Learning from God's Word (Proverbs 4-6)
4:1-9 - This is ‘a father’s instructions’ to his ‘sons’ (1). The father has been a ‘son’ (3). He has wrestled with temptation. He has needed the exhortation - ‘Let your heart hold fast...’ (4) - and the warning - ‘Do not turn away...’ (5). Now, we turn to the divine Father and Son. The Father does not keep His distance from us. Through the Son, He has come near to us. Through the Son, we come to the Father (John 14:9,6). When Scripture says, ‘Get wisdom’ (7), it means this: ‘Come to the Father through Jesus the Son’. Wisdom brings ‘a beautiful crown’, ‘the crown of righteousness’, ‘the unfading crown of glory’ (9; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Be wise. Be ready for the Lord’s Return (Matthew 25:1-13). ‘Purer... higher... greater - Our wonder, our worship, when Jesus we see!’ (Church Hymnary, 374).
4:10-19 - ‘The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day’ (18). Face the risen Son. His life in us is like the rising sun. It begins with ‘the first gleam of dawn’. It ‘shines ever brighter until the full light of day’'. Christ ‘dawns on us like the morning light’ (2 Samuel 23:4). In a moment of discovery, we say, ‘It’s just dawned on me’. It is very wonderful when Christ reveals Himself, when He brings us out of our darkness and into His light. This is just the beginning. There is so much more: ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). ‘Light has dawned that ever shall blaze... Light a flame within my heart... Let my flame begin to spread’ (Mission Praise, 422; Songs of Fellowship, 339).
4:20-27 - 'Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you' (25). Living the Christian life is like 'walking a tightrope' - We must 'not swerve to the right or to the left' (27; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7; 23:6). Looking straight ahead, 'let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith...'(Hebrews 12:2). In the face of life's many difficulties, you may ask, "Can I 'run with perseverance the race marked out for me' (Hebrews 12:1)?". Keep your eyes on your own capacity for perseverance - and you will be filled with thoughts of your own weakness. Keep your eyes on Christ and His preserving power (1 Peter 1:5; John 10:27-29; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:37-39). You will grow strong - strengthened by Christ's Word: 'My grace is sufficient for you' (2 Corinthians 12:9).
5:1-14 - Being married: There are many temptations - the ‘loose woman’ (3-6). Be positive: Through ‘mutual love and respect’, let’s build ‘strong and happy’ marriages, in which ‘the marriage bond is honoured’. Singles: Don’t spoil everything by getting entangled with those who are ‘loose’ in their commitment to believing in and living for Jesus Christ! Bringing up children: There are many problems - the natural reaction of the child (11-12). Our children are to be brought up ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). We need the tenderness - ‘I don't condemn you’ - and firmness - ‘don’t sin’ - of Christ (John 8:11). Children: The natural reaction - ‘I hate discipline. I will not listen’ - is the sinful reaction. Pray for God's help - to ‘obey your parents in the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:1-3).
5:15-23 - There is teaching here concerning faithfulness in marriage: ‘may you rejoice in the wife of your youth... may you ever be captivated by her love (18-19). We may apply this teaching to our relationship with the Saviour. You loved Him so much in ‘your youth’. You were ‘rejoicing in Him’. You were ‘captivated by His love’. ‘You were doing so well’, but something happened - you have gone off course (Galatians 5:7-8). Is this the story of your life? Return to ‘your first love’ (Revelation 2:4-5). There is also a warning against unfaithfulness (20). This can also be applied to our relationship with Christ. He ‘loved us and gave Himself for us’. He calls us to be ‘holy... a radiant church’ (Ephesians 5:25-27). We belong to Him. Why settle for anything less than the Best, anything less than our Lord Jesus Christ.
6:1-15 - ‘Save yourself... like a bird from the hand of the fowler’ (5). ‘He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler’ (Psalm 91:3). In Scripture, we have both the promise of grace and the call to faith: ‘By grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:5), ‘Your faith has saved you’ (Luke 7:50), ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’, ‘To Him who is able to keep you from falling’ (Jude 21,24). Laugh at ‘the sluggard’ (6-11), but do not laugh too quickly or too long: You may be laughing at yourself! Looking at the sluggard is like looking into a mirror. We see so much of ourselves in him! ‘A worthless man, a wicked man’ - ‘He “fancies himself”. He’s “a chancer”’. He better watch out: God doesn’t share this man’s opinion of himself - ‘calamity will come... he will be broken beyond healing’ (15).
6:16-35 - God’s Word is our ‘lamp’ and ‘light’ (23; Psalm 119:105). It leads us in the way we are to go (22). It exposes the darkness of the ways we are to avoid. It shows us the ‘things that the Lord hates’, the things which are ‘an abomination to Him’ (16). Why does God list the ‘things’ which are not pleasing to Him? He wants us to watch how we live. He wants us to keep on choosing His way. We must not allow things to drift. Keep God’s Word in ‘your heart always’ (21). Let ‘the reproofs of discipline’ keep you from straying (23). The world tells us, ‘Anything goes. Do what you like. It doesn’t matter how you live’. God’s Word speaks about sin: There is ‘no sense’ in it. It is the way of self-destruction. It will not ‘go unpunished’ (32,29). Be careful to obey God in everything.