Proverbs 4:1-18 Thursday 24 October 2013


In chapter four the voice of Proverbs changes to that of a mancounselling his son with regard to imminent marriage ... perhaps asituation well-known to many readers? Elisabeth Elliot, the widow of Jim Elliot andpioneer missionary in her own right, wrote in the last century thatparents whose main aim is to make their children happy are oftendisappointed, whereas parents who want to see their childrengrowing into goodness, will usually have happy children as aby-product. This claim can only be regarded as a proverb (see yesterday) rather than an incontrovertibletruth, but is echoed in today's passage. Like any parent, thefather wants his son to spend the rest of his days with a companionwho will "guard" (v. 6), "exalt" and "honour" him (v. 8). Wisdom,therefore, must be the wife that he woos with energy and zeal andwhom he then keeps close beside him. The suggestion is clear thatif wisdom is sufficiently valued then she will become his crowningglory - a high maintenance partner who should be highly prized -like any wife!

Wisdom as a bride is contrasted with the seductress andadulteress, whose bitter rewards are outlined in the next chapter.

This scenario of proffered parental advice is frequently foundin Proverbs. As well as illustrating the parent-child relationshipwhich exists between God and humanity, it calls to mind thecentrality of the home as a setting for learning Wisdom and theimportance, especially within the Jewish faith, of passing onWisdom from generation to generation.

The metaphor of life as two roads emerges again in verses 10-27.The way of wisdom is described as upright, good, secure, and as onewhich can be travelled safely, even at a run (verse 12), for it isbrightly illuminated (verse 18). By contrast "the path of thewicked" (vv. 14-16) is beset with dangers from those whoseobjective is to stir up trouble and violence and causestumbling.

To Ponder

  • In the spirit of passing on wisdom, what advice would you giveto a young person choosing a companion for life?
  • How might we express in our lives that we "prize wisdom highly"(verse 8)?
  • How might your local church operate as a family and be thecontext in which wisdom is learned and inter-generationalfriendships developed?
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