I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. (12) When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. (13) Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.Proverbs 4:11-13
This passage continues the theme in proverbs of parental instruction. Verse 1 begins the chapter with “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father…”. So again, we get to lean in and hear this valuable fatherly instruction.
In verses 11 and 12 there are two directional words: way and paths. Imagine with me a father and a son walking down a road. The destination at the end of this road is life, and favor with God and man. There are all kinds of side roads that look enticing. There is “get rich quick lane”. There is “promiscuous woman boulevard”. There is “drunkenness ally”. What the father is saying here is something like, “Notice these side roads, son? They take you away from wisdom. And when you get on those roads, you will fall. There end is destruction. These are wide lanes that are easy to get to and lead to death. That is why you need to keep following me. I’m showing you the “way of wisdom”. I have led you in the “right paths”. When you stay on these roads your way will not be “straitened” or vexed. When you run on this road, you won’t fall.”
In verse 13 he compels his son to “take fast hold of instruction”. The word translated instruction can also be interpreted as correction, discipline, doctrine, or rebuke. It may seem counter-intuitive to embrace correction and rebuke. None of us love to be corrected. Yet the scripture here says that “she is thy life”.
None of us like rebuke or correction, yet when we take on this kind of instruction it can keep us from all kinds of pain. When we follow the wisdom of those who have gone before us and avoid the wide side roads that lead to death and destruction, we will live the kinds of lives that bring God glory.
Find someone to point you in the way of wisdom today. Are you on a bad road? It’s time to embrace correction and rebuke. Repent and come back down the right road.