Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding, (4:1).
Proverbs 4 is a heart-to-heart talk from a father to his son; an impassioned plea, revealing a father heart that seeks the absolute best for his young child. For some of us, this may not be a relationship we can easily relate to; some of us may not have been so fortunate to have the kind of father who invested time and energy into our training. And some of us may not hold fond memories of tender compassion from our earthly fathers.
Although it is written by an earthly father, Solomon (the son of the man after God’s own heart), Proverbs 4 is a beautiful depiction of God’s affection for His children; the Father Who wants only the best for us. And from the advice of King Solomon, we hear the counsel we need from our Perfect Parent as we listen to His Father Heart.
Consider His Father Heart
Three times, we hear the urgings of His Father Heart speaking His earnest appeal.
His Father Heart urges that we pay attention as He speaks to extend His sound teaching and instruction.
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, (4:1-2).
His Father Heart urges that we accept His sayings as He speaks to direct and lead us in His wisdom and upright ways.
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, (4:10-11).
His Father urges that we incline our whole being to His words as He speaks to impart His life and health.
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, (4:20-22).
How do we respond to His Father Heart?
In addressing his own son, Solomon reflected on his father, King David, who had earnestly endeavored to direct his young son onto the path of life.
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; (4:3-4).
And like his earthly father, Solomon made his own heartfelt appeals to his young son. But sadly, we know from Solomon’s later years, he did not follow his own advice.
For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been, (1 Kings 11:4).
It is clear that knowing truth and living truth are not synonymous; there is a choice that must be made.
Because His Father Heart is a Heart of Love, and Love can never be forced, the choice to heed His advice is always ours.
It seems incredulous that we would choose to ignore His Father Heart, but oh how desperately sick are our hearts, and how very desperate we are for His Holy Spirit to give us a heart to know and follow His Father Heart.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart,” (Jeremiah 24:7).
And the truth is, it all goes back to the beginning… the fear of the Lord is what will lead us in our choice to heed His Father Heart.
Who is the man who fears the Lord?
He will instruct him in the way he should choose, (Psalm 25:12).
And as we walk in holy reverence and surrender, He will grow us in our understanding of where we must begin
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, (4:5-7).
Let’s choose to begin at His beginning; that we would commit our all to follow His Father Heart, no matter the cost.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding, (4:7 NIV).
Let us choose to prize the wisdom of His Father Heart above all else as we trust ourselves to the blessing of His honor and the beauty of His grace.
“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,” (4:8-9).
Let us choose to take seriously the need to hold on and guard the wisdom of His Father Heart that provides His life.
Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life, (4:13).
Lord, how grateful we are for Your Father Heart that patiently warns, guides and teaches us Your ways. Please conform our hearts that we would choose to carefully watch our ways to willingly obey Your commands and steadfastly walk in Your love.
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, (4:23-27).
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ, (2 Thessalonians 3:5).