Proverbs 4King James Version (KJV)
4 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. 2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. 3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
This connects the law of the father as generational. A father was once a son.
4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. 5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
This reminds the son that Wisdom and the responsibility to it is older than the relationship before him. It is often we get caught up in our personal relations or temporal relations and ignore the meaning before us.
8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Become worthy. What is worthy? Wisdom is worthiness. Become wise then acquire power.
10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. 11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths. 12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble. 13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
Again a reference to the road of the wise. The father assures the son that the path of the wise will not cause him to stumble nor should it be hard. That is the path to Wisdom may require sacrifice but Wisdom itself will not lead you astray or slow you.
14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. 16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. 17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
This is an interesting metaphor. It both reminds the son that evil does not rest. But also that there is “no rest for the wicked.” For the wicked must look over their shoulder. They have established themselves by wickedness and therefore are subject to either the violence of justice or susceptible to reaping what they sow. The wicked exist outside the law (both cultural and judicial) and therefore are likely not to be protected by it. There is little honor among thieves.
18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble. 20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
These lines repeat the common theme of holding on to Wisdom.
24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. 27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
This is another more subtle reference to the path. Keep your eyes on the path built by the wise. Look straight ahead. Think about your steps and follow the steps of the wise. Do not stray and if you do go back to the path. This is an interesting vision for a son’s duties. It is so often that we imagine life’s journey as a highway. Some will find the edge but most make it, some faster than others. The narrow path is a strange image to us. That we must follow the wise before us, alien. That the wise must build the road for the good to follow unheard of. It seems that the founding fathers weren’t too keen on Proverbs.