Chapter 5: Introduction

An Example from Real Life

In Chapter Five the father uses a testimonial from real life to convince his child that obtaining wisdom is a matter of life and death. He knows that one temptation his child will encounter about the time he reaches puberty is that of adultery or fornication. Those sins are representative here of any sin that promises fulfillment and excitement but delivers just the opposite. Notice in verses 3 and 4 that “the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.”

The child is warned not to even go near the door of the adulterer’s house (v. 8). He may well be saying, “Don’t even think about sex outside of marriage” (Proverbs 6:25; Matthew 5:27-28). Verses 15 through 20 speak of the marriage union and the joy of sex in that context. God’s wisdom of a lifelong relationship with a spouse of the opposite sex is seen as a thing of beauty and fulfillment.

Finally, the father gives an overarching reason to avoid adultery. Perhaps he remembers once thinking, “Who’s going to know if I mess around a little?” God will know. He sees everything (v. 21). The adulterer ultimately hurts only himself as he is trapped in the cords of his own sin, cords that drag him down to the grave (vv. 22-23).

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Proverbs 4:23-27

Get Christ: Let Him Guard Your Life

23) Above all else, guard you heart, for it is the wellspring of life. 24) Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25) Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. 26) Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. 27) Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

In the 17th century William Harvey discovered the importance of the heart in the circulation of blood. But long before Harvey’s day, God spoke of the spiritual heart of people: the seat of our personality, character, and will. Before regeneration, our hearts are exceedingly wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19). No one seeks God unless regenerated by God.(Romans 3:11)

Following the new birth, a struggle begins between the new desire of the believer’s heart and the sin nature that remains in him. He discovers that he has no power to keep or guard his heart so that all his ways are righteous (Romans 7:19). He finds that only by giving his heart over to Christ and submitting to Him can he have any success at all (Romans 7:20-24; 1 Peter 4:19).

Notice that the heart is not the only body part of which these proverbs speak. There are also lips, mouth, eyes, and feet. If the water from the wellspring is polluted, so too will be a person’s words, that which his eyes drink in, and the paths down which he walks. We need to keep our eyes fixed on the One who can keep our whole body full of light (Matthew 6:22).

Scriptural Examples

Eve. Eve gazed upon the fruit and lusted after it with her mouth, with her eyes, and finally with her heart (Genesis 3:6).

Job. This righteous man made a covenant with his eyes, that he would not look lustfully at a girl (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28).

Daniel. This exile resolved in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food (Daniel 1:8).

Prayer of Application

Sovereign God, I am powerless to keep Your commands without Your Spirit working in and through Your Word. Help me to submit fully to the authority of the Spirit and the Word.

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Proverbs 4:20-22

Get Christ: Let His Words Illumine Your Heart

20) My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely 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 a man’s whole body.

In 1 Corinthians 1:24 Paul seems to identify Christ as the “wisdom” spoken of in Proverbs. In the verses above we are told to listen closely to His words. We are to keep them in our hearts. The heart is the very seat of our being, “it is the wellspring of life(Proverbs 4:23).

And what are these words? They are all the words of God’s book, our Bible. They speak of the knowledge of God and His divine wisdom, and are profitable for us in every way (2 Timothy 3:16). But we have to work at it. We need to get it off the shelf, read it, study it, meditate upon it, memorize it, and let its wisdom seep into the very core of our being. Most importantly, we need to be willing to do what it says (James 1:22).

Many scoff at the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture. Others say the Bible needs a priest to interpret its meaning. Still others will subject the Word to private interpretation rejecting the historical teaching of the church fathers. All those who would denigrate the Word, or the Holy Spirit’s ability and desire to make it real to us, walk in darkness.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote of a time when a new covenant would put the law in the hearts of God’s people. That time is now, and all who know God seek to know His word and to hide it in their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Psalms 119:11).

Scriptural Examples

Satan. The central focus of his attack is upon the Word of God. Satan aroused doubt in Eve’s mind, saying, “Did God say…?” In the desert, Satan distorted Scripture, but Jesus countered with the true Word of God (Genesis 3:1; Luke 4:1-13).

Prayer of Application

Father God, thank You for Your Word and for the illumination of it to my heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your Word provides supernatural light to guide my every step.

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Proverbs 4:18-19

Get Christ: Let Him Illumine Your Path

18) The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, 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.

Notice here that the path of the righteous begins with the first glimmer of dawn. It begins with a small ray of light and progresses to the fullness of noonday. Christ is that dawn’s early light, as He is our “bright Morning star(Revelation 22:16). In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus speaks of the narrow and broad gates, the former leading to life and the latter to destruction. Let’s look closely at the proverbs above and see if they can help us define the narrow versus the broad gates.

Imagine a funnel that is narrow at one end and broad at the other. Entering at the broad end, the way gets narrower and narrower, darker and darker, until it finally ends in destruction. This is the way of the sinner who does not repent. It is also the way of the legalist who thinks he can justify himself by good works.

