Proverbs Chapter 4

Proverbs, Chapter 4

Introduction:

Chapter Four, like chapter three, has three sermons / messages from the father to his son, vs. 1-9; 10-19 and 20-27, having the familiar phrase “O sons” or “my son.” Therefore, these constitute the 8th, 9th, and 10th sermons in Chapters 1-9.

Also we note the grandfather to grandson relationship in vs. 1-3. That is, David taught his son Solomon, and now Solomon is teaching his son Rehoboam, the grandson of David. This is also seen in the plural of the Hebrew for “sons”, BEN in vs. 1.

The first section expands the admonitions of Prov 1:1-7; 2:1-4; 3:1, 13, 21, that reminds us of the importance of Bible Doctrine in our souls, (repeat, repeat, repeat), by praising wisdom’s rewards.

The second section tells us to stay away from the wicked individual, once again contrasting the ways of the upright and the wicked.

The third section tells us to keep watch over the Bible Doctrine in our soul which guides us in life, that is, encouraging watchful self-control.

These three sections are unified under the image of life as a journey by a common assumption, and explicit assertions, that wisdom is the source of life, vs. 4, 10, 13, 22, & 23. (The words “live” or “life”, CHAYAH and CHAYYIM, ends the fourth verse of each section, vs. 4, 13 & 23.)

They are also connected by the repetition of the verbs of vs. 1 in the opening verse of the second and third sections, (“hear,” vs. 1a & 10), and (“pay attention,” vs. 1b & 20), the same verbs in the same order in which they appear in vs. 1.

The first and third sections are filled with Imperatives, (only vs. 9 & 22 lack a command or prohibition). Yet, the second section is much more descriptive, (six of nine verses are indicative, vs. 11f, 16-19).

As such, these sections form a stylistic chiasm (A-B-A) that, by returning to the style of the opening exhortations, strengthens their urgency.

Also the first poem is positive, praising wisdom without mentioning the wicked or foolish, yet the second contrasts the ways of the righteous (wise) and wicked (foolish), and the third both commends the father’s teaching and warns against the ways of wickedness.

Section 1, Vs. 1-9.

The first section, vs. 1-9, is the 8th sermon, that expands the admonitions in Prov 1:1-7; 2:1-4, etc., that reminds us of the importance of Bible Doctrine in our souls, (repeat, repeat, repeat), by praising wisdom’s rewards. Every word of this introduction echoes the preamble of this Book and the preceding introductions.

Each of the major exhortations of Prov Ch. 1–9 begins with an appeal for the son to heed his father’s instruction. Here, however, the paternal entreaty is much more emphatic. The opening appeal covers nine verses, vs. 1–9, and includes within it a lengthy quote from the teacher’s own father, vs. 4–9.

By recalling his own upbringing and citing his father, the teacher both identifies with the present struggles in his son’s life and reinforces the paternal dignity of his words. Just as our Lord became man and suffered in every way so that He could be our true mediator and advocate, Heb 2:18.

This section consists of two parts:

  • The typical introduction that includes the addressees of sons and grandsons, with admonitions to listen and retain the teaching with substantiating motivations, 4:1-4.
  • The lesson, 5-9, which includes a climactic conclusion with the promise that wisdom will give the son the victor’s crown, see 1:9.

In this section we see that “wisdom” gives life, 4:4; protection, 4:6; and honor, 4:8-9. So these instructions regarding “wisdom” are valid because of their enduring quality, and valuable because of the honor they bring.

We begin with Verse 1.

Prov 4:1, “Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention (listen carefully) that you may gain understanding,”

The initial call to diligence identifies the father’s discipline and teaching as leading to the knowledge that is necessary for understanding. To gain understanding is to learn Bible doctrine.

The father (and mother), not the professional school teacher or the pastor or government official, has the most profound responsibility and opportunity to lead a young man in the right way. Only a parent can implore the young man to do what is right with the depth of love and concern displayed here. This text, more than any other, brings out the urgency of parental love.

Prov 4:2, “For I, (Solomon), give you, (Rehoboam), sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction (TORAH).”

Solomon has given his son the highest and best thing in the universe, God’s Word. Here the exhortation is to not abandon, (AZAB – forsake, leave, abandon), God’s Word in your life.

Prov 4:3, “When I, (Solomon,) was a son to my father, (David), tender and the only son in the sight of my mother (Bathsheba).”

This reflects the Biblical assumption that the aged are wiser than the young because they have had more experience at life. Therefore, they and their counsel are to be listened to with respect and obeyed. What Solomon is about to share is knowledge that predates all, (the eternal Word of God), that should be heard and obeyed due to its wisdom.

“Tender” is the Adjective RAK, רַךְ‎, that ultimately means, his body and character were weak and sensitive because they were undeveloped and inexperienced, cf. Gen 33:13; 2 Sam 3:39; 1 Chr 22:5; 29:1, and easily shaped.

Prov 4:4, “Then he, (David), taught me, (Solomon), and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.”

Just as Solomon submitted to his father’s teaching, the proof of which is his ability to pass it on to his son, so his son should accept what he says.

The second line, 4b, begins the grandfather’s quotation, which probably extends through vs. 9.

Similar to Prov 3:2, 16, 22, those who hold on to the Doctrine taught to them will live on as Solomon did, because he made Bible doctrine first in his life. But Rehoboam did not put doctrine first in his life, and he ruined the whole kingdom and lived a short life.

He was forty-one years old when he ascended the throne, and he reigned seventeen years (B.C. 975-958). Then Rehoboam “slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David,”1 Kings 14:31.

This passage also illustrates how wisdom is an inheritance that may be passed from generation to generation. It can preserve a whole family line through the passing of years. It is, however, an inheritance that each generation must choose to receive. If the chain is broken and the way of wisdom is rejected, the results will be disastrous for the family, as demonstrated in the life of Rehoboam.

Prov 4:5, “Acquire wisdom (CHOKMAH)! Acquire understanding (BINAH)! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.”

Her we begin to see the language of a dowry that this type of Christ, (i.e., wisdom), demands, that is nothing less than your whole heart. And as we will see in the following verses, if you purchase her, she will bless you bountifully.

Loving “wisdom” is not primarily emotional, but describes the obedience to God’s Word that rises out of Personal Love for God the Father.

Prov 4:6, “Do not forsake her (Bible Doctrine), and she will guard you; love her, and she will watch over (NATSAR – guard) you.”

This escalates the command to “buy wisdom.” Having a love for God’s Word will carry you through your entire life. Loving God’s Word ensures protection, since it encourages personal reflection, Prov 4:23-27, as well as the prudence that guards your daily walk in Christ. cf. Prov 14:16; 16:17; 22:3, 5; 27:12.

Prov 4:7, “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding.”

“Acquire” is the Qal Imperative of QANAH that means to buy, purchase, acquire, posses. This is similar to Prov 23:23; Rev 3:18; Isa 55:1; Mat 13:44.

Rev 3:18, “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich.”

Mat 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

This means that if you make the acquisition of God’s Word your number one priority, you will gain wisdom and understanding; knowledge applicable to ever day life.

Prov 4:8, “Prize, (SALAL), her, and she will exalt, (RUM), you; she will honor, (KABAD), you if you embrace her.”

As in vs. 6, wisdom benefits those who demonstrate that they understand its value. “Prize her”, (SALAL – lift up, exalt), means to honor and cherish God’s Word. That is, not only learn it but USE it on a consistent basis so that others see her too. Living wisely by obeying wisdom’s precepts and instructions, you will find the success that tends to accompany her; e.g., diligence, prudence, honesty, and generosity. Success in application then brings its own rewards, cf. Prov 16:13; 22:11, 29, which are the rewards of “wisdom.”

Prov 4:9, “She will place on your head a garland of grace; she will present you with a crown of beauty.”

The climactic conclusion:

This verse expands on this list of benefits, and goes back to Prov 1:9 as “wisdom” is a “graceful wreath to your head and ornaments around your neck.” We saw the second half of this in Prov 3:22, so here is the first half.

“A graceful wreath” is a crown and “ornaments about your neck” is a beautiful necklace of gems.

“Crown” is ATARAH and is different from NEZER that means royal and priestly crown. This “crown” signifies the victor’s crown of power and life, while the “necklace” signifies guidance and protection. So here we have the crown of grace alluding to power and life that comes from wisdom in your soul, tying in with Prov 4:4. As they say, “Knowledge is power.” and God’s Word is the greatest of both!

So these verses reiterate the importance of pursuing, gaining, and maintaining God’s Word (i.e., wisdom) and the benefits there of, as Solomon then launches into further application of God’s Word in the 9th and 10th sermons.

Section 2, Vs. 10-19.

The second section, vs. 10-19, the 9th sermon, tells us to stay away from the wicked individual, once again contrasting the ways of the upright and the wicked. Much like Prov 1:8-19, and each chapter we have noted thus far.

As we noted in Prov 4:7, the first thing we must do to acquire knowledge is to make up our mind that we want it and will strive to obtain it, making it our number one priority in life.

This same exhortation is noted throughout the second section of chapter four including vs. 10a, 11, 13.

Prov 4:10, “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings And the years of your life will be many.”

Verse 10 begin with the exhortation, “Hear, my son” is the Verb SHAMA,שָׁמַע‎, in the Qal Imperative that means, “hear, listen or understand.” In other words, “Acquire wisdom” that is, take in Bible Doctrine.

The Qal Imperative continues with the next phrase, “Accept my sayings (EMER).”

