Proverbs- Session 4- 4:11-27

Proverbs 4:11-27

Lesson Resources:

Subject:  Direction

Central Theme:  Going in the Right Direction

Objective Sentence:
We can go in the right direction in life by maintaining three practices.

Keyword:  Practices

Practice #1- Adopt the right maps.  V.11-13.

Practice #2- Adopt the right motivations.  V.14-19.

Practice #3- Adopt the right methods.  V.20-27.

 

Introduction:

Connection:

  • This past week I was contemplating a response to some information that came to me.
  • Frankly, I was perplexed as to how to respond.
  • I prayed about it. I thought about it.  I just couldn’t get it off of my mind.
  • Then I went to someone in my life that is older and wiser, and we had a very candid conversation. As he heard my circumstance he was able to give me some great advice that was based on God’s Word.
  • As a result, I had some direction. I knew how to respond.  I knew which way to go.  It helped me to see a path and take it.

Tension:

  • Have you ever had a conversation like that in your life? Have you had a conversation or a decision to make that was directional for your life?
  • We all have those times where we need to know which way to go.
  • For those of us who follow Christ, we want to go the way that He wants us to go.
  • But how do we know which direction to take in those moments?
  • In God’s wisdom, He has given us this book of Proverbs to help us be able to wisely discern what He wants for us.
  • As we’ve been studying these passages for the past few weeks we have seen the theme of wisdom in this incredible book.
  • We have heard a father’s heart for his son.
  • In today’s text we are going to hear a father pleading with his son to go the right direction. He is asking for his son to take the way of wisdom.
  • And by studying this passage we can see what God has told us about getting direction in life.

We can go in the right direction in life by maintaining three practices.

Practice #1- Adopt the right map.  V.11-13.

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 straitened; 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.  Proverbs 4:11-13

 

Explanation:

  • This passage continues the theme in proverbs of parental instruction.
  • Verse 1 begins the chapter with “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father…”.  So again, we get to lean in and hear this valuable fatherly instruction.
  • In verses 11 and 12 there are two directional words: way and paths.
    • Imagine with me a father and a son walking down a road.  The destination at the end of this road is life, and favor with God and man.
    • There are all kinds of side roads that look enticing.
      • There is “get rich quick lane”.
      • There is “promiscuous woman boulevard”.
      • There is “drunkenness ally”.
    • What the father is saying here is something like, “Notice these side roads, son?  They take you away from wisdom.  And when you get on those roads, you will fall.  There end is destruction.  These are wide lanes that are easy to get to and lead to death.  That is why you need to keep following me.  I am showing you the “way of wisdom”.  I have led you in the “right paths”.  When you stay on these roads your way will not be “straitened” or vexed.  When you run on this road, you won’t fall.”
    • He is giving his son a map. The map is the way of wisdom.
  • In verse 13 he compels his son to “take fast hold of instruction”.
  • The word translated instruction can also be interpreted as correction, discipline, doctrine, or rebuke.
    • It may seem counter-intuitive to embrace correction and rebuke.  None of us love to be corrected.
    • Yet the scripture here says that “she is thy life”.
  • The key point in this whole passage is that the “way of wisdom” is like the right path to take.
  • The father is giving his son this map. He’s saying, “I’ve been on these roads.  I’ve been given a map to get you where you want to go.  Follow this map!”

 

Application:

  • None of us like rebuke or correction, yet when we take on this kind of instruction it can keep us from all kinds of pain.
  • When we follow the wisdom of those who have gone before us and avoid the wide side roads that lead to death and destruction, we will live the kinds of lives that bring God glory.

 

Response:

  • Find someone to point you in the way of wisdom today.  Are you on a bad road?  It is time to embrace correction and rebuke.  Repent and come back down the right road.

 

Practice #2- Adopt the Right Motivation.  V.14-19.

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  (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.  Proverbs 4:14-17

 

Explanation:

  • In verses 11-13 the father is pleading with his son to choose the “way of wisdom” and the “right paths”.
  • In verses 14-15 he is pleading with his son not to go down the “path of the wicked” nor the “way of evil men”.
  • Notice he is using the same verbiage- ways and paths.
  • But now He’s talking about avoiding those wrong paths.
  • The best time to deal with this kind of sin and temptation is at the beginning, before it ever starts.
  • He tells him to avoid these ways and paths in verse 15.  The idea is to not even get close to their direction.
  • And in the next few verses he tries to motivate his son by helping his son know what the results are of those that go down the wrong path and those that go down the right path.
  • How does he do that?
  • Verse 16 and 17 he gives several of the repercussions of going down their path.

