Listen, my son, and receive my sayings.
The years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom.
I have led you in straight paths.
12 When you go, your steps will not be hampered.
When you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction.
Don’t let her go.
Keep her, for she is your life.
14 Don’t enter into the path of the wicked.
Don’t walk in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, and don’t pass by it.
Turn from it, and pass on.
16 For they don’t sleep unless they do evil.
Their sleep is taken away, unless they make someone fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the righteous is like the dawning light
that shines more and more until the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness.
They don’t know what they stumble over.Proverbs 4:10-19 (WEB)
I have read this passage a few times now, and feel there is little I can add to it. It is clear, and echoes themes we have previously covered.
It has become my habit, over the last two or three years, to read a chapter of Proverbs every day. There are 31 in all, and so the recommendation is to read one for each day in a month. That means there you read most of the book twelve times per year. I do this by podcast, and so you get a slightly different take on the text than if you read with your eyes.
I should be familiar with Proverbs by now, and yet, passages like this do not leap out or stick in the memory. Why not? The honest answer is that listening to this by ear can mean we do other things, and do not give the text our full attention. This can also be true with our eyes. Our eyes move over the words on the page, and yet our minds are elsewhere.
When verse 10 calls on us to “Listen,” it does not simply mean to turn our ears on, but to focus our attention also. Again, it reminds us that wisdom will lengthen our days and add years to our lives. That is reason enough to pay attention!
Verse 12 tells us that if we choose wisdom’s way, we will not stumble or fall. When I have done things my own way, or allowed myself to indulge the whims of the world, I have tripped over my own feet. The world offers shortcuts, but God’s word offers true wisdom in paths of righteousness.
Verse 13 reminds us to take a firm hold, and to not let go. Imagine dangling over a chasm and holding on for dear life! That’s the way to hold on to wisdom. Hold on to it as if your life depended on it!
We have examined similar verses over the course of this series, and yet I am not sure if I have fully persuaded you that we must indeed hold on to wisdom as though holding on to our very lives. That is the extent to which Solomon encourages us to grasp instruction.
It is humbling to realise that although I red Proverbs most days, I do not depend upon it to such degree. Wisdom may well save our lives both here and now ,and in eternity. So let us not dabble with it, but dive into its depths and never let go.
Verse 14 again warns us of the dangers of evil, and verse 15 to not even pass it by. We are to avoid it at all costs. Again, this is a real challenge. Too many of us toy with evil, even in small ways. We might watch “evil” entertainment. We might speak “evil” over colleagues or worse, Christian brethren. We sometimes ponder “evil” thoughts, imagining the worst of people or hating them in our hearts. The Bible warns us to avoid such things, and not even pass by them. Stay well clear!
Verses 16 and 17 shows us that evil men and women eat, drink and sleep all things wicked. It may be hard to relate to such a description. Few people I know, even the unsaved, are seemingly so vile and sinful. Yet, without the cleansing blood of Christ, we are all as detestable to the Lord. Sin is a stain on our hearts and souls, and nothing but the sacrifice of Jesus can make us pure.
It matters not if you are a little evil, or a lot, you fall short of God’s perfection. Sin corrupts completely, and only Christ can set us free.
Verse 18 and 19 make the contrast between the wise and the wicked. The righteous walk by the light of a dawning day, and the wicked stumble in the dark of night.
Wisdom is a lamp to our feet. It shows us where we go wrong, and helps us avoid that which would make us fall. If you tire of always falling down in life, one way or another, then acquaint yourself with the light of wisdom, and let it show you the way.