Proverbs
1-4 A Good Lesson Goes Forth Through Generations 5-9 Acquire Wisdom, Acquire Understanding! 10-13 The Way of Wisdom 14-19 The Path of the Wicked 20-27 Watch Your Heart, Lips, Eyes and Feet
A Good Lesson Goes Forth Through Generations

1Hear, [O] sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
2For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
3When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
4Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;

The father appeals to his children to listen to his instruction and to give attention, that they “may gain understanding” (verse 11Hear, [O] sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
). A father seeks the best for his children and gives them only what is useful to them. He will not give them wrong things (Lk 11:11-1211Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?12Or [if] he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?). The best he can give is something that serves to increase understanding in God’s thoughts about how life should be lived.

The father is convinced that he teaches his children “a sound [lit good] teaching” (verse 22For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
). It regards the sound doctrine, he gives sound teaching which therefore has a sound effect. That is quite different to what false prophets and false teachers do, who say what the people want to hear (Isa 30:1010Who say to the seers, “You must not see [visions]”;
And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right,
Speak to us pleasant words,
Prophesy illusions.
; Jer 5:3131The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their [own] authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?
; Eze 33:31-3231They come to you as people come, and sit before you [as] My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires [expressed] by their mouth, [and] their heart goes after their gain.32Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them.; Gal 1:6-76I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;7which is [really] not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.; 2Tim 4:3-43For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but [wanting] to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.). They tell stories that are received well by the religious people, but through which they lead them to destruction. That’s not the way the father speaks to his sons. He teaches them God’s Word and orders them not to abandon his teaching and not to let themselves to be dragged by nice talking preachers.

In verse 33When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
the father underlines what he said in verses 1-21Hear, [O] sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
2For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
. The conjunction “for” indicates that. He speaks to his sons as somebody who knows what it means to be “a son” to his father, for he himself has also been a son. When he recalls that time, he sees how “tender” he was (1Chr 22:55David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD shall be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all lands. [Therefore] now I will make preparation for it.” So David made ample preparations before his death.; 29:11Then King David said to the entire assembly, “My son Solomon, whom alone God has chosen, is still young and inexperienced and the work is great; for the temple is not for man, but for the LORD God.). He then felt as “an only child” in the sight of his mother, secured of here tender attention and care.

It is a blessing if we also could recall our parents like that in the time that they were still taking care of us. An increasing number of children cannot. What those children can still do, is to make sure that their children will remember them like that.

Here we have the family again as the atmosphere in which education and teaching take place (Deu 6:6-96These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.7You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.). We see here again (Pro 1:88Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
) that the teaching that is given by the father or the mother, is not given in a formal, academic, scholastic way, but out of personal involvement, with warmth and love. This is undoubtedly the best way of teaching.

The father passes on to his children what his father has told him (verse 44Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
). He is not making up what he is telling them, but he in his turn has heard it from his father. Also his father took the time to teach his son. A father does that when he is aware of his responsibility to help his children make good choices in life. Fathers have to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:44Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.).

We hear the voice of experience resonating in the generations (cf. Deu 6:22so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.; 2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.; cf. Job 8:8-108“Please inquire of past generations,
And consider the things searched out by their fathers.
9“For we are [only] of yesterday and know nothing,
Because our days on earth are as a shadow.
10“Will they not teach you [and] tell you,
And bring forth words from their minds?
). That makes the teaching on wisdom a valuable tradition throughout the generations. It is also an encouragement for the sons, for they know in that way that the experiences that they are going through are also the experiences of their father. It is the shared experience and it is not an imposed behavior. That makes the teaching attractive. Photographs and anecdotes can show the youngsters that their father has also been young and inexperienced and that he had taken the place towards his father which they are now taking towards him.

Personal fellowship with God cannot be transferred, but can surely be shown and made attractive, through which the desire is being stimulated to possess it also. Solomon had seen the intimacy that his father David had with God and that had made him jealous. Solomon has surely also seen the sins of his father. But that does not prevent him from teaching his sons, because he also saw the dismay that his father had of his sins.

That also goes for the church in spiritual sense. This is why Paul also tells that to Timothy by saying: ”You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2Tim 3:1414You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned [them],). It is a great privilege when we have a ‘spiritual genealogy’, when we learn from the previous generations and pass that on to those who come after us (2Tim 2:22The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.). We shall do that when we are fully convinced that what we have learned, is in accordance with the Scripture.