“Accept” is LAQACH, לָקַח‎, which can mean, “to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife, snatch, take away, and to take as one’s own.” Therefore, we are to lay hold, seize and take for ourselves God’s Word. That is, learn Bible Doctrine.

Then, once again, we have a blessing associated with having Bible Doctrine in your soul, “the years of your life will be many.” SHANAH CHAYYIM RABAH.רָבָה חַיִּיםשָׁנָה We saw this phrase in Prov 3:2, where it means a full life, not long in the sense of “length of days”, but one of quality in the spiritual realm here on earth. It means an abundant life, a full life, a life which is characterized by a maximum amount of time under inner happiness where Bible doctrine in your soul produces inner peace and happiness, (+H).

But here we have the added superlative RABAH, רָבָה, that means, “to be numerous, or to be great or to be extraordinary.” That is what the spiritual life is for the believer, it is extraordinary for the one who is consistently taking in and applying God’s Word.

Prov 4:11, “I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.”

Verse 11, “I have directed you” is the Verb YARAH, יָרָה, in the Hiphil Imperfect, meaning “causing you to learn.” Its roots also mean, “to throw or shoot, or to water.” The latter is rare but noted in Hos 6:3 regarding the Lord teaching His people.

From the roots, we see this instruction as “hitting the mark”, and that is what Doctrine does in your soul. It hits you right between the eyes, right where you live, to exhort, reprove or correct as needed so that you learn the righteousness of God.

Then we have, “in the way of wisdom.”

“Way” is the Noun DEREK, דֶּרֶךְ‎, a word we have seen a number of times that means, “way, road, distance, journey, or manner.” This is the tried and true path of God’s Word in your Soul.

Then we have, “I have led you in upright paths.”

Here we have a play on words with DEREK above. “Led” is the Hiphil Imperfect of DARAK, דָּרַךְ‎, that means, “to tread, bend, lead, or march.” It refers to God leading you in a straight (right) way, Psa 107:7; 119:35. God leads us in truth, Psa 25:5; what is right; Psa 25:9, and in His commands, Psa 119:35.

“Path” is the noun MAGAL, מַעְגָּל‎, that means, “an entrenchment, (wagon) tracks, etc.” It denotes “a path or route” which has been used continually. Someone who is on such a path is following a course which is already established.

YHWH Himself has established the path for the righteous to tread, Psa 17:5. He makes this path level, symbolic of ease of travel, Isa 26:7.

Compare Prov 2:9, “Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.”

Foolishness personified in the wayward woman does not heed the path of life, Prov 5:6, and in actuality her “house inclines to death, her paths to the dead”, Prov 2:18.

Next in Verse 12 we are given yet another benefit of having Wisdom in our souls, classified in two different ways of the spiritual life.

Prov 4:12, “When you walk, your steps will not be impeded, and if you run, you will not stumble.”

“Walk” is the Qal Infinitive of HALAK, הָלַךְ‎, that means to “to go, come, or walk.” The Infinitive means the continuous action of “walking.”

“Impeded” is the Verb TSARAR, צָרַר, that means, “to bind, tie up, be restricted, or narrow.” These are things others put in your way to knock you off the path of righteousness and to get you out of fellowship with God. These are the things that your daily walk in the Lord will not have when you pursue wisdom.

Doctrine of Walking

“Walking” has two main usages in scripture. The first is the actual physical action of putting one foot in front of the other to achieve motion. The other is figurative for your spiritual life that can either walk in righteousness or evil. In our passage, it means advancement in the spiritual life unto the Lord which will not be hindered by the problems and details of life.

“Walking” is used in the Bible to express the character of a person in John 1:35-36, “John … looking at Jesus as He walked … said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ ”

John was pointing out the person of Jesus and His position in God’s Plan, not that Jesus was literally walking.

Remember that there is nothing abstract or obscure in the Bible; everything is vivid and real. God does not say, “Be spiritual,” but He says, “Walk (HALAK) before Me …”, Gen 17:1. So from this we get our precedence for the “walking” in the spiritual life.

Spiritual walking is the modus operandi of the Church Age believer in executing the Plan of God which requires spiritual energy. It means you are going forward in the Plan of God by utilizing Divine energy, (i.e., the omnipotence of God by His Word and Spirit), because when you walk, you are not standing still but are moving forward.

Walking is used for the perception of Bible doctrine.

3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking (PERIPATEO) in the truth (Bible Doctrine).”

Eph 5:15, “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise.”

Walking is also related to the Execution of the Plan of God, Eph 2:10; Col 1:9-10.

Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

When we walk in the wisdom of God’s Word, we have guidance and protection.

Prov 2:7, “He (the Lord) stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.”

In the New Testament we are commanded to “Walk in the Light.”

Eph 5:8, “For you were formerly darkness (spiritual death), but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”

  • This command is a reference to Experiential Sanctification, (being filled with the Holy Spirit and applying God’s Word on a consistent basis.). Just as walking in the darkness is incompatible with walking in light, so Christian degeneracy is incompatible with the modus operandi of the Plan of God.
  • Walking as “children of light” means executing the Plan of God and is synonymous with the Christian way of life.
  • The precedence for walking in the light is found in 1 John 2:6. 1 John 2:6, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
  • Our precedence for “walking” is the Lord Jesus Christ during the hypostatic union, and not with the Old Testament believers. All precedence for the Plan of God in the Church Age is derived from our Lord’s walk on this earth.
  • Our Lord walked in the prototype of God’s Power System (GPS), the Church Age believer; therefore, must walk in the operational type GPS if he is going to fulfill God’s Plan for his life. Gal 5:16, “Walk by means of the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
  • This is a command to remain in fellowship with God the Holy Spirit. Being in fellowship is the only way we can execute God’s plan, Eph 5:18.
  • “Walking” describes the purpose of living in the operational GPS; to glorify God in the great power experiment of the Church Age, 1 Thes 2:12.

1 Thes 2:12, “So that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

  • If we are going to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, after we believe in Christ, then we must be Filled with the Spirit, and expose ourselves to the teaching of the Word of God on a consistent basis. If we do all of this, then we fulfill 1 John 1:7.

1 John 1:7, “If we keep walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

The challenge of “walking in the light” is found in Rom 6:4.

Rom 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism (of the Holy Spirit) into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

  • “Walking in newness of life” means, we walk in the light of the Word of God, being in union with Christ, and having a regenerated human spirit, making us a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15.
  • “Walking in newness of life” means utilization of all of the invisible assets God has provided for us in our Portfolio of Invisible Assets including: The Baptism of the Holy Spirit; the availability of Divine power; the indwelling of the Trinity; the assets of predestination and election; our universal priesthood and ambassadorship, Unique Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age, etc.

In addition, the Faith-Rest Drill is a mandate of “walking”, that is, having poise and control of the Christian Way of Life, while executing God’s Plan for your life.

2 Cor 5:7, “For we walk by faith and not by sight.”

Col 2:6, “As you have received Christ Jesus to yourselves, so keep walking by means of Him.”

We received Christ by faith; so now we walk by faith.

“Walking” also means the utilization of the Problem Solving Devices. Learning and using the Problem Solving Devices moves you along in executing the Plan of God, which is “walking in the light.”

Eph 5:1-2, “Become imitators of God as beloved children, 2and begin walking in the sphere of virtue-love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Eph 4:1-2, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.”

All of these mandates to “keep walking” are commands to keep learning Bible doctrine, and to keep advancing spiritually in the Christian way of life.

Then in Prov 4:12b we have, “If you run, you will not stumble.”

“Run” is the Qal Imperfect of RUTS, רוּץ‎.

“Stumble” is the verb KASHAL,  כָּשַׁל‎, that means, “to stumble, stagger, totter, or be feeble.” As walking had the impediments of others trying to stop you from going forward in God’s Plan, “stumbling” is what you do to yourself by not remaining in God’s Plan for your life.

Once again we are told what will not happen to us if we are positive towards God’s Word.

Doctrine of Running

Just as with walking, “running” also has two usages in the Bible. The first is the literal act of running, that is fast motion of your feet, (Mat 27:48; Mark 5:6; 15:36, Luke 15:20; 24:12; John 20:4), and the other is in regard to the spiritual life, either advancement or degeneracy, Prov 1:16; 6:18. Advancement in the spiritual life is the topic of this Doctrine.

The Hebrew Verb is RUTZ, and means “to run or to hurry.” It is used numerously in the Old Testament, but only four times in Proverbs, Prov 1:16; 4:12; 6:18; 18:10.

Prov 18:10, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe.”

“Run” or “Running” is also used in the New Testament where we get our main application for the Church Age believer. It is the Greek Verb TRECHO for all you Star Trek fans out there. As noted above, it has two primary meanings and we will discuss the second meaning below.

Ultimately “running” is the believer’s advance to spiritual adulthood, (Spiritual Self Esteem, Autonomy, and Maturity). While walking connotes the modus operandi of the Christian life, running connotes the advance to maturity in the Spiritual Life, Heb 12:1.

Heb 12:1, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the easily entangling sin, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Running is related to the dissemination of Doctrinal teaching.

Gal 2:2, “I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.”

Phil 2:16, “Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”

  • You stop running when you forsake the assembling of yourselves together, Heb 10:25, and neglect the teaching of God’s Word, which also results in loss of rewards, 1 Cor 3:10-15.

Running is contrasted with reversionism in Gal 5:7.

Gal 5:7, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth, (Bible doctrine)?”

Running is related to the blessings of maturity, 1 Cor 9:24 27. The believer has to keep studying doctrine so that he does not lose his spiritual growth and therefore his rewards.

