Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. – Proverbs 4:1-2
As you read our first four chapters today, keep in mind the introduction to this section. These are words of wisdom passed on from a father to his sons. When he says, “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble…” imagine a father comforting his son after he’s tripped in the darkness. When he admonishes, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise…” picture him throwing open the curtains to his son’s bedroom at noon.
Remember this also during the lengthy passages today that address adultery. These conversations are sprinkled with other instruction, but it seems adultery is of significant interest to the father, addressing it in chapter 5 and then reinforcing it in chapters 6 and 7, spiraling around the same tale of woe. The father, speaking to his son, warns about the forbidden woman whose steps follow the path to Sheol. His father’s commandment and his mother’s teaching will preserve [him] from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
This is bold, and sometimes distressing language, but also consider what the father has seen: For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house. Curious…What might the father be hinting at? How would you respond if your son was in danger of taking the road toward destruction?
When you turn to chapter 8 you’ll have to shift into another mind, for this chapter, like Job 28, is a celebration of wisdom: “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?” the author asks. And in verse 12, wisdom answers: “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil… By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just… Furthermore, as in chapter 3, wisdom is about more than accumulating knowledge; it is about connecting with the God of the universe: The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His work… When He established the heavens, I was there…
Our verse for this week is Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Proverbs 4 through 8. Now let’s read it!
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.