(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.

  • “They sleep not.”
  • “Their sleep is takin away.”
  • “They eat the bread of wickedness.”
  • “They drink the wine of violence.”
  • At first glance one may think that the interpretation of these verses is that those who go down the path of evil feel guilty and are therefore robbed of sleep.  But upon further examination this cannot be the case.
  • They are robbed of sleep because they are addicted to the scheming of evil deeds and the pleasure in carrying those evil deeds out.
  • They “consume the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence”.  One commentator explained it this way,

“Fearful self-preservation at the expense of others has become the necessary condition of their existence. “Till [i.e., unless] they make [somebody] stumble”  clarifies that their malicious plans involve weakening and/or plundering their victims, preparing the way for Proverbs 4:17. As the wicked refresh themselves at night with evil plans, so by day they nourish themselves in their execution.”  (Waltke)

  • There are certain paths that once you go down the repercussions are lasting and difficult to flee.
  • It is for these reasons that the father pleads with his son to avoid those roads entirely.
  • Be motivated by your own self-preservation and desire for a good life!
  • He continues to try to help his son adopt a right motivation for choosing the way of wisdom by contrasting the way of the results of the evil path verse the results of the wise path.

But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.  (19)  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.  Proverbs 4:18-19

In these verses the path of the just and the way of the wicked are contrasted in two distinct ways.

  • First, they are contrasted luminously. 
    • The path of the just is compared to a shining light.
    • The way of the wicked compared to the dark.
    • There is an obvious contrast here.  Light and darkness has long been a metaphor for good and evil.  Good will triumph over evil.
    • This leads us to the second way they are contrasted.
  • Second, they are contrast directionally.
    • Notice that the shining light of the just is progressively shining more and more “unto the perfect day”.
    • You can imagine in your mind the light coming over the horizon at daybreak before the sun, and then the sun coming over that same horizon until it is at full luminosity.
    • This is the picture of the just path, the believer that has chosen to follow God.
    • The justified person who acts wisely will continue toward a full and luminous state.
    • The evil person does not “know…at what they stumble.”
    • The person that continues down the wicked path does not fully comprehend what will happen to them or why they fall.  They are like a person groping in the dark, not being able to understand what they tripped over, what they bumped into, and what caused them pain.
  • Remember that the father in this passage is making the case for his son to choose the way of wisdom and the righteous path.
  • The case he is making in this text is the superiority of the light to the dark.
    • The wise, righteous, just path leads to light and a “perfect day”.  The evil path leads to blindness and stumbling.

Application:

  • It is so important for us to see as God sees.
  • When we see the way He does, we will do what He wants us to do.
  • We need to choose light over dark.  We need direction.  We need the light.
  • The application of this text is to make the choice proposed by the father.
  • Choose wisdom, light, and direction.  Reject evil, darkness, and stumbling.

Response:

  • What would it look like for you to choose the wise, just, righteous, luminous path today?

Practice #3- Adopt the Right Method.  V.20-27.

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.  Proverbs 4:20-22

Explanation:

  • Let us remember the context of these verses.
  • The father continues to speak to the son, pleading with him to stay on the right paths and to avoid the evil paths of evil men.
  • Look at the categories of terms used in these verses 20-22
  • Ownership words- “my” and “thine”. 

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.

  • The father uses the term “my” two times.
    • These are possessive nouns talking about the father’s words and the father’s sayings.
  • He also uses the word “thine” two different times.
    • This term he uses in regard to his son’s eyes and his sons’ heart. The matter at hand is the complete ownership of the way of wisdom by the son.  The father states his ownership of the way of wisdom.  He calls them “my words” and “my sayings”.  Ownership means hearing and attending to these words. In other words, the wisdom is to be heard and to be obeyed.
  • Body Words- “ears”, “eyes”, and “heart”. 

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.