1 Cor 9:24-27, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Running is related to the victor’s rewards at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ, 2 Tim 4:7-8.

2 Tim 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course (DROMOS – run the race), I have kept the faith; 8in 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.”

Prov 4:9, “She (Wisdom, Bible Doctrine, the mind of Christ), will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”

Therefore, in Prov 4:12 both walking and running are related to living daily unto Christ, pursuing and applying His Word. When we do, we will not be impeded by others nor stumble ourselves in the execution of God’s Plan for our life.

In Gal 5:16-26, we are commanded to “walk by means of the Holy Spirit.” In these passages, to “walk” or even “run” in the spiritual life is not dependent on your attempts to walk or run, but on the obligation you have to maintain an attitude of confidence and expectation in God’s Power System, which obligation will make the Spirit’s promotion of your walk or run a blessed reality.

As Proverbs has told us time and time again, we are to be led in the path of God’s Word and to be empowered by the Spirit to do every good work. Therefore, to walk or run is not of our own human resources and power, but is dependence and reliance upon the power of God in you! That means that walking or running in the Spirit is not a mere conformity to some rigid standards, rules, or code of conduct. In contrast, it means dependence upon God the Holy Spirit to lead you in each and every step of your life.

Remember that every literal physical step you take is an incipient (beginning or early stage of a) fall. That is, in every step you take, your body is thrown forward and out of balance without physical support and is dependent upon the foot forward to recover your balance and support you once again.

Likewise, to walk or run in the Spirit is not only a constant series of commitments to take a step, but a constant casting of yourself upon the Spirit with the confidence and anticipation that all the support you will need will be realized by Him. And by the way, when you do, He will always be there to catch you before you fall.

Psa 91:11-12, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. 12They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.”

That is another reason why Prov 4:12 tells us, “your step will not be impeded”, and “you will not stumble.” This is what true personal intimacy with “wisdom” and the Holy Spirit means. It is an actual experience of consciously and habitually depending upon the Holy Spirit’s enabling power, as you make decisions about your life every day. This intimacy is achieved when you present unceasing attention to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, (the Faith Rest Life), which results in patient advancement in the execution of God’s Plan for your life.

Just as every member of the human race born into this world has to learn to walk and then run, so does the born again believer in the spiritual life. We did not learn these things in one day, we learned them by experience and practice, trial and error. As we were learning our parents always expected us to crawl before we walked and to experience many falls and failures before being able to walk or run freely. So too is God the Father’s expectation of His children.

Your walking and running will begin when you understand, (or has already begun when you understood), in your own soul the difference between depending upon the flesh and dependence upon the Word and Spirit.

Now as we turn to Verse 13, “Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life”, we are commanded as a child who is learning to walk and run, to hold on to something that will support and stabilize and sustain us as we learn to go forward; that support is the Word of God, “Wisdom.”

You see, the Word of God, “wisdom” is what the Holy Spirit uses to give us the proper balance and support we need to walk and run, (i.e., execute the spiritual life). All the principles and precepts, all the promises and prophecies found in God’s Word are designed to give you balance in life, and support to catch you when you are falling.

That is why it says, “She is your life.” Once again we are told that Bible doctrine must be our life. Without God’s Word in your soul, you would not be able to move forward and your life would be a constant falling down with no progress or promotion.

The phrase “take hold” is the Hiphil Imperative Hebrew Verb CHAZAQ, חָזַק, that refers to physical strength, especially the gradual increase of natural growth, and it is used to describe the natural healing process of recovering from illness. It means, “to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, and be sore.” In the Hiphil, it is a command, “to have, take or keep hold of.” That is to retain, sustain, and support God’s Word in our soul. So we are commanded to take hold of and support God’s Word in our soul so that it can hold us up and support us in our daily spiritual walk, Prov 3:18.

“Do not let go” is the negative AL plus the verb RAPHAH, רָפָה‎, in the Qal Jussive that means, “to become slack, to sink down, let drop, be disheartened, to relax, or withdraw.” That is what we are not to do with the Word of God in the spiritual life; we should never lose heart, get discouraged or falter and therefore stop taking in God’s Word. Instead we should grab hold of it.

“Guard” is our familiar word NATSAR, “to guard, watch, watch over, and keep.” If we keep God’s Word in our soul, it will guard us in life.

Therefore, God’s Power System of the Filling of the Holy Spirit and His Word resident within your soul, will guide you safely through life, cf. Prov 3:5f, 23, because the wise are protected by prudence and understanding, Prov 4:6; cf. 14:16; 22:3; 27:12.

If you do, then every step, which pictures the smallest actions of life, will be secure when taken in obedience to this teaching where stumbling, whether due to your own foolish decisions or the impedance of the wickedness of others, (typified of the wicked in vs. 16, 19), will not cause you to fall or falter as you walk and run in Christ by means of the Word and Holy Spirit in you.

This is exactly what Rehoboam did not do, 1 Kings 12. When Rehoboam became king, he turned down his wise counselors, the counselors of Solomon. Instead he went to his young friends, taking his advice from them, and destroyed the kingdom, Cf. 1 Kings 12:8.

Then in vs. 14-15, just as in Gal 5:17-21, we are told what impedes us and causes us to stumble, so that we can avoid them and continue to walk and run in the light of Christ.

Prov 4:14-15, “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed (walk) in the way of evil men. 15Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on.”

In vs. 14, theologically, the “Path” ORACH, אֹרַח, contrasts the life activities or character orientation of the sinner with the obedient godly person. Essentially, one chooses one or the other “path,” but there are sure and certain consequences which result from the choices we make.

Our choice should be for God’s way and not the highway, Prov 4:14; Psa 25:4, 10; 27:11; 44:18.

As vs. 15 tells us, we are to “avoid”, (PARA – let go, and loose), “pass by”, (ABAR – to pass over, through, or by), “turn away” (SATAH – to turn aside, go aside, turn, or decline), and “pass on”, (ABAR), the ways of Satan’s Cosmic System rather than joining in with them or holding on to them, so that we maintain our fellowship with God. To do so we need to grab a hold of, seize, and not let go of God’s Word, vs. 13, and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

Note that the same verb ABAR ends both lines of vs. 15, that says, in essence, “do not pass by on it,” but “pass it on by.” So we have the repeated warning to avoid the wicked. To not avoid them is the mentality of a foolish heart, (one absent of Bible Doctrine and the filling of the Spirit), that contrasts sharply with the exhortation of vs. 11.

Then in Verses 16-17 we are given definition of the modus operandi of the wicked and evil person.

Prov 4:16-17, “For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. 17For they eat the bread (LECHEM) of wickedness and drink the wine (YAYIN) of violence.”

Vs. 16-17 tell us of the constant restlessness and anxiety of the evil heart, along with the continual lust and thirst for violence. This hyperbole is designed to frighten the reader so that he reflects on the dangers of even the first step on that path, vs. 14.

Vs. 17, utilizing “bread & wine” speaks to life sustenance that is achieved by ill gain. Literally this passage can mean, “bread obtained through wicked manipulation,” or more probably as a figure, “wickedness constitutes their regular diet”, cf. Job 15:16.

In this case, “wickedness” has become their necessary nutrient. They “eat” what they love, cf. Psa 109:17f, and become what they eat, Prov 23:7, to the extent that wickedness has become more precious to them than sleep.

Their choices have led to their dissolution, so that their sin is hypnotic, calling them back to it over and over again. Just as the believer is called to the true Communion Table over and over again, 1 Cor 11:26.

“Wickedness” is RESHA, רֶשַׁע‎, that literally means, “wrong or guilt”, the opposite of the TSEDEQ, “righteousness.”

“Violence” is CHAMAS, חָמָס, “violence, wrong, cruelty, or injustice.”

These two nouns linked with “bread & wine” also bring us the image of a counterfeit communion table, or the Communion Table of the Wicked. As the believer is to celebrate and be thankful for what the Lord has done for him on the Cross, 1 Cor 11:23-26, the wicked person celebrates and is desirous of doing evil and violence by their own hands. Given the Hebrew words RESHA and CHAMAS meaning “guilt and injustice” respectfully, we have the complete opposite of what the true communion is all about.

The True Communion is a Celebration of:

  • Our Lord’s payment for our sin upon the Cross, thereby removing our personal guilt from our personal sins and the guilt from the imputation of Adam’s original sin; therefore, rendering the believer innocent.
  • The Cross, where the justice of God judged every sin of every member of the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. That judgment is then applied to everyone who believes in Christ, where they are justly and rightly pardoned of the sentence for their sins.

Yet, the Wicked’s False Communion Celebrates:

  • The sin, evil, and guilt that they live in, of which they relish the worldly gain and sustenance that sometimes comes from it.
  • The violence and injustice produced from their calloused hearts, Psa 73:7f, in the form of both verbal and physical abuse.

This contrasts the abuse, both verbal and physical, our Lord suffered on our behalf.

Likewise, they are drunk with the pleasure they take in harming and robbing others to satisfy their lustful desires. Yet our Lord refused the soured wine upon the Cross, Psa 69:21; Mat 27:34.

They do not commit crimes in order to live, but live to commit crimes.

Just as the believer should be bringing others to the Communion Table of Christ by preaching the gospel, the wicked are hell bent on evangelizing others to their evil ways.

Prov 16:29, “A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good.”

Prov 9:4b-5, “To him who lacks understanding she (Evil) says, 5 “Come, eat of my food (LECHEM – bread) and drink of the wine I have mixed.”