In verse 4b4Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
the father lets his father, the grandfather of his sons, speak. Grandpa speaks and he definitely has something to tell. It seems like he is talking up to Proverbs 5:6, for in Proverbs 5:7 we again hear how the father addresses his “children”. The grandchildren will do well when they listen well to what their grandpa said to their father. Their father passes that on to them, so that they may profit from that. That profit is nothing less than life.

That the father does this, proves that he is fully committed to convince his sons about what he says, to let them go the way of wisdom and to guard their lives against corruption. This should be the drive of all parents for each child that has been entrusted to them. It is an intention of the heart, that says: ‘As far as it depends on me, my children will not perish, but become faithful servants of the Lord.’ That grace has to work this, does not change anything of the effort that is expected of the parents.

In order to have profit, he, the son, must above all hold fast to the words that his father has spoken to him. It is about the heart, not the intellect, although that is not separated from it. If the heart holds fast to the words, those words will be considered to be “commandments”, they will act accordingly in the practice of life. Then life will be lived as God has intended it; it will be experienced with all the blessings which a life in obedience to God hides in itself.


Acquire Wisdom, Acquire Understanding!

5Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
7“The beginning of wisdom [is]: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
8“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
9“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

The father urges his son to acquire “wisdom” and “understanding” at any price, whatever the efforts are to be delivered (verse 55Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
). He should do anything for it and should be willing to make any sacrifice for it. Solomon was already wise, but wisdom can and must increase. He who is wise, will be willing to grow in wisdom. Wisdom and understanding do not come naturally; they are to be acquired. You may want to have everything, but you should consider that acquiring wisdom and understanding is the most important.

To acquire wisdom means to know Christ better. That’s what life is all about, only about that. The son is not to forget the words that the father has spoken. He should ponder on them, meditate on them and bear them in mind. In that way the memory of what God’s Word says, will remain vivid. He is not to turn away from it.

In verse 66“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
wisdom is presented as a person who gives preservation and protection. The condition to experience that preservation and protection is that the son not forsakes wisdom (negative), but loves her (positive). To forsake wisdom – or Christ – is a great evil, with disastrous consequences. In that case he is delivered to all bad elements in the world. It is important to love wisdom, which is Christ. That is the most secure protection against all temptations to sin.

The first step, the beginning, to acquire wisdom, is to make the decision to acquire her (verse 77“The beginning of wisdom [is]: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
). Here the key is handed over to us to gain wisdom. To acquire wisdom takes time, money, effort. It is not about our intellect or about the opportunity, whether we have it or not, but about decisiveness, whether we want it. He who sees the superior value of wisdom, will be willing to acquire it at any price.

The same goes for the understanding, which is the fathoming and discerning of the nature of things or people, whether they are good or evil, whether they have good or bad intentions. Wisdom and understanding belong together. Wisdom becomes apparent from understanding. He who has understanding sees certain situations through and knows how to act; he also knows how he should approach or estimate certain people.

One of the main differences between the wise and the fool is the awareness of the need that each of them has. Those who believe that they have no problems, have the greatest problem. When we realize what our biggest problem is, we will want to make every effort to solve it. Here it is about our lack of wisdom. When we realize our lack of wisdom, we would want to do our utmost and use every resource that we have, to gain it. Thereby we could think of taking time for bible study, time to pray, time to attend the gatherings of the church where God’s Word is explained, to speak with believers or to read books of believers who have had an extensive experience with the Lord, in order to learn from them.

Paul speaks about ‘gaining’ Christ (Phil 3:88More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,). That indicates effort, as if it is about gaining a prize of a match. He wanted to learn to know Christ. Of course Christ was in him and of course he knew Him. But instead of being satisfied with that, that exactly encourages Paul ‘to gain Him’, which means to become more and more like Him, learning to know Him better and better.

Wisdom should be exalted, like a banner is exalted (verse 88“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
). We should prize wisdom. Nothing else ought to have a higher place in our thinking. The result will be that she will exalt us. Someone who exalts wisdom, is esteemed by other people. Wisdom is compared with the woman you love and whom you embrace. This is the opposite of embracing a strange woman. The inexperienced young man should give his full devotion and love to wisdom.

