1Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
2For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
3When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
4Then he taught me and said to me,
"Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
5Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6"Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
Solomon wishes that his sons and youths in general would heed the advice that his father David gave to him concerning wisdom. He implores youths to pursue wisdom and seek to acquire it with extreme urgency and fervency. Wisdom guards and protects those who pursue it and walk in it because it keeps them from the many dangers and travails associated with sin. Wisdom leads to true happiness and satisfaction, not mere vain satiation and futility of purpose. It is of massive eternal significance, and young people need to seek it out early and not wait until after they have made mistakes that they cannot recover from. Wisdom sought early can point a life in a spiritually effective and efficient direction so that one can walk circumspectly and faithfully knowing that the days are indeed evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).
7"The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
8"Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
9"She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty."
Solomon has already emphasized that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those who fear God and value His judgments above all else will seek wisdom because they will want to know the truth. They will find Christ by faith because wisdom is found in Him. But there must be an interest and a willingness to search out the truth, whereas fools enjoy darkness, sin, evil, and the futile delusions of their own fallen minds. Those who honestly and humbly pursue wisdom will find it by grace through faith, and they ought to always remember its value and prize it. Wisdom will lead to future exaltation before the Lord Who promises to honor those in due time who humble themselves (1 Peter 5:6). There will be no regrets for those who choose wisdom, only honor, grace, and distinguishing soul beauty.
10Hear, my son, and accept my sayings
And the years of your life will be many.
11I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13Take hold of instruction; do not let go
Guard her, for she is your life.
Solomon has spoken over and over again about the importance of walking in wisdom for those who wish to see their lives preserved rather than wasted and destroyed by sin and wicked people. Wisdom points to uprightness and sanctification, and increased holiness will always be the result of wisdom’s labors. Sin and deception slows us down, makes us waste our days, and effectively disables us from being able to bear abundant spiritual fruit. Even abundant church service and ministry works can be rendered useless and unprofitable if wisdom is not present. It is Christ alone Who teaches us and gives us wisdom to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. We may lack knowledge, but as we pursue wisdom in the Word of God, we will grow and be able to help others grow also. When in doubt, we must open up the roadmap of the Scriptures, and let them be our guide. This will keep us from stumbling and from mistakenly and unintentionally putting a stumbling block in front of others. Wisdom will keep us from falling into the net of deceivers and false teachers, and it will allow us to make the most of our time on earth. The Holy Spirit will point out where we lack wisdom and where sin still has a hold on our hearts if we are humble enough to pay attention. He will work those things out of our hearts even if the process is painful so that we can gain wisdom and enjoy life to the fullest. Those who lack wisdom and fail to seek to acquire it with all of their being will never be able to experience the abundant life that Christ has promised. His way always brings the most joy.
14Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16For they cannot sleep unless they do evil;
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
In this world, there are a few good men and women (Ecclesiastes 7:27-29), and there are many who deceive and are deceived themselves. There are many who love evil so much that they cannot even sleep unless they have done evil. Even as they lie in bed, they plot their next wicked deed. It is what they live for, for they are slaves of the devil, held captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). It is what they seek, and they delight in seeing others take the same paths that they have taken. They enjoy violence and harming the innocent. They rejoice when righteous people fall into sin. Thus, those who love wisdom must not join forces with these people or make common company with them. Bad company will corrupt good morals, and, while there is a time to stand for truth and share the gospel with the wicked, there is also wisdom in avoiding what they do and the places of debauchery that they love. We must not make any provision for the lusts of the flesh (Romans 13:14). Evil people view us as prey, and it is our resistance to their beckoning to join them in wickedness that is an aroma of Christ. Those who have any interest in truth will be willing to talk about Christ, while most will gag on the righteous aroma (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). The Christian must always be the influencer rather than the one being influenced, and he must go to the sick as a doctor looking to heal rather than a fool looking to accommodate to evil.
18But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
As the sun rises at dawn and gets brighter, fuller, and stronger, so too is the work of the Spirit sanctifying the hearts of the righteous until they are one day glorified into the likeness of Christ. Christians are works in process, but God will complete the work He has begun so that they shine brighter and brighter until the full day comes when Christ returns. The wicked are a stark contrast, full of darkness, blinding the blind and tripping over their own vices. In Christ, light has shone into darkness, but the darkness largely rejects Him (John 1:5). But those who love wisdom will love the Light and walk in it.
20My 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.
22For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
Some people refuse to think and listen because they have no desire to learn the truth and consider what defines ultimate reality, true purpose, and real significance. They are content to be swept up with whatever the world tells them is the latest and greatest thing. But the righteous who love wisdom will keep listening to Christ through the study of His Word, and they will keep asking God in faith for wisdom. Wisdom will always be their focus as they long to know and do the will of God and be sanctified, which is itself the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The commands of Scripture must be central in our hearts, and our hearts should be ruled by the Spirit of God Who has created them anew. He will work out any remnants of selfish desire, pride, and lust over the course of our lives, but we must be humble enough to pay attention and repent when needed. Wisdom is the path to eternal life, and it is the best way to live the optimal life on earth.
23Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
Christ taught much on the heart, emphasizing that what comes out of a man is what defiles him because it reflects what is in his heart (Mark 7:20). What we do, think, and say flows from the state of our hearts. If wisdom rules our hearts, holiness and effective gospel testimony pointing people to life in Christ will be what flows out. Truth and grace should pour out of our hearts like springs because we are one with Christ Who Himself is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Because what we treasure is shown by the desires of our hearts (Matthew 6:21), it is imperative that we guard our hearts so that we delight chiefly in Christ. He will then give us His desires as the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). We will experience the abundant life, finding ultimate satisfaction, total joy, and grace upon grace.
24Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26Watch 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.
Christ wants us to speak truth in love, not deceit, lies, or false testimony about others. We are not to be double-tongued, saying one thing in season and another out of season. This reflects a divided heart, one which Solomon developed himself and which would lead to the eventual division of the kingdom. By Christ’s power and strength, we must not let sin delude our minds and trick the desires of our hearts. God doesn’t delight in shifty eyes and shady dealings. He wants people who can look others in the eye and be honest, fair, and just. If we heed the principles of wisdom, we will make sure our feet stay on the path of righteousness, and God will use us to advance His work. God wants us to walk straight because He makes our paths straight. Wisdom delineates between poor choices and good choices, and there is no need to veer off course when we have seen exactly where we should go. Rather than waste time and energy, circling about and wandering in the wilderness, by keeping away from evil we will make the most of our time on earth.