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Last week we looked at some very serious character flaws. A relationship with God through Christ brings true wisdom and as a result, as followers of Christ we should be different than the world. We should have a biblical world view. No matter how imperfect we are, God’s grace is bestowed upon us and because of this, we’re not defined as foolish. This morning, Solomon provides some urgent instructions and reminders that are applicable for parents today.
Take the time to look up and read Proverbs 4:1-9.
Solomon digresses for a moment imploring sons to pay attention. Verses 1-2 give you a sense of urgency in Solomon’s words. Notice that he is talking to sons – plural. Hear is a verb – it’s an action word. This command is reminiscent of the command found in Deut. 6 for parents. Teaching your children is primarily the responsibility of the parents. This is not something that should be outsourced to babysitters, to daycare, or schools and it’s not the responsibility of the grandparents. All of these people can and should help, but as parents, the design is for a father and a mother to raise a child. This is not an indictment against moms that work. I understand all too well how difficult it can be to make ends meet these days. Are there other options available that do not include sending a child to day care at the ripe old age of 6 weeks? Sometime we think there is no other way to make it unless mom works and sometimes that is the case. I knew a woman that worked a part time job that actually cost the family about $20.00 a week for her to work when you factored in fuel and childcare. Solomon tells sons to hear, “The instruction of a father and give attention that you may gain understanding.” The reason for the instructions is clear – to gain understanding. Gain literally translated means to know. This instruction would include day to day things that a father teaches his child. But the more important teaching includes what he would teach that boy about God. It must start at the beginning. Don’t think you can wait until the teenage years to teach your children about God. Don’t leave this important responsibility to others.
Solomon says he gives, “Sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction.” The teaching is right and true and that’s why it shouldn’t be abandoned or left behind. 2 Tim. 3:14 says, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” When you look at Paul’s opening paragraph to his second letter to Timothy, you notice that Paul mentions that Timothy has a sincere faith like that of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. What is missing is his father and grandfather. Timothy is first mentioned in Acts 16:1 that says, “Paul came also to Derbe and Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.” Notice the contrast between mother and father. This is significant especially in light of what Solomon is telling us.
If you notice in our main text, Solomon gives credit for what he knows to his father. Look at vs. 3-5. As busy as the king must have been, David took the time to teach Solomon. Solomon had 18 brothers and a sister and I would think that the personal level of instruction was important as more children came into the family. But what if the parents are not involved in active instruction? Remember the warrior Joshua? He was one of the twelve men sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land in Num. 13. Fast forward to the end of Joshua’s life. Jud. 2:10 tells us a horrifying thing: “And there arose a generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work He had done for Israel.” That’s what happens when parents aren’t involved.
Another reminder regarding wisdom. “Do not forsake her, and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over you.” Don’t take this too lightly. This is conditional, as long as you hold on to her, she’ll guard you. As long as you love her, she’ll watch over you. There’s something obvious in v. 7. “The beginning of wisdom is: acquire wisdom and with your acquiring, get understanding.” The literal translation is, the primary thing is wisdom. Solomon’s thinking if you can get that, the other stuff is easy. Remember we’re talking godly or biblical wisdom here. Those aren’t the only conditions. “Prize her, and she will exalt you.” “She will honor you if you embrace her.”Not only are there eternal rewards, but there are present day rewards too. Verse 9 is rewording 1:9. I like to think of this as a demeanor or attitude. When biblical wisdom is obtained through the knowledge and understanding of the Lord, it should be obvious to those that look at us. Remember it’s the fool that despises wisdom and instruction, but sometimes it seems Christians fall into this category too. We want the promises of God regardless of our actions. We expect God’s blessings when we’re unwilling to follow His principles. We expect a holy and perfect God to turn a blind eye on how we act, what we do, and how we think.
Eph. 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Children are a blessing from the Lord and the best thing you can teach them is to love God. As parents invest in them, but invest the right things into them. Teach them the word of God. If King David took the time with Solomon, shouldn’t we take the time?
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Last time we were in Proverbs, we learned that it is not a bait and switch. The one that finds wisdom and gains understanding is a blessed person. Nothing we desire compares with wisdom. She holds long life in her right hand and riches and honor in her left. Get on her path because it leads to peace. This morning, we’ll see why.
Take the time to read Pro. 3:19-26 so you get a feel for where we are.
When you think of creation, it’s pretty mind blowing. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens.” Wisdom was around from before the beginning and was necessary when God created the heavens and the earth. This is much deeper than God knowing things and understanding things. Think about the depth of knowledge that God had to have to create what we know. He put the sun at the center of the solar system and then placed earth in the perfect spot so that we wouldn’t burn up by being too close and we wouldn’t freeze by being too far from the sun. The earth takes 24 hours to rotate on its axis and 365 days to rotate around the sun. The earth rotates at just the right speed so that our seasons are predictable and time progresses properly. The moon is in just the right place to provide a night light and control the tides of the oceans. If you go back to Genesis, you’ll discover that everything was created in just the right order to sustain life. By God’s design, we were supposed to live in harmony with all creatures. We’d be chillin’ with the lions, and tigers, and bears. And the snakes.
It’s God’s wisdom and understanding that enables the earth to continue spinning and rotating around the sun. It’s impossible to fathom how incomprehensibly brilliant one would have to be to create everything that works so harmoniously together and there are people that dismiss that work and declare that it simply happened by chance. Think about the smart inventors of electricity, the automobile, the computer, the toaster, the zipper, and the coffee maker. As awesome as these people and inventions are, they still have limitations and flaws. “By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew.” He had a plan and a purpose for creation. John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Col. 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.” His ultimate act was the creation of humanity. The only creatures that were made in the image of a perfect and holy God.
Solomon tells his son to remember once again. The belief in a literal creation account is fundamental in beginning to understand the vastness of God. Solomon tells his son don’t forget God’s involvement in creation. “Let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck.” (Pro. 3:21-22) The “them” here does not necessarily refer to creation, but to the entire passage. It goes back to the premise of 3:1 when Solomon says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.”
The passage is tied up neatly in v. 22 when Solomon says, “So they will be life to your soul and adornment for your neck.” Life to your soul. If we take that literally, we could say the man who finds wisdom will have life. Before you jump to the erroneous conclusion that good Christians oughtn’t die young, hold on. We need to think eternally to give us a better idea of what Solomon means. We know no one lives forever physically, but we do know that everyone has an eternal soul. When wisdom and understanding are found, “We can walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble.” That is a generality and is not a guarantee that we will live a carefree, trouble free life. Solomon is the wisest man ever to live, yet he stumbled later in life because he chose to disobey the commands and principles of God. When you act unwisely, the consequences will likely come. One of the awesome benefits of finding wisdom is a peace that passes all understanding. Phil. 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” With all the troubles that seem to confound us and plague us, Solomon says, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” This does not mean you will always sleep soundly when you want to sleep. It does mean you will not be plagued with anxiety.
Solomon goes on to say, “Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes.” This first phrase literally means do not be afraid of some person or thing. In context, Solomon’s not talking about snakes or spiders or the dark. He’s really talking about the wicked and here it means criminal or evil man. Onslaught means fierce or destructive attack. This points back to Pro. 1:27 that says, “When your dread comes like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.” Solomon says rest easy, “For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” For a point of clarity, this is talking about, “The man that finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding” from verse 13. Human wisdom only goes so far without God.
Wisdom was involved in creation and it’s involved with sustaining life today. We must maintain godly wisdom and understanding. When we do that, we won’t be afraid and we won’t be anxious because our trust and hope are in the Lord.