26-27: Now you also need to manage your feet to walk the righteous path. So we have both a goal and a route to that goal. The goal is righteous successful living. The route is applying the wisdom of home. That is how you get there. Neglect this to your peril.



So What?

1. Wisdom is learned from people who learned it and personally equip you with it.

2. This wisdom minimizes the baggage you will have to carry in life due to unwise decisions.

3. Your entire being must be influenced by wisdom so no part hinders useful living.



1. Solomon is requesting that a son receive the wisdom of his parents when that wisdom is based in the character of God not receive the opinions of your parents. Opinions are opinions and they can be debatable but wisdom based in the character of God is life.

2. This wisdom is based in the fear of God not one’s love for God. The wisdom Solomon wants instilled in his sons is derived from a fear of God. This is the beginning of wisdom.

3. Worldly wisdom is worldly wisdom because it is wisdom not derived from the fear of God. Worldly wisdom is a rival to the wisdom of God and is the basis of foolishness and folly.