Bruce Waltke notes, “Their regular diet craves brutality, as when gamblers build their magnificent casinos by exploiting addicts, or the rich build their mansions by underpaying workers, or workers live luxuriously by cheating the company.” (Bruce K. Waltke, The New International Commentary.)

He goes on to say, “In the Greek myth of Medusa, the heart of anyone who looked fully at its hideous face turned to stone; so also the son runs the risk of having his heart turned into stone by becoming at all involved with the wicked.” (ibid)

Their violence is of both a verbal and physical nature, and therefore we are commanded to “watch out” for them and “avoid” them at all cost, lest we too stumble and fall into their evil ways.

The righteous are exhorted to, Prov 9:6, “Forsake folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.”

Prov 23:6-8, “Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; 7For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” but his heart is not with you. 8You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments.”

David cried out in Psa 141:4, “Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.”

The way of evil men may seem pleasant, and the quickest way to achieve some end; but it is an evil way, and will end badly. If you love God and your soul, avoid it at all cost. This scripture does not say to keep it at a due distance, but at a great distance. Never think you can get far enough away from it.

Now turning to Verses 18-19, we have a precise contrast of the Christian’s path of light compared to the dark and dangerous path of the wicked.

In Verse 18 it tells us, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

“But” is the Contrasting Conjunction WA. In context here, it indicates that if we want to remain in the light, we need to separate, that is, get away from this wrong crowd as quickly as you can.

The “path” (ORACH) of the “righteous” (TSADDIQ) is the advancing believer with Bible doctrine in their soul. This is “the light of dawn.”

Isaiah spoke of those who “walk righteously, and speak uprightly”, Isa 33:15-16.

Isa 33:15, “He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, he who rejects unjust gain and shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; he who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; 16He will dwell on the heights, his refuge will be the impregnable rock; his bread will be given him, his water will be sure.”

Prov 15:21, “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.” Cf. Gen 24:40; 48:15; 1 Sam 2:30; Psa 116:9; 119:3

Hezekiah walked in the righteousness of God according to 2 Kings 20:3 and Isa 38:3, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.”

The phrase “the light of dawn” is OR NOGAHH.

OR, אוֹר‎, is the Noun that means, light and is used for the heavenly luminaries, which were given to separate light from darkness, Gen 1:18, and it is used for the “dawn” or “morning” or any light in general.

The psalmist asked for the light and truth from God for guidance in Psa 43:3, “O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.”

The word of God is a “lamp to one’s feet”, and a “light to one’s path” in Psa 119:105; see also Prov. 6:23.

Psa 119:105-106, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106I have sworn and I will confirm it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances.”

Prov 6:23, “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life.”

Solomon also noted that “wisdom is better than folly”, just as “light is better than darkness” in Ecc 2:13-14.

Ecc 2:13-14, “And I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness. 14The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.”

NOGAHH, נֹגַהּ‎, is the Noun that means “brightness, or bright light.” It is derived from NAGHAH that means, “to shine.” NOGAHH can also mean, “day break or twilight.” It is used to describe the glory of YHVH (the Lord) in 2 Sam 22:13; Psa 18:12; Isa 4:5; 60:19; Ezek 10:4; Hab 3:4, and other heavenly beings, Isa 6:6ff.

Isa 60:19, “No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory.”

For the believer, this brightness is understood to represent his holiness and Experiential Sanctification, possessed by those untainted with the corruption of the world, and walking inside of God’s Power System, GPS.

Therefore, “light of dawn” is the imagery of the righteous who are able to walk in the light of Christ on account of their relationship with God the Father, 1 John 1:5-9.

Likewise, wisdom and justice in rulership often employs the imagery of this light, 2 Sam 23:4; Isa 50:10; 60:3.

Then we have, “that shines brighter and brighter.”

“Shines” is actually the Hebrew Verb HALAK, הָלַךְ, in the Qal Active that means “to go or come or to walk.” The basic idea is movement of some type, usually of people moving forward; therefore, “to proceed forward.” It represents the believer as walking or running in Christ, going forward inside the Plan of God for their lives, as we noted in vs. 12.

“Brighter and brighter” is the Qal Active Verb of OR that means, “to be or become light” coupled with the conjunction WA, “and.”

So it could read, “walking and becoming bright.” As we have seen in vs. 12, “walking” means going forward and advancing in your spiritual walk. So this means, as you advance in the spiritual life, you become a greater light. This is not the feeble wasting light of a taper, nor the momentary blaze of the meteor, but the grand luminary of heaven of the believer who is consistently going forward in the Plan of God for their life.

And as you know, it is not our light but the reflected light of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as 1 john 1:5-9 tells us, we are to “walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light.” Therefore, we obtain, maintain, and expand this “illumination” by having wisdom (God’s Word) resident within our soul, Ecc 8:1.

Eccl 8:1, “Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam.”

Then we have “Until the full day”, (AD KUN YOM), literally “Until the establishing of the day.”

KUN, כּוּן, means, “to bring something into order” with an expectation of certainty or permanence. Figuratively it is used here as, “the day of your death”, because the day you die is a perfect day for you. Therefore, this tells us to, “Keep advancing in the spiritual life reflecting more and more of the glory of Christ until God takes you home.”

We see that the way of the righteous is light; Christ is our Way, and He is The Light.

John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life”.”

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”.”

  • Today as a believer in Christ, you stand positionally in perfection before Christ; Positionally Sanctified, Rom 8:1; 1 Cor 1:2, 30; 6:11.
  • As you advance in the spiritual life (walk and run), you are also Experientially Sanctified before Him, Mat 5:14-16; Rom 6:4.
  • Then upon the day of your death, you will stand in total and absolute perfection before Him, being Ultimately Sanctified, 1 Cor 1:8; Phil 3:21; 1 Thes 5:23; 1 John 3:1 2.

When we reach heaven, we will be absolutely perfect and shine as the sun in His strength, Mat 13:43, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.”

It is a beautiful sight to see the Christian who rises out of darkness, who at first has a faint light at the beginning of his course, who continues to advance day after day with that light ever increasing and ever rising higher and higher, widening its circle of illumination, and advancing onward with increasing brightness right up to their dying day. Knowledge, faith, love, and holiness irradiate his every step. And while he does his work, his strength is not of himself but of another in which he has placed his total and complete confidence, hope and trust.

In this, many things that were at first thought harmless in the world, yet condemned in the Word, have become more marked within his soul, to the point that old habits and associations have been relinquished, to guardianship of the glory of God that is in him.

“As the believer “follows on”, the eye is more unveiled, the heart more enlightened, the truth more vividly impressed upon the conscience, the understanding more quick in the knowledge of the Lord, the taste more discerning between good and evil, and faith now becomes more strong in the Savior’s Love, and more simple in the promises of God.” (Charles Bridges, Proverbs, The Geneva Series of Commentaries.)

Now we see the other half of this contrast, the “wicked” in Verse 19.

Prov 4:19, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”

“Is like darkness”, is the Noun APHELAH, אֲפֵלָה, that means, “darkness, gloominess, or calamity.” It is used figuratively for “spiritual darkness” that is the opposite of spiritual light, 1 John 1:5-9.

Spiritual darkness is a lack of the understanding of the ways of the Lord, that is, being devoid of God and His Word in the soul. This type of person does not know what they are doing; Luke 23:34b, “they know not what they do.”

“Do not know over what they stumble” is LO YADA BAMMEH KASHAL.

Just as God promises to keep the positive and advancing believer from stumbling, He also promises that the wicked will eventually stumble, stagger, totter, and fall, because they do not have the grace of God to catch them and right them during their incipient fall.

As the full Scripture tells us, the real thing they stumble over is the Lord Jesus Christ, the One they do not know, because they do not know His Word.

Rom 9:32-33, “They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.””

The way of sin is as darkness. The way of the wicked is dark, therefore dangerous; they fall into sin, but do not know how to avoid it. They fall into trouble, but never seek to know that God contends with them, nor what will be in the end for them.

Therefore, in contrast to the three categories of Light (Sanctification) the believer has, the unbeliever has three categories of Darkness.

  • At the birth of every member of the human race, excluding Jesus, they are born spiritually dead. They are born into darkness, and therefore stand Positionally in Darkness. Eph 2:1-3, 5; 5:14; Col 2:13-15; 1 Peter 4:6; Jude 1:12-13.
  • As that person goes forward in life, if they do not accept Christ as their Savior, everything they do is a walk in darkness being led by their Sin Nature due to their unregenerated state. They are Experientially in Darkness. Job 18:5-21; Prov 2:13-15; Isa 59:9-15; John 8:12; 11:9-10; 12:35; cf. Acts 26:18; Eph 5:8;1 Thes 5:4-5; 1 John 2:11.

John 12:35, “So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.”

John 11:9-10, “Jesus 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. 10“But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

  • If that person never accepts Christ as their Savior, upon their death, they are thrown in Hades and then at the Great White Throne Judgment into the eternal Lake of Fire, (Rev 20:12-15; cf. John 3:19-20), where they are in Ultimate Darkness for the rest of eternity. Mat 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; John 12:46; 2 Peter 2:4, 17; Jude 1:6; 12-13.

This is “the way”, DEREK, we are commanded to avoid, pass by, and run from.

As you know, the believer is eternally secure once they believe in Christ as their Savior, Eph 2:8-9; John 10:27-30. Yet, we are warned to avoid those who are walking in Darkness so that they do not harm us or cause us to fall into sin, Prov 4:15. You will not lose your salvation, John 10:28-29, but you will lose Experiential Sanctification and the rewards that come with it.