Now turn the funnel around and enter at the narrow end. It is narrow because one can only enter it by the gate marked “The Lord Jesus Christ” (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; John 10:9). He is our light (John 8:12), and as we walk with Him down His path, the funnel gets wider and wider as we find truth, joy, fulfillment, and the divine wisdom, grace, and mercy of God.

Scriptural Examples

The Pharisees. These men represented themselves as lights of Israel, but in reality they were blind guides. They were legalists, men who placed extra-biblical requirements upon those who followed their ways. They entered at the broad gate and stumbled in the darkness (Matthew 23:1-36).

Satan. Satan is also known as Lucifer, which means “angel of light.” He poses as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), but is in fact the author of darkness and blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Prayer of Application

Heavenly Father, thank You for opening the door to salvation in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I grow in Christ, how warm the light of His brightness is to me.

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Proverbs 4:10-17

Get Christ: Hang on to Him for Dear Life

10) Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. 11) I guide 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 evil men. 15) Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. 16) For they cannot sleep till they do evil; they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall. 17) They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.

Have you ever lost sleep because of some sin or stupid thing you had done? Well, in these verses we see that for some, insomnia is caused by intent to sin (v. 16).

The depth of the wickedness of the heart of people is unsearchable (Romans 3:9-23; Colossians 3:5-7; 1 John 3:10). If we could see ourselves as we really are, we would understand that we are each thousands of times closer to being like Adolf Hitler than like our Savior. But thanks be to God who reaches down and saves us by His grace.

Jesus said, “He who endures to the end will be saved”(Matthew 10:22; 24:13). But can we really hang on to Him to the end? No. It is Christ who hangs on to us for our dear lives. He will not allow even one of His sheep to be lost (John 10:27-29).

Scriptural Examples

The rootless man and the man in the thorn bush. These two men in the parable of the sower and the seed both received the gospel with joy. The rootless man suffered persecution and fell away, while the man in the thorn bush was choked into unfruitfulness by life’s worries and the deceitfulness of riches. Don’t be like them. Be like the soft and fertile soil, and hang on to the Savior for dear life. He’ll hang on to you (Matthew 13:18-22).

Prayer of Application

Father, thank You that You have not left it in my hands to endure to the end, but have committed my eternal security into the hands of Him who died for me. Help me to hang on to Him.

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Proverbs 4:1-9

Get Christ: Whatever the Price

1) Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. 2) I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. 3) When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, 4) he taught me and said, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. 5) Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6) Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7) Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 8) Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. 9) She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.

When I was a child, my mom would call us to the dinner table with her familiar cry, “Come and get it!” We would all rush to the table, hungry for the good food she had lovingly prepared. Like my mom, wisdom cries out to us, “Come and get it!” But few are hungry for wisdom’s food. Most want to be fed with the foolishness of the world. In these verses, we have a father pleading with his children to get wisdom regardless of its cost (v. 7).

Why is this page titled “Get Christ”? Well, let’s play a little game. In place of the words “wisdom” and “understanding” in the verses above, put “Christ.” Also, replace “she” with “he” and “my” with “his.” In Christ we have the distilled and personified essence of divine wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). When Christ calls to you, “Come and get it!” go for it! Love Him and get His wisdom. It is the only true wisdom and its benefits are eternal.

Scriptural Examples

The merchant and the treasure hunter. Jesus told the parables of these men who found, respectively, a pearl and a treasure. Each sold all they possessed to acquire these treasures, which are symbols of divine wisdom. Get it at all costs (Matthew 13:44-46).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, thank You for showing me that all I had to offer You was brokenness and sin. I exchanged that for Christ and the joy and security of His wisdom. Guide me into His wisdom daily.

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Chapter 4: Introduction

Summing Up Wisdom’s Benefits

In Chapter Four, the father recapitulates his arguments for the many benefits of obtaining wisdom. It seems he is answering his son’s objections as he moves toward closure. Notice in the first few verses the father actually gives his own testimony as he harkens back to the day when his father had this same talk with him. He says in verses 3 and 4, “When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live.’” Now grown with a son (or sons) of his own, he is giving him the same talk.

In verses 5 through 9 his own dad stressed the supremacy of wisdom over every other commodity in life. Now he urges his son to pay whatever it costs to get wisdom. The father then proceeds to sum up the life of wisdom in verses 10 through 19, and compares the end of a life of wickedness to that of wisdom. The balance of the chapter is a father’s impassioned plea to follow wisdom. Wisdom is not just something that is nice to have in life, it is life itself (v. 22). He instructs his sons to guard their hearts, mouths, eyes, and feet as they walk through life. What his dad told him was true, and he wants to pass the same truth on to his sons after him.

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Proverbs 3:33-35

In Wisdom, Find the Grace of God

33) The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. 34) He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. 35) The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame.