  • He points to the ears, eyes, and the heart of his son.
  • For the son to own his father’s words he must take responsibility for his own ears, eyes, and his own heart.
  • Likewise, our eyes will see something.
  • Something will be in the midst of our hearts.
  • The father is pleading for his words and his sayings to be the object of that kind of visual, intellectual, and emotional ownership.
  • Result Words- “life” and “health”.

(22)  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.  Proverbs 4:20-22    

  • The ownership of the way of wisdom is passed on from the father to the son by the words and sayings kept before the son and valued internally.
  • When this happens, the result is the probability of “life” and “health”.
  • Notice that the words are “life to those that find them”.
  • I love the idea of the picture of finding here. The imagery is that these wise words are like treasure that has been found.  It is like the father has found a treasure that he is trying to give to his son.  He is pleading with his son to steward this treasur2xsw

Application:

  • To pass along the way of wisdom it takes three proactive values:
    • It takes ownership. 
      • If we want our kids and others that we influence to follow us, we must own the direction we are taking them ourselves.
      • From a development perspective, you cannot truly take someone to a place that you have never been.
      • We must treasure the Word and the wisdom of God if we want the next generation to treasure and steward it well.
    • It takes effort. 
      • The hymnwriter wrote,
        “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
        Prone to leave the God I love.
        Here’s my heart, Lord.
        Take and seal it.
        Seal it for thy courts above.”
      • The father says similarly to the son “keep them in the midst of thy heart.”
      • We will read in the next verse that the out of the heart flow the issues of life.
      • So many things demand attention of our eyes and affection from our hearts. We must guard it diligently.
    • It takes vision. 
      • We must keep before ourselves and those we influence a vision of the results (life and health) of the way of wisdom.
      • We must also envision and avoid the potential consequences of the way of evil.
      • We get distracted and we forget. So much is at stake.

Response:

  • What can you do to keep wisdom in front of your eyes and in the middle of your heart today?

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  (24)  Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.  (25)  Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.  (26)  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  (27)  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.  Pro 4:23-27

Explanation:

  • He has been using the language of the body already.
  • We have read words like ear, eyes, and heart.
  • Remember that the Father has pleaded with his son to listen to his words, to keep his words in front of his eyes, and to keep them in the midst of his heart.
  • In verses 23-27 that body language continues.  Let us walk through the text by looking at these terms for the body.
  • The term “heart” in verse 23. 

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

  • The heart is the critical piece of this whole framework.
  • The father told his son to keep his words in front of His eyes and in the midst of his heart.
  • Why?  Because out of the heart are the issues of life.
  • The heart describes the inner man.  It is the thoughts and emotions of the person.
  • In this verse the Father tells his son to “keep” or guard his heart with all diligence.
  • He is saying that his son must make an effort to guard the inner thoughts and emotions because it is out of that inner person that we make our choices.
  • The terms “mouth” and “lips” in verse 24. 

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

  • The idea here is to avoid using our mouths for destructive, degenerate, and disgusting speech.
  • The terms “eyes” and “eyelids” in verse 25. 

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

  • This is continuing the “path” and “way” language.
  • The idea is to keep the eyes focused on going in the right direction and not even looking at other evil paths.
  • The term “ponder” in verse 26. 

(26)  Ponder the path of thy feet,

  • This is not a part of the body but describes the activity of the mind.
  • The idea here is to think about what path you are going to take.
  • The terms “feet” and “foot” in verses 26-27. 

(26)  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  (27)  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

  • This is the part of the body that takes the rest of the body down the “path” or the “way”.

Application:

  • We must be careful as stewards of our bodies to use our whole selves, the inner-man, and the outer-man, to honor God by taking the right path.
  • The Word of God in our ears and eyes affect our hearts.
  • Out of our hearts we make all the choices with rest of our body.  We decide what path to take.
  • How do we maintain our heart?
    • Be careful about what comes in the eyes and ears.
    • Spend time in the Word of God.
    • Spend time with wise and godly people.

Response:

  • What do you need to do most to guard your heart today?

 

Conclusion:

We can go in the right direction in life by maintaining three practices.

Keyword:  Practices

Practice #1- Adopt the right maps.  V.11-13.

Practice #2- Adopt the right motivations.  V.14-19.

Practice #3- Adopt the right methods.  V.20-27.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Waltke, Bruce. “The New International Commentary of the Old Testament.” Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004. E-Sword.

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