Proverbs 4

Get Wisdom at Any Cost

1 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.
3 For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother.
4 Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get[a] wisdom. Though it cost all you have,[b] get understanding.
8 Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till 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 morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the[c] paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot 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.

Cross References 35

  • 1. S Proverbs 1:8
  • 2. Proverbs 19:20
  • 3. S Job 8:10
  • 4. S 1 Kings 9:4
  • 5. Proverbs 7:2
  • 6. S Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 3:13-18; Proverbs 16:16
  • 7. 2 Thessalonians 2:10
  • 8. S Proverbs 2:11
  • 9. Matthew 13:44-46
  • 10. Proverbs 23:23
  • 11. 1 Samuel 2:30; S Proverbs 3:18
  • 12. S Proverbs 1:8-9
  • 13. Psalms 34:11-16; Proverbs 1:8-9
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 11:21; Proverbs 3:2
  • 15. S 1 Samuel 12:23
  • 16. 2 Samuel 22:37; Psalms 5:8
  • 17. S Job 18:7; Proverbs 3:23
  • 18. S Proverbs 3:22
  • 19. Psalms 1:1; S Proverbs 1:15
  • 20. Psalms 36:4; Micah 7:3; Micah 2:1
  • 21. Genesis 49:5; Psalms 73:6; Proverbs 1:10-19; Proverbs 14:22; Isaiah 59:6; Jeremiah 22:3; Habakkuk 1:2; Malachi 2:16
  • 22. Job 17:9; Isaiah 26:7
  • 23. S Job 22:28
  • 24. S 2 Samuel 23:4; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:14; John 8:12; Philippians 2:15
  • 25. Job 18:5; S Proverbs 2:13; Isaiah 59:9-10; John 12:35
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 32:35; S Job 3:23; Proverbs 13:9; S Isaiah 8:15
  • 27. Psalms 34:11-16; Proverbs 1:8-9
  • 28. Proverbs 5:1
  • 29. Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 7:1-2
  • 30. S Proverbs 3:8; Proverbs 12:18
  • 31. S 2 Kings 10:31
  • 32. Proverbs 10:11; Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45
  • 33. S Job 31:1
  • 34. Hebrews 12:13*
  • 35. S Leviticus 10:11; S Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 28:14

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get"
  • [b]. Or "wisdom. / Whatever else you get"
  • [c]. Or "Make level"

Chapter Summary


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

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