The 4th chapter of Proverbs presents the wise and urgent secret for a successful life. ♦
King Solomon lived large and small. As the son of King David, he reigned over a united Israel for over 40 years in the 10th century B.C. He was blessed in life by the hand of God and felt the removal of that blessed hand of God at the time of his great disobedience. Hard to stay on track with God when you’re focused on running a kingdom and dividing your free time between 700 wives and a harem of 300 mistresses.
The distracted life had its impact:
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (1 Kings 11:4)
And here we get insight into the cause of Solomon’s great fall. It was all about his heart, his devotion, his focus. Great as he was in might and power in this world, and great and worthy (and sometimes frivolous) were his actions and activities, the secret to his ultimate failure was his heart and to whom it was devoted. Disregarding, even later in life, the God of his youth and the source of his blessings and rise in stature and Godly wisdom, Solomon got caught up in the affairs, trappings, and lures of the world. It led to his demise and destruction of his domain and kingdom. Now he’s left to us as a model of God’s great hand on a man in blessings, and the removal of that hand and blessings when one shifts the heart’s devotion.
And so we get the urgent point of the thrust of Solomon’s Proverbs 4.
Admonitions of a Father to His Son
There’s a strong sense of urgency in the admonitions presented in Proverbs 4, almost like a command to obtain wisdom. Wisdom, here it is again. The subject matter of Proverbs 1, 2, and 3 thus far, wisdom is pretty important to Solomon, and to God apparently. Recall:
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
- Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:5)
- Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)
Solomon now emphasizes the gaining of insight, good precepts, and Godly teaching. He conveys the words of his father to him directly: “Let your heart hold fast my words, keep my commandments and live.” (Proverbs 4:4)
Here are key points Solomon, as a father, urges to his son:
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you…. (Proverbs 4:5-8)
Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths…. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers… (Proverbs 4:10-14)
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body…. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it… (Proverbs 4:20-23)
Keep your mouth free of perversity…Let your eyes look straight ahead…Give careful thought to the paths for your feet…Do not turn to the right or the left… (Proverbs 4:24-27)
Guard Your Heart?
The wisdom and knowledge focus seems straightforward and clear cut. But is it? Again, per Proverbs chapters 1-3, this is not just your average call out to be wise and smart and good. No, this is about God. He’s the source of Wisdom; that is, in fear and awe and wonder and respect and worship and surrender we come to God and His Word, the Holy Scriptures, and now in Spirit via prayer, where He has been revealed to any one who truly seeks to grasp and study and gain understanding.
And that is only the beginning of true Wisdom. Once on that path, we are to stay on it. And apparently, as Solomon found out, as did his own father David, staying on that path takes real diligence and effort. There are countless distractions and obstacles and people and dark forces in play all around us that will take us off that path, directly or inadvertently.
Hence the plea to “guard your heart” – I’d say the actual secret to a successful life in this world and beyond. A heart that knows God knows Truth and Wisdom. A heart devoted to God and that Truth and Wisdom will walk a path with God led by God. A heart that walks with God will produce favorable fruit with God, for God, and through God in this world and in the spiritual realm for His purposes.
Indeed, that, “above all else,” is worth heartily guarding and protecting.
Are you guarding your heart?
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” – Acts 13:22