Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
Pr 4:1-27. To an earnest call for attention to his teachings, the writer adds a commendation of wisdom, preceded and enforced by the counsels of his father and teacher. To this he adds a caution (against the devices of the wicked), and a series of exhortations to docility, integrity, and uprightness.
1, 2. (Compare Pr 1:8).
to know—in order to know.
doctrine—the matter of learning (Pr 1:5), such as he had received (La 3:1).
For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
3. father's son—emphatic, a son specially regarded, and so called tender, as an object of special care (compare 1Ch 22:7; 29:1); an idea further expressed by
only beloved—or, "as an only son" (Ge 22:2), though he had brothers (see on 1Ch 3:5).
He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
4. He taught—or directed me.
retain—as well as receive.
keep … and live—observe, that you may live (Pr 7:2).
Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
5. Get—as a possession not to be given up.
neither decline—that is, from obeying my word.
Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
6. Not only accept but love wisdom, who will keep thee from evil, and evil from thee.
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
7. (Compare Job 28:28).
getting—or possession; a desire for wisdom is wise.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
8. As you highly esteem her, she will raise you to honor.
embrace her—with fond affection.
She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
9. ornament—such as the chaplet or wreath of conquerors.
deliver—(Compare Ge 14:20). The allusion to a shield, contained in the Hebrew, suggests protection as well as honor (compare Pr 4:6).
Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
10. (Compare Pr 2:1; 3:2).
I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
11, 12. way of wisdom—which it prescribes.
led thee—literally, "caused thee to tread," as a path (Ps 107:7).
not be straitened—have ample room (Ps 18:36).
When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
13. (Compare Pr 3:18). The figure of laying hold with the hand suggests earnest effort.
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
14. (Compare Ps 1:1). Avoid all temptations to the beginning of evil.
Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
16, 17. The reason is found in the character of sinners, whose zeal to do evil is forcibly depicted (Pr 6:4; Ps 36:5). They live by flagrant vices (Pr 1:13). Some prefer to render, "Their bread is wickedness, their drink violence" (compare Job 15:16; 34:7).
For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
18, 19. As shining light increases from twilight to noonday splendor, so the course of the just increases in purity, but that of the wicked is as thickest darkness, in which one knows not on what he stumbles.
The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
20-22. (Compare Pr 4:10, 13; Pr 3:8, &c.).
Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
22. health … flesh—by preserving from vices destructive of health.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
23. with all diligence—or, "above," or "more than all," custody (compare Margin), all that is kept (compare Eze 38:7), because the heart is the depository of all wisdom and the source of whatever affects life and character (Mt 12:35; 15:19).
Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
24. a froward mouth—that is, a mouth, or words of ill nature. The Hebrew word differs from that used (Pr 2:15; 3:32).
Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
25. Let … before thee—that is, pursue a sincere and direct purpose, avoiding temptations.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
26. Ponder—Consider well; a wise course results from wise forethought.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
27. (Compare Pr 4:25). Avoid all by-paths of evil (De 2:27; 17:11). A life of integrity requires attention to heart, speech, eyes, and conduct.