We can also relate this to Christ, the wisdom of God. Our life is about exalting and honoring Him. To embrace Him means that we are very close to Him and that we make Him feel our love. We do that when we let Him exceed above everything and everyone. We honor Him if we tell Him what attributes we have discovered in Him and praise Him for that. Then those attributes will become visible in us too, which will find appreciation with God. He says: “Those who honor Me, I shall honor” (1Sam 2:3030Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.).

The honor that wisdom gives to those who love her, is compared with “a garland of grace” and “a crown of beauty” on the head (verse 99“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”
). A garland and a crown are given as a clearly visible proof as a way of appreciation for choosing wisdom. They are the homage to a conqueror. Love for wisdom demands sacrifices. He who sacrifices those offerings, will be rewarded for that by wisdom (Christ) (cf. 1Cor 9:2525Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then [do it] to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.; 2Tim 4:88in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.; Jam 1:1212Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which [the Lord] has promised to those who love Him.; 1Pet 5:44And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.; Rev 2:1010Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.).


The Way of Wisdom

10Hear, my son, and accept my saying
And the years of your life will be many.
11I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.

In verses 10-1910Hear, my son, and accept my saying
And the years of your life will be many.
11I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.14Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they do evil
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make [someone] stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
again the two ways are pictured for the young man: the way of wisdom (verses 10-1310Hear, my son, and accept my saying
And the years of your life will be many.
11I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.
) and the way of the wicked and evil men (verses 14-1914Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they do evil
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make [someone] stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
). The one way is that to the full sun, the other leads to the darkness of the night. It is the choice between the narrow and the broad way. The son is as it were, again given the option of choosing between the two trees in paradise. Ultimately the choice is between to be or not to be obedient, by which it is the choice between life and death.

The father repeats his instruction to listen and to receive his words (verse 1010Hear, my son, and accept my saying
And the years of your life will be many.
; verse 11Hear, [O] sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
). He attaches to it the promise of many years to his life. That does not only regard the number of years, but also the enjoyment of joy in life. It is about the quality of life, a full life, which comprises more than its earthly duration. At the deepest level it is about the joy of life in the kingdom of peace, the everlasting life.

The words of the father contain the teaching in going the way of wisdom, words that also show the way that leads to wisdom (verse 1111I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
). He leads him on the way to her. It is the narrow way “that leads to life” (Mt 7:1313“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.). When he allows himself to be directed by the wise words of his father, he will be “led … in upright paths” and therefore not go the twisting ways. His behavior will be straight, righteous, holy and in truth.

The way of wisdom is free of hindrances, obstacles, and free of enemies and dangers, which guarantees progress (verse 1212When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
). There is freedom of movement. Although the believer walks on the narrow way, he walks in the freedom of God’s Word. Whoever lives after the teaching of God’s Word, will in no way be hindered in his progress. Even though when people run the race, when they hurry to do God’s will, there is no danger for stumbling and falling, caused by the entanglement of sin (Heb 12:1-21Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.). We see going the way of wisdom in perfection by the Lord Jesus.

The instruction to take hold of the instruction and not to let go (verse 1313Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.
) means that there are opposing forces active. Those forces seek to make us sacrifice the teaching that we have received. ‘Do not let go’ implies that the enemy is pulling on it to take it away from us. We take hold of the instruction only when we know its value with our hearts. Wisdom is not only the means to make progress in life, she herself is life. Something that is so fundamental, is to be taken hold of strongly and with enthusiasm.

It is to be compared with a robe that is thrown to someone who lies in the water and who cannot swim. It is shouted to him that he must grasp that robe and take hold of it. If he lets go of it, he will drown. That robe is his life. In that way we are to grasp and take hold of the instruction, the teaching that we receive.


The Path of the Wicked

14Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they do evil
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make [someone] stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.

The young man is warned to avoid the path of the wicked by not entering that path with even one single step (verse 1414Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
). If no first step is put on that path, he will never end up wrong. This warning is connected to the instruction to take hold of instruction. Whoever goes the path of the wicked, will lose his fast grip to the sound teaching; he does not hold on strongly to it any longer and will let go.

In verse 1515Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
the necessity of avoiding the path of the wicked is spoken in imperative terms to the young man in four brief sentences. To choose that path is choosing the path of death. The father is very determined:
1. First, there is the inner attitude of rejecting that path.
2. The clear choice not to go that way is attached to it.
3. It is even the case, that he should not even want to come near to it; he is to turn away from it
4. and to ignore it, so not putting one single step on it.

