Proverbs 4 - Choosing the Right Path pt VI

Steve Viars February 2, 2002 Proverbs 3:

Introduction
- We’re in the middle of a study on the book of Proverbs
- We’ve been using as a guide through this series a book called Be Skillful by Warren Wiersbe. 
- And I think that many of the folks who have been using Wiersbe’s book would say that they’ve been greatly helped by it.
- Up to this point, we’ve studied Proverb 1-3, and today, we’re going to take a running pass at Proverbs chapter 4
- So, please turn there if you would, and we’ll begin our study by reading through the chapter. 

- Proverbs 4
1  Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding,
2  For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction.
3  When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
4  Then he taught me and said to me, ""Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;
5  Acquire 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.''
10  Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.
14  Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence.
18  But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19  The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.
20  My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
21  Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them And health to all their body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.
24  Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.

- Today we’re going to be focusing on the ways in which ‘Wisdom Perfects Our Path”
- Or another title for this study might be “How can I WALK in wisdom?”
- As we walk in God’s wisdom, we are able to see with greater clarity. 
- We’re able to act with greater discernment.
- In short, we’re able to make better choices—choices that honor and glorify God.
- And as we continue to walk in God’s wisdom, the gap between what we are in Christ, and what we are at the present begins to close.
- Now, please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that we can completely close that gap.
- This side of heaven, that gap will always exist.
- But would you agree with me that while we here on earth, it is our responsibility to make that gap as small as possible.
- So, how do we do that?  How do we walk in wisdom?

I.  Let’s talk first about Knowing God’s Word (vv. 1-9)


- And this first point is springing out of verses 1-9
- Interestingly, though, as we look at these verses, Solomon doesn’t speak of growing in knowledge God’s Word in a way that we might typically go about doing that.
- Because when we think about knowing God’s Word, what image pops into our minds?
- I don’t know about you, but I think about sitting down, maybe with a nice cup of coffee, opening up a Bible and reading.
- And I’m not saying that’s a bad way to learn God’s Word.
- Quite the contrary, I think that’s a very important step in the process of spiritual growth.
- But reading the Bible, that’s not what Solomon focuses on.
- No, this passage focuses on the fact that…
A.  Wisdom passes from generation to generation
- I mean when you think about it, God could have chosen any number of ways to pass His wisdom along to mankind.
- He could have granted revealed it to us at the point of salvation.
- At the very moment you trust Christ as Savior—Boom—at that moment your level of wisdom just shoots off the chart.
- Now, most of the folks in this room for whom there has been a specific point in time when they trusted Christ as Savior would tell you that it was the best decision they ever made.
- It was for me.
- And I don’t know about you, but at the moment I trusted Christ I did not automatically become a fully functioning, well-oiled, God pleasing machine.
- Did that happen for any of you?
- Or what about this…
- God could have embedded His wisdom in our genetic code, so that from birth we would intuitively know the right choices to make, the right paths to choose, the right way to behave.
- And to a certain extent he has.
- God has made each of us in His image.
- Whether we are believers in Jesus Christ or not, God has given each of us the instinctive knowledge of the difference between right and wrong/good and evil.
- That’s why people from all over the world, coming from a variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds are able to look at the events of September 11 and almost with one voice say “That’s wrong.”
- Because God has given each of us the instinctive knowledge of the difference between right and wrong/good and evil.
- And I hear what some of you are thinking, you’re thinking “Well, hold on, what about the people who were involved on September 11, or what about the Taliban or al Qaeda, they didn’t say “That’s wrong.”
- And, you’re right, they didn’t. 
- But just because God has placed the knowledge of the difference between right and wrong in each of us, that doesn’t mean that we have to listen.
- In fact, if we create enough of a track record of disregarding the conscience that God has given us, eventually our conscience becomes seared, and we can no longer tell the difference between right and wrong.
- That’s when we start calling evil good and good evil.
- So, has God chosen to embed his wisdom in our genetic code?
- To some extent, yes.
- But the primary way in which God passes along His wisdom is in the instruction of one generation to the next.
- That’s why there are so many commandments in the Scripture to parents regarding the way in which they should instruct their children.
- Ephesians 6:4 instructs fathers bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
- Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
- Deuteronomy 6:7 tells parents that they are to teach their children diligently all of the commandments of the Lord “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up”
- The idea here is that God’s Word should be a constant source of conversation in our homes.
- We should always be discussing the implications of God’s Word upon our lives
- And even as you look at this chapter, Solomon provides us with an example of diligent teaching. 
- This chapter is divided up into three main sections:  verses 1-9, verses 10-19, and verses 20-27
- INPUT:  And as you look at the first two or three verses in each of these sections, what instruction does Solomon keep repeating?
- v. 1 “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father
-   “Give attention that you may gain understanding,”
- v. 2 “Do not abandon my instruction.”
- v. 4  “Let your heart hold fast my words;
- v. 13 “Take hold of instruction; do not let go.”
- v. 20 “give attention to my words”
- Solomon isn’t sending some coded message.  He is very diligently teaching the next generation to benefit from his wisdom and experience.
- And that’s a lesson to every single one of us regardless of age or family status.
- Whether we’re parents or not, we have a responsibility to be discipling others, and it’s crucial that in those relationships we be challenging others to grow in their knowledge and application of God’s wisdom.

