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Keeping the Main Thing, The Main Thing. - A Study of the Book of Proverbs (Chapter 4)
If I’ve said it once
The importance of seeking, obtaining, keeping, treasuring and walking in Wisdom cannot be said enough; and in Chapter 4 of Proverbs, we are reminded once again of this.
As parents, we get tired of telling our children the same thing over and over, yet, we do.
“Pick up your toys, sit up straight, wash your hands, and so on.”
Why do we say these same things over and over? Because we want our children to learn appropriate behavior, and as children, the only way they will learn is by repetition.
We are God’s children, and His desire is for us to learn from Him; to sit up and take notice so we will know how to live a decent and godly life. A life filled with peace, joy, and blessings.
Proverbs 4 is our Father’s admonition to his children to listen and take stock in what He has been teaching us.
Verse 1, tells us to:
“Hear the instruction of a father. Pay attention, and understand.”
The instructions are sound wisdom, and the repetition to gain wisdom, continue to learn and walk in the ways of wisdom only show how beneficial it is. How this life-long journey is crucial to a good life.
Verse 4 says:
Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live. (NKJV)
And in the following verses it admonishes the reader not to turn away from these teachings; not to abandon the path of wisdom. If we love wisdom, wisdom will keep us from foolishness.
Verse 7 makes a most powerful statement:
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all you’re getting, get understanding.
3 - Important Words to Know
There are 3-words that I want to bring to your attention, and explain the difference between them so you can better understand the importance of what Proverbs is saying. Those words are Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom. Many times we use them interchangeably, but they do not have the same meaning.
Knowledge – Specific facts, information, ideas, truths or principles.
In its simplest form, we go to school and learn that letters have names and sounds.
Understanding – The gaining of, and ability to, comprehend the use of specific knowledge. Taking the knowledge of the letter’s names and sounds, we understand that when we put certain letters together, they form words, and we know those words and their implications.
Wisdom – The ability to accumulate knowledge, accompanied with the understanding of that knowledge, and using both, to make rational decisions and judgments based on that knowledge and understanding.
One way to look at it would be; taking the knowledge of words, putting them together to form complete sentences, and penning an instructional guide for students to learn from.
Do you see the difference here? We are all expected to go to school and gain knowledge and a given level of understanding. What the writer of Proverbs is telling us is, don’t stop there, take what you have learned and apply it to the things of life. Find ways to use what you have learned for good, to obtain a better life, to walk in a sincere and godly way.
Verses 10 – 13 tell us to:
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in the right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life. (NKJV)
And Verses 14 – 19 reminds us to avoid wicked people and their ways; to turn entirely away from them and have nothing to do with them. Keep on the brightly lit road of wisdom and off of the dark and twisting path of the wicked.
The Message Bible sums it up nicely:
The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. But the road of corruption gets darker and darker – travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.
Learn it, Live it, and keep it in your heart.
Verses 20 – 22, remind us to give attention to the words of Proverbs, and the Words of God in general. Continue to listen, learn, study, and meditate on them; keep them fresh on your mind and in your heart.
Why are these instructions so important? Because the things learned through constant study, meditation, and practice will be things that provide a full life, a happy life, and a strong spiritual, as well as, physical life.
Have you ever seen someone who just seems to glow with happiness and vigorous health? They may not have all the riches in the world, but they know that satisfaction with their life and continually seeking a godly life, and godly wisdom is the key to their happiness. We should all strive to shine in this manner.
Chapter 4 ends with verses 23 – 27 encouraging us to keep a close eye on our heart.
Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. (Vs 23, NKJV)
Keep vigilant watch over your heart, that’s where life starts. (TMB)
There are two places we keep knowledge, our minds and our hearts. The mind is where facts and information is stored. It is not until those facts and information are understood then stored in our hearts that it becomes wisdom. Maybe you have heard there is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. The difference is the knowledge’s transformation into wisdom, and it is essential that wisdom be protected. Keep your heart protected with all diligence.
Don’t speak out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions, watch your step, and the course will stretch out smooth before you. Look either right or left; leave evil in the dust. (TMB)
You can’t walk on both sides of the fence at one time. You are either walking down the path of wisdom or you are not. If you are walking down wisdom’s way, keep walking and don’t get side tracked by the things in this world. There are many distractions, but keep your mind’s eye straight ahead. Don’t say things you don’t mean, don’t speak unkindly, and don’t make promises you can’t, or won’t keep.
The search for wisdom is a life-long journey. Each day gives new challenges to overcome, and fresh lessons to learn. But if we follow the words of Proverbs we will find, and enjoy the blessings of a godly life.
© 2012 miss_jkim