The unbeliever, or reversionistic believer for that matter, can easily entangle the believer in their wickedness. In order to avoid it, we must give God’s Word an attentive hearing and recall it on a consistent basis as we are challenged by the temptations of our sin nature and Satan’s Cosmic System.

We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing wrong and receiving harm by applying God’s Word. A good reason for doing that is given in Prov 4:23; “because out of it are all the issues of life.” That is, everything we face on a day-to-day basis is affected by the mentality of our soul.

If our soul is influenced by darkness, darkness will proceed from it. If our soul is filled with light, light will proceed from it. Prov 23:7a, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Above all else, we should seek from the Lord Jesus His living water, the sanctifying Spirit, and His Word that brings forth everlasting life. When we do, we will be enabled to put away an evil mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, and instead we will be looking straight ahead, (advancing forward), and walking by the rule of God’s Word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Job admits that he knows of those who rebel against the light, Job 24:13-16.

Job 24:13, “Others have been with those who rebel against the light; they do not want to know its ways nor abide in its paths.”

He also observed that wicked men grope in darkness with no light, Job 12:25, because they have no reason or wisdom. These are the types we should have nothing to do with except to deliver the gospel message. Otherwise, they will lead us into their folly and we will stumble or even fall.

Prov 1:15, “My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path.”

Psa 1:1-6, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. 4The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Peter also provides us the contrast between those in the light and those in the darkness.

1 Peter 2:4-10, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” 8and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9But 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; 10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”

Section 3, Vs. 20-27.

The third section of Chapter 4 is Verses 20-27, the 10th sermon of Chapters 1-9. It tells us once again to keep watch over the Bible Doctrine in our soul, which guides us in life. It is encouraging us to have watchful self-control over our souls.

In these passages life is portrayed as a journey, vs. 26-27, much like the preceding section, but whereas, vs. 10-19 use synonyms for “path,” vs. 20-27 use the imagery of the body to strengthen its exhortation, referring to the ears, vs. 20b; eyes, vs. 21a, 25a; eyelids (gaze), vs. 25b; heart, vs. 21b, 23; flesh, vs. 22b; mouth and lips, vs. 24; and feet, vs. 26a, 27b. These terms make concrete the exhortations, allowing us to visualize the actions described.

Prov 4:20-21, “My 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.”

The opening call to attention in Verse 20 is nearly identical to Prov 5:1, that substitutes for “words and sayings” (DABAR and EMER), “wisdom and understanding” (CHOKMA and TEBUNAH). It is identical in tone to all of the opening exhortations of Chapters 1-9.

These verses also resemble vs. 1-9 and the beginning of vs. 10-19, but they do not describe or discuss the wicked. Instead the focus is squarely upon the righteous believer. They warn against particular sins, especially lying, vs. 24, and focus on your inner life, without contrasting with the wicked.

Solomon, having warned us not to have anything to do with evil; here teaches us how to do well in the eyes of God. It is not enough for us to shun the temptations of sin, but we must study and learn the methods of our duty; how to walk in the light of Christ.

As noted above, in the first two verses, vs. 20-21, we have four commands similar to what we have already learned in the first four Chapters. The important action items for the positive believer include:

Vs. 20a – QASHAB, קָשַׁב‎, to be attentive or listen to. It means take in the Word (DABAR) of God, Bible Doctrine through the ear gate.

Vs. 20b – NATAH, נטָה‎, to stretch out or extend. It means to reach out for Bible Doctrine, (EMER, “sayings”), go after it, and pay especially close attention to it.

Vs. 21a – LUZ, לוּז‎, with the negative Particle AL, DO NOT turn aside, depart, or deviate. It means do not stop learning God’s Word through the eye (AYIN) gate, i.e., read and study your Scriptures daily!

Vs. 21b – SHAMAR, שָׁמַר‎, to observe, guard, or keep. It means to guard the word that is already in the right lobe, (“midst of your Heart”, TAWEK LEBAB) of your soul so that you do not lose it.

Therefore, we have the four-fold exhortation to continue doing the most important thing we can do in this life (vs. 23a) and that is, take in God’s Word, make Bible Doctrine your number one priority in life, be occupied with Jesus Christ.

The fact is Bible Doctrine will escape from your soul unless you guard it diligently. The primary way to guard it is to consistently learn it, including repetition. Wisdom is not a static entity that once gained is a permanent possession. What you have already learned, needs to be reinforced through use and repetition, just as minds and muscles need to be exercised in order to continue to be available when the need comes.

Solomon warns in Prov 19:27 that to stop learning is to begin to sink into folly.

Prov 19:27, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”

This type of exhortation is found at least 11 times in Chapters 1-9 and Solomon’s repetition of this truth is like a man waving red flags, jumping up and down, and shouting at the top of his voice, “Listen to what your Mom and Dad are trying to tell you! And if you want to be a wise son or daughter, pay attention to your father’s instruction.”

Why is this truth stressed repeatedly? The answer is the fact that children, (i.e., immature believers), tend to not listen to their parents (Pastor Teachers), especially in those teen and young adult years, (spiritual childhood).

Some of the reasons for this include familiarity with parents (Pastors), bitterness (feeling sorry for yourself), a lack of respect, etc.

And as we all know, the arrogance of youth produces the calamity of youth which tends to stick to your life like super glue on your fingers. Therefore, Solomon is trying to help his sons and daughters, and all of us, to avoid a boat load of stupid mistakes.

Yet, there will always be scorners and fools that do not listen to their parents, (God’s Word as taught by the Pastor), and reap the consequences of their stupidity and rebellion. Do not be a fool!

Attentive hearing of God’s Word is a good sign of a work of grace begun in your heart, and a good means of carrying it on.

We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing evil, and getting hurt by giving over to sin and temptation because we have not kept God’s Word in the forefront of our thinking.

So this is a wonderful paragraph for us to use as a personal spiritual inventory to see if we are really living in obedience to the Lord.

Then in Prov 4:22 we are given the proper remedy for all diseases of the soul, “For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.”

“They and Them” are the principles and precepts of God’s Word (Bible Doctrine) of vs. 20-21; (“Words and Sayings” – DABAR and EMER).

“Life” is CHAYYIM, חַיִּים, that means our day-to-day walk here on earth, as we walk and run inside the Plan of God. Bible Doctrine gives you the power to walk and run in God’s Plan for your life.

“Find” is the Qal Active of MATSA, מָצָא, that means, “to find, meet, reach, or attain.” This is a promise of God; if we take in His Word diligently and consistently, we will walk and run in His Plan for our lives, for that which is found is normally first sought, Prov 3:13; 24:14; 1 Tim 4:8.

Prov 24:14, “Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

1 Tim 4:8, “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

These verses also include the promise of blessing and rewards in the eternal state.

So not only is “life” promised but also good “health.” “Health” is the noun MARPE,  מַרְפֵּא‎, that means “health, healing, or cure.”

Having Bible Doctrine in your soul helps to avoid all kinds of physical sicknesses and aliments in life.

Prov 16:24, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

As we have noted, wise teaching is a source of life and health, cf. Prov 3:8, which reiterates earlier the statements about the life-giving quality of instruction in Prov 4:4, 13.

Prov 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

“Watch over” is the Qal Imperative of NATSAR, נצַר‎, once again, which is synonymous with SHAMAR above. NATSAR means, “to watch, or watch over, guard, or keep.”

“Diligence” is the noun MISHMAR, מִשְׁמָר‎, derived from the verb SHAMAR that means, “place of confinement, prison, guard, jail, guard post, watch, and observance.” In other words, we could say, “to lock down” God’s Word in your soul, or “put it under lock and key”, or “lock it up.”

In the Hebrew it reads MISHMAR NATSAR. It doubly emphasizes the importance of taking in and maintaining God’s Word in your soul.

“Heart” here is LEB, לֵב‎, and as you know in scripture it is not referring to the blood pumping organ in your chest, but of the right lobe of your soul where you store and apply Bible Doctrine.

“Springs” is the Noun TOTSAAH, or TOTSAOTH, תּוֹצָאוֹת‎, “to come out or to go, an outgoing, source, extremity, etc.” It is sometimes used as a river or spring flowing forward. Here it refers to the actions of our everyday life, our “comings and goings” of life.

In our verse, it draws on the image of water pouring out of a spring to under gird the exhortation to guard the right lobe of your soul, for it is the source or wellspring of life. The KJV uses “issues.”

Some also say that TOTSAOTH implies sexual vigor which would lead into the topic of Chapter 5, but here it simply means the goings on of your day-to-day “life”, CHAYYIM.

It emphasizes that some things are more important than others, including continuing to grow in wisdom and understanding, Prov 4:4, or guarding the repository of wisdom already in your soul, vs. 21, 23.

Since all the actions of life originate in the right lobe, its condition determines whether or not you will live wisely, (and continue to live), or foolishly, (and die). Therefore, your right lobe must be guarded more carefully than anything else.

This guarding has a twofold purpose:

  • To keep and maintain the Bible Doctrine you have already received.
  • To protect your right lobe from false or misleading doctrine(s).

These dual aspects are addressed in the next two verses.

Prov 4:24-27, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips far from you. 25Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you, 26Wath 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.”

Then we see in vs. 24 & 27, tying the last four verses of Chapter 4 together, the command to “put away or remove” (SUR, סוּר, things from our lives. The first referring to ridding yourself of lying, gossiping, slandering, etc., vs.24; and the second to returning to the right path by removing, “turn from”, (SUR) your feet from a wrong way of wickedness and evil, sin, and human good, vs. 27.

