Solomon exhorts us to know the commandments and keep them close. “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart”. He tells us to do it in three ways:
- Keep them as the apple of our eye – to not only obey but realize how key they are as the driver of life and success
- Bind them on your fingers – God’s commandments should be tied to our fingers and guiding how we use our hands
- Write them on your heart – we need to not only know God’s truth but have it memorized and part of who we are
This is such an important teaching. The commandments and laws of God are what determines how life will go.
Why is it so important to keep God’s commandments close? Because sin lurks just waiting for the opportunity to lure us away from God’s ways. “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 in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness”. The enemy wants to destroy us. Sin tries to pull us away from God’s ways to our own self-centered and sinful ways.
Here’s how it happens….”With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life”. Sin seems attractive. It pulls us toward its evil ways and causes us to move away from the commandments we know we are to follow. But the price of sin is extreme – it will cost us our spiritual life. Sin is not just a little stub of the toe. It is spiritually fatal.
The only response to temptation that will lead us from sin is to run from it. If we don’t, the outcome is death. “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death”. Sin is a very effective destructive force. Not just many, but all of us fall prey to the truth of this last few verses in chapter 7. Sin will take us to spiritual death. That’s why Jesus came. His shed blood on the cross is our only answer to sin’s deathly toll on our life.
Proverbs 6 has Solomon warning us not to loan money (or anything). “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor….go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor”. Being a loaner, or debtor, certainly can lead to a number of challenges. If we are going to loan anything to another, we need to be willing to walk away from it. Otherwise it can quickly become the foundation of dispute and broken relationships. I certainly have experienced that in my life.
Solomon shares the secret to being productive – hard work. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man”. The bottom line is that we need to use our God given gifts and energy to work and be productive. Solomon also warns against being a deceitful person which will lead to destruction. “A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing”.
Solomon tells us “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
- haughty eyes
- a lying tongue
- hands that shed innocent blood
- a heart that devises wicked plans
- feet that make haste to run to evil
- a false witness who breathes out lies
- one who sows discord among brothers”
God cares about how we relate to one another. He knows the outcome of an evil heart, and calls those things out here as things He hates.
Solomon goes on to warn us to listen and learn. “My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life”. The lesson is clear. We need to listen and heed what we are taught and carry those teachings with us all day every day in every place and every way. God’s commandments are light to our path and we need to discipline ourselves to live according to His commands.
Proverbs 5 contains much warning about the disaster that happens if we don’t listen to wisdom and understanding. Destruction will happen. “My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge”. Solomon shares wisdom from his personal experience. We need to treat God’s Word as our source of wisdom and understanding. It provides a way to stay on track and live God’s way rather than be pulled aside into the weeds.
The chapter focuses on the subject of sexual impurity and how to avoid this powerful and deceptive sin. Solomon repeatedly is seeking our attention as men because he knows full well the power of sexual sin. “And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth”. Solomon’s repeats his call to hear what he is saying and to obey it without exception. If we don’t we’ll get to the end of life and “groan”. This is a warning to avoid one of the threats to our soul.
We are warned not to fall to the pull of sexual sin where we will end falling to sin. Unfortunately, many will say “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors”. Solomon makes it clear what the outcome will be if we insist on our own way and doing our own thing. But the lure of sex causes us to walk contrary to his guidance. We can’t blame anyone else for our choices. When we fail to listen to God’s direction and disregard His instruction – we’ll pay a price.
We won’t get a pass on this sin, or any sin for that matter. “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths. The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray”. God is watching our every step. We won’t escape that scrutiny. The dark does not hide anything from God. Once we fall into the grasp of sin, it holds us. We’ll face God’s questioning and ultimately punishment for our sinful choices. Only Jesus can set us free from that penalty!
Proverbs 4 has Solomon instructing his kids, and reminding us, that the wisdom of a father is something we need to pay attention to. “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”. I have to admit that growing up, and even during my early adult years, I didn’t necessarily value the instruction of my father. It was amazing how must more intelligent and wise my dad got as I grew older, particularly after marriage and becoming a dad myself. He became brilliant then, as I sought advice about things I had no clue about.
Solomon’s instruction was simple: “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live”. Learning to listen to a father’s instruction is a great lesson to learn. And learning to listen to our heavenly Father’s instruction is even far more important. God’s words will keep us on track and moving in His presence. We’re told to “Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life”. In order to do that we must read God’s instruction to us – His Word – and bring it into our heart so we can live by it.