- And Solomon doesn’t stop by merely saying “Obey my instruction.”
- “Do it because I’m Solomon and I said so.”
B. No, he goes on to share The Benefits of Wisdom
- And throughout this chapter time, Solomon repeats this same pattern. 
- He begins with the admonition to heed his instruction. 
- Then, he shares the benefits that come from following his instruction,
- And after that, he provides the instruction itself.
- But for now, let’s look at the benefits
- Right there in verse 4, immediately following the instruction, Solomon says “Keep my commandments and live”
- Living—I’d say that’s a pretty big benefit.
- Especially when you consider the inverse of that statement.
- “Ignore my commandments and die.”
- And Solomon’s wasn’t saying “You do what I say, or I’ll kill you.”
- That’s not what I’m getting at.
- Rather he was pointing out that there are great blessings that come from wise living.
- In verse 6, he says, “ Do not forsake her (do not forsake wisdom), and she will guard you.  Love her, and she will watch over you.”
- In verse 8, he says “Prize her, and she will exalt you; she will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty.”
- Now, let me ask you, how does wisdom do these things?
- INPUT:  What are some ways in which wise living guards you?  How does it watch over you?  How does it exalt you?

- Okay, so we’ve received Solomon’s encouragement to heed his instruction.
- We’ve discussed the blessings that come with wisdom.
- Let’s move on to discuss, the instruction itself.

- Let’s go ahead and move on to discuss the next point in the text. 
C.  Let’s talk about the fact that Wisdom is acquired– (vv. 5-7)
- And we see Solomon beginning to talk about this in verse 5.
- He urges his reader “Acquire wisdom!  Acquire understanding!
- He goes on to say, “Do not forsake her and she will guard you.  Love her, and she will watch over you.”
- And then, in verse 7, he make a very interesting statement.  He says, “The beginning of wisdom is:  acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.

- And I’m curious to hear your response to that verse.
- Is that like a “well, yeah, duh” kind of statement, or is there something more to it than that?
- INPUT:  What’s your response to Solomon’s statement in verse 7?
- And here’s what I think Solomon is saying…
- The first step in being wise involves humility
- We have to come to a place where we would humbly say, “You know, I have no wisdom on my own. 
- “There is nothing inherently wise about me.” 
- “If I’m going to have wisdom, I have to turn to the source of wisdom.  I have to seek wisdom from the Lord”
- And the second part of that verse helps us to understand that mere head knowledge is not the goal.
- The goal is not to have a brain that is filled with all sorts of facts—not even biblical facts.
- The goal is to have a mind of understanding—a mind that is like the mind of God.
- And here’s the question that each of us has to answer…
- Am I seeking to have a mind that is like the mind of God?
- And if I am—
- And you need to recognize that for some of us, that may be a really big “if.”
- But if I am seeking to have the mind of God, how do I go about acquiring God’s wisdom.
- And the answer to that question is read on.

-  Solomon begins the next section in verse 10 in the same way that he did the last section. 
- He encourages us to listen to his instruction.
- Then, he share the benefits doing so.
- Then, in verse 14 he give the instruction. And look at verse 14 if you would.
- He says,
14  Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.
16  For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17  For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence.
18  But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19  The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble.


II. Now in Wiesbe’s book on Proverbs, he claims that this section of verses tells us that if we’re going to acquire wisdom, we have to Trust in the providence of God.


