Proverbs 4

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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

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
    pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
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.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
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.

Go Deeper

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. 


  1. What does this chapter have to say about the benefits of wisdom?
  2. What do you think it means in verse 23 when the author says you must “guard your heart”?
  3. What keeps you from listening to and living out biblical wisdom?

Keep Digging

Check out this article from for more on what it means to guard your heart.

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3 thoughts on “Proverbs 4”

  1. Notice how Proverbs 4 addresses sons/children, implying an established, loving relationship with a father.. One of my greatest treasures was an earthly father who loved and exemplified the ways of God through thick and thin. Trusting my Heavenly Father came natural to me because of his example. (Thank you, Daddy!) Solomon’s instruction in v20 is key to understanding where wisdom starts, noticing with our eyes & our ears, and where it must end, our hearts. How often do we glance at truth and even casually think about it while not stopping long enough to ponder so it penetrates deep within our hearts? I can surely be guilty of a harried pace that can starve my soul. If we truly understand the gravity of gaining godly wisdom, it would radically change our lives. Now, at the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to gain wisdom and understanding of God’s ways. This could be the most important thing we ever do.

  2. Get Wisdom at Any Price

    As I read this, I’m brought to mind of all the times I’ve tried and the topics I’ve covered to impart (my own version of) wisdom to my own children. This I have done with very mixed success.
    The older they grow, the more imperative it becomes to equip them for wise living – because the stakes of their decisions only continue to grow as well. Ironically, a young person’s propensity for foolish choices seems to peak just at the very moment when they reject as foolish the wisdom of their elders! 😉

    I’m struck by the difference between my futile attempts—and Solomon’s more thoughtful effort. Given that my “wisdom” is too often guided by my own experience, it may be questionably applicable to some of my children’s experiences. On the other hand, Solomon seeks to share deeply sound, thoroughly time-tested principle that issues directly from God.
    Such wisdom is applicable for all, regardless of age, background, generation, experience and so on. While it may not be accepted, it cannot be rejected on the basis of “that doesn’t apply to ME.”

    It is universal.
    And it is essential.

    Returning to my clothing analogy from yesterday… I’m reminded of my favorite winter coat. Brent bought it for me when we were expecting our second child. Funds were scarce and the price seemed high. I could not know then that it would be one of the best clothing investments I had ever made. Now, over 25 years later, it remains my most indispensable winter garment. I wouldn’t dream of facing the elements without it!

    The most valuable, essential thing we can put on every day is wisdom. God even goes so far as to hold it out like the gentleman he is, ready for us to slip our arms into it. If we shrug it off, it is at our own peril.

    I would rather stay warm and protected, wouldn’t you?

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