So the point is, “what is within your heart?” Because whatever your heart loves, the ears will hear and the eyes will see it. If you love God, that is what you will hear and see – chase after. If you love the world, that is what you will chase after.

On the other hand, if you pollute your right lobe “spring of life”, the infection will spread to your entire body; and before long, hidden appetites will become open sins and public shame that will also lead to physical illnesses.

The Bible warns us to avoid a double heart, Psa 12:2; a hard heart, Prov 28:14; a proud heart, Prov 21:4; an unbelieving heart, Heb 3:12; a cold heart, Mat 24:12; and an unclean heart, Psa 51:10.

Yet our real attitude should be, “Search me, O God, and know my heart”, Psa 139:23. That is the child of God who draws near to Him in a loving relationship.

Beginning in Verse 24 and running through the rest of the chapter, we are told how to “watch over or keep”, SHAMAR, our “hearts”, LEBAB. These verses apply the command to guard our hearts which includes what we say, see, and do.

So here we have three main action items that we must perform in order to guard / protect our hearts from evil and wickedness. When we watch what we say, see, and do, our heart is protected, and a protected heart strengthens us to say, see, and do righteousness. Therefore, in vs. 24-27 we have three categories of guardianship that achieve this.

Just as in the ancient world, they had guards to watch over their cities, (especially at night when darkness would fall), so that the city was protected from evil; we too have been given three-night watch shifts to guard our souls, so that they are protected from sin, human good, and evil.

The definition for “night-watch” is the time when a guard stays awake during the night in order to protect a place from attack or danger. Therefore, we need to be alert to the temptations of sin, human good, and evil so that we are not vulnerable and fall into danger.

Each of these “night-watch” action items are doubly emphasized in each of the following couplets.

We begin with “The First Night-Watch”, vs. 24.

Prov 4:24, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.”

“Put away” is the Hebrew Verb SUR, סוּר‎, that means, “to turn aside.” It is in the Hiphil (causative), Imperative (command), and means, “to cause to turn aside, cause to depart, remove, take away, put away, depose, to put aside, retract, reject, abolish, etc.” And what are we to put away from us, “deceitful mouths.”

“Deceitful” is the Noun IQQESHUTH, עִקְּשׁוּת‎, [ik-kesh-ooth’]. It is used adjectively, describing the mouth and means, “distortion, crookedness, or perversity.”

“Mouth” is PEH and literally means “mouth.” This denotes speech that distorts, disfigures, dissembles (hides your real thoughts feelings or intention), and deforms truth as known and taught by the Father.

IQQESHUTH is from the root word AQAH that means, “to be perverse, twist, pervert, etc.” So it indicates fraudulent, deceitful speech in the context of corrupt and vile people and is used to describe a mouth that speaks without integrity, that does not speak truth but rather deception and immorality; that is a mark of an evil, worthless person. Cf. Prov 6:12 and 10:32.

Prov 6:12, “A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth.”

Prov 10:32, “The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverted.”

Then in the second half of the verse, the command is further emphasized with “and put devious speech far from you.”

“Put far from” is the Verb RACHAQ, רָחַק‎, which we have seen before that means, “to be or become far or distant.” In the Hiphil Imperative it is a command, “to make or exhibit distance, be gone far away from, to remove, or put far away.” So we are to put far away from us “devious speech.”

“Devious” is the Noun LAZUTH, לָזוּת‎, that means, “deviation, crookedness; perversity or devious.” It comes from the root LUZ that also means “to turn aside.” Here it represents turning aside from righteousness and acting wickedly in your speech. This is what we are not to do!

“Speech” is the Noun SAPHAH, שָׂפָה, and means “lip, edge, language, speech, etc.” Here it means the organ of speech and language. For the most part it is associated with negative rather than positive speech. For example, there are lips that are “lying”, Psa 31:18; 120:2; Prov 10:18; 12:22; “perverse”, Prov 19:1; “deceitful”, Psa 17:1 and “flattering”, Psa 12:2.

This phrase escalates the idea from “keep perverse speech away from you” to “causing it to be remote.” So not only are we to take the action of not speaking perversities, but we are to put it far, far away from our thoughts and actions. That includes separating from or getting away from those who speak in such a way!

Therefore, it means to keep yourself as far away as possible from all falsehood in speech; namely, lying, deception, insensitivity, hurting, disfiguring, exaggerating, and any form of verbal abusiveness.

Bruce K. Waltke in the New International Commentary, stated, “The proverbs of Solomon are full of straight talk about talking straight.”

Having both verbs SUR and RACHAQ, “put away” and “put far away”, gives us action items we must perform. We need to make the decisions necessary to not enter into various kinds of verbal sins. It does not just happen naturally or supernaturally. It is an action you have to take and say to yourself, “I am not going to sin with my tongue.”

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit and have Bible Doctrine on the launching pad of the heart of your soul, it gives you the power and strength to say no and put them far away, but you are the one who has to push the launch button and say no to the temptation to sin mentally, verbally, or overtly.

Too many Christians today believe falsely that if I just learn God’s Word or go to church, then the spiritual life will miraculously happen. That is not true! Doctrine is given to empower you, but it does not make decisions for you. You have to make the decisions based on what God’s Word says.

Since what comes out of the mouth merely reflects what is already in the heart, guarding your heart is a means to guarding your words and rejecting the temptation to twist the truth, and vice versa. This implies the importance of telling the truth to yourself, in your own heart.

Lying and cleverly twisted words are condemned throughout Proverbs, (e.g., 6:12, 19), as they are in the Law, (e.g., Ex 20:16; 23:1f), and New Testament, (e.g., Col 3:9; James 3:14). As such, this verse considers the matter of keeping your heart based on the evidence of what comes out of it.

This is similar to Christ’s teaching on the relationship between your heart and your speech, Luke 6:45.

Luke 6:45, “The 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.”

Eph 4:29-30, “Let 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. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Therefore, Solomon warns us to “guard our lips”, because they can get us into sin. The heart controls the tongue, Luke 6:45, so a guarded heart should result in guarded lips. Conversely, a “deceitful” mouth is a proud mouth, a mouth that speaks scornfully and arrogantly. So we understand that a believer’s words must always be spoken in love, Eph 4:15, 31, seasoned with salt, Col 4:6.

Then in Prov 4:25 we have The Second Night-Watch.”

Prov 4:25, “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.”

“Look” is the verb NABAT, נָבַט‎, [naw-vat], in the Hiphil Jussive that means, “to look, to look up, to see, to regard, to heed.” It is what is done with the eye, i.e., “looking.” In the Hiphil it means, “to look upon, regard, or show regard to.”

“Directly Ahead” are two Prepositions, LE, that means “to or toward” and NOKACH, נֹכַח‎, that means “opposite or in front of.” This is an idiom that stands for righteousness. What is in front of the student here is God’s Word, Bible Doctrine and that is what they should be looking at, (having regard for), rather than the evil of Satan’s Cosmic System and being sidetracked by the antitheses of wise counsel and conduct, i.e., God’s Word.

“Your gaze” is the plural Noun APHAPH, עַפְעַף, and literally means, “eyelids.”

“Be fixed straight” is the Verb YASHAR, יָשַׁר‎, in the Hiphil Jussive, that means, “to make right, to make straight, or to make level.”

“In front of you” is the Preposition NEGED, נֶגֶד‎, that means, “in front of, in sight of, or opposite to.”

In other words, it is like being a horse with “blinders” on. You have all probably seen a parade where the horses have those little cups to the side of each eye. Those cups are called “blinders” and are there so that the horse will not be distracted by what is to his right or left and continue to proceed straight ahead in the parade.

The same goes for the believer. But we have to put our own “blinders” on so that we are not distracted by the lustful temptations of our OSN or Satan’s Cosmic System or the details of life. Our blinders are God’s Words.

Therefore, we must “guard our eyes” to be sure that we are keeping them on Jesus Christ and the goal the Father has for us, Heb 12:1-2; Phil 3:12-16.

That is why in the second watch of guardianship of the heart of your soul, you need to choose and act wisely, Prov 16:1ff, especially since the feet follow the eyes. If your eyes are looking towards evil, where do you think your feet will take you? This image anticipates the command of vs. 27a and assumes that the path being followed is correct, since anyone who is on the wrong way needs to return immediately to the right way, vs. 27b.

Finally, we have “The Third Night-Watch” of guardianship over the heart of our soul in vs. 26 and 27.

Prov 4:26-27, “Watch 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.”

“Watch” is the Verb PALAS, פָּלַס‎, in the Piel Imperative that means, “to weigh, make level, or balance.” It has the sense of watching the scales as you weigh something on it. The Piel usually means intensive action, but it can also be used like the Hiphil for causative action as it is here.

Isa 26:7, “The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level (PALAS).”

In Prov 5:6, “ponder” is also PALAS with the idea that the adulteress does not consider the path her life is on; she does not weigh the outcome of her sins nor the impact her lifestyle is having on her life. So it means to calculate the weight of something, used figuratively of weighing out or pondering evil, Psa 58:2.

“It is the preparation of the way by the removal of that which might prevent unhindered progress and make the way insecure. We must remove all that can become a moral hindrance or a dangerous obstacle, in our life-course, in order that we may make right steps with our feet.” (Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament)

“Path” is MAGAL one of the Hebrew words that means “(wagon) track or course.”

“Ways” is DEREK, that means “way, road, journey, etc.”

“Established” is KUN, to be firm, stable, or established.” The basic root meaning of this verb is, “to bring something into order” with an expectation of certainty or permanence. In the Niphal Imperfect, it means you receive the action of the verb continually. That is, with Bible Doctrine in your soul, you will be firm and stable in your daily walk as you apply it.

