About two weeks ago, I posted “The Heart” on Proverbs 3:1-8. No, I didn’t forget how to count but today’s post is skipping ahead to the forth chapter of Proverbs for just a brief minute.
That said, day five is Proverbs 4:1-9…
1 LISTEN, MY SONS, TO A FATHER’S INSTRUCTION; PAY ATTENTION AND GAIN UNDERSTANDING. 2 I GIVE YOU SOUND LEARNING, SO DO NOT FORSAKE MY TEACHING. 3 FOR I TOO WAS A SON TO MY FATHER, STILL TENDER, AND CHERISHED BY MY MOTHER. 4 THEN HE TAUGHT ME, AND HE SAID TO ME, “TAKE HOLD OF MY WORDS WITH ALL YOUR HEART; KEEP MY COMMANDS, AND YOU WILL LIVE. 5 GET WISDOM, GET UNDERSTANDING; DO NOT FORGET MY WORDS OR TURN AWAY FROM THEM. 6 DO NOT FORSAKE WISDOM, AND SHE WILL PROTECT YOU; LOVE HER, AND SHE WILL WATCH OVER YOU. 7 THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IS THIS: GET WISDOM. THOUGH IT COST ALL YOU HAVE, GET UNDERSTANDING. 8 CHERISH HER, AND SHE WILL EXALT YOU; EMBRACE HER, AND SHE WILL HONOR YOU. 9 SHE WILL GIVE YOU A GARLAND TO GRACE YOUR HEAD AND PRESENT YOU WITH A GLORIOUS CROWN.”
PROVERBS 4:1-9, NIV84
Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. This is not something that we haven’t heard before. We’ve been hearing it since verse eight of chapter one. If we’ve been hearing it since then, I must be a pertinent plea. It is a pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom with all diligence and resolve without hesitating or cowering.
I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. This is not just any old learning and teaching. It is SOUND: i.e. it holds true forever, never fails, never wavers, is always trustworthy. The ONLY possibility for such learning and teaching to be sound is for this learning and teaching to derive from God. So this is more than just some good advice to take or leave at one’s whim.
For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, “take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. More than the benefits of protection, exaltation, and distinction spoken of in verses six through nine, this is the apex of the chapter…the paramount responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught (through the strengths and the struggles and the wins and the losses) to the upcoming generations. And we are to do this not just with our words one day of the week or one week of the year but all of the time with what we say (and don’t say) and with what we do (and don’t do). I tend to be a proponent of the observationalism (the theory that learning can occur through observation). Sometimes implicit teaching can be a very impactful thing.
Someone shared a video this weekend of a little toddler. This toddler happened to be standing behind a baby-gate at the top of a couple of stairs. She was resolutely, and humorously so, calling for the kitten which was at the bottom of the stairs to come up to the top where she was standing. While calling for this cat, the toddler was attempting to open the gate. She was reaching her little arms as high as they would go and then trying to manipulate the latch to unlock it. Now, I HIGHLY doubt that this toddler’s mother or father explicitly taught her daughter how to unlock the baby-gate. What would be the point of even having a gate then!?! I bet that this toddler has come to develop the understanding of how to unlock the gate by WATCHING her parents do so day after day. Observation has a huge part to play in how we learn. Can you imagine how much more impactful it is when / if children observe implicit teaching which aligns with explicit teaching? …when our words (and nonwords) and actions (and nonactions) confirm one another?
As we agree to the responsibility to pass on what we’ve been taught to those rising after us, let us realize this high calling and NOT forsake the pertinent plea to perseveringly pursue wisdom ourselves. May our words and actions reflect hearts and minds that are set on the Lord Jesus Christ and pursuing His ways in such a manner that those who follow may come to know, love, and serve Jesus Christ better as a result.
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