Summary: Solomon, being taught of David and being gifted with the gift of wisdom which God had given him, realized that wisdom and knowledge of the things of God should bring a person even closer to God; and therefore, keep him from failure and ruin.
Guard your Heart
Proverbs 4: 1-27
Biblical authors claim that the kings of Israel and Judah were divinely chosen and that they were expected to abide by the Mosaic covenant (see, for example, Deut 17:14-17, 1Sam 8-12, 1Kgs 2:3-4). Thus, Israelites saw their king as an agent of God, ruling on His behalf (see Hag 2:20-23). Since God was in charge, He was responsible for protecting the king of Israel from threats by enemies (2Sam 7, Ps 2) and for punishing him and even removing him if he did not fulfill divine expectations (1Sam 13-14, 2Sam 7, 1Kgs 11:29-39). Ps 72 calls upon God to grant the king divine justice and righteousness so that he might rule the people properly, and Isa 32:1-2 calls upon the king to rule in righteousness so that his officers will govern with justice (see Isa 9:5-9, Isa 11:1-9).
As the anointed representative of the Lord, the king was seen by Old Testament writers as a mediator of the covenant between the Lord and His people. As such David is mentioned as "ruler over my people Israel" (2 Samuel 7:8).
This was a weighty task, and we sense the severity of it in the opening verses of our text: “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching” (vv. 1–2).
The nation’s faithfulness to the Lord rose or fell on the king’s faithfulness to the Lord. As such Solomon knew full well the responsibility resting on his shoulders and on the shoulders of his son.
But exactly how was the ways of the Lord made known from generation to generation? Verses . 3–9 tell us:
" When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. 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. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honour you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
David's instruction to his son is a call to “get wisdom” (v. 5). As also in v. 4b, getting this wisdom, keeping these commandments, brought with it the promise of life: “Hold fast to my words; keep my commandments, and live.”
Solomon tells us elsewhere that whoever finds wisdom “finds life and obtains favour from the LORD, but he who fails to find wisdom injures himself; all who hate wisdom love death” (8:35–36).
So it seems that wisdom is essential for life and prosperity; life for the king, life for Israel, life for the nations in darkness. God’s instruction, God’s Word has always been the means through which he creates, renews, and assembles a people for Himself.
Where do we look for renewal and hope? In magazines? From TV shows? From peers or family members older than you? From motivational quotes or feel-good one-liners? On Facebook or Instagram? In the blogosphere? Look no further than the life giving Word of God. Feed on it. Immerse yourself in it. You will never regret it.
Solomon’s plea here for his son to get this wisdom is communicated through a metaphor: Wisdom is likened to a woman: “Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her and she will guard you…. Prize her highly and she will exalt you; she will honour you if you embrace her.”(vv 6-8)
Solomon, being taught of David and being gifted with the gift of wisdom which God had given him, realized that wisdom and knowledge of the things of God should bring a person even closer to God; and therefore, keep him from failure and ruin.
Wisdom does bring honor instead of shame. A foolish son or daughter brings shame to their parents, but children filled with godly wisdom bring honor to their parents.
The more highly one esteems wisdom, the more highly wisdom lifts that person.
I can’t help but think of the contrast here with other sections of Proverbs, where Solomon speaks of the simple, the fool, the ungodly, and the wicked as those who embrace another woman: the adulteress. “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of another man's wife ?”(Proverbs 5:20). Again, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your "kingsman ", they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words” (Proverbs 7:4–5).