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As we begin a new year, we’ll be studying the book of Proverbs for the first 31 days of the year. The new year is a great opportunity to invite your friends, families, and Life Groups to read along with you in 2023. If you missed the first day’s reading or are looking for an overview of the book, click here to catch up!
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Read Proverbs 4
Get Wisdom at Any Cost
4 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 wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, 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 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.
The tone of this Proverb is thick with urgency. The author is resolved to communicate the absolute necessity to not just momentarily listen to his instruction, but to make sure his listener forever holds onto what they’ve heard. He says phrases like “pay attention”, “take hold of my words with all your heart”, “do not forget my words”. All of this communicates that this wisdom is both important, and easily ignored. Many people will not live in the way of wisdom and it will keep them from living in the way that life is meant to be lived. The author here is adamant that there is a path that leads to pain and a path that leads to peace. You cannot just live your own truth and find a steady path. It is only along the path of the righteous that people will find a life that gets better and better. This is why when you hear true wisdom, it must be guarded like it is a pearl of great price.
Since the writer is so insistent that we listen, we need to be honest with our ability to forget. Unless we take Biblical wisdom seriously, we will fall prey to the “wisdom” of the world. Every day we are inundated with thoughts and perspectives that come in opposition to Scripture. If we are to walk along the right paths, we need to be absolutely sure which wisdom is true and which is false. If we do not guard our doctrine closely we will be prone to traveling along the roads of the unrighteous. These paths are not just incorrect, but dangerous.
Embracing Biblical wisdom also means assuming that you do not already possess all wisdom. Proverbs will tell us to do things that we don’t initially want to do. We must approach the Bible with a submissive and humble posture so we don’t just pick and choose the verses that we like. We must embrace the totality of Biblical wisdom, not just the catchy sayings. On our own, we will not choose the right path. However, with Scripture as our guide there are sure and steady paths available to those of us who will fight to listen.
- What does this chapter have to say about the benefits of wisdom?
- What do you think it means in verse 23 when the author says you must “guard your heart”?
- What keeps you from listening to and living out biblical wisdom?
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