Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Proverbs 4 Speaks To Today

Proverbs 4 Speaks To Today

Do Not Grow Weary

Do Not Grow Weary


My children, listen when your father corrects you. 
Pay attention and learn good judgment, 
for I am giving you good guidance.
 Don’t turn away from my instructions. 
For I, too, was once my father’s son, 
tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.


A Life Worth Living:

Life does not just happen - leastwise a life that is worth living. Life must be pursued by gaining knowledge of what is good, what is healthy, what is wise. But, knowledge does not make life good, or healthy, or even wise. For wisdom is not only knowledge applied, but knowledge rightly applied.

Learning from your mistakes may get you there, but is an exercise in foolishness and wasted time and living. Learning from your stubborn headed desire to only learn through mistakes in most cases fails to get there - fails to find or embrace wisdom.

A Needed Understanding:

This passage also makes no sense if humans and the good life is just the accident of evolution and therefore, today's good life is simply a struggle for the new better way to mutate upon us. But, that is a very different reality that needs to be addressed. 

A child tenderly loved by a mother, whether an only child or one of many, still has much to learn. This is the core of this proverb. 

But also at the core of this proverb is the need for sons, daughters too, to learn the exercise of good judgement even if they grow to maturity in a solid, godly, even god-fearing home.

However, a solid, godly, even god-fearing home is not a prerequisite to learning how to live.(see the NOTE below.)

How is a wise life learned? How can it be found and embraced? Where does it receive the best foundation? From what is learned and experienced in childhood.

A Foundation for Wise Living:

Before we proceed, let me remind you that an ideal is being presented here. A way of learning that some find easy, but most, at some time in growing to adulthood, find hard.

There is no allowance here for the "their just kids" culture of youth today. In fact at church, in our homes, we may do well to teach our children these proverbs rather that most of the biblical content that youth teaching centers on today. Our teaching rule-on-rule, line-upon-line has produced just what God told us would happen, our children fall backwards, are injured, snarred, and captured. (Isaiah 28:13 NIV)

The surveys tell us what our eyes have seen, the children to whom we have taught Bible stories and rules for living have become the youth who leave the faith. The progression is heartbreaking. First, they fall backwards. Then they are injured. Sometimes by us. Sometimes by others. In their pain, despair, anger, or pure pursuit of the forbidden, they are snarred by the ways of the world, and, may God be grieved, captured by the evil one just as warned. (Colossians 2:8 NLT; 2 Timothy 2:26 NLT)

The Proverbial Steps:

Listen when your father corrects you.

 Pay attention and learn good judgment,

when I am giving you good guidance.

Don’t turn away from my instructions.

For I, too, was once my father’s son 
(I too had to learn these truths)

-  -  -  -  -  -  *  -  -  -  -  -  -

NOTE: Generally the author of this portion of the Book of Proverbs is recognized to be Solomon. For those who know his life, this causes some concern. For Solomon, despite his seeming righteous beginning and his gift of wisdom from God, in his later years departed from both, received a curse, and worshipped other God's including Moloch to whom children were sacrificed or at very least cut and passed through flames of fire.

Given our American judgementalism, we ask, "How can a man such as this be a source of wisdom to wish upon our children?" 

Of course, the question is flawed and so is the presumption behind it. A fallen life does not mean nothing was redeemable before the fall.  Equally, walking away from wisdom does not mean a person never had or even no longer has wisdom. Walking away is grievous. Living as unwise is a foolish waste of life. Departing from the ways of the Lord is perhaps the most grievous sin and most audacious flaunting of God possible. 

But we error when we believe what went before is to be thrown out because of what came later just as we error when we believe what came before means nothing good can be accepted today. If that were so, not one of us can be saved. No one is transformed. Jesus was a flop. And, as to the evil after God-given good, free will is disabled by grace.

And so it is that we must address the dearth of wisdom among the males of America today, its absence, even rejection as unmanly, in many of our subcultures, and therefore the qualification or disqualification of the words of young fathers and even the middle-aged and aged fathers among us.

When the current life of a father is fractious, unwise, and he is teaching his son to emulate that life, then little wisdom is imparted. Maybe it would be better to say, the wisdom that is given, remains corraled by the unwise actions, words, beliefs, and habits being modeled and all too often directly taught.

Still, I am often amazed by the wisdom that rough men, cursed and cursing men, speak to their children. I have known men to discredit godly living but teach their children compassion, the fragility of love, the need to do no direct harm. From observing their lives and listening to their words, I would never have thought that those tidbits of wisdom had ever entered their minds.

Likewise, I am amazed at what ungodly men who have spent a lifetime throwing off the chains of righteousness or the restraints that God calls his children to embrace teach their children about God and Christ, even the Holy Spirit. What they teach about moral living and the value of people who show more restraint than themselves.

Are these words of wisdom to be rejected because of the lives of the fathers? Will these words of caution fail to help a child develop a life free of the losses and abuses of the fathers' lives? Are godly words of wisdom invalidated because of the vessel that bears them?

Oh, I acknowledge the horror of the examples. I weep over the lifestyles that surround the children. But, I have a God that invented wisdom, who is wisdom, and that living seed within the failed fathers' words of wisdom, because the seed is divine, will still produce a wise life if embraced and followed, especially if further enabled by God.

Each new American generation from World War I until the teen and young adult fathers of today has amassed a greater and greater percentage of men who live by immature, faulty ideas and ideals of manhood. They vomit their lifestyles upon the earth and burn themselves out pursuing an ideal that destroys themselves, their children, and often their families. 

Some learn and come to reason out the need to change. Some, exhausted, sink into a calmer life but feel forever like failures (if they still believe the ideals) or fools (if experience has taught them their folly). A precious few, like King David, Solomon's father who blatantly sinned in impregnating Solomon's mother, learn wisdom from their failed lives and teach their sons and grandsons wisdom's ways. 

Father & Son

Photo Credits:
Do Not Grow Weary  by Chase Greene, some rights reserved @

Father & Son by Martin Gommel, some rights reserved @

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