Proverbs 4:1-4

In Proverbs 4:1-4 Solomon gives instruction to his children.  Previously in Proverbs, Solomon spoke as a father to his son, perhaps as the principal heir to his fortune. Now the instruction is broadened to his children in general. This is the instruction of a father for the benefit of the children. “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”. This appeal, and the appeal to hear in the first verse means there may be hesitancy or resistance on part of the children that must be over come by Solomon’s direct appeal. Parents are often discouraged by a child’s resistance to their wisdom and instruction, but it still must be spoken, and with heartfelt appeals.

Solomon had confidence in his instruction, no doubt because it was based in Scriptural wisdom. “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me”….. Solomon remembered the lessons his father taught him. This is likely special for any son with his father, but all the more when we consider that Solomon’s father was King David, the greatest of Israel’s earthly kings. David didn’t teach Solomon in private, but did so in sight of his mother and likely others as well. This makes Solomon’s fall even more disappointing – David poured wisdom into him but he didn’t hold those words fast for his own life.

“….and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live”. One of the ways that David attempted to capture Solomon’s heart was to communicate the importance of his instruction. Because the teaching faithfully communicated God’s truth, obedience to the commands of his father meant life or death for Solomon. David first encouraged the pursuit of wisdom in Solomon. We might say that this is even more important than any particular piece of wisdom, or it is one of the early lessons of wisdom.  We need to pursue God’s wisdom.  Scripture tells us if we seek it, we will find it.

But David had made it clear that gaining wisdom is not a once and done event.  Once wisdom is pursued and, in some sense, attained, it must be kept. It is possible to have wisdom for a time and then to turn away from it at a later time. King David taught his son well and Solomon received the lessons, valuing wisdom so much that he asked for it above all other things. That was his  Ironically and tragically, late in life Solomon did turn away from the path of wisdom. Even the best lessons can, eventually, be rejected. Solomon’s direction here is that it is vital for parents to teach their kids well.  Part of that teaching needs to be convincing them of the importance of the instruction.

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