If he comes near to it, the suction power may possibly take the control over him, which can cause him to enter that path. He ought to make a big swing around it and walk further. He ought not to stand still there, nor should he look at it, even if it is at a distance. He should not give it a glance, but totally ignore it.

As for the practice of life, it implies that we should not be influenced by the thinking which determines the path of the world. If we do not have a task from the Lord to do it, we should not allow ourselves to be involved with it and ought to stay far away from it. We should not desire to know all that is going around there.

Dina, the daughter of Jacob, was curious to know what was going around on that way. She surely found out. We see in what she experiences, where the ignoring of this command leads to (Gen 34:1-21Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.2When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force.). She is a warning example. It may be attractive to read all kinds of gossip in magazines and on the internet. We may want to do that with the excuse that we should know what is happening in the world. But we are to reject that thought. We are not to participate in gossip, but we should neither listen to it. We are to turn away from it and ignore it.

The reason to avoid the evil path is the addictive operation of it (verse 1616For they cannot sleep unless they do evil
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make [someone] stumble.
). The wicked and the evil men are addicted to evil (Psa 36:44He plans wickedness upon his bed;
He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil.
). If they cannot commit their daily dose of evil, they get upset, like a drug user gets upset when he does not get his daily dose of drugs. The longer it takes the more and more restless they get; they cannot sleep unless they do evil or have caused someone to stumble. They are real children of their father, the devil.

They are not even seeking money or power anymore. Their pure goal is to do evil. There is love for the evil. Doing evil is their “bread” and “wine”, which means their food and drink (verse 1717For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
). These are the means with which Melchizedek came to the weary Abraham, in order to strengthen him (Gen 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.). These people, however, do not take this food and drink out of the hand of God, but take them out of “wickedness” and “violence”. That’s what they feed themselves with; they live from it; that’s their delight. The people who go this way lack every form of human compassion.

Verse 1818But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
, which begins with the word “but”, shows the contrast with verse 1717For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
and clarifies how dangerous this path and the life of the wicked are. It is the contrast between darkness and light. The path of the righteous is a light that began to shine after a life in darkness (cf. 1Pet 2:99But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;). It breathes the freshness of dawn and covers their surroundings with the beauty of the sunset.

The path itself is a light because truth, righteousness and holiness are seen on it. Christ is seen and He is the light. The righteous are also called the light of the world, who let their light shine before men (Mt 5:14,1614“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;16Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.; Phil 2:1515so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,). The further the righteous are progressing on that path, the brighter the light will shine, until they end in the full light. Then the full day has come. That is the day of the kingdom of peace.

The path of the wicked is the deep darkness of sin and the unbelief in the middle of the night (verse 1919The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
; Exo 10:2222So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.) which will make them stumble and fall. They have no idea what makes them stumble, for they do not see anything. Stumbling is also a result of wrong teaching on the law (Mal 2:88But as for you, you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by the instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of hosts.). There is darkness around them and in them. Whosoever walks in the light, will not stumble; he who walks in darkness, will stumble (Jn 11:9-109Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”). He who walks in darkness, will end in eternal darkness, where the light of God is changed into eternal fire.


Watch Your Heart, Lips, Eyes and Feet

20My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
24Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.

The portion of verses 20-2720My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
24Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
deals with life. A kind of ‘medical check’ follows of the heart, the mouth, the eyes and the feet, to see in which condition they are, in order to teach the son how to use them properly. The whole exterior life comes forth from what is in the heart (verses 21,2321Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
23Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). With the heart the center of life is meant: the whole of a person as human, with his mind, his will and his emotion. In that center the Word of God is to be given its place.

The heart must be guarded; we should see to it what is coming in. When the good comes in it, the good will come out of it. What comes out of it, comes through the mouth and lips (verse 2424Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
), the eyes and gaze (or eyelids) (verse 2525Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
), feet and ways (verse 2626Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
). If the heart is okay, the mouth knows what to speak, the eyes know where to look, and the feet know where to go to. That can only be when the heart is filled with the fear of the LORD.

Again the father calls upon his son to give attention to his words (verse 2020My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
). Such an appeal appears repeatedly in this book, because Godliness implies for a greater part to take hold of the known truths. The son is to incline his ears to what his father says. He ought to be willing and to be a good listener, for it is about words that are of most importance.

