Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Proverbs 4:1-18 Listen! Listen! Listen!

There’s nothing more frustrating for a teacher than students who will not pay attention or listen to instruction! These days we practically have to do handsprings to get students to focus on what we’re saying! Few are interested in instruction - most would rather be entertained! They are easily distracted and their focus is diverted to the simplest things. Rather than pay attention to what will be on tomorrow’s test, they are more fascinated by the pair of scissors in their desks or the paper clip they just found that can be reshaped into various forms.

So I feel Solomon’s pain when he repeats three times in this chapter of Proverbs, “Listen!” Yet again, he is making the case for wisdom. In fact, this is the central theme of the first nine chapters! Why do we need to hear it so many times? Because, when it comes to God’s Word, we all have Attention Deficit Disorder!

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;

    pay attention and gain understanding.  
I give you sound learning,

    so do not forsake my teaching.  
When I was a boy in my father’s house,

    still tender, and an only child of my mother,  
he taught me and said,

    “Lay hold of my words with all your heart;

    keep my commands and you will live.  
Get wisdom, get understanding;

    do not forget my words or swerve from them.  
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;

    love her, and she will watch over you.  
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.

    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.  
Esteem her, and she will exalt you;

    embrace her, and she will honor you. 
She will set a garland of grace on your head

    and present you with a crown of splendor.” (Proverbs 4:1-9)

Here Solomon recalls the training he received from his father, David. It makes me wonder if, when Solomon was a young boy, David was assured that Solomon was actually taking it all in when David would instruct him, or did Solomon also seem to be ignoring his father’s words? Did Solomon sit in rapt attention at his father’s feet, or was he doodling? Sometimes, children hear more than we think they do! Nevertheless, at some point his father’s words resonated with Solomon, to the point that he passes them on here. How important repetition is in training our children. We must say and model the same thing over and over with consistency in order to have it “take.”

Solomon implores his son to value wisdom, because she would protect him, and she would ultimately exalt him. In fact, he insists, Hold onto instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life! (vs. 13) Then he contrasts the paths of the righteous to the way of the wicked:

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,

    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.  
But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;

    they do not know what makes them stumble. (vs. 18-19)

Note that there is increasing light as you move down God’s path, but the way of those in rebellion against God is so dark they can’t even see what they are tripping over! Tomorrow we’ll discover how to intentionally keep to the right path.

I told you last time that I’d share a way to give the gift of Christ this Christmas. My daughter. Molly, and her family are spearheading a terrific effort to bless the homeless that you can join. Please check out her website for information. The deadline to contribute is this Friday: http://www.throneofgrace.com/   

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