Your Eyes and Your Heart. Proverbs- Week 4- Day 4

My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  (21)  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  (22)  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 

Proverbs 4:20-22 

Explanation:

Let’s remember the context of these verses.  The father continues to speak to the son, pleading with him to stay on the right paths and to avoid the evil paths of evil men. 

In these verses I want to point out three categories of terms that will help us make a right interpretation and application.

1.  Ownership words- “my” and “thine”The father uses the term “my” two times. These are possessive nouns talking about the fathers words and the fathers sayings.  He also uses the word “thine” two different times.  This term he uses in regards to his sons eyes and his sons heart.  The matter at hand is the complete ownership of the way of wisdom by the son.  The father states his ownership of the way of wisdom.  He calls them “my words” and “my sayings”.  Ownership means hearing and attending to these words. In other words, the wisdom is to be heard and to be obeyed.

2. Body Words- “eyes” and “heart”.  He points to the eyes and the heart of his son.  For the son to own his father’s words he has to take responsibility for his own eyes and his own heart.  Our eyes will see something.  Something will be in the midst of our hearts.  The father is pleading for his words and his sayings to be the object of that kind of visual, intellectual and emotional ownership.

3. Result Words- “life” and “health”.    The ownership of the way of wisdom is passed on from the Father to the son by the words and sayings kept before the son and valued internally.  When this happens the probability is “life” and “health”. Notice that the words are “life to those that find them”.  I love the idea of the picture of finding here.  The imagery is that these wise words are like treasure that has been found.  It is like the father has found a treasure that he is trying to give to his son.  He is pleading with his son to steward this treasure well because of the life and the health that the treasure can give.

Application:

To pass along the way of wisdom it takes three proactive values:

1.  It takes ownership.  If we want our kids and those we influence to follow us, we must own the direction we are taking them ourselves.  From a development perspective, you cannot truly take someone to a place that you have never been.  We must treasure the Word and the wisdom of God if we want the next generation to treasure and steward it well.

2.  It takes effort.  The hymnwriter wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.  Here’s my heart, Lord. Take and seal it.  Seal it for thy courts above.”  The father says similarly to the son “keep them in the midst of thy heart.”  We’ll read tomorrow that the out of the heart flow  the issues of life.  So many things demand attention of our eyes and affection from our hearts.  We must guard it diligently.

3.  It takes vision.  We must keep before ourselves and those we influence a vision of the results (life and health) of the way of wisdom.  We must also envision and avoid the potential consequences of the way of evil.  We get distracted and we forget.  So much is at stake.

Response:

What can you do to keep wisdom in front of your eyes and in the middle of your heart today?

Embracing Discipline. Proverbs- Week 2- Day 5

My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:  (12)  For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.   

Proverbs 3:11-12

Explanation:

What an incredible analogy is presented to us in these verses!  God’s response in our lives is likened to a father with a son.  What does a loving father do with the toddler that keeps running toward traffic in the street?  The father corrects his son.  He makes sure that the pain of correction and chastening helps to curtail the behavior that would lead to more permanent and difficult pain.  The father that does not correct or discipline is dealing cruelly with their child.

Understanding this truth, Solomon says to his son not to despise the chastening of the Lord.  The discipline that God brings is indicative of His love.  The discipline is also indicative of our relationship to him as sons.

Application:

What does discipline look like?

When we discipline our kids we allow or cause difficult circumstances in order to help them to learn and to grow.  When a criminal commits a crime and is sentenced they are punished.  They have a debt that must be paid back.  We discipline our kids and we punish criminality. 

God allows circumstances and moves in our life to help us to learn and grow.  When He does this we are being chastened and corrected.

What should we remember about our pain when we are disciplined?

Remember the point.  When we endure pain from the discipline of God, we must remember the pain that is possible out there that would be so much worse.  The pain is allowed or inflicted for the purpose of making our life worse.  It is to make our life better.

Remember the product.  In the book of Hebrews we learn that there is a fruit to the chastening hand of the Lord.  Notice what the fruit in verse 11 below:

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. 

Hebrews 12:11 

Remember the person.  The discipline we receive from God should remind us of the relationship that we have to God Himself.  Hebrews says it this way:

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  (8)  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  (9)  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  (10)  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 

Heb 12:7-10 

Response:

  • How has God taught you through difficulty and discipline in the past?  What did you learn?
  • Is God disciplining you right now?  What is He teaching you?

We need wise people! Proverbs- Week 2- Day 1

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:  (2)  For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 

Proverbs 3:1-2 

Explanation:

When studying the Bible we must be very careful to interpret it correctly.  The responsibility of the reader is to understand the intention and meaning that the author is trying to convey.  Many considerations must be made in trying to discover the meaning of any given text.  One important consideration is the genre of the writing.  You may not interpret a proverb in the same way you would interpret historic narrative or an epistle.  A poem is different than a letter, for instance, and this contributes to understanding the author’s intent.

Where this applies in today’s text, and really many places in the book of proverbs, can be found in this question:  Are the proverbs to be taken as promises or probabilities? 