The penultimate (next to the last) verse of each of the second and third sections of Chapter 4 uses different images to make the same point. Just as a path is easier to follow as night turns to day, vs. 18, so it is easier to walk on one that is smooth and level. To obey God’s Word is to smooth your path, since obedience leads to understanding and insight, both of which enable you to make increasingly wise choices and decisions. Therefore, if you weigh out the decisions you make in the course of your day and apply God’s Word to them, your journey will be firm, stable, and established. You will have Faith Rest, with a Relaxed Mental Attitude as you walk in the light of Jesus Christ.

Then in Verse 27 we are given the literal instruction of our daily walk, “do not turn to the right or left.” In other words, do not deviate from the path of righteousness; continue to walk in Christ.

On the right and left are evil influences from Satan’s Cosmic System. That is why we need to put on our “blinders”, so that we are not distracted by various lusts and temptations.

In the context of Israel, to walk straight ahead, without deviation, primarily describes faithfulness in keeping the Law of God’s Word, e.g., Deut. 5:32; 17:11, 20; 28:14; Josh. 1:7; 23:6. For the Church Age believer, it means keeping His Word especially that found in the New Testament including the Mystery Doctrines for the Church Age.

To walk according to God’s Word is to follow the path laid out by God for His children; and turning aside to either side is perilous.

So with this is the command to “to leave, to deviate, to turn aside”, SUR, from evil, RA. Therefore, if evil happens to get in front of you and tries to lead you, you must turn away from it, because if you follow evil, it will have a corrupting effect on the right lobe of your soul, (heart).

Likewise, if you realize you have left the path of righteousness, due to sin and carnality or even reversionism, you must return to it as quickly as possible by means of 1 John 1:9. Otherwise, you will be drawn further into the way(s) of sin, Prov 4:14f.

The two halves of the verse are thus complementary: “Do not leave the path; yet if you have, return immediately!”

This is not a hypothetical or unspecified path, however. The repetition of the verb found in Prov 4:5c, “do not turn aside from the words of my mouth!” implicitly identifies the “doctrine” found in these poems.

This Proverb urges us to examine our lives, to determine where we are headed. Are we headed in the right direction or the wrong one? To ensure we are headed in the right direction, we must be a watchman over the Right Lobe (Heart) of our souls, because it is the “Master-Control” of our life.

A wrong heart always produces a wrong life. But a righteous heart produces a right life. To allow sin into the heart is to pollute your entire life. We must do a right thing in a right way in order to be Righteous before God, experientially!

When we watch-over what we see, say, and do, our heart is protected and a protected heart strengthens us to walk on the right path in the form of what we see, say, and do.

So, this Proverb urges us to “ponder our path”, to examine our lives, to see where we are going by cycling God’s Word throughout our souls.

As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Cf. 1 Cor 11:28-32

That is why you must keep your heart with more care and diligence than you keep anything else in life, including your cell phone!

And remember that the Lord is pondering (examining) our lives, Prov 5:21, and we must examine them too.

If you live in God’s Word, He will protect, direct, and perfect your path, for the glory of Jesus Christ.

To do so, as these passages tell us, we must:

  • Keep our tongues, 24, cf. Psa 34:13.
  • Keep our eyes, 25, cf. Job 31:1.
  • Keep our feet, 26, cf. Eccl 5:1.

And above all, keep your heart because it determines the kind of life you will live. The heart is the “master-control” of the life; a wrong heart always produces a wrong life. But a righteous life produces a right life. To allow sin into the heart is to pollute your entire life.

Now, notice the pattern we have here in these three categories: tongue, eyes, and feet.

These three represent the three major categories of Personal Sin, “mental” (eyes), “verbal” (tongue) and “overt” (feet) sin.

Sin is a violation of the law or standards of God. It is transgression against Divine law. These Divine standards are revealed in the Word of God, for example Prov 6:12-19; Col 3:5-10, etc.

Col 3:5-10, “Therefore, begin to put to death the members of your earthly body: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you also, put these all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him.”

The Westminster Catechism’s definition of sin is: “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of any law of God given as a rule to a reasonable creature.”

Dr. L. S. Chafer’s definition of sin is: “Sin is that which proves unlike the character of god.”

Charles C. Ryrie defines it as: “Defection from any of God’s standards. It is a lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition, or state. It is anything in man that does not express, or which is contrary to the holy character of God.”

The sinfulness of sin lies in the fact that it is against God even when the wrong we do is to others or ourselves, Psa 41:4; 51:4.

Psa 51:4, “Against You, You only, I have sinned: and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.”

The essence and law of God are perfectly harmonious. Therefore, since God’s character and standards are perfect, anything that violates that has been defined in the scripture as sin. Therefore, sin can be by a thought, a motive, or any act of wrongdoing, and is a state of alienation from God.

All sin emanates from the heart of your soul, Mat 15:18-19.

Mat 15:18-19, “But 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.”

In the list of seven sins that are an abomination to God, each represent one of the three categories of sin, and Prov 6:17 lists all three, “Haughty eyes (mental), a lying tongue (verbal), and hands that shed innocent blood (overt).”

Definition of the Three Categories of Sin

Mental Attitude sins: Mental attitude is the function of human thought. Your mental attitude is what you think at any given time. Mental attitude sins are sins of the cognitive mind including your emotions. It is sin in your thought process. Remember that temptation is a thought, but it is not a sin. Temptation becomes sin when you linger on the thought, message it in your mind, or expand on the original temptation where you visualize the action of the temptation. At that point, temptation becomes sin.

  • Mental Attitude sins include: arrogance, pride, jealousy, implacability, bitterness, vindictiveness, inordinate ambition, and inordinate competition, all categories of lustfulness, all motivational sins, and sinful thoughts, Rom 12:2-3; 1 Cor 2:16; James 3:13-16.

Rom 12:2-3 warns us not to have mental attitude sins but instead have the thinking of Christ in our souls. Cf. 1 Cor 2:16.

1 Cor 2:16, “For who has known the thinking of the lord that he should instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ (the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age).”

Thinking is the battlefield of your soul. The life of every believer is in his mental attitude. The life of every believer is determined experientially by two principles: what he thinks and what he decides. That is why it is of vital importance to not have a mental attitude that is filled with sin.

We are command in 2 Cor 10:5 to, “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” That means when temptation enters your soul, you recognize it for what it is based on the Word of God in your soul and you say no to the temptation and stop thinking about it immediately. Yet if you let it linger on, the thought as noted above, it will become sin in your soul.

In relation to Proverbs 4:25, your eyes are the window to your soul. For most people, it is the primary way you learn; (the other ways are by hearing and your senses). Nevertheless, what you gaze at through your eyes has everything to do with how you think.

All sins begin in the mentality of your soul. Therefore, if you are filled with evil thoughts of envy, or jealousy, or anger, or fear, you will eventually malign others, brag about your exploits, cut others down in criticism and gossip, or speak in some way that is inconsistent with faith, love, and hope. You may also enter into the categories of overt sins because of the mental attitude sin in your soul.

Verbal sins are sins that are spoken by you including gossip, maligning, slander, judging, lying, verbal deception, perverse speech, silly talk, flattery etc., Psa 12:2; Eph 5:3; James 3:1-12.

Eph 5:3-4, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Psa12:2, “They speak emptiness one to another with flattering lips; and with a double standard they speak.”

Overt sins are any sins that includes the function of your body. This is the actionable category of sins when your body is used in the production of the sin including; chemical sins, criminal sins, sexual immorality (adultery, fornication), stealing, fraud, murder, and licentiousness, Mat 15:19; Gal 5:15-26; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7.

Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

This is when your body and soul are in full participation in Satan’s Cosmic System, as opposed to using your body, soul, and spirit in the worship and glorification of God, Luke 10:27.

Summary of Verses 20-27

As we have noted above, there are four commands for the believer to protect his soul in order to continue to walk and run in the righteousness of God. These commands are imperative if the righteous believer is going to avoid the evil of Satan’s Cosmic System and those who participate in it. The four commands include:

Vs. 20a“give attention to”, QASHAB, קָשַׁב‎, to be attentive or listen to. It means take in the Word (DABAR) of God, Bible Doctrine, through the ear gate. That is, listen attentively to your right Pastor Teacher.

Vs. 20b“incline”, NATAH, נטָה‎, to stretch out or extend. It was used for the action of pitching a tent. It means to reach out for Bible Doctrine, (EMER, “sayings”), go after it, and pay especially close attention to it to secure your dwelling place, the heart of your soul.

Vs. 21a“do not let depart”, LUZ, לוּז‎, with the negative Particle AL, DO NOT turn aside, depart, or deviate. It means do not stop learning God’s Word through the eye (AYIN) gate, i.e., read and study your Scriptures daily!

Vs. 21b – “keep”, SHAMAR, שָׁמַר‎, to observe, guard or keep. It means to guard the Word that is already in the right lobe, (“midst of your Heart”, TAWEK LEBAB), of your soul so that you do not lose it.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must have a continual regard for the Word of God and endeavor to make it always ready for application in our soul. Just as the athlete must exercise and work out over and over again so that he is prepared and ready for the game, so too must the believer work out his soul by the continual intake of God’s Word so that Bible Doctrine is ready to be applied from the heart, (right lobe of your soul), to the situations, details and disasters of life.

In vs. 20, the “words and sayings” of wisdom, (Bible Doctrine in your soul ready for application), must be your principles by which you govern yourself, that is, have self-control over your soul. At the same time, Doctrine acts as your guide and monitor to warn you of what you should be doing and what you should not be doing as you walk and run inside the Plan of God.