- Now, my question to you is,
- INPUT:  Do you agree with Wiersbe’s assessment of these verses?  Do these verses say that?  Do they tell us that trusting in the providence of God is essential to the pursuit of wisdom?  Why or why not?
- I see how Wiersbe gets that out of these verses.
- Because if we begin to walk down the path of the wicked.
- We are essentially saying to God,
- “God, you have not given me everything I need in order to live righteously before you.  Therefore, if I’m going to live a righteous life, you have to give me more than what you already have.  But since you’re not doing that, I’m going to do whatever I want.
- Whereas, the person who is seeking God’s wisdom will say,
- “You know, God, I may not understand why you’ve given me the circumstances you have.  But instead of walking down the path of evil.  I’m going to choose to please You, and wait for you to show me your plan.
- That’s why, in verse 18, Solomon says, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day”
- You see, the longer we choose to walk the path of righteousness, the more clearly we begin to see God’s will.
- We begin to see God working in the various areas of our lives.
- We begin to understand on an experiential level that God’s plan is better than our plans.
- And we begin to understand that we don’t have to choose the path of the wicked, we can choose to live righteously because we know that God desires what’s best for us.
- Because we saw the good things that came out of trusting God the last time, we understand that God’s got something good in store for our present circumstance.
- And the more practiced we are at trusting God’s provision, the wiser we become.
- Trusting in God’s providence helps us to see the things that are unseen.
- And that is essential to the pursuit of wisdom.
- This is how wisdom perfects our path.
- Now, is it easy?
- No, it’s not easy.
- In fact, let’s just be honest—sometimes it’s downright hard.
- But I think we begin to see what Solomon meant when he said “acquire” wisdom.
- Acquisition requires effort.

- Alright, so we’ve hit the first two sections of this chapter, let’s pick up with the third.
- And it’s at this point in the chapter that Solomon’s instruction becomes incredible practical.
- He begins in the same way that he began the previous sections
- But in verse 23, he begins to lay out a series of instructions that can help us in our daily pursuit of wisdom.


III.  And what he’s helping us to understand is that wise living requires Obedience to God’s Will


- In verse 23, he addresses our hearts.
- “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
- In verse 24, he talks about our speech.
- “Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.”
- In verse 25, he addresses our sight.
- “Let your eyes look directly ahead And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”
- And in verses 26 and 27, he addresses our choices.
- “Watch the path of your feet And all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”
- Do you that in verses 26 and 27 are not really talking about our feet.  I don’t think Solomon was really against making left and right turns.
- He’s talking about the choices that we make
- Because at every juncture, we can choose to stay on God’s path, or we can choose to deviate from it.
- So, we’ve got four major categories that the text is addressing—our hearts, our speech, our sight, and our choices.
- In the time we’ve got remaining, I’d like to get divide up our board into four sections, and I’d like to get some suggestions from you about the ways in which we can applying these verses.
- INPUT:  How can we be watching over our hearts?  What can help us to put away the wrong kind of speech?  What can we do to guard our eyes from sin?  What will help us make the kinds of choices that will prevent us from deviating from God’s path?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Bible Fellowship
Choosing the Right Path #6
Proverbs Series #17
Proverbs 4


I.  Knowing ________  ____________ (vv. 1-9)
A.  Wisdom passes from ____________________  _____  ____________________.
INPUT:  And as you look at the first two or three verses in each of the three sections of this chapter, what instruction does Solomon keep repeating?
B. The ____________________  of Wisdom
INPUT:  What are some ways in which wise living guards you?  How does it watch over you?  How does it exalt you?
C.  Wisdom is __________________ (vv. 5-7)
INPUT:  What’s your response to Solomon’s statement in verse 7?

II. ______________ in the ________________________ of God (vv. 10-19)
INPUT:  Do you agree with Wiersbe’s assessment of these verses?  Do these verses say that?  Do they tell us that trusting in the providence of God is essential to the pursuit of wisdom?  Why or why not?
Proverbs 4:18  “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day”

III.  ________________________ to God’s Will (vv. 20-27)
A.  In our _______________.  (v. 23)
B.  In our _______________.  (v. 24)
C.  In our _______________.  (v. 25)
D.  In our _______________.  (vv. 26-27)
INPUT:  How can we be watching over our hearts?  What can help us to put away the wrong kind of speech?  What can we do to guard our eyes from sin?  What will help us make the kinds of choices that will prevent us from deviating from God’s path?

 

Adult Bible Fellowship
Choosing the Right Path #6
Proverbs Series #17

Introduction

I.  Knowing God’s Word (vv. 1-9)
A.  Wisdom passes from generation to generation
INPUT:  And as you look at the first two or three verses in each of these sections, what instruction does Solomon keep repeating?
B. The Benefits of Wisdom
INPUT:  What are some ways in which wise living guards you?  How does it watch over you?  How does it exalt you?
C.  Wisdom is acquired (vv. 5-7)
INPUT:  What’s your response to Solomon’s statement in verse 7?

 

II. Trust in the providence of God.


INPUT:  Do you agree with Wiersbe’s assessment of these verses?  Do these verses say that?  Do they tell us that trusting in the providence of God is essential to the pursuit of wisdom?  Why or why not?

III. Obedience to God’s Will
A.  In our hearts.
B.  In our speech.
C.  In our sight.
D.  In our choices.
INPUT:  How can we be watching over our hearts?  What can help us to put away the wrong kind of speech?  What can we do to guard our eyes from sin?  What will help us make the kinds of choices that will prevent us from deviating from God’s path?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video