Our world is full of young men who crave attention. They have had very little discipleship from their father and thus there within the heart of many young men is a vacuum. These young men often do not have a solid compass for life. Thus they drift through life with very little passion and often with a distorted mission. Yet in Proverbs chapter four we find an antidote to help prevent a son and grandson from sliding into moral ruin.
King David Teaches His Son Solomon
The first section of this Proverb opens up with a father (King David) telling his son (Solomon) about his own childhood experience with his own father. In verse 3 we hear of this experience: “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me . . .” Thousands upon thousands of men today suffer anguish of their soul because they cannot think back and recall much of anything their father taught them. Yet in many cases for a soul to find peace, for a man to find contentment in life he needs to have a heritage where his dad passed down to him something that he retains throughout all of his life. This is the picture we receive from this text. A father that took his son to the side while he was young to teach him some important life lessons about how to live. In verses 4-9 this father taught his son what to value. He taught his son to value wisdom and insight. What is wisdom? It is the ability to apply truth and facts to actual situations of life. What is insight? In this verse the idea behind the word is relaying a message about skill. This father taught his son two of the most important lessons of life.
Solomon Teaches His Son to Embrace Righteousness
Then, in verses 10-27 we find Solomon now as an adult passing along to his son the same message that he learned from his father. He taught his son the importance of wisdom and insight. Solomon told his son that wisdom would steer him towards righteousness and life and away from wickedness and disaster. Verses 10-13 describe the benefits of wisdom and verses 14-17 describes the path of evil that consumes those who travel down its path. In verse 18-19 we have the two roads that Solomon presented to his son. He said: “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”
Solomon Teaches His Son to Embrace Wisdom
In verses 20-27 Solomon continues to encourage his son to see and understand the benefits of living a life based upon wisdom. According to Solomon this type of life will bless the son as he through a life of wisdom will find “life” and “healing,” or health (vs. 20-22). In verse 23 Solomon admonishes his son to understand the importance of maintaining control of his heart. The term here for heart encompasses one mental and emotional state but also it extends to the very character of a person. God desires that a father teach his son about what solid character is and what it does in action. Why? Verse 23 tells us we are to “keep” our “heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.”
Jesus emphasized guarding the heart with His disciples too. He said that our words reveal the condition of our heart. In Matthew 11:34b He said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Like Jesus, we should learn to examine and control our own hearts and we should teach our children to do the same.
Practical Application for the Family
A leader over a family must first seek to develop in character. The inner heart, one’s image or character, defines the essence of a person. I have met many people who are brilliant in their respective fields of life, yet they lack the heart of love, the heart of character. I have met many in the realm of intelligentsia yet they lack the inner depth of character and thus they use their knowledge for the wrong purposes. Many of the splits in denominations, churches, and even among business owners, family, and friends have taken place not per se because of different doctrinal or ideological convictions but because those convictions were carried forth in ways that were void of Christ-like character. Examine your heart. Look at the test clauses as I call them in these verses. The second or third phrase in each biblical clause in verses 1-10 has a test or a verification clause.
Questions for Self-Examination
If you generally want to know how you are doing in your walk with the Lord ask yourself the following questions: (1) am I living in such a way that I will likely live a long life of peace, (2) are you seeing success in your life with others or do you have broken relationships over and over, (3) do you have a clearly defined and straight mission for life or are you bouncing around from one goal to another, from one relationship to another with no clear direction towards a well defined goal, (4) do you experience humility that leads to a relaxed state of health, and (5) do you see and sense God’s physical provisions for you? Take time to pray and examine ways you can with the Lord’s grace strengthen your character.
Dr. Keith Sherlin
Article from Disciple Like Jesus