Bible: What Does Proverbs 4-6 Teach Us About Wisdom and Understanding?
The Wisdom of Solomon
Proverbs 4-6-- Gain Wisdom and Understanding
Gain Wisdom and Understanding
After admonishing his children—Solomon now instructs more than just Rehoboam —to obey his good "doctrine" (vv. 1-2), the speaker remembers his own father's [David’s] instruction to get wisdom and understanding (vv. 3-5).
"If you love wisdom, it will keep you from much harm (v. 6); so acquire it, along with its companion, understanding (v. 7).
Solomon next pictures a woman as the personification of Wisdom; this "woman" will bring great benefit—specifically, promotion, honor and glory—to the one who possesses her (vv. 8-9).
He repeats his exhortation to "hear," and then promises long life to his son Rehoboam if he obeys him (v. 10).
Solomon asserts that he has taught his son the right things (v. 11).
Having personally experienced success and stability from practicing godly wisdom, he exhorts the boy to follow his example (vv. 12-13) and not to fall in with the wrong crowd (whose way is hard) [vv. 14-17; cf. 2:12-19].
As a follow-up to this latter statement, wise Solomon contrasts the destinies of the just and the wicked (vv. 18-19; cf. 2:21-22).
Once more addressing his son, Solomon exhorts him to listen carefully to him and live his life according to his sayings (vv. 20-22).
He emphasizes the importance of guarding the heart (v. 23), the mouth (v. 24), the eyes (v. 25), and the feet (vv. 26-27).
You must control what you say and what you see as much as possible, so as to avoid stumbling into sin or straying from the right path [cf. James 3:2, 8]
[A life guided by wise, moral principles will lead to happiness; you must exercise special care to keep on the right road].
Flee the Adultress
Warning Against Adultery
Father Solomon teaches his son Rehoboam the necessity of possessing wisdom in order to avoid the danger of adultery.
Apparently seeing the need to repeat this instruction continually, he exhorts first his eldest boy and then his other male children to obey his words of wisdom (vv. 1, 7).
The seductiveness of the adulteress leads the enraptured and unsuspecting to a hellish end (vv. 3-6).
Solomon warns them not to do a certain work of the flesh, and then adds several reasons why they should obey his counsel.
He tells them to avoid temptation (v. 8), because succumbing to it will result in the loss of honor, years, wealth, and health (vv. 9-11), not to mention the continual experience of bitter remorse for being a fool (vv. 12-14).
[The king may be speaking autobiographically here.
While seemingly safe and protected from evil (“in the midst of the assembly and congregation”), he was dancing on the precipice].
After giving them this multi-faceted warning, he instructs them, mostly in figurative language, what they should do (vv. 15-17).
Employing water imagery, he commands absolute fidelity in the marriage relationship (vv. 18-20).
Those who sin will go astray and die because of lack of instruction; they do so in God's sight (vv. 21-23).
[It is always wise for a teacher to support commands to avoid a sinful activity with a sound rationale to do what is right; he should provide positive solutions to issues of morality].
Debt and Other Financial Issues
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Live By God's Word
Solomon advises his son how to deliver himself from the position of becoming surety for a friend: humble yourself and ask for mercy (vv. 1-5).
[Surety involves co-signing or pledging your assets against the debts of someone else, according to Larry Burkett, Your Finances in Changing Times, 136.
In other words, you become responsible to pay the debts of someone else if he cannot pay them].
God usually provides for your needs through your own diligent work.
The writer points to the ant as a good example of a creature that shows this self-starting industry, and he uses it as a rebuke to the lazy man who, through too much sleep and rest, harms himself financially (vv. 6-11).
Attitudes God Hates
The wicked man is likewise ripe for a sudden demise.
Thoroughly depraved, his ways bring him to an irremediable disaster (vv. 12-15; cf. Rom. 1:30).
Speaking of wickedness, Solomon lists the seven attitudes/actions that God hates (vv. 16-19).
[Notice that these actions/attitudes mostly involve the heart and the mouth, but also other “members of unrighteousness” (facial expressions, hands, and feet)].
Finishing his brief interlude in which Solomon discusses promise-making, laziness, and wickedness, the wise king returns to the subject of adultery (6:20-7:27), beginning, as in other passages, with exhortations for his son to keep his instructions (vv. 20-23; cf. 1:8, 9; 3:3).
God gave the Law to guide, protect, and instruct His people in their spiritual and moral lives.
The father offers it as a help to his son against the seductions of the adulteress.
Surrendering to her flattery and outward beauty leads a man only to poverty and destruction (vv. 24-29).
Solomon compares/contrasts one who steals with one who commits adultery.
A starving thief must merely restore material goods if he is caught; an adulterer not only ruins his whole life, he may even forfeit it at the hand of a jealous husband (vv. 30-35).
[Work hard, watch your heart, and obey the law: do these things and God will bless you].