Proverbs 4

A Father's Example

1 Listen, [my] sons, to a father's discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding,
2 for I am giving you good instruction. Don't abandon my teaching.
3 When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother,
4 he taught me and said: "Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live.[a]
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;[b] don't forget or turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Don't abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you.
7 Wisdom is supreme-so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.[c]
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you.
9 She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty."[d]

Two Ways of Life

10 Listen, my son. Accept my words, and you will live many years.
11 I am teaching you the way of wisdom; I am guiding you on straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered; when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction; don't let go. Guard it, for it is your life.
14 Don't set foot on the path of the wicked; don't proceed in the way of evil ones.
15 Avoid it; don't travel on it. Turn away from it, and pass it by.
16 For they can't sleep unless they have done what is evil; they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
18 The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until midday.
19 But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they don't know what makes them stumble.[e]

The Straight Path

20 My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings.
21 Don't lose sight of them; keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to one's whole body.
23 Guard your heart above all else,[f] for it is the source of life.[g]
24 Don't let your mouth speak dishonestly, and don't let your lips talk deviously.
25 Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze[h] straight ahead.
26 Carefully consider the path[i] for your feet, and all your ways will be established.[j]
27 Don't turn to the right or to the left;[k] keep your feet away from evil.

Proverbs 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Exhortation to the study of wisdom. (1-13) Cautions against bad company, Exhortation to faith and holiness. (14-27)

Verses 1-13 We must look upon our teachers as our fathers: though instruction carry in it reproof and correction, bid it welcome. Solomon's parents loved him, therefore taught him. Wise and godly men, in every age of the world, and rank in society, agree that true wisdom consists in obedience, and is united to happiness. Get wisdom, take pains for it. Get the rule over thy corruptions; take more pains to get this than the wealth of this world. An interest in Christ's salvation is necessary. This wisdom is the one thing needful. A soul without true wisdom and grace is a dead soul. How poor, contemptible, and wretched are those, who, with all their wealth and power, die without getting understanding, without Christ, without hope, and without God! Let us give heed to the sayings of Him who has the words of eternal life. Thus our path will be plain before us: by taking, and keeping fast hold of instruction, we shall avoid being straitened or stumbling.

Verses 14-27 The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the nearest way to compass some end; but it is an evil way, and will end ill; if thou love thy God and thy soul, avoid it. It is not said, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance; never think you can get far enough from it. The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and he is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in his strength. The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but know not how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know wherefore God contends with them, nor what will be in the end of it. This is the way we are bid to shun. Attentive hearing the word of God, is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart, and a good means of carrying it on. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all diseases of the soul. Keep thy heart with all diligence. We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. A good reason is given; because out of it are the issues of life. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God's word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come.

Footnotes 11

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS 4

In this chapter Solomon advises to seek after wisdom, to avoid bad company, and to continue in the right paths of goodness and truth: he excites attention to what he had to say, from the relation he stood in to the persons addressed; from the nature of his instructions, which were good and profitable; and from his own example, in attending to those his parents gave him, Pr 4:1-4; He exhorts above all things to get wisdom, from the superior excellency of it, and from the preservation, promotion, and honour, to be had by it, Pr 4:5-9; and he further enforces big exhortations, from their being the means of a comfortable life, and of the prolongation of it, and of leading in a right way without straitness or stumbling, Pr 4:10-13. And then proceeds to caution against bad company, and going into a bad way of life; which is enforced from the mischief done by those that walk in it, and from the darkness of it, to which the path of the just is opposed, Pr 4:14-19. And the exhortation to attend to and observe his instructions, and keep them, is repeated, from the consideration of their being life and health to them, Pr 4:20-22; and that they might be preserved, and not departed from, direction's are given about ordering the heart, mouth, lips, eyes, and feet, Pr 4:23-27.

Proverbs 4 Commentaries