1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.
Have you ever tried to walk a straight line with your head turned to the side? It’s very hard to do. Ask a child to do it and it’s a quick example of how off course one can get if they are not looking at the goal. Or think of of people walking while texting on their phones and running into things. Some have even injured themselves walking into poles, the street, or cars. Not looking up and forward will get you the wrong place and is potentially dangerous.
When I go out walking and taking public transportation in this busy city, I am constantly telling my sons to pay attention. I don’t want them to walk into something they shouldn’t; to step too far away from me; or cause others discomfort or anger from bumping into them. It’s an active walk, to get from one place to another, and it requires the whole body to move the right way and do the right thing to get from A to B. When we miss a transfer or turn down the wrong street we have to reorient ourselves to our destination and make the corrections needed to get somewhere. Like a GPS recalculating, we don’t change our destination, we move forward to the place we need to be.
20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.
Proverbs 4 is a plea to pay attention, it uses physical descriptions to help one understand the cause and effect of where we walk and what path we take in our lives. Various parts of the whole body are mentioned: ears, heart, flesh, feet, mouth, eyes, and eyelids, the instructions for each are also spiritual.
With our ears, we are to listen to instruction. Active listening is seeking to understand what is being said, we should be actively pondering wisdom. In this chapter, wisdom says: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.” (Prov. 4:14) “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) Then we are told to use our whole selves to give attention to these things. Our hearts are to be filled with instruction, our eyes should be looking forward to the right path, one that won’t be taking us down the one of wickedness, but towards the path of the just. Our mouth should be speaking true and just things, and our eyelids should be open. Our feet should be moving us in the direction away from wickedness.
This isn’t a passive response to the wisdom, but an active and moving response. For me, my movement constantly needs focus. I daily need to get my mind attentive to wise things, mainly God’s Word, the Bible. Then I have direction, to go throughout my day not stumbling in darkness, but with eyes wide open, looking to finish each day in light of the truth of scripture. Do I have days when I go off course? Yes, can it change by the hour sometimes? Yes. Instead of continuing the wrong way though, it requires a refocusing of the mind, heart, and eyes onto the wisdom from God to get back on course. It is easier to correct direction when less wrong turns have been taken. Where do you need to actively move to be on the bright and shining path of wisdom?