In this text Solomon urges his son to not forget the laws and commandments that he had given to him.  Forgetting deals with the mind and behavior.  He also deals with the heart, signifying that it is not just an intellectual endeavor, but a spiritual, emotional, and internal commitment that must be made.

Solomon then goes on to say, “for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”  If this were to be taken as promise, then anyone who has ever lived this way and been murdered at a young age would be exhibit A in a refutation of the veracity of scripture.  The truth is that Solomon is not telling his son that this way of thinking is a magic trick to ensure that bad things will never happen to him.  This is not an endorsement of some kind of karma working mysteriously in the world for those who attempt to live wisely.  At the same time, this is not some wishy-washy general statement with so many qualifications that it becomes a pointless mentality to adopt.  Solomon is stating a profound probability.  It is an observation and instruction related to the reality and probability of how the world works according to God’s design. 

Application:

When the young listen, take to heart, and obey the wisdom and instruction of their parents and other wise and mature people in their lives the probability of their life being extended and improved is significantly effected in a positive way.  Conversely, those who ignore the wisdom and instruction of the wise people in their life find that the length and quality of their life is affected negatively as well. 

These realities can be seen in the lives of people that we meet every day.  Go out your door, and talk to people.  You’ll find people that wear their choices, good and bad, on their faces and in their bodies.  Though this shouldn’t be taken as a promise to immunity from difficulty, yet it should be taken quite seriously.

Do you want peace?  Health? Quality of life?  Length of life?  Then listen to and take to heart the wisdom of the elders in your life.

You might be thinking, but I’m not really around many older people.  What do I do?  Where can I access these wise, mature people and get their knowledge and input?

  1. There may be wise people in your family.  Get around them.  Make a phone call.  Do whatever you can to let them speak into your life.
  2. There are many wise people in solid, Bible-believing local churches.  The Bible speaks specifically of the need for the older to teach the younger in the context of the local, New Testament assembly.  There are many wise people who are looking to do that in a variety of ways in good, Godly churches.
  3. You can access wise counsel through books and other media.  You can access the wisdom of great people who are preachers, authors, bloggers, and practitioners.  We have more access to more content (good and bad) today than at any other time of history.  Let wise people you know point you to wisdom in solid sources.
  4. The ultimate and inerrant source of wisdom is the Word of God.  As we study the book of proverbs we will see unparalleled wisdom that finds it ultimate source in God Himself.  Remember, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.  Any wisdom that comes from any other source finds its ultimate source in the person of God himself.

Response:

  • Which one of these four sources of wisdom do you need to access today?
  • What wisdom are you ignoring that is affecting your peace and length of life today?

Listen, kids! Proverbs- Week 1- Day 2

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:  (9)  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Proverbs 1:8-9

Explanation:

Solomon has begun the book by laying out the purpose of the literature. The purpose of these Proverbs is to give wisdom and instruction to the young, to the simple, and to those that will listen. This culminated to the most foundational beginning and primary truth. That truth is that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”.

It is in that context that Solomon begins to speak to his son. We as readers get to lean in and listen to this instruction. Certainly we can believe that any father would give their son the best advice they can give. There is little incentive to give your own children bad advice. They bear your name! God granted Solomon his request for wisdom, and so the ability to read the kingly advice of Solomon to his son is of utmost value.

Solomon tells his son to “hear” the instruction of thy father. The word translated “hear” does not just mean to physically comprehend what is being said. The word means to physically comprehend with an inclination towards obedience. Listen and obey the instruction of your Father. The idea is continued in the parallelism of the phrase. “Forsake not the law of thy mother”. Clearly this is not just speaking about physically listening, but also obeying.

In verse 9 he references “they”. What is “they” referring to? It is referring to the instruction of the father, and the law of the mother. This instruction and law will be an “ornament of grace”. The word for ornament is used twice in proverbs. It is used here, and also in Proverbs 4:9.

She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Proverbs 4:9

The picture of this word is a wreath or a crown on the head. It is something that decorates the person wearing it. The idea is that this instruction and law will bring favor to your life by the obedience the son gives to it. Similarly they will be “chains about thy neck”. To wear jewelry and crowns at this time would be a sign of prosperity, favor, and riches.

Solomon is saying that heeding the instruction and law of your parents tends to lead to life, favor and blessing.

Application:

For children still living in their parents’ home, the application of this verse is pretty direct. There is blessing and favor for the child that listens and seeks to obey the guidance of their parents. The new testament repeats this directive and promise.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  (2)  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  (3)  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

Ephesians 6:1-3

For the adult not in the home, the truth is no less direct. We should remember and not forsake the wise instruction and guidance handed down to us from our parents. If your parent wasn’t particularly wise, it doesn’t mean that there is not anything wise you could learn from them. There are others older and wiser. There are elders you may have access to in your local church from which to gain wisdom and instruction.

In the context of this passage, we all have access to the wisdom of the Lord contained in the scripture. We should heed the wisdom and instruction contained in the pages of scripture. When we obey the wisdom given to us it will bring us blessing.

Response:

  • What is something that you are doing that is unwise?
  • Is there anything that your parents taught you to do that you are forsaking?