Proverbs 4:18-22 – A father’s appeal to his son

Two waysAs we return to our study of Proverbs 4 we find ourselves in the midst of Solomon’s lecture to his son concerning the way of the wicked (4:14-17, 19) contrasted with the way of the just (4:18).  Our devotion will close with Solomon’s appeal to his son to open his heart to his father’s instructions and to keep them, promising they offer fullness of life and health to both body and soul.  I will review Proverbs 4:14-17 to set the context for our conclusion of this passage.

Concerning the wicked, Solomon warned his son to not befriend them (4:14-15).

Proverbs 4:14-15 – Enter not into the path [way; journey] of the wicked [ungodly; immoral], and go not in the way [journey; manner] of evil men [wicked; sinful; bad]. 15  Avoid it [refuse], pass not by it [move away], turn from it [decline], and pass away.”

Solomon follows his warning concerning the way and influence of the wicked by exposing their character and motivation (4:16-17).wrong way

Proverbs 4:16-17For they [wicked and evil men] sleep not, except they have done mischief [evil; bad]; and their sleep is taken away [spoiled; robbed], unless they cause some to fall [stumble; cast down; falter]. 17 For they eat [consume; devour] the bread of wickedness [moral wrong; iniquity], and drink the wine [intoxicating, fermented wine] of violence [cruelty; injustice; wrong].”

Solomon then proposes a clear, concise contrast concerning the “path of the just” (4:18) and the “way of the wicked” (4:19).

Proverbs 4:18-19“But the path of the just [upright; righteous; faithful] is as the shining light [Dawn; light that pierces the darkness], that shineth more and more [growing clearer and brighter] unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.”

My favorite book outside the Word of God is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress [I have a beautiful addition of this classic in my library that was a gift from my sister-in-Pilgrim's progresslaw and one I treasure].  If you have read The Pilgrim’s Progress you are aware that it is the story of a man’s spiritual journey from the “the wilderness of this world” of sin to the Cross of Calvary where the burden of sin figuratively rolls off Pilgrim’s back when he becomes a Christian.  Along the way, Pilgrim is tempted to depart from the “path of the just” by various characters that tempt him to go “the way of the wicked” (4:19).  One great temptation comes from a town hosting a fair Bunyan described as “Vanity Fair”.  Vanity Fair is a picture of all the pleasures the world has to offer. It offers the glamor of Hollywood and the nightlife of Las Vegas. It is “life in the fast lane” and the party life for which the world lives.  It is what Solomon describes in Proverbs 16:25 as “a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”.

Recognizing the influence of the wicked and the temptations of the world, every godly father echoes in his heart Solomon’s plead for his son to hear and heed his instructions.

Proverbs 4:20-22 – “My son, attend [hearken; heed] to my words [commandments]; incline thine ear unto my sayings [speech]. 21 Let them not depart [turn aside] from thine eyes; keep [observe; guard; regard] them in the midst of thine heart [mind; understanding]. 22 For they [father’s words and sayings] are life [i.e. fullness of life] unto those that find [concur; hold upon] them, and health [wholeness; soundness; medicine] to all their flesh [body; person].”

I close with an observation for all Christians. In the same manner a loving earthly father's wisdomfather desires to see his son choose a righteous and rewarding path, our Heavenly Father calls for us to hide His Word and instructions in our heart and thoughts.

Psalm 119:9-11“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”