He also should not let those words depart from his sight; he is to keep his eyes fixed on them continually (verse 2121Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
). He can do that literally by writing them down (cf. Deu 17:1818“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests.). It will help him to keep them “in the midst” of his heart. By using his ear, his eyes and his heart, his whole personality will be guided by the words of his father.

The result is life and health (verse 2222For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
). The words of the Scripture, the words of Christ, “are spirit and are life” (Jn 6:6363It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.). They liberate from evil things that cause pain and hinder to live of the true life. To listen to and to heed the teaching will increase the benefit of the whole man. Sin destroys the body. Some examples are aids as a result of sinful sexual contacts and anorexia as a result of an unhealthy spirit of control. Whosoever returns with the confession of sins to the path of wisdom, can find healing.

After the instruction in verse 2121Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
to keep wisdom in the heart in verse 2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
the instruction to watch over the heart follows. That means that there is a danger that wrong elements can enter in that want to take the control. That happens through the mind or the thoughts, the will and the emotion. The heart can be protected by continual prayer, listening to God’s Word and the sanctification through God’s Spirit. The heart is the starting point of the activities of life and determines the course of life. It comprises what a man says (verse 2424Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
), sees (verse 2525Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
) and does (verses 26-2726Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
).

What is present in the heart, first appears, and most clearly, from the words that come forth from the mouth and the lips (verse 2424Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
; cf. Lk 6:45c45The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil [man] out of the evil [treasure] brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.; Mt 12:34-3534You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.35The good man brings out of [his] good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of [his] evil treasure what is evil.; 15:18-1918But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.). From our words must be removed what does not come forth from a heart that is led by wisdom. A radical break must happen between the young man and falsehood in his words (cf. Eph 4:2929Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such [a word] as is good for edification according to the need [of the moment], so that it will give grace to those who hear.).

The “eyes” are to look directly ahead, which means that the eyes are simply focused on one particular goal (verse 2525Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
). That goal here is to gain wisdom, which is Christ, to gain Him. We may also say that the important thing is, that the son “looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer” (Jam 1:2525But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the [law] of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.). He should look continually at the prescriptions of God’s Word, which his father presents to him. Therein he sees promises and also examples which encourage him to look ahead to the goal.

His “gaze” must be fixed straight in front of him. The concentration on the goal must be so intense that he does not even blink with his eyes. When his eyes wander aimlessly and adulterously, the adulterous deeds will follow. The Lord Jesus speaks about looking ahead when He says: “So then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light” (Mt 6:2222“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.). By that He means that when the eye is focused on that very one goal, the whole body knows what it should do.

The commandment to look ahead has a direct effect on the “foot” of the young man (verse 2626Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
). He should make straight paths for his feet (cf. Heb 12:1313and make straight paths for your feet, so that [the limb] which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.). He should make his path accessible, make it free from holes and pave it by purging it from stumbling blocks. Then all his “ways will be established”, which means that he can go a trustworthy way, which constantly leads straightforward to the goal.

There is a clear connection between where our eyes are looking at and where we put our feet. Everyone who drives a car knows that looking straight ahead is the only way to keep the car straight on the road. The same goes for the farmer that ploughs. He also looks to the end of the field to make straight lines. If the wife of Lot had looked straight ahead and did not look back, she would not have become a pillar of salt (Gen 19:17,2617When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”26But his wife, from behind him, looked [back], and she became a pillar of salt.). Not to look ahead is fatal. That’s why the Lord Jesus says: “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lk 17:3232Remember Lot’s wife.).

The principle is clear that our feet are inclined to follow our eyes. We determine the course of our path by where our eyes look at. The author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks about a race. He emphasizes that the important thing is that we lay aside all other things, while we fix our eyes on only one object alone, which is Christ in glory (Heb 12:1-21Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.).

The instruction in the last verse (verse 2727Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.
) connects to the previous verse. The son must not depart from the path that the father shows him by turning to the right or to the left (Deu 5:3232So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left.; 28:13-1413The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe [them] carefully,14and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.; Jos 1:77Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.). Therefore he should listen to the voice of God (Isa 30:2121Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.). To turn to the right means to us that we should not fall into legalism and orthodoxy; to turn to the left means that we should not fall into liberalism and idolatry.

Also threats should not make him turn away from the path, as less as flatteries. The same goes for adversary and prosperity. He should therefore go straightforward on the path that is shown. By turning his feet from the evil, he will keep distance between himself and the evil.


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