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Last time we were in Proverbs we saw that King David invested time into Solomon by teaching him the importance of the things of God. We learned that when parents do not take the time to invest the teachings of God into their kids, it is possible that an entire generation could miss who the Lord is and what He did. We’re to acquire wisdom and understanding because it’s the smart thing to do. This morning, Solomon tells his son the results of paying attention to his teaching.
Take the time to grab your Bible and read Proverbs 4:10-19.
So what are the results of wisdom? There’s an underlying theme seen through Proverbs thus far. There is a difference between hearing and listening. And there is a difference between listening and accepting those things that are heard. Perhaps in dealing with your friends or family, as soon as you bring up something about the Bible or God, their attitude changes. Maybe they get defensive or dismissive, maybe they get offended, maybe they get belligerent. Maybe they mock you or God. All these things may hurt your feelings, but I just like to tell folks what has worked for me. As we have said, following the principles of God do not guarantee that everything goes great all of the time, but I can tell you this without hesitation or apology, I’ve never regretted being obedient, I’ve never regretted not sinning, I’ve never regretted following after Christ. For me the regrets come when I fail to do the things I know to be right and pure and holy. This is what Solomon is telling his son. Listen to what I’m telling you and accept it as truth because they’re from God. It’s great for people to listen to me because I’m giving what I believe to be godly truth, but it’s really exciting to see when people accept these things as truth and live them out. We call that discipleship and that should be at the forefront of all we do. The second half of that verse brings another generality. “And the years of your life will be many.” Many is a relative term and is not an absolute statement. This generality is consistent with 3:2 that talks about quality of life. That’s the real meaning here too. The years that you have will be filled with peace because of who God is. Circumstances do not change who God is.
In Solomon’s mind there are two possible paths. We’ve probably heard them stated as black and white, good and evil, right and wrong, godly and ungodly. The father here has spent a significant amount of time ensuring his son gets the right foundation for life. The foundation is the Scriptures; the things of God; the source of absolute truth. Solomon puts it this way in vs. 11-13: “I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.” He uses some pretty forceful words as he sets up the right path. This seems to be a no brainer. When we follow the paths of right, things are good. Parents are pleased, the law is pleased, and most of all God is pleased. No one stands in your path. There’s no stumbling or tripping. I’m not saying there will be no issues, but you won’t be deterred; you know that the plan is from God.
“Take hold of instruction, do not let go.” I love this verse because it’s so opposite of what we do. Something so simple we choose to ignore. We have the instructions for a life that pleases God and yet many times, we choose to ignore those instructions. It’s as if we discard them because we think we can figure it out on our own. We’re like the weary dad on Christmas Eve that is trying to put together all those toys for his kids, but he refuses to look at the instructions. If he would do that before attempting the assembly, he’d have a much easier time of it. The principle here is the same. That’s the right course of action and it should be obvious to us. “Guard her, for she is your life.” You don’t quit or give up. You continue to follow the instructions and trust that God will work it out.
The other path or course of action should be obvious to us as well. Solomon goes on to say, “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.” (Pro. 4:14-16) Soak that in for just a minute. It seems there is a choice. This opposite path represents the wrong way, the ungodly way, the evil way, the way of missteps and miscues, the path we should never travel on. Avoid it at all costs. If you’re on that course, change course now! Avoid the areas that tempt you or influence you. These wicked people Solomon is talking about are really bad. They don’t make one or two bad decisions; their life is defined by wickedness and evil. “They cannot sleep unless they do evil.” That’s quite the opposite from the path of wisdom. Back in 3:17 regarding wisdom, “All her paths are peace.” In 3:24 when you follow wisdom, “Your sleep will be sweet.” V. 16 says, “They cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.” Their depth of depravity seems to know no bounds. They live for crime and to make others suffer.
Solomon contrasts these evil people with what we’re supposed to be. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until full day.” That’s a really beautiful word picture. If you’re ever up and about before sunrise, you’ll notice something really cool. Before the sun breaks the line of the horizon, you’ll see beautiful and brilliant colors precede the sun. As the sun continues to rise, the light grows increasingly bright and difficult to look at. When the sun is fully visible above the line of the horizon, you can’t stare directly at it. After Moses spent time with God on Mt. Sinai, he had to wear a veil to cover his face because his face shined so brightly with the radiance of God that you couldn’t look at it. (Ex. 34) The light radiating from his face was blinding. The same thing happens to us when we spend time in the presence of God. That’s what Solomon is saying here. When you consistently walk on the straight path, on the narrow path, on the righteous path, people will notice you because the radiance of God burns brightly in your life and it becomes easier to walk that path. The opposite is also true. “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Devoid of light. No holiness here; no radiance of God here. They trip and stumble and it’s so dark, they don’t even know why they’re tripping. If you ever watch Cops on TV, you’ll see this played out again and again. Someone is stopped or arrested and they don’t even know what they did . . . at least they claim they don’t.
The path of evil never leads to good things. While crime may pay in the short run, it never pays in the long run. It never benefits anyone anywhere to violate the principles of God. Solomon has good reason to teach his son about God. His son, our sons, our daughters need to hear and follow our teaching because our teaching is from God’s personal revelation to us. One last thought, if the teachings of God are good and right for our children, aren’t they good and right for us to follow too?