Our search for that instruction should not be passive. “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you”. God doesn’t force it on us. We have to pursue it and seek it in order to find it. When we do, it will be a very good thing. “Prize her highly, and he will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her”. The wisdom of God and our father is something we should hold dear. It is a foundation for His protection.
How important is it to pursue and live by God’s Word? ” Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble”. It is the direction we need to walk successfully through life. In fact, it enables us to run if we are truly walking in His ways. God’s Word is a light to our path. It is the direction we need to walk in His ways. We need to seek His words and follow them carefully.
Proverbs 3 challenges us to keep God’s Word close. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you”. Before we cannot forget, we have to take it in. Reading God’s Word is so important. But it goes further as it challenges us to obey what we learn. We need to keep God’s Word in our heart so it is close and we can be obedient to His ways. Why? Because it gives life and peace – pretty good reasons to know His Word!
What’s that really look like? “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart”. Our relationship with the Bible should be intimate. We need to have His truth bound to our neck – it should be with us day by day. Solomon reminds us that for that to happen it needs to be written on our heart. How can we do that? We need to memorize and meditate on God’s Word so it becomes part of who we are. It needs to be on our heart.
We are given a promise in this chapter that we need to cling to and claim. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”. We’re given the formula to knowing what our path for life should be. Is it studying and asking others? Is it reading books or learning through school? No – the answer is clear and simple – trust in the Lord with all our heart and acknowledge Him in all we do. That’s how we get a clear understanding of our path.
We’re warned not to depend on what we think we know – do not lean on your own understanding. Unfortunately that is what the world tells us to do – just trust your gut or heart and do what seems right. It is opposite of what scripture says though: “Be not wise in your own eyes”. We have to learn that our true direction comes from God. He has written the perfect plan for our life. Our job is to seek that from Him as we trust in and follow Him. He’ll make it clear to us if we have our heart on Him and seek His direction and ways.
Proverbs 2 gives us insight in how to understand God and find His knowledge. It’s an if/then proposition:
- “if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you
- If you make your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding
- if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding
- if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures
- then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God”
We get to God’s knowledge by receiving, inclining, calling and seeking it. We must pursue it!
Wisdom is free. God gives it to us when we seek it and deals with it according to His ways. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright”. He alone is the source of knowledge and understanding. We don’t’ find it in books or libraries. We find it from the Lord. That is where wisdom comes from. And His book, His library of wisdom, comes from His Word. The Bible is His written word to us.
God’s wisdom “is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints….discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you”. It’s not just information, it is protection and guards our path when we walk in it. There is power in the Word of God. Power to keep us on track and away from the things that can derail us and lead us astray.
We are given the reality of sin. “None who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life”. Sin always takes us further than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs more than we want to pay. It carries a huge cost, in fact one that costs us eternity if we don’t address it. It’s why Jesus came to earth – to give us a way to handle the price of sin and enable us a solution to God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy. We can experience eternal life with God but only through Christ. He is the way we regain the path of life!
Proverbs 1 moves us from the psalms heavily written by David, to the proverbs which were written by his son Solomon. The reason for their existence is made clear right at the start:
- “To know wisdom and instruction
- to understand words of insight
- to receive instruction in wise dealing
- in righteousness, justice, and equity
- to give prudence to the simple
- knowledge and discretion to the youth”
Solomon sets out to educate the world in God’s ways. His proverbs contain lots and lots of truth.
He realizes that not everyone is going to see these as the important steps of guidance that they are. “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance”. It’s the one who is wise and understanding that will truly gain from Solomon’s proverbs. Far too many people think they already know the answers. They don’t need anyone telling them what is right and how they should live. They don’t need any guidance – after all life is all about them. Which is completely wrong and why we need these chapters so desperately in our world today.
God has provided a couple ways for us to learn. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching”. It begins with us fearing God and learning from Him. He’s provided us with His written word – the Bible – to be the textbook for life and the operators manual for how we ought to live. He’s also given us parents to guide us and help us learn what is right and wrong. We need to study and learn from both, along with the Holy Spirit whom God has put within us to help us learn and live in obedience as well.
Solomon warns us to run from evil and those who would drag us into sin. “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent….do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths”. Proverbs helps instruct us on the topic of right and wrong and encourages us to run from sin. The reality of sin is that it always takes us further than we intend to go, costs us more than we intended to pay, and keeps us longer than we planned to stay. It is our nature to be tempted and even give in to sin, but Solomon’s words are given to warn us and guide us to run from sin and walk with God!