Likewise, in vs. 21a, you must retain Bible Doctrine carefully, “do not let them depart from your sight.” Therefore, you must lay Doctrine before you as your rule; view it, review it, and in everything aim to conform to it.

Vs. 21b, “Keep them in the midst of your heart” exhorts that you must lodge God’s Word within your soul as a commanding principle; the influences of which will be diffused throughout your whole person.

As such, you are to keep God’s Word as something dear to you and as something that you would be afraid of losing. It is interesting how today we cannot leave the house or even a room without having our cell phones right by our side or in our hands. If only we treated God’s Word with the same sense of importance and urgency, how much more blessed we would be in this life. That is the message Solomon is trying to drill into our thick skulls!!

Therefore, let the Word of God be written in your heart, and if you do that which is written, it will remain there. Continual intake of God’s Word protects the Doctrine that is already in your soul. But if you do not continually take it in, what you do have will be lost.

In vs. 22, we see the reason why we must make God’s wisdom so important to us, because it is life and health, just like the Tree of Life will be in the New Jerusalem, Rev 22:2; Ezek 47:12. Notice the parallel of Ezek 47:12 and Prov 4:22

Prov 4:22, “For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.”
Ezek 47:12b, “And their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

Food: As the spiritual life was begun by the Word of God, it is also the instrument of it. The same Word that began our spiritual life is that by which our current spiritual life is nourished and maintained. Just as your physical life will cease if you do not take in food, so too will your spiritual life without God’s Word in your soul. By the Grace of God and our non-meritorious faith, we are able to live by God’s Word each and every day.

Health: God’s Word is also health to all our flesh, (i.e., to the whole man, both body and soul). It helps to keep both in good shape. Did you know that there is enough found in God’s Word to cure all the mental and spiritual diseases of this sick world? His Word is a medicine to all their flesh (i.e., the Old Sin Nature) and therefore, God’s Word is a cure for all of our corruptions and grievances, and all the thorns in our flesh. And remember that spiritual illness leads to physical illnesses.

Prov 3:8, “It (God’s Word) will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”
Prov 16:24, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Prov 14:30, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.”

Prov 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Psa 38:3b, “There is no health in my bones because of my sin.”

Therefore, as vs. 23 tells us, we have been given a great duty by God; we must keep a watchful eye and a strict hand upon all the thoughts of our inward man, by the getting and preserving of wisdom. God, who gave us our souls, has also given us a strict charge over them, Deut 4:9, 23a; Prov 23:19.

Deut 4:9, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.”

Deut 4:23a, “So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you.”

Prov 23:19, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.”

We need to maintain a holy jealousy over our hearts, and set a strict guard upon all the avenues of the soul.

That is:

  • Keep your heart from being defiled by sin and disturbed by the troubles of life.
  • Keep it as your jewel, and your vineyard.
  • Keep a conscience void of offense towards others, God, and yourself.
  • Keep out bad and evil thoughts by taking them captive, 2 Cor 10:5.
  • Keep up good thoughts according to the righteousness of God’s Word.
  • Keep your affections upon right objects and in the boundaries of God’s playing field.
  • Keep them with all keepings, (Diligent watchman – MISHMAR NATSAR).

There are many ways of keeping things. You can keep them by care, by strength, or by calling in help, and you must use them all in keeping your heart, because Jer 17:9 tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Therefore, you must keep your heart with more care and diligence than you keep anything else, including your cell phone.

To be the watchman over your soul God has designed you to be, you have three night-watches you must keep:

  • Keep your tongues, 24, cf. Psa 34:13.
  • Keep your eyes, 25, cf. Job 31:1.
  • Keep your feet, 26, cf. Eccl 5:1.

The reason we are given these three night-watches is because they represent the three main categories of personal sin in our lives: verbal, mental attitude, and overt sin.

Definition of the Three Categories of Sin

Mental Attitude sins, vs. 25: Mental attitude is the function of human thought. Your mental attitude is what you think at any given time. Mental attitude sins are sins of the cognitive mind including your emotions. It is sin in your thought process. Remember that temptation is a thought, but it is not a sin. Temptation becomes sin when you linger on the thought, message it in your mind, or expand on the original temptation where you visualize the action of the temptation. At that point temptation becomes sin.

Mental Attitude sins include: arrogance, pride, jealousy, implacability, bitterness, vindictiveness, inordinate ambition and inordinate competition, all categories of lustfulness, all motivational sins, and sinful thoughts, Rom 12:2-3; 1 Cor 2:16; James 3:13-16.

Rom 12:2-3 warns us not to have mental attitude sins but instead have the thinking of Christ in our souls. Cf. 1 Cor 2:16.

1 Cor 2:16, “For who has known the thinking of the Lord that he should instruct Him, but we have the mind of Christ (the Mystery Doctrine of the Church Age).”

Thinking is the battlefield of your soul. The life of every believer is in his mental attitude. The life of every believer is determined experientially by two principles: what he thinks and what he decides. That is why it is of vital importance to not have a mental attitude that is filled with sin.

We are command in 2 Cor 10:5 to, “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” That means when temptation enters your soul, you recognize it for what it is based on the Word of God in your soul and you say no to the temptation and stop thinking about it immediately. Yet if you linger on the thought as noted above, it will become sin in your soul.

In relation to Proverbs 4:25, your eyes are the window to your soul. For most people it is the primary way you learn; (the other ways are by hearing and your senses). Nevertheless, what you gaze at through your eyes has everything to do with how you think.

All sins begin in the mentality of your soul. Therefore, if you are filled with evil thoughts of envy, or jealousy, or anger, or fear, you will eventually malign others, brag about your exploits, cut others down in criticism and gossip, or speak in some way that is inconsistent with faith, love, and hope. You may also enter into the categories of overt sins because of the mental attitude sin in your soul.

Verbal sins, vs. 24, are sins that are spoken by you including gossip, maligning, slander, judging, lying, verbal deception, perverse speech, silly talk, flattery, etc., Psa 12:2; Eph 5:3; James 3:1-12.

Eph 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”

Psa12:2, “They speak emptiness one to another with flattering lips; and with a double standard they speak.”

Overt sins, vs.26-27, are any sin that includes the function of your body. This is the actionable category of sins when your body is used in the production of the sin including; chemical sins, criminal sins, sexual immorality (adultery, fornication), stealing, fraud, murder, and licentiousness, Mat 15:19; Gal 5:15-26; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7.

Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

This is when your body and soul are in full participation in Satan’s Cosmic System, as opposed to using your body, soul, and spirit in the worship and glorification of God, Luke 10:27.

The heart is the “master-control” of the life; a wrong heart always produces a wrong life. To allow sin into the heart is to pollute the entire life. Yet a righteous heart produces a right life before God, one that has much Divine Good Production, John 15:1-5, 8.

John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so become My disciples.”

There are two kinds of sin that come from human volition.

Sins of Cognizance in which a person, recognizing the temptation as a sin, wants to do it, and he does it. This is called a “known sin” and is a transgression involving human perception and/or cognizance. You know you are doing it.

Sins of Ignorance in which a person is not aware that the Old Sin Nature is tempting him to sin and does not know that the thing he is tempted in is a sin; but he desires to it, and he does it. This is called an “unknown sin” and is a violation in which the act is committed without human perception or cognizance.

Because all sin is related to the function of human volition, the believer is responsible for both categories of sin in his life. In both categories you are equally guilty because you used your human volition to sin in both known and unknown sins. Volition is the issue in the Angelic Conflict and God does not excuse you because you did not know what you were doing. Just as our law in America states, “ignorance is not excuse for breaking the law.”

Nevertheless, by the grace of God, all sins were judged at the Cross of Jesus Christ, and for the believer the grace of God cleanses us from all sin, both cognizant and ignorant sins, when we confess (name) our cognizant (known) sins to God, 1 John 1:9.

Also please remember that temptation is not sin!

Another interesting fact regarding the three categories of sin is that they are the same three categories of temptation that Satan has been using since the creation of man (and we can assume before); that is, as I call it, the temptations of “appetite, beauty and ambitious pride.” Cf. Gen 3:6; Luke 4:3-9; Col 2:18 (in reverse order), 1 John 2:16.

He used it on Eve in the Garden of Eden and on our Lord after being in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. And we are warned of his ways in 1 John.

We taste with our tongues, (take a little sampling of things – including sin), see with our eyes, (lust after those things that look beautiful), and run with our feet in arrogance to evil, Prov 1:16; 6:18; Isa 59:7.

Isa 59:7-8, “Their feet run to evil, and they hasten to shed innocent blood (overt sins); their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity (mental attitude sins), devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8They do not know the way of peace, and there is no justice in their tracks; they have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.”

That is why it is so important to “watch over” your heart, so that you are not overrun by Satan’s winning combination of the temptations of appetite, beauty, and ambitious pride that lead you into wickedness and evil, and ultimately defeat in the spiritual life.

As Proverbs puts it, the reason given for this care is because out of it are the “springs” (issues) of life. And out of a heart well-kept will flow Divine Good Production to the glory of God and the edification of others.

All of the actions of life flow from the heart, and therefore keeping it is to have a good life and health. Our lives will be regular or irregular, comfortable or uncomfortable, accordingly as our hearts are kept or neglected.

In order to deal with sin in our lives, we must learn to look beyond the surface sin and go to the root issues or we will never experience true and lasting change that begins deep in the innermost part of our being through faith.

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