Proverbs 4:1

Chapter 4 teaches the pursuit of wisdom is a lifelong pursuit. There is no time that we can think we are all stocked up on wisdom and we can leave off the pursuit of it. Such thought is the thought of folly and not wisdom. This chapter continues the fatherly exhortations, which method communicates that wisdom is best taught and learned in close relation and handed down from one to another. We can learn from teachers from afar, but wisdom designs we are most benefited from those we know, can observe, and talk with (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17).

The chapter divides into three sections. Verses 1-9 teach the beauty and value of wisdom. Teaching involves both positive and negative. The negative perspective involves warnings and showing negative results or consequences. The positive perspective involves showing the benefits and good results. This first section is primarily from the positive perspective—truth, goodness, and beauty. Verses 10-19 contrast the ways of folly and wisdom. Verses 20-27 reinforce the lessons and repetitively urges hearing, listening, and attending to the words of wisdom taught.

Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
– Proverbs 4:1

Hear means to hear intelligently and attend means to pay attention. It is a double call to the learner’s responsibility to actively listen and think on what he’s being taught. It puts us in mind of a parent instructing a child to do several things and laboring to be sure they have heard and understood what they are supposed to do. Instruction involves teaching and correction or warning. It is the instruction of a father, which speaks to the teacher’s motive of love for the “children” and earnest desire that understanding, or wisdom, be known.

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