May 27, 2020
Daybreak: Proverbs 4:1 through 5:23
“Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.” (Proverbs 4:13)
Vera Maksimova was born in Ukraine on January 1, 1930. When she was three years old, her mother abandoned her, so she was left with her father and grandmother. Ten years later, she and her grandmother received a notice that her father, who had been serving in the military, was missing in action and presumed dead.
Although Vera grew up during troublesome political times in the Soviet Union, her grandmother taught her about Christianity. Church services were held in homes of believers who risked losing everything — their homes, jobs, families, and freedom — for their belief in God. At the age of seventeen, Vera was walking home after one of the services and praying silently when overwhelming peace and love filled her heart. She knew at that moment that she was saved. She continued on with the Lord, seeking holiness, and then receiving the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Because of religious persecution, she was water baptized in a river at night, although it was late fall and brutally cold.
God made it possible for Vera to attend and graduate from medical college, and she was able to work as an emergency room nurse practitioner for forty-seven years. She married a Christian man, and they had four children, but when she was fifty-five years old, her husband was killed in a car accident.
Vera continued to trust God, and in 1997, immigrated to Portland, Oregon, where she mastered English. She became acquainted with our church and loved volunteering in our mailing department. She also enjoyed Sunday school and church services. However, the challenges of life were not all behind her; she had a bout with cancer. In the face of suffering and pain, she held on to what she had been taught. She had a peaceful attitude and radiant smile, and was loved by all who knew her until God took her to be with Him in 2011.
Vera took “fast hold of instruction” and indeed, it was her life. She heeded the teachings of her godly grandmother, and passed this heritage on to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She understood that there are spiritual guidelines which we must observe for our soul’s welfare or protection. In today’s text, Solomon alluded to the importance of learning these truths — which he referred to as “wisdom,” “good doctrine,” and “understanding” — from our fathers and other godly elders. He reflected back on his own father’s encouragement to seek wisdom above all else, and clearly wanted to impart that same principle to his hearers.
Obtaining wisdom will require resolve and determination. We must purpose to hear the instruction and then follow through on what we hear. And we must consider the acquisition of understanding to be worth a lifetime of effort and unbroken vigilance. According to Solomon, the benefits of doing so are many. In our text, he points out that wisdom will preserve and keep us, and will bring the favor of God and man. It will build a reputation for good judgment, offer protection, promote health and vitality, and will result in a long and blessed life. Surely those results are worth striving for, and Vera experienced them.
We, too, can purpose to listen and learn, and then create a legacy of godly wisdom that we will be able to pass on to the generations who follow us.
The instruction in chapter 4 is divided into two distinct sections, each dealing with the supreme importance of wisdom. In the first section, verses 1-9, the author reflected on his father’s teachings and recalled the parental guidance and doctrine he had received in a loving home environment. While presenting the necessity of parents to instruct the younger generation, the emphasis is directed toward the youth, with the purpose of impressing upon them the importance of obtaining wisdom. Repetition of the verb “get” in verses 5 and 7 is significant, as the dual usage makes the injunction more emphatic.
In the second section, verses 10-27, one of Proverbs’ most dominant metaphors is employed: the illustration of a path. Two possible paths of life are set forth in sharp contrast to one another — the way of wisdom, and the ruinous path of the unrighteous. The picture is developed through a variety of carefully chosen words which extend the metaphor. These include verbs such as led, go, run, stumble, enter, pass by, turn, and fall. Within the ongoing theme of a path, two specific pitfalls are highlighted: violence (verses 10-17) and dishonesty (verses 20-27).
Also in this second group of verses, the teacher pled with his hearers to embrace purity of life with the whole person, bringing out how the physical members of the body must participate in cooperation. The role of the ears, eyes, heart, mouth, eyelids, feet, and hands are all mentioned. He asserted that wisdom would lead to promotion, honor, grace, a crown of glory, length of life, and spiritual stability — a list which includes both temporal and eternal benefits.
Chapter 5 addresses the topic of marital fidelity, and the application of wisdom to the relationship between the sexes. In this section, Solomon described the types of individuals and behaviors which would lure someone down the path of destruction, and the proper response to keep one on the right path.
The “strange woman” described in verse 3 is a morally loose woman or adulteress who represents the allurements of sin. Solomon warned that her words are flattering and seductive, but the outcome of association with her would be “bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a twoedged sword” (verse 4). He advised that only through instruction, understanding, and the application of wisdom could right choices be made to prevent being entangled in her web of deceit, folly, and ultimate death.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23) is a central theme of these two chapters. They stress that diligence in obtaining wisdom is paramount, and diligence in discretion and stability is required in order to retain it.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The superiority of the way of wisdom
D. The advice of wisdom (4:1-27)
1. The instruction of the father (4:1-9)
2. The two ways contrasted (4:10-19)
3. The instruction regarding the right way (4:20-27)
E. The warnings of wisdom
1. Concerning moral purity (5:1-23)
a. The plea for obedience (5:1-2)
b. The warning against adultery (5:3-14)
c. The plea for fidelity (5:15-23)
A Closer Look
- What are the outcomes named in these chapters of the path of the just and the path of the wicked?
- What core instructions are given in Proverbs 4:20-27?
- What are some specific ways that we can retain the teachings acquired through a godly upbringing?
It is vital for parents and grandparents to impart a love for God and His ways to their children, but it is also necessary for children to exercise diligence in order to acquire and retain it.