Notice first the contrasts of these verses. In verse 33, the homes of the wicked are cursed while those of the righteous are blessed. In verse 34, God mocks the proud but “gives grace” to the humble. And finally, in verse 35, the inheritance of the wise is “honor,” but that of fools is “shame.”

The fool mocks the things of God. He is in turn mocked by God. There but for the grace of God go all of us. In His infinite love and mercy, God calls men and women to salvation by His grace alone. He blesses the homes of those who walk in His wisdom.

Notice also, there is no middle ground and no intermediate steps between wickedness and righteousness. You either have Christ and His righteousness, or you don’t. You either humble yourself before the Living God, or you don’t. Ultimately, there is either eternal honor and glory on the one hand or shame and death on the other.

If you have never before done so, cast yourself by faith at the feet of the One who can save you with His grace alone, and not by anything you have done (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9).

Scriptural Examples

Saul/Paul. Saul was a zealous Pharisee, a group that mocked the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry. He imprisoned Christians and even killed them. Then one day on the road to Damascus, Saul was confronted in grace by the resurrected Christ. While blinded temporarily he received spiritual sight. Within days, God’s grace had transformed Saul from an apostle of Satan into the great apostle of the Living God and minister to the Gentiles of His gospel of grace (Acts 9:1-19).

Prayer of Application

Father, what can I say but “thank You” for Your grace that reached down to an undeserving sinner like me and snatched me from the jaws of hell. Help me to tell others of new life in You.

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Proverbs 3:31-32

Worship God in Intimate Fellowship

31) Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, 32) for the Lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.

The chasm that separates the natural person from his Creator is extremely wide and deep, and no one can cross it on his own (Luke 16:26). Only when the Lord makes us “upright” can we be reunited in friendship with the Holy God. A similar gulf exists between the ways of one who follows God’s wisdom and the one who does violence to it (Ezekiel 22:26).

Christians are dead to sin and to the ways of violence, but alive unto intimate fellowship with God, the most wonderful treasure imaginable. We have His close friendship (John 15:13); communion (John 14:21-23); peace (Philipians 4:6-7); joy (Nehemiah 8:10); assurance (Revelation 2:17); instruction (Matthew 11:25); confidence (John 15:15); providence (Psalm 107:43); and all the blessings of His eternal covenant with us (Psalm 25:14).

In Psalm 51:11-12, David cries out for God to restore him to the joy of his salvation. Sin breaks our intimacy with God, even though He still loves us as His children. If you find that the fellowship between you and God has been interrupted, search your heart for the sin that has done it, confess it, and turn from it. Then you will return to that sweet and intimate friendship with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

Scriptural Examples

David and Goliath. What a contrast between these two men! Goliath was a violent bully, prideful and arrogant. David, a shepherd boy, dared to stand up to Goliath, killing him with one well-placed stone. While David later became known as a man of violence (1 Chronicles 22:8), he nevertheless enjoyed an intimate confidence with God, and penned many wonderful psalms attesting to it.

Prayer of Application

Sweet Lord, You have lifted me up from the mire and placed my feet upon a rock. Keep me in intimate fellowship with You, Lord, as I seek to serve and worship You, glorifying Your name.

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Proverbs 3:29-30

In Wisdom, Find the Path of God’s Love

29) Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. 30) Do not accuse a man for no reason—when he has done you no harm.

The treachery described in these verses is condemned even by the non-Christian. Christians should hate it all the more. The difference in the outlook of the natural person versus the spiritual one lies in the phrase “for no reason.” The natural person may conceive of harm done against him that actually never took place. He may rationalize that his accusations have merit and that therefore his actions are justified. But we are never to take revenge into our own hands, even if there is substantial reason for it (Romans 12:19a).

On the contrary, the Bible tells us that “love does no harm to its neighbor(Romans 13:10). This doesn’t mean that if we find our neighbor dealing in drugs we shouldn’t call the police. Perhaps the highest good for our sinning neighbor would be to call for his arrest. But we are not to take matters into our own hands. Revenge and “getting even” are in God’s hands. That’s His business, not ours (Romans 12:19b).

Scriptural Examples

Jacob’s sons. Following the seduction of their sister Dinah, these boys tricked the men of Shechem into being circumcised, and then in the middle of their pain, murdered them and carried off all their wealth. Their revenge grossly exceeded the crime, and brought the ire of their father, Jacob (Genesis 34:13-30).

Saul. David was loyal to his king, but Saul accused and attacked the younger man because he was afraid of the former shepherd and his vast popularity with the people of Israel (1 Samuel 19:1-24).

Joab. Seeking to avenge his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed Abner in the stomach while pretending to be Abner’s friend. David cursed this sin of his commander-in-chief (2 Samuel 3:37).

Prayer of Application

Dear Lord, You are in control of every circumstance of my life, and in You alone do I trust. May I never accuse someone falsely or try to take matters into my own hands in revenge.

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