The recipients of Proverbs 4 are more numerous than the previous 3 chapters of Proverbs, each of which were addressed to “My son” (Proverbs 1:8; 2:1; 3:1). By contrast, Proverbs 4 begins with a broader invitation:
Proverbs 4:1-2 – “Hear, ye children, the instruction [chastening, warning, discipline] of a father, and attend to know [comprehend] understanding. 2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.”
Solomon desired to pass on to his children the wisdom his father, the king, had imparted to him. Notice that Solomon’s instruction was twofold in form: “…good doctrine…my law” (Proverbs 4:2).
Proverbs 4:3 – “For I [Solomon] was my father’s [King David] son, tender [soft and tender-hearted] and only beloved in the sight of my mother [Bathsheba].
Solomon was the king’s son [one of several sons]; however, in his heart and Bathsheba’s heart, he was her “tender and only beloved” son. Solomon would have grown up in the Queen’s quarters of the palace. His relationship with Bathsheba was a deep and abiding affection.
Proverbs 4:4 – He taught me also [perhaps “laid down the law”], and said unto me, Let thine heart retain [lay hold on; follow] my words: keep my commandments, and live [prosper].”
What was David teaching his son that promised a prosperous, rewarding life? The answer to that question is found in 1 Chronicles 28:9.
1 Chronicles 28:9 – “And thou, Solomon my son, know [reflect on; experience] thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever.”
David’s longing for Solomon mirrors the heart of every godly parent–that his son would not only hear his words, but also retain the law and teachings of his father in his heart. He was not a perfect dad, but his passion was that Solomon would know His God, serve Him and seek the Lord with all His heart.
Our sons and daughters were born with free wills and the responsibility of choosing the way of the Lord or forsaking Him rest with each generation. Let us be comforted by the knowledge that God knows our hearts and desires. Let us pray that our children